I met with my daughter's homeroom teacher this afternoon to discuss grade the recent grade skipping decision. To my surprise, she was very well informed about gifted education and for many years has handled clusters of gifted kids, sprinkled with the rare highly and exceptionally gifted. We reviewed my daughter's test scores, academic record from EPGY, list of books read since last year, as well as her own assessment academic readiness. I was left speechless when she argued that my daughter could be skipped to third grade and that it could be arranged if I requested it. Say what?????? Did I hear the teacher argue for the radical acceleration of my child? Is this possible in the LAUSD? I explained to the teacher that I thought it best to allow one year for my daughter's writing to rise to third grade standards. We agreed that the best course of action would be to skip over third grade next year provided that the writing proficiency goal is accomplished.
The surprises continued this afternoon after I got to my house. I received an email from the homeroom teacher following a meeting with the principal. She informed me that my daughter will be accelerated to third grade math. Logistically, this means that Paulina will leave her homeroom every day to take math in one of the third grade classrooms and then return to second grade for the remainder of the day. Moreover, my wife and I will be allowed to come to class to help proctor Paulina while she spends part of her English and math classes working on EPGY. In exchange, we have offered to help the teacher since budget cuts mean she has no teaching assistant this year.
Here is a bullet point summary of what I learned today:
- radical acceleration is possible in the LAUSD
- homeroom teachers and school principals make the final decision to accelerate
- it is possible to do single-subject acceleration simultaneously with grade skipping
- this seems to work best when the teachers and principal are well-informed
- offer to help when the school accommodates your child
I am having a bit of trouble coming up with a prescription for success. I did some things right. Good luck played a big role. However, I also believe that "Chance favors the prepared mind." This implies that you can best advocate for your child by being ready:
- Talk to parents of current students to find out how the school has handled acceleration and grade skipping in previous years
- Learn the rules and regulations governing grade skipping and acceleration in your district
- Document your child's talents by collecting IQ test scores, grades from prior courses, scores from standardized exams, transcripts from gifted and talented programs (i.e. Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth, John Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth, etc.), evaluations from former teachers, etc.
- Enroll the help of gifted education advocates. You may want to contact the Davidson Institute. The Davidson Institute's Davidson Young Scholars offers guidance, free consulting services, and may help you communicate with local school officials.
- Read as much research as possible on the benefits of grade skipping, acceleration, ability-based grouping, etc. Become an expert. Knowledge is the most powerful tool at your disposal.
- Become a relentless advocate for your child's rights.
Hope this helps,