Whole Grade Acceleration Information

  • What is whole acceleration?

    A whole grade acceleration is the practice of assigning a student to a higher grade level than is typical given the student’s age full-time for the purpose of meeting the high achieving or gifted student’s unique needs. Whole grade acceleration is rare and many factors are considered when evaluating whether or not a child is a good candidate.


    • After completing the first grade year, a student 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.
    • After completing the fall semester of the fifth grade year, a student is placed in the sixth grade at the start of the second semester of the same school year.

    How do I know if my child is a good candidate for acceleration?

    A student is considered a good candidate if he/she has done each of the following:
    • Clearly demonstrated consistent high ability in almost all subject areas
    • Clearly demonstrated accelerated performance in almost all subject areas when compared to his or her age-mates
    • Has Full Scale IQ or cognitive score at least one standard deviation above the mean (115 – guideline provided by Iowa Acceleration Scale, instrument required for use by Ohio Department of Education for whole grade acceleration)
    • Consistently scores in Advanced category on state assessments (if available) for the are being considered for acceleration
    • Siblings are either not in the proposed accelerated grade level or are two or more grades above or below the child (Critical Item identified in the Iowa Acceleration Scale, instrument required for use by Ohio Department of Education for whole grade acceleration)
    • Likes challenges
    • Physical size and motor skills comparable with the proposed acceleration grade level; if size is dramatically different, team needs to discuss the impact and how the discrepancy will be managed
    • Has good school attendance
    • Demonstrates a positive attitude, neither over-estimating or under-estimating his/her ability
    • Completes assignments with care
    • Is motivated to do well
    • Adapts easily socially and emotionally to new and/or challenging environments
    • Received challenging and enriching instruction but still cannot have his/her needs met at the current grade level

    My child says that he/she is bored. Does this mean that he/she should be accelerated?

    This statement in isolation is not a reason to refer a student for the acceleration process. It is important to understand that being “bored” can have a number of meanings. It does not always have to mean that the curriculum is not challenging enough. In some instances, it can actually mean that something may be a little too challenging for the student, so the student is using avoidance to engage in the task. Through dialogue with your child and his/her teacher, it is important to get some insight on what exactly being “bored” means. Is it too easy? Too hard? Not an area of interest? Something else?

    After talking with my child’s teacher, we believe that after receiving challenging and enriching differentiated instruction, his/her needs are not best met in current placement. What should we do?

    Sometimes despite numerous enrichment and extension opportunities being provided, it is possible that your child needs the additional challenge of a subject or whole grade acceleration. This intervention is for a small percentage of the population, and a student need not be identified as gifted in order to be referred for acceleration. A whole grade acceleration will address the needs of a student who demonstrates readiness academically, socially, and emotionally in all areas to support a move to the next grade level.

    The Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS) is the instrument used for whole-grade acceleration K-8 as required by the state of Ohio. The IAS requires the acceleration committee to look at assessment data, school and academic factors, developmental factors, interpersonal skills, school and family attitude and support as
    well as critical items such as siblings in the accelerated grade level or the student’s ability is less than one standard deviation above the mean.

    The whole grade acceleration becomes a permanent placement after the nine week transition period. A student who just qualifies is probably not the ideal candidate for acceleration. One must examine the potential for long-term achievement. Accelerated students should be expected to achieve, relative to their new grade peers, at a high level that is generally comparable to their performance in their previous grade. These students are typically in the top 10% in a class and one would expect them to remain in the top 10% throughout their academic career. Thus, test scores should be strong in order for acceleration to be successful.

    More information is available at the Acceleration Institute website.

    For families considering whether or not acceleration is the right intervention for their child, contact the child’s teacher to get an idea of the student’s progress within the classroom and what extension and enrichment opportunities have been implemented in the classroom to stretch and engage the learner.

    You may also contact the gifted services department with any questions about acceleration. More information about acceleration and the state model acceleration policy may also be found by visiting the Ohio Department of Education information page.

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