In accordance with district policy IKE, the district will assist students so that they progress academically in accordance with their capabilities. While provisions for individual differences should be adequately accomplished within a grade level, it may occasionally be necessary to advance a student to the next grade. Acceleration to a higher-grade level should be approached with caution. Capable students may be so advanced, but only after thorough examination of the data by a qualified team of people that may include, but is not limited to, the school counselor, principal, and assistant superintendent.
Acceleration is “progress through an educational program at rates faster or at ages younger than conventional” (Pressey,1949, p.2.) The research unequivocally supports the positive impact of acceleration on short-term and long-term student development. It should be noted that although frequently associated with gifted characteristics, qualification for acceleration is not the same as qualification for gifted services within the KSD. It is possible that a student might not qualify for gifted serves because they did not meet sufficient criteria for qualification, while having advanced skills in some areas. Acceleration is also not a substitute for enrichment opportunities. Some students will be served best by enrichment, some by acceleration and some by a mix of the two (Neihart, 2007;Rogers, 2002; Schiever& Maker, 2003)
The KSD offers both whole grade and single subject acceleration K-8. Whole grade acceleration typically shortens the number of years a student spends in the K-12 system. An example of whole grade acceleration might be a student who has completed first grade is placed in a third-grade classroom (rather than a second-grade classroom) on a full-time basis at the beginning of the next school year. Single subject acceleration typically refers to a student remaining with their peers but receiving higher-grade-level instruction in a subject area. This instruction can be delivered by their grade assigned teacher, an advanced grade level instructor or via online curriculum if the course is not taught in their currently assigned building.
Guidelines for Consideration of Whole Grade Acceleration:
Nomination for whole grade acceleration are accepted from teachers, teacher teams, parents, or through student self-nomination. Decisions about whole grade acceleration are made by the building principal in collaboration with the building level MTSS team (including parents) based on a preponderance of evidence. Items for consideration include results of the IOWA Acceleration Scale, parent concerns, academic achievement, etc. According to board policy JECC, the building principal maintains the final decision regarding grade placement.
Guidelines for Consideration of Single Subject Acceleration; Math:
Math acceleration is not designed for the typical high achieving student who is frequently an excellent scholar, can earn 'A' grades, and achieve academic honors. The educational needs of these students should be met by existing school programs. Rather, students who exhibit exceptional mathematical thinking across all mathematical domains are those that may benefit from acceleration. In Kirkwood School District, students’ math acceleration in kindergarten and first grade is not recommended. Students (K/1) who test out of grade level material may have access to enrichment materials to prepare for possible acceleration in second grade. “When considering opportunities for acceleration in mathematics, care must be taken to ensure that opportunities are available to each and every prepared student and that no critical concepts are rushed or skipped, that students have multiple opportunities to investigate topics of interest in depth, and that students continue to take mathematics courses while still in high school and beyond.” (NCTM, position statement, 2017)
KSD staff have a number of “Look Fors” when identifying students for math acceleration. Classroom teachers meet with the school MTSS team to discuss interventions and supports that might assist the advanced learner. Students are typically considered for acceleration from September to May. Students are monitored from September to January with additional assessments given from February to May. An extensive process of data gathering, including use of the TOMAGS, is completed with all students considered for math acceleration. A meeting is held by the school team, with the parents, to make final decisions regarding math placement in advanced curriculums. There are a number of factors taken into consideration including; sequencing of content, foundational skills acquisition, and goals of the student.
Ultimately, we strive to make sure that every student has the opportunity to access curriculum and instruction that has been thoughtfully selected through a developmental lens of the whole child.