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Academic Acceleration

Educational acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match high level student general ability and specific talent with optimal learning opportunities.

The purposes of acceleration as a practice with the gifted are:
  1. to adjust the pace of instruction to the students’ capability in order to develop a sound work ethic,
  2. to provide an appropriate level of challenge in order to avoid the boredom from repetitious learning, and
  3. to reduce the time period necessary for students to complete traditional schooling.
Acceleration benefits many highly capable individuals by better motivating them toward schooling, enhancing their involvement with extracurricular activities, promoting more challenging options in the middle school and high school years, and preparing them to begin contributing to society at an earlier age. While not as widely used as a practice with diverse gifted learners, evidence suggests that it can be a successful strategy with low income, minority, and students with learning problems as well.  (National Association for Gifted Children)


Edited by Susan G. Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik.

A Nation Empowered provides an update to the watershed work initiated by A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students. A Nation Deceived informed us of research-based practices for challenging academically talented youth. A Nation Empowered tells the story of how well we have applied what we have learned.

The purpose of A Nation Empowered is to inform educators, parents, and policy makers of current research on acceleration, how that information has been applied to educational policy throughout the nation, and how educators can use the findings to make decisions for their brightest students.

What Do We Need to Know About Academic Acceleration and Gifted Students?

  • Acceleration works. An extensive research base supports acceleration for gifted students.
  • Well-researched methods have been developed for systematically evaluating a candidate for acceleration and guiding teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and the student through the process.
  • Acceleration can be provided in a variety of ways, including content acceleration (where a student studies advanced content in only one subject), grade skipping, curriculum compacting, and dual enrollment in high school and college. Therefore, acceleration can be tailored to the academic and social needs of the individual student.
  • Acceleration supports the social and emotional development of students by placing them with other like-minded students.
  • Acceleration provides academic challenges and stimulation, which are needed for continuous development of students’ abilities.
  • Acceleration is an inexpensive educational option.