[FoRK] A Nation Deceived: report on acceleration of advanced students

Jim Whitehead ejw at cs.ucsc.edu
Wed Sep 22 09:52:29 PDT 2004


A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students
Nicholas Colangelo, Susan G. Assouline, Miraca U. M. Gross

America's schools routinely avoid academic acceleration, the easiest and
most effective way to help highly capable students. While the popular
perception is that a child who skips a grade will be socially stunted, fifty
years of research shows that moving bright students ahead often makes them

Acceleration means moving through the traditional curriculum at rates faster
than typical. The 18 forms of acceleration include grade-skipping,
early-entrance to school, and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. It is
appropriate educational planning. It means matching the level and complexity
of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of the student.

Students who are moved ahead tend to be more ambitious, and they earn
graduate degrees at higher rates than other students. Interviewed years
later, an overwhelming majority of accelerated students say that
acceleration was an excellent experience for them. Accelerated students feel
academically challenged and socially accepted, and they do not fall prey to
the boredom that plagues many highly capable students who are forced to
follow the curriculum for their age-peers. 

The text of the report can be downloaded here:


I found this link in a Time.com article:

Saving the Smart Kids
Are schools leaving the most gifted children behind if they don't allow them
to skip ahead?
Monday, Sep. 20, 2004

Americans don't seem to have any problem with teenagers who show genius in
sports (LeBron James) or entertainment (Hilary Duff). But we have a deeply
ambivalent relationship with intellectually gifted kids. For every lovable
Doogie Howser, M.D., we fear there's also a William James Sidis. Little
William was born in 1898 to an experimentally minded psychologist, Boris
Sidis. He trotted William through school so quickly that the boy was
enrolled at Harvard by age 11. William graduated with a math degree at 16,
but soon after he lost interest in math and spent much of his life working
at clerical jobs and writing esoteric books. Boris Sidis had offered his
prodigy to the public as proof that young children can learn prodigiously;
reporters would hound William Sidis as a failure for the rest of his life.
He came to resent his parents for driving him and died alone at 46.

- Jim

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