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The poll begs a question: What exactly are "grade levels" and why do we measure students' learning or achievement by them? In fact, grade levels are simply convenient ways of dividing children by age groups within schools. There is nothing sacred and little scientific about them or the curriculum goals associated with each one. As a parent (of gifted, average, and disabled children) and as an educator, I have long believed we should replace the grade level system with one based on students' individual accomplishment of learning goals. Some may do this faster or slower than others; why do we keep trying to make all children march in artifical time?
Could skipping a grade be beneficial? Definitely, but perhaps not often in our current academic set-up. "Skipping" actually means skipping. Academically: If a student transitioned from 3rd grade into fifth grade in a year that would be much different than a child attending third grade and then skipping fourth grade all-together.
And it requires a manditory social change: new peers, and an adjustment to a different maturity.
Perhaps someday, student will learn based on their learning curve, where there motivation is tracked and difficulty monitored to keep them aware of their level of "flow" in the classroom. They learn based on career paths, and students of similar age and maturity, friends, could stay together for much of their day, despite being at various academic levels in various subjects.
I've always felt that grade skipping was a double edged sword for the student. On the one hand, it is always better to keep the student challenged. On the other hand, there is a lot to be said for the age difference hindering their social development. And yet, at the same time, their intellect can make them a social outcast as well. That is the boat I found myself in growing up. First, you have to remember what the educational model boils down to. On Monday they tell you what is going to be on the test that Friday. Tuesday through Thursday is spent reviewing what you were told on Monday. Friday is the test. I always "got it" on Monday and spent the next three days bored out of my mind. Friday came along and I would almost always ace the test. My three days of boredom usually erupted into a very disruptive force in the classroom. So I came to know the Principals office all to well, and the "board of education"(Yes, I'm old enough to think Dr. Spock was an idiot). I like to think I still came out OK. On the down side of all of that, because of never really being challenged in school, I never developed ANY study habits. So the higher education challenge really was a challenge. I had to learn basic skills that, before then, were never needed.
So there are pros and cons either way you go. Should we spend the money to keep gifted kids both challenged and interested in education? By all means!!! The problem with that is politics. The gifted ones and their parents are not apt to stir up enough attention to get anything done. And we all know that the squeaking wheel gets the grease!
So if you have a gifted son or daughter, take it upon yourself to do the best you can for them. Keep them on their mental toes and don't let them get lost in the shuffle that we call an educational system. Just because they will do "OK" is never good enough when they have the ability to soar far above the clouds where their only limits are their own imagination.
I was skipped in middle school from the 6-8th grade with my entire class and attended a high school with many high performing students so I didn't have any problems then. I did however have difficulty in college. Being 16 and a freshman in college (when everyone was 18 or older) put me on the outside of many social situations that I was not ready to deal with. It was an alienating and lonely time for me that compounded the already existing challenges that college can present.
Our gifted twins who are now high school juniors grade skipped in elementary school at the school's request, not ours. It seemed to be the best decision at the time for both of them to skip together even though we all agreed it might be more beneficial for our son than our daughter. Keeping the twins on the same level seemed to be the highest priority, and our son needed to be advanced both socially and intellectually. He has excelled in everything he has done from that point forward. In hindsight I can't imagine him in the 10th grade gifted classes I teach now. In fact, he has been ready for college since entering high school. He just stays here taking as many Advanced Placement classes as he can for the extra-curricular activities that he enjoys. Our daughter began to struggle socially and academically in middle school. I think it may have happened even if she had not accelerated, but we will never know if the problems she has faced come from accelerating. At times I wish she still had the extra years to mature before facing the brutality of middle school girls. She was only 10 when she was in classes with 13-year-olds. She has overcome many of the social problems from middle school in high school, but the withdrawal and depression that came in middle school hurt her academically and still affect her in high school. Based on her experience we chose not to accelerate our younger daughter when the opportunity came up. Yet she still fields questions from relatives and educators like "Why didn't you skip grades like your brother and sister?" or "Are you not as smart as your brother and sister?" Ultimately, acceleration has to be a decision made on an individual basis, even for children in the same family, in the same schools.
As a child I was placed in what they called 1B rapid - that combined the second half of first grade and the first half of the second grade. Since there were so many of us, is didn't make much of a difference.
In Junior High, again the bright kids were skipped, losing a year. Again, because there were so many of us it didn't make much of a difference, even through high school.
But then came college. At just past 16, the social differences between a sixteen year old and an eighteen year old were huge. Dating was awkward because I looked older, but didn't have the experiences of an older teen. Maybe I made myself look older to fit in.
So, skipping wasn't a problem early on because there was a large group of peers. I don't think we missed enrichment because we did get more access to higher level reading and tasks in general. In college, the differences were pronounced -- not academically, but in all the other social interactions that develop in the late teens.
Children are all very different - as with most things in education, isn't this what we're overlooking by blanketly stating "yes" or "no" - it most definitely depends! Personalities, social development, physical development all play a role - we educate the WHOLE child and if intellect is the only piece consider we fail.
I have taught a good number of very gifted students. Where they are does not matter as much as HOW they are handled. If they are simply moved ahead, they usually find themselved plateaued and bored again. The optimum environment is to have not only gifted but all students challenged to improve their skills continually. It is very time consuming but it is a most rewarding experience.
YES, YES, YES, KIDS SHOULD SKIP GRADES BECAUSE IT WILL HELP THEM LATER ON IN LIFE. IF THEY ARE THAT SMART THEY NEED AN EARLIER START IN LIFE, AND TO MEET NEW FRIENDS. IF U SKIP A GRADE YOU'LL BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF COLLAGE EALIER AND MAKE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Why are we so convinced that earlier is better; faster is better? Children need to be children -- a seven-year-old has many seven-year-old tasks to do that have nothing to do with academics. School is much more than academics.
Rather than pushing children ahead, teachers need to differentiate curriculum so that each child is working at his/her instructional level.
Only in rare cases is it advisable for a child to skip grades.