If common sense was always right, we wouldn’t need to conduct researchl
Acceleration and Online Options - OAGC Parent Day 2014
Acceleration Enhanced by
Ohio Association for Gifted Children Parent Day 2014
Eric Calvert, Ed.D.
Northwestern University Center for Talent Development
Goals for the hour:
• Review research on various types academic
• Explore barriers to the effective use of acceleration
• Explore parent rights and responsibilities related to
• Explore online resources that can support acceleration
for gifted and advanced students
• The process of acceleration should
always begin with assessment.
• This an acceleration workshop.
• Let’s start with an assessment!
Physics Pop Quiz
(Feel free to cheat using your smart phones)
• Are speed and velocity synonymous? How are their
meanings alike and different?
• Define inertia.
• Define force.
• Define acceleration (in the physical science sense
of the word).
• Define work.
• How are inertia, work, and acceleration related
Physics Pop Quiz
(Feel free to cheat using your smart phones)
Putting it all together:
It takes ____ to overcome _______ in order to
__________ an object to a different ________.
(Unfortunately, this is also often true of
accelerating students and learning in schools.)
Overextending the Metaphor
Inertia exists in all systems, including schools,
particularly related to the velocity of learning.
“Work” has to be invested if the velocity of a
child’s education is to change.
When, where, and how should we do that?
A Brief Review of Research on
“Progress through an
educational program at rates
faster or ages younger than
Common Types of
• Whole grade acceleration
• Subject acceleration
• Early entrance
• Early graduation
• Multi-age / multi-grade classrooms
• Informal acceleration
• Self-directed acceleration
Popular Beliefs About
• Acceleration usually results in problematic “knowledge gaps”
• Acceleration may be helpful academically, but at a high
social/emotional cost to kids
• Acceleration should be reserved for extremely gifted/advanced
• Acceleration should be used an an “intervention of last resort”
• Standard grade levels reflect what is developmentally appropriate
for students of a certain age. Therefore, acceleration defies
biological developmental realities.
Conventional = Natural?
• The way students progress through school today comes from bureaucratic
convention, not nature.
• “Carnegie Unit” developed in early 20th Century to standardize higher
• Initially used to determine retirement eligibility for professors
• Simplify student admission processes as U.S. shifted from agrarian to
• College admissions processes drove adoption of the model by high
• Unified K-12 school calendars then made “seat time” the primary measure
of learning for all students
• Standardized bell schedules and lock-step progression of same-age
children through school was inspired by American’s awe of the efficiency
of Henry Ford’s development of the modern assembly line.
What does the
What are the academic
effects of acceleration?
• Kulik and Kulik:
• First, on achievement tests, bright accelerated
youngsters usually perform like their bright, older
• Second, the accelerated youngsters usually
score almost one grade-level higher on
achievement tests than bright, same-age non-accelerated
What does research say about
social/emotional effects of
• The overwhelming majority of studies have
found either benign or positive effects
• Many gifted students prefer company of older
• Concerns about delayed effects in adolescence
• Some have observed short-terms drops in self-efficacy/
What does the research say about the
effects of acceleration on others?
• Age mates and new classmates
• Teachers (and differentiation)
Effects on Peers
• No lasting negative effects found on
classmates from “sending” setting.
• No negative effects found on “receiving”
classmates. Accelerated student reported
as “short-term novelties” in one school in
• Spontaneous mentoring reported.
• Effects on siblings were generally
• Unless student is to be accelerated into
the same grade as a sibling
Effects on Teachers
• Gagne and Gagnier: Gifted students admitted early to
kindergarten were academically on par with gifted second grade
classmates, rated above class mean for maturity and behavior.
• Teachers and administrators unfamiliar with the research on
acceleration tend to view it negatively.
• Southern and Jones (Ohio): Where acceleration was being used
programmatically, it tended to be viewed positively by teachers
• Feldhusen: Acceleration can narrow differentiation burden for
Why is acceleration rarely used?
A Nation Deceived:
• Lack of awareness of the research on acceleration
• Belief that age trumps everything else
• Educator training programs provide an artificially
simple view of age as a factor in child development.
• Belief that “Safe is better than sorry.” Teachers see not
accelerating students as “safer” option, feel that doing
nothing is not harmful
is perfectly designed to get the
results it gets.”
