Richard Whitmire, author of the upcoming Why Boys Fail, and immediate past president of the National Education Writers Association, and I have a commentary in this week's Education Week called "What Ever Happened to Grade Skipping?" You can read the top with the link though you have to register for the entire piece. It is also in the print edition. And Richard seems to have put it up on his website.
The themes are the same ones we've talked about here at Gifted Exchange. In tight budgetary times, gifted education is an easy target. Acceleration, on the other hand, is cheap and usually a good solution. And yet most teachers don't like the idea, and a solid minority of schools don't even allow it -- with an additional chunk doing it so rarely that teachers can't even say what the school policy might be.
This antipathy is a bit strange. Parents have told me that schools are quite open to the idea of "red-shirting" kindergartners (especially boys) -- that is, having them start at age 6 or so. But try to start a kid who's already reading at age 4, and this will be a fight. People often bring up the concept of socialization, but what an artificial construct that people can only be socialized by others of the same age! It's a good thing that people don't hold this idea for adults, or my marriage and many of my friendships would never have happened.
Even with children, everyone develops at different paces. I have heard caveats from parents of children on the smaller side for their age, and this obviously has to be a family decision, but one thing to keep in mind is that adolescence is awkward for just about everyone. Everyone. Beautiful people like Mavis Leno and Gisele Bundchen have complained in profiles about how awkward they felt in middle school. Acceleration at least chips away at the problem of a mismatch between readiness and the academic curriculum.