Skipping a grade is an option that should be considered for qualified high-ability students. According to the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration, "The decision to accelerate is best made in concert by the student, parents, teachers, and other professionals after careful evaluation of the student’s academic and social-emotional needs." Some states have requirements in place for skipping a grade and others leave it up to the local school district. There are some basic requirements that all school officials will consider when reviewing a request for skipping a grade.
A Written Request
Put your request for skipping a grade in writing to the school principal and keep a copy. A written request is more likely to be carefully addressed than an oral one. Identify the student and the grade level you wish the student to skip. State your reasons for making the request. Make your request anytime, but it may be best to submit it prior to the beginning of the school year so that a decision can be made before school starts.
Make sure that legitimate requirements are being used in considering your request. Insist that the decision be made by a team of people that includes a teacher, counselor or psychologist with expertise on gifted children. If needed, refer the decision-makers to accelerationinstitute.org for specific information student acceleration and the scientific studies that support grade-skipping. Many schools use the Iowa Acceleration Scale, a tool that helps schools decide about skipping a grade. It is used to collect data regarding achievement test results, school history, interpersonal skills, attitude and academic ability for the purpose of determining whether grade-skipping is best for the student.
Provide evidence of academic achievement well in advance of the student's peers at the current grade level. For example, show that the student's standardized test scores are much higher than others in the class. Find a teacher or guidance counselor who believes skipping a grade will place the student at a more appropriate level of curriculum for the student's capabilities. Provide out-of-school evidence of high intellectual functioning, such as succeeding at projects or activities beyond the capabilities of the student's current grade peers.
Provide evidence that the student is emotionally prepared to advance a grade level. Find a teacher or guidance counselor who believes the student has the emotional maturity to succeed at a higher level. If needed, provide an assessment from a licensed psychologist. Show that the student is likely to socialize better with older students who are closer to the same intellectual level.
A student's strong opposition to skipping a grade may be a legitimate obstacle. If the student has fears, arrange a visit to the target classroom. Introduce the student to a potential classmate who might help the student feel more comfortable with the idea of joining the class.
Need for Change
If the student is underachieving at the current grade level, consult with teachers and counselors to assess whether there is a high level of boredom because the work is too easy. If you can show that the student's abilities are high and her interest in the class work is low, you can make a case for alleviating boredom by placing the student in a more intellectually challenging environment.
Dennis Lucius has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. He has a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Kansas. Lucius teaches college classes in philosophy and essay writing, produces video programs and writes articles and TV scripts.