Enrichment, Acceleration and Promotion
MUSD supports grade promotion as an option for profoundly gifted students. The acceleration of a student to a higher grade, which results in a student’s skipping a grade, part of a grade, or a course, must be made on the basis of exceptionally high achievement by the student and evidence that the student will benefit more from the instructional program at the advanced level. The prescribed decision for this process should be developed by a multi-disciplinary team to include the classroom teacher and GEM teacher. The probable long-range academic, social and emotional effects on the student should be considered. The teacher will present documentation of specific criteria using the MUSD Acceleration Checklist. Notification of this process should be forwarded to the school administrator and the Marana Unified School District Educational Services Office for documentation purposes.
MUSD supports grade level content acceleration on an individual basis upon recommendation by the giving and receiving teacher, parent and gifted education teacher (for example a student in third grade with a fourth grade math ability may attend, or be modified for, in a fourth grade math group). The following list includes preliminary forms of assessment that would be looked at initially:
- Teacher recommendation
- Standards Report - consistently Exceeding the Standards in area to be accelerated
- AzMerit - ranks Proficient or Highly Proficient in area to be accelerated (third grade & up)
- Strong performance on other programs/resources (Moby Max, STAR Math)
- Performance/summative assessments consistently exceeds the standards
- Teacher, parents, and student support acceleration opportunity (parent permission)
- Other preliminary data
Once a student has met all or most of the preliminary criteria, a team meeting with the principal, current classroom teacher, gifted teacher, receiving math teacher, and parent will be held to determine if the student data should be forwarded to the K-8 Math Specialist for possible administration of the Scholastic Math Inventory (SMI). The K-8 Math Specialist will screen documentation to determine if the SMI is appropriate and evaluate results to make a final recommendation. If the student scores Proficient or higher in the grade level the student would be missing, then accelerated services will be considered. Student progress will be monitored during transition period. If student is not showing success by the first progress report, then student may have to transition back to current grade level program. This is open to all students who might qualify, not only for students who qualify for gifted services. Once a student has been previously accelerated, they do not have to retest to continue on the acceleration pathway as long as they are making adequate progress.
Acceleration Recommendations by NAGC
According to the National Association for Gifted Children, the decision to accelerate should be mutual; the child, parents, and school officials all agreeing that it would serve in the child’s best interest. The Director of Educational Services, school psychologist and GEM teacher should be consulted early in this process. Both the parents and the child should be given as much information regarding the future as possible, including friendships, dating, driving, advanced entry to college, impact on acceptance into honors or advanced electives and difference in size when involved in athletics. Girls are often better candidates for acceleration than boys. Some children often reject the acceleration and self-select to repeat a grade later on.
While accelerations can be successful for some students, the decision should be made thoughtfully and with consideration to the whole child. Educators and parents should consider the child’s intellectual and academic profile, social/emotional and physical development, preferences, disposition of the child during the decision making process as acceleration may not always be the appropriate option for all gifted children.
Who makes a good candidate for acceleration?
- A child who has taken a gifted assessment and is successful in gifted programming.
- A child whose standardized test scores are many grades above level or ‘off the charts’ entirely.
- A previously avid gifted learner who suddenly expresses the need for challenge.
- A child who is driven to be successful.
- A child who is identified early; acceleration in primary grades has less long term impact on students.
- A child who associates well with older peers or adults.
When should one be cautious about acceleration?
- The child is physically or emotionally immature.
- The child expresses disinterest or concern over the acceleration.
- The child would be on the same level as a sibling.
- The child is considered ‘picked on’ or receives frequent negative feedback from peers and educators.
- When a child who has always been ‘best’ in the class will now struggle to just be ‘average’.
- When a child is deeply ingrained in electives or athletics (experience and body size is critical to competition).
NAGC’s recommended steps for the acceleration process:
- Start early in the year, or at the end of the school year, and prepare for the acceleration ahead of time so the child misses minimal state standards.
- If the parents and child are in agreement, begin by discussing the acceleration with the school’s gifted and talented coordinator, guidance counselor or the principal.
- Give the parents as much information as possible on the acceleration process, providing both positive and potential negative outcomes.
- The child’s classroom teacher’s opinion should be sought as well as that of any other teacher who works with or knows the child well.
- The child’s academic potential and emotional adjustment should be evaluated by the school psychologist.
- The final decision should probably be made by a team, including the principal and the receiving teacher when possible.