This information was produced by the staff of the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (B-BC) at the University of Iowa ( The resources and information listed here are for informational purposes; there is no direct or implied endorsement by the B-BC. Services provided by the B-BC include programs for academically talented K-12 and college students, professional development for teachers, the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, the Acceleration Institute (, and graduate programs and research in gifted education.


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Annotated Bibliography

Articles are listed in descending order by year (most recent first), and then by first author's last name.

Dimensions and Issues of Acceleration

Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Worrell, F. C. (2015). Nurturing the young genius. Scientific American, 23, 60-67.

The authors discuss the importance of "fast-tracking talent" -- recognizing abilities, providing opportunities, and fostering the psychological strengths that are necessary for the successful development of talent.

Scheibel, S. (2012). Academic acceleration: Is it right for my child? Parenting for High Potential, 1(7).

This article covers a number of topics related to acceleration, and provides parents advice on how to advocate for acceleration if they think it is a good fit.

Rogers, K. B. (2010). Academic acceleration and giftedness: The research from 1990 to 2008, A best-evidence synthesis. In N. Colangelo, S. Assouline, D. Lohman, & M. A. Marron (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2008 Wallace Symposium poster session on academic acceleration. Iowa City, IA: The University of Iowa.

The full proceedings are available here.

Colangelo, N., & Assouline, S. (2009). Acceleration: Meeting the academic and social needs of students. In L. Shavinina (Ed.), International Handbook on Giftedness (pp. 1085-1098). Amsterdam: Springer Science and Business Media.

The highly acclaimed publication A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students is the foundation for this chapter on academic acceleration. The chapter includes a comprehensive discussion of the research supporting the benefits of academic acceleration. Finally, a case study of the decision-making process, which remains difficult for parents and educators - despite the extensive research supporting the benefits of acceleration - is presented as an application of the information provided by the chapter.

Gross, M. U. M. (2008). Musings: "Hasten slowly" - Thoughtfully planned acceleration. Understanding Our Gifted, 20(2), 6-8.

Acceleration is one of the best researched interventions for gifted students. The author is an advocate of acceleration. However, advocating for the thoughtful, carefully judged employment of a procedure with well researched effectiveness does not imply approval of cases where the procedure is used without sufficient thought--especially where it is used in violation of the very safeguards that research has shown to be necessary for its optimal effectiveness. The author sometimes comes across cases where parents have argued repeatedly and forcefully for acceleration in situations where it has been, quite clearly, inappropriate for their child. Giftedness, by itself, does not indicate that acceleration is desirable; everyone has to look at the whole child, not only his intellectual capacity. The author offers a list of guidelines for acceleration that should be followed when schools or parents consider advancement for and intellectually/academically gifted student. She asks schools and parents to use acceleration with the thought, care, and respect that it demands. They should hasten gifted children's progress through school, but they should not "hurry" it.

Walker, S. Y. (2008). Advancement and acceleration: What is it? Understanding Our Gifted, 20(2), 3-5.

"A Nation Deceived" (2004) documents the benefits of acceleration for gifted children. Supported by this groundbreaking research, acceleration has come into focus on the national scene. Our society seems concerned with making education "fair." What we need to realize is that fair does not mean the same for all. In fact, that would be very "unfair." Fair is giving each child what he needs at the appropriate time. When the gifted child goes unrecognized and is made to do age appropriate work that she has already mastered in previous years, the child is tied down, devalued, and unrecognized. Acceleration attempts to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of the student. It is a way of honoring what is already known and building upon it. This article offers a menu of acceleration and advancement options. Which strategy is offered and which works depends on the school philosophy, the teacher, the student, the parents, and the available resources.

Woelfel, K. (2005). Successful intervention: It takes time. Principal, 85(2), 18-21.