Acceleration in Ohio
• Acceleration has been “allowed” in Ohio law for at least
• State Department of Education had endorsed and
encouraged the practice for at least 40 years
• Yet, when we reviewed statewide data in wake of A
Nation Deceived, we found that acceleration almost never
happened in the vast majority of Ohio
• So, we conducted a study…
The Status Quo
• Acceleration was severely underused in
Ohio. (Southern & Jones, ODE)
• Majority of Ohio districts did not
accelerate a single student by early
entrance or grade acceleration in 2004-
• Mean number of both types (per district)
in 2004-2005 was less than 0.4.
• Why so few?
• Reviewed current national research
• Analyzed policies from all 615 Ohio school
districts in Ohio
• Analyzed annual district self reports on gifted
• Analyzed acceleration data in state data system
• Analyzed data from supplementary survey to
district gifted coordinators and administrators
Barriers to Acceleration
• Lack of knowledge about acceleration
• Barriers in local policies
• Anti-acceleration language
• Unattainable criteria
• Confusion about state policies, accountability
testing, and graduation requirements
• “Deficit thinking” regarding abilities of advanced
• Unscientific assessment processes may have
led to inappropriate placements in the past
Today, You Have Rights
Thanks to advocacy efforts by OAGC and parents like you,
Ohio is the first state in which:
• Parents have the right to request screening for possible
• Districts are required to provide in writing local policies
and procedures related to acceleration
• Acceleration decisions can’t be made by single
gatekeepers, and parents must be provided a process for
• Formal acceleration must be documented to help ensure
continuous progress if leadership changes or a child
moves to a different school
• Schools must provide for a “transition period” to
Today, You Have Rights
Thanks to advocacy efforts by OAGC and parents
like you, Ohio students also have access to “credit
All schools are now required to provide
alternatives to traditional “seat-time” based
courses through which students can learn and
demonstrate mastery of academic content
Options for Acceleration
• Local Options:
• Early entrance to kindergarten
• Subject and whole-grade acceleration within your school
• Early graduation
• Dual high school/college enrollment programs
• Online Options:
• Informal Enrichment
• Full-time homeschooling
• Out-of-school course taking
• Mix and match course taking
Benefits of Online Learning
• Online learning can overcome practical obstacles to accessing
more advanced curriculum:
• No higher grade in your school? No problem. Scheduling
• Online learning can provide more flexibility for accelerated
• Online learning can provide more opportunities for differentiation
tapping into students’ unique interests
• Because online learning can connect students from wide
geographic regions, online learning can connect students who
may not have similar peers who share their interests locally with
a network of friends and mentors
• Online learning can provide access to topics local schools often
do not have the capacity or economy to support
• Gifted LearningLinks (GLL) at Northwestern University offers
more than 100 courses designed specifically for gifted
• GLL expressly allows academically prepared middle
school students to take high school courses for credit,
and allows students younger than grade 11 or 12 to take
• GLL courses have “real” trained teachers and small class
• CTD is AdvancEd accredited, and high school courses are
approved by NCAA. All AP Courses are College Board
• New “Family Program” provides activities for parents to
do together online with K-3 children.
• EPGY courses (formerly offered by Stanford, now offered
by for-profit Redbird Learning) provides self-paced,
software-based courses that allow students to complete
online activities aligned with academic content
standards. Embedded assessments adapt to student
• University of Missouri Online High School and Stanford
University Online High School allow students to enroll
full-time and earn high school diplomas
• OpenMIT, Coursera, Khan Academy, and a growing
number of “Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOCs)
provide media-rich supplemental resources and full
• Privacy and security. Some programs designed for high school, college,
and adult students have privacy policies that prohibit use by students under
13 and may share student information in ways schools can’t allow without
violating federal children’s privacy rules.
• Even very bright students vary in their ability to succeed in online
environments that provide less direct structure than traditional courses.
• Does the program include structures that provide guidance?
• Who will provide support of needed?
• Is the program flexible enough to accommodate other parts of my child’s
schooling and life?
• Will my child be able to interact frequently with a teacher and appropriate
• Credit. What systems are in place to help ensure my child’s online learning
is recognized by her own school and future institutions?
For More Information
• Ohio Model Policy on Academic Acceleration
and Ohio Credit Flexibility Plan
• OAGC Parent Division (Please join!)
• Gifted LearningLinks:
• Gifted LearningLinks on Facebook:
• Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent