Parents have nothing to fear from fast-tracking kids

December 1, 2011

A major national study has found that parents and teachers of gifted children are generally supportive of academic acceleration but continue to have concerns about the emotional impact of fast-tracking education.

The study’s lead author and international expert on gifted , Professor Miraca Gross, said these concerns are unfounded and that teachers have inaccurate ideas of what constitutes social and emotional maturity.

“There is a genuine, yet misplaced concern for the welfare of high-ability students,” said Professor Gross, whose study, Releasing the Brakes for High Ability Learners, is published today by the Gifted Education, Research and Resource Centre (GERRIC) at the University of New South Wales.

“A very bright child might have a peer group outside of school that matches their intellect and interests but if the teacher doesn’t realise that and sees the child being rejected in the classroom by their same-age peers then it is interpreted as social difficulty,” she said.

The study – the largest of its kind in Australia – also finds that some teachers are reluctant to accelerate children for fear this will slow down the class and disadvantage other class students.

However, Professor Gross believes the risk of this happening is minimal as “academically talented students are usually emotionally mature for their age and are unlikely to have difficulties with the higher standard of work – indeed, they thrive on it”.

Key report findings:

  • There is a general pattern of enthusiasm for acceleration
  • Teachers continue to have concerns about the socio-emotional outcomes of acceleration
  • Respondents disagreed about whether acceleration has adverse affects on a child’s social and emotional development
  • Parents are confused about advocacy strategies – their child is denied acceleration if they are too “pushy”
  • Students are supportive of acceleration because of increased stimulation and academic achievement. They are socially connected and feel positive about themselves and their school experiences.

The report recommends conducting research to develop an appropriate instrument to measure high-ability learners’ social and emotional development and maturity, and suitability for acceleration.

Releasing the Brakes for High Ability Learners involved 104 nationwide interviews with principals, Gifted and Talented school coordinators, teachers, parents, and older high-ability students across 49 government, independent and Catholic schools.

Both primary and secondary schools were sampled and an attitudinal survey with 211 responses was analyzed. School and region acceleration policies were also analyzed.

The full report is available on the GERRIC website and will shortly be released as an eBook for teachers and parents.

The study was funded by the Templeton Foundation, a US-based philanthropic organization.

Explore further: Research shows benefits of investing in psychological wealth of young people

Related Stories

Coping with back-to-school anxiety

August 11, 2011

Many children feel nervous about going to school for the first time or returning to school after a summer off. Here are tips for kids – and parents – on managing the back-to-school jitters.

Schools lose records; English learners pay

April 11, 2011

( -- Poor recordkeeping keeps California schools from getting all of the funding that they have coming, a failing that especially hurts English learners, according to research from the University of California, ...

Overcoming boredom

September 1, 2011

“I’m bored.” It’s a line that parents likely hear throughout the year. But, as students prepare to head back to classes for the start of a new school year, one University of Alberta researcher says these ...

Pre-K students benefit when teachers are supportive

May 15, 2008

States are investing considerable amounts of money in pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds. A new study finds that the quality of interactions between teachers and children plays a key role in accounting for gains in ...

Recommended for you

133 million-year-old dinosaur brain fossil found in England

October 28, 2016

Soft tissues such as hearts and muscles are very rarely preserved in the fossil record. For that reason, nearly all study of dinosaur soft tissue has to be reconstructed from fossil bones. However, researchers in the United ...

Science: Public interest high, literacy stable

October 28, 2016

While public interest in science continues to grow, the level of U.S. scientific literacy remains largely unchanged, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Experts uncover hidden layers of Jesus' tomb site

October 27, 2016

In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where ...

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.