Successful interventions for at-risk students extend and redefine learning time to improve achievement. This article describes five programs -- Promoting Academically Successful Students (PASS), Academic Acceleration Academy, Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), Middle Grade Acceleration Program (M-GAP), and a flexible credit plan -- that employ strategies to give struggling students the additional time they need for intensive instruction.

Brody, L. E., & Benbow, C. P. (2004). Accelerative strategies: How effective are they for the gifted? In L. E. Brody (Vol. Ed.) & S. M. Reis (Series Ed.), Essential readings in gifted education: Vol. 3. Grouping and acceleration practices in gifted education (pp. 57-67). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

This resource is part of a 12-volume National Association for Gifted Children series designed for educators. This particular volume collects the research on grouping and acceleration as academic interventions, and the article by Brody & Benbow examines the effects of specific accelerative options.

National Association for Gifted Children. (2004). Position Paper: Acceleration. Retrieved March 31, 2009, from

The NAGC policy statement deals with acceleration, an issue that impacts the education of gifted and talented students. It concludes opportunities must be offered to all children. Accordingly, highly able students with capability and motivation to succeed in placements beyond traditional age/grade parameters should be provided the opportunity to enroll in intellectually appropriate classes and educational settings.

Shoplik, A.L. (2004). Tips for Parents: Acceleration and the Profoundly Gifted. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from GT-CyberSource Article Library.

Ann Lupkowski Shoplik, Ph.D., Director of the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary Students at Carnegie Mellon University, conducted a seminar for parents of academically talented students who were interested in acceleration. Included are some of the points discussed during the seminar.

Viadero, D. (2004). Report urges acceleration for gifted students. Education Week, 24(5), 5.

This article can be found here.

Feldhusen, J. F. (2003). Precocity and acceleration. Gifted Education International, 17(1), 55-58.

Precocious kids have the motivation and the ability to surge ahead of what is normative for their ages and grade levels. Many first and second graders learn to read at levels in the reading curriculum that are typical for third to fifth graders. Some surge ahead in math too but not as many as get ahead in reading. To get ahead precocious kids need access to advanced material, and that is easier to do in reading than in math. Brief contact without formal instruction often is all precocious kids need to learn and master advanced material.

Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2003). Is your school using best practices for instruction of gifted students? Talent, Winter(1), 3-4.

Review of the talent search model, ability grouping, acceleration, and curriculum compacting.

Cross, T. L. (2002). Putting the well-being of all students (including gifted students) first. Gifted Child Today, 25(4), 14-17.

This article examines how schools can ensure the well-being of gifted children. It discusses the benefits of acceleration and critiques the practice of cooperative learning. The need to challenge gifted students in highly systematic and informed ways, wherein learning takes place just within intellectual reach, is urged.

Lewis, G. (2002). Alternatives to acceleration for the highly gifted child. Roeper Review, 24(3), 130-133.

This reprinted article originally appeared in 1984 in Roeper Review, 6(3), 133-136. Presents case studies of a male and a female preschooler (both aged 5 yrs 9 mo [Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale IQs 159 and 158+, respectively]) enrolled in a university summer program to show that acceleration is not enough to meet the needs of such children. It is concluded that assessment, flexible scheduling, and counseling are required for successful programs for children with advanced intellectual gifts. A comment on this article by a group of guest editors is appended.

Vialle, W., Ashton, T., Carlon, G., & Rankin, F. (2001). Acceleration: A coat of many colours. Roeper Review, 24(1). 

This article discusses three research projects conducted in New South Wales, Australia that explore different forms of acceleration and the resistance of educational practitioners to utilize acceleration as an intervention for gifted students.

This article can be found here.

Stanley, J. C. (2000). Helping students learn only what they don’t already know. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6(1), 216-222.

This article is a book chapter by Julian Stanley. In it the author explains that students need to be helped in learning what they do not already know, in a more individualized setting instead of being marched through course materials regardless of what they know at the start of the course. This article expounds on this situation because it especially hurts the intellectually talented, who tend to be far ahead of their grade level.

Benbow, C. P. (1998). Acceleration as a method for meeting the academic needs of intellectually talented children. In J. VanTassel-Baska (Ed.), Excellence in educating gifted and talented learners (pp. 279-294). Denver, CO: Love Publishing.

This is a chapter in a book that discusses characteristics and needs of gifted learners, as well as acceleration, grouping, and gifted program development.

DeLacy, M. (1996). Acceleration of gifted students: A background paper created for the Portland Public School District Talented and Gifted Advisory Committee. [On-line].

This report is available here.

Benbow, C. P., & Stanley, J. C. (1996). Inequity in equity: How "equity" can lead to inequity for high-potential students. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 2(2), 249-292.

Over the past three decades, the achievement of waves of American students with high intellectual potential has declined as a result of inequity in educational treatment. This inequity is the result of an extreme form of egalitarianism within American society and schools, which involves the pitting of equity against excellence rather than promoting both equity and excellence; anti-intellectualism; the "dumbing down" of the curriculum; equating aptitude and achievement testing with elitism; the attraction to fads by schools; and the insistence of schools to teach all students from the same curriculum at the same level. In this article we provide recommendations for creating positive change-recommendations that emphasize excellence for all, that call for responsiveness to individual differences, and that suggest basing educational policies on well-grounded research findings in psychology and education. Educational policies that fail to take into account the vast range of individual differences among students-as do many that are currently in use-are doomed to be ineffective.

McBride, R. E., & Stuessy, C. (1996). Taking stock and creating a vision: A middle school community takes the first steps toward creating an accelerated school. Education Canada, 36(3), 20-24.

Accelerated schools strive to bring at-risk students into the educational mainstream and perform at grade level through acceleration rather than remediation. Describes four steps to initiate the accelerated process and how a Texas middle school involved all members of the school community in implementing the first two steps, taking stock and forging a vision.

Passow, H. A. (1996). Acceleration over the years. In C. P. Benbow & D. J. Lubinski (Eds.), Intellectual talent: Psychometric and social issues (pp. 93-98). Ames, IA: Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

Discusses the history of and present-day issues in educational acceleration of gifted students.

Lynch, S. J. (1994). Should gifted students be grade advanced? (Report). Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

This report is available here.

Tomlinson, C. A. (1994). Middle school and acceleration: Guidance from research and the kids. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 5(4), 42-51.

This article examines available literature on a variety of options for accelerated learning in middle school. Different forms addressed include concurrent enrollment, guided independent study, combined enrollment, out-of-school acceleration, self-paced instruction, grade skipping, and differentiated or advanced class enrollment. A list of questions for educators and parents to ask in examining a student's accelerated learning options is provided.

Witham, J. H. (1994). Acceleration: Does it happen more frequently for gifted students in private or public schools? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

As part of a larger study on differences between public and private schools in the education of gifted students, this study examined use of acceleration as an educational approach. The paper notes that although the weight of research evidence strongly supports the position that acceleration is a highly effective intervention technique with intellectually gifted students, many educators have negative attitudes toward this approach. This study examined programs in 23 private and public schools that serve gifted students. Directors and teachers were surveyed, school documents were analyzed, and classrooms were observed to see the extent that acceleration was used. Questions were asked on early entrance, skipping grades, use of texts and materials beyond grade level, different content, and faster-paced classes. Results suggest that the private schools had more flexibility to set standards on acceleration. However, the overall frequency concerning acceleration of skipping classes (25.9 percent) and starting school earlier (43.5 percent) reported by both public and private schools was quite low. Accelerated texts and materials were found much more frequently than skipping grades or early entrance (public, 76.1 percent; private, 76.9 percent). Teachers in both types of schools strongly (92 percent) believed they offered a fast-paced classroom to gifted children.

Benbow, C. (1992). Progress in gifted education - everywhere but here! Gifted Child Today, 15, 2-8.

