Anything but Acceleration!
It's been three years since the Templeton report on acceleration, A Nation Deceived, came out. The report established that all the available evidence supports acceleration (aka "grade skipping") as a cheap, effective educational option for gifted kids. Accelerated kids tend to thrive academically, and there are no negative social consequences that lead accelerated kids and their parents to see the acceleration as a mistake.
Too bad so few education "experts" are actually listening. The Orlando Sentinel's Family Project section ran a Q&A from a parent whose 5-year-old son needed more challenge. Should the child be accelerated? The Family Project panel members "prefer not to see a child moved ahead in school," though all agreed that the parent would have to advocate for her son so he'd get the enrichment he needed.
There's just one problem with that advice. Enrichment may or may not happen. Maybe the parent doesn't have the time or expertise to advocate. Maybe the kid's teachers don't know how to enrich the curriculum. The good thing about acceleration is that if you put the kid in a grade where he's actually challenged by the basic material, you don't have to advocate.
But the panel did not mention this. Instead, they repeated the usual odes to socialization:
"The most important part of kindergarten is peer relationships and that's why panelist Maryellen Blass says she doesn't advocate advancement. 'Enrichment can be very easily integrated into kindergarten,' she says.
"Even very bright children need socialization skills more than anything at this age, panelists say. 'It's important to consider the whole child,' agrees panelist Joanne Nigito-Raftas. 'He is in the process of growing socially. If he's placed where he is academically, you may see effects in middle school when he's not at same place as other kids. It's very hard when a child is developmentally not ready.'"
Last time I looked at a sixth grade class, everyone was in a different place developmentally already. And likewise, unless these panelists socialize only with people born within six months of their birthdays, I'm afraid they don't have much of a case. Humans are social creatures, but we grow socially when we hang out with people we enjoy, and with whom we can interact in meaningful ways. A 5-year-old who wants to discuss the themes of the literature he's reading will not grow socially if he must spend all his time with kids who are just learning their letters. You'd think that educational experts would get that. But apparently not.