For whatever reason, a number of people really do not like acceleration. The idea of a child who is, by age, supposed to be in one grade, going to a classroom associated with a different grade either on a permanent basis or just for a class or two, is just something to be avoided if at all possible.
At least that's the message I'm taking from a fascinating story in Bethesda magazine called "No more math acceleration?" According to the article, the principal of Wyngate Elementary School sent home a note informing parents that because the district's new math standards were so rigorous, "the previous practice of grade skipping acceleration in mathematics will not be necessary for most students. Almost all of our students will be working at the challenging grade level standards this year and not in the next grade level up."
The article goes on to mention the dreaded "gaps" problem -- the idea that acceleration somehow leads to holes in one's knowledge, as if all education isn't choosing some things to study and some things not to study. In this case, it's a haunting problem: "Parents and teachers have long complained that accelerating math students by skipping grade levels has led to gaps in basic skills and mastery of concepts that haunt them when they reach higher level math."
Perhaps there will be exceptions; as the article says, "Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that children who are truly gifted in math won’t be challenged. The curriculum includes enrichment and accelerated material that goes beyond the new requirements. That means that “students who consistently demonstrate proficiency of a mathematics concept will be able to enrich their understanding of a grade-level topic or accelerate to a higher-level topic,” [the principal] wrote."
Just not in a different grade level class. Because that would be a disaster.
The whole thing is kind of funny, in one respect. I'm not sure why people are so allergic to the idea of skipping a grade in a subject or overall. The whole concept of grades is pretty arbitrary anyway. My oldest son, Jasper, just started a new preschool where they do mixed-age classes. Kids who are ages 3-5 can be in one class together, and I suspect that 3-year-olds and 5-year-olds are much farther apart on development spectrums than, say, a high-achieving fourth grader and a sixth grader.
As it is, rigorous content standards are a great idea. Covering fewer topics in depth to mastery is also a good idea. But there's no real reason to take acceleration off the table, even if one does have very rigorous standards. Sometimes kids really are ready to move on.