Papers on the topic, acceleration within in the school system, have had two very distinct arguments. There are those who believe that accelerating students, enhances their psychological welfare and academic achievements. On the other hand there are those who raise concerns as to whether, accelerating students does negatively affect them in some dimension. The aim of this paper is to give an overview of acceleration in relation to the educational setting, and to discuss the impact (both negative and positive) that acceleration has on the lives of students. I will discuss how and why students are identified as gifted and or talented, and what consequences arise from this label, if any. The essay will then proceed to offer types of programs available for gifted and or talented students in schools. This paper will focus on the various impacts acceleration has on students. Some discussion will be rendered as to the effect on the parents of accelerated students. My conclusions will be derived from the various arguments and research that will be presented throughout the essay.
From the introduction we are led to the question, of what actually is acceleration? Davis and Rimm (1994) state that “any strategy that results in advanced placement or credit may be titled as acceleration”(p. 106). Acceleration is the act of advancing students into grades higher than their year of enrolment allows. The Board of Studies guidelines for accelerated progression (1991), define acceleration as involving, “the promotion of a student to a level of study beyond that which is usual for his/her age” (p.3). Rice (1970) has also defined it as a “rapid acquisition of knowledge and skills” (p. 178).
These definitions of acceleration, especially the one offered by the Board of Studies, closely align Harrison (1995) who describes a gifted child as:
One who performs or who has the ability to perform at a level significantly beyond his or her chronologically aged peers and whose unique abilities and characteristics require special provisions and social and emotional support from the family, community and educational context (p. 19).
This definition takes into account the socio-emotional support that gifted children require when identified as gifted or talented. Harrison (1995) further recognises that this support does not come solely from the parents or the school but the community as well. The Board of Studies guidelines for accelerated progression (1991) distinguishes between giftedness and talent as follows:
Gifted students as those with the potential to exhibit superior performance across a range of areas of endeavour, and ‘talented’ students as those with the potential to exhibit superior performance in one area or another (p. 3).
How then are certain students singled out from the rest as being gifted and or talented, and placed in acceleration programs? What benchmarks and tests do educators use to classify individuals for ‘acceleration’ programs?
It could be...