Ok... so now for the various forms of acceleration . I'll do my best to give each a complete explanation.
Acceleration can be achieved in several different ways including:
early entry to school - Early entry isn't available in all areas. In order to check, you can either use the National Association for Gifted Children's state by state guide, or you can check your local state and/or districts websites. Specificly, go after any and all information available for gifted education. Either way, early entry isn't easy to achieve. It requires a great deal of evidence to prove that it's a valid thing. And I'm not talking about what a proud parent says. There are various testing methods available to the public. Most colleges with graduate schools have free and/or low cost psycological testing available (it's how their grad students practice). In addition to that, several of the learning centers such as Sylvan offer testing.
grade skipping or "double promotion;"- The best know form of acceleration. It's done when a child's grand total scholastic achievement is at least two grade levels above their classmates, constistantly through the year.
ungraded classrooms where students of varying ages are grouped together and the curriculum is based on individual mastery rates rather than the age of the student;- They have this? Seriously? In the public schools and not a private Montessori? Seriously though, that's pretty much the Montessori model of education. It's a great idea, but I haven't seen it be the best in practice. My major problem with Montessori is that, if it's a student guided education, students get lazy about what they don't like. And for us, my darling daughter hates math. No way I'm gonna let her be lazy about that.
curriculum compacting, which involves skipping material that the student has already mastered;- Yet another great idea that doesn't work so well in class. We have to remember that teachers are dealing with an average of twenty five kids per class. The difficulty with cirriculum compacting is having one or two students way ahead of the rest of them. It's a logistical nightmare for the teachers. Basically, it requires two seperate lesson plans, which have to be conducted at the same time. I imagine this option works best in home schooling or independant study environments.
grade telescoping which involves completing a program that usually requires a fixed number of years to finish in less than the usual time;- Oh look! They're talking about me in kindergarten. First the kindergarten reader. Then the first grade reader. Then the second grade reader. Then the third grade reader. Then the fourth grade reader. All in a few months. Um... yeah. My feelings on telescoping are pretty much neutral. Good side is that the child is able to learn at a faster pace. The down side is that, in a classroom environment, the child telescoping is pretty much left to their own resources.
concurrent enrollment, enabling a child to attend more than one school at a time;- Yes, I know this happens. Yes, I know that for some kids, this is the right decision. But, dear god, when do these kids just get to be kids? When do they get to play games and hang out with their friends and laugh and be stupid and normal?
subject acceleration, which involves offering the student an advanced curriculum in a single subject; - This is basicly what we're doing with my daughter. She's a freshman. But she's in the sophomore AP American Lit and AP US History classes. Her gifts lie primarily in the humanities. (To be specific, she's language, logic, and fine arts. But humanities works too.) For us it's working well. I'm extremely determined that my daughter deserves the opportunity to go to her senior prom at the same approximate age as everyone else, to learn how to drive at approximately the same time as all her classmates, and on and on and on. By doing subject acceleration, we're able to keep her relatively challenged without having her be that much more of an outsider.
advanced placement classes,- I am absolutely a fan of the AP classes. As a general rule, they cover much more in the same time as their counterparts. They go deeper and broader than regular classes (The regular sophomore US History text is about two hundred pages. The AP one is over four hundred. That should give you the idea.) And then there's the added and spectatularly cool benefit of these classes can become college credit, after taking the AP finals. That's just plain cool. By the time my daughter graduates from high school, she'll have over a year and a half worth of college credits. Oh yeah.
classes taught at an accelerated rate or at a higher level of difficulty which enable a student to gain credit for completing curriculum usually taught in subsequent years;- Um. I really don't understand the differnce between this and some of the ideas they've mentioned above. It sounds like a combination of subject acceleration and telescoping or curriculum compacting. Whatever.
mentorship, individual instruction at an advanced level in a single subject offered by an expert in that subject;= I believe most people call this independent study.
credit by examination;- Testing out. I don't know how much I agree with this being done on the high school or below level. I've seen a lot of it done on the college level, but I don't know about lower.
early admission to college.- Two seperate cases to address here. The first is kids who are accelerated straight out of public schools as in the ten year old who attended the same college as me. I'm not for that. I don't feel he was in any way ready for dealing every day with nothing but adults. For the most part, I feel this kind of early acceptance needs to be very carefully done. It's one thing if it's a sixteen year old who's so bored in high school, there's really nothing left to do. It's another if it's a ten year old. The other kidn of early admission is either concurrent with their regular school (see above) or as part of subject acceleration. I know Colorado has a law that, if the schools cannot keep up with the intellectual needs of the gifted child, the state is required to pay for the child to take equivalent courses on the college level. This means my daughter could take college level history and laguage arts classes and have them paid, but not things like gym. Things like gym, the high school more than meets the needs.
To finish up this post, I'm just going to take directly from the study I found. They say it better than I could.
The evidence in favor of acceleration for highly gifted children is unambiguous and overwhelming.
Despite a significant effort, we could not find any work that questioned its benefits. It is also the method that is implied in state law, and by the State Board of Education rules committee. Yet educators in general, and the Portland School district in particular, seem unnecessarily conservative in recommending it. Research on this subject covers more than seventy years, beginning with the longitudinal studies of Terman in 1925. Both single studies that have accumulated since then and repeated reviews of the literature have consistently shown that this practice is successful with appropriately selected students. For example, in a literature review that cited more than 220 sources, Stephen Daurio concluded in 1979 that
"All indications point to the maintenance of professional attitudes of excessive concern over potential socioemotional maladjustment among intellectually precocious young accelerates, and too little concern about the probability of maladjusting effects resulting from inadequate intellectual challenge.... based on numerous retrospective accounts of early entrance to college, there appear to be no data reported in the acceleration literature to refute the appropriateness of acceleration for intellectually able students. Furthermore the single major prospective report... offers considerable positive evidence that acceleration is indeed advantageous for intellectually able and socially mature youths..... No studies have shown enrichment to provide superior results over accelerative methods. Enrichment at best may only defer boredom.... Much resistance to acceleration ... is based on preconceived notions and irrational grounds, rather than on an examination of the evidence. Most resistance stems from concerns about the socioemotional development of the accelerated student. When the facts are studied, however, we find that such adjustment problems generally are minimal and short-lived.... accelerated students ... perform at least as well as, and often better than, 'normal-aged' control students, on both academic and nonacademic measures."
Yep, that says it all.