This article discusses the fact that most gifted students still are not being challenged appropriately for their abilities. Acceleration is suggested as a very good option that would be available to all gifted students, no matter where they are from. It is discussed in detail throughout the article.

NAGC, (1992). Acceleration position paper. Washington, DC: National Association for Gifted Children.

The NAGC policy statement deals with acceleration, an issue that impacts the education of gifted and talented students. It concludes opportunities must be offered to all children. Accordingly, highly able students with capability and motivation to succeed in placements beyond traditional age/grade parameters should be provided the opportunity to enroll in intellectually appropriate classes and educational settings.

Rogers, K. B., & Kimpston, R. D. (1992). Acceleration: What we do vs. what we know. Educational Leadership, 50(2), 58-61.

Although previous reviews of acceleration outcomes have been markedly positive, practitioners have markedly negative perceptions of acceleration's efficacy. This article reviews and evaluates academic, social, and emotional benefits of early school entrance, grade skipping, nongraded classrooms, curriculum compacting, grade telescoping, concurrent enrollment (in school and college), subject acceleration, advanced placement, mentorship, credit by examination, and early college admission.

Rogers, K.B. (1992). A best-evidence synthesis of research on acceleration options for gifted students. Retrieved April 2, 2008, from GT-CyberSource Article Library.

The research on 12 forms of acceleration was synthesized using Slavin's "best-evidence synthesis" procedure. The Effect Sizes for academic, socialization, and psychological outcomes were calculated for each study containing adequate data, then averaged across all studies pertaining to each accelerative option. Of the 314 studies located covering the years from 1912-1988, only 81 studies provided enough data for calculating Effect Sizes. Significant academic effects were found for all but three options: Concurrent Enrollment, Advanced Placement, and Combined Accelerative Options. In general, the research showed no substantial positive or negative socialization and psychological effect differences for most forms of acceleration. However, two significant positive socialization Effect Sizes were found for Grade Skipping and Mentorships; likewise, two significant positive psychological adjustment effects were found for Concurrent Enrollment and Mentorships.

Southern, W. T., & Jones, E. D. (1992). The real problems with academic acceleration. Gifted Child Today, 15(2), 34-38.

This article identifies problems commonly attributed to acceleration for gifted students. Specific student concerns (such as friendships) and administrative concerns (such as difficulties in awarding course credits) are addressed. Five suggestions are made to help districts plan for providing accelerative options.

Benbow, C. (1991). Meeting the needs of gifted students through use of acceleration. In M. C. Wang, M. C. Reynolds, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Handbook of special education: Research and practice, Vol. 4: Emerging programs. (pp. 23-36). New York: Pergamon Press.

The chapter provides a rationale for why programming for the gifted is needed and then describes what acceleration entails, the practical benefits of acceleration, and educators' skepticism about its use. The chapter details the theoretical underpinnings of acceleration as a program option for the gifted; explores whether results from empirical investigations bear out the positive theoretical predictions regarding use of acceleration; covers both those studies examining academic benefits and those that focus on social and emotional development; and closes with several suggestions for practice and research.

Hoffman, S. G. (1989). What the books don't tell you about grade skipping. Gifted Child Today, 12(1), 37-39.

A parent who is also an educator describes her concerns about her gifted daughter's lack of challenge in school in spite of accelerated activities. After the student skipped a grade, other concerns resulted, such as the impact on academic adjustment, social adjustment, peer acceptance, motivation, gaps in skills, etc.

Southern, W. T., Jones, E. D., & Fiscus, E. D. (1989). Practitioner objections to the academic acceleration of gifted children. Gifted Child Quarterly, 33(1), 29-35.

Coordinators of gifted education, school psychologists, principals, and teachers (554 respondents) were surveyed concerning their attitudes toward early admission and acceleration. Though negative reactions were weak along some dimensions, practitioners from each category expressed consistently conservative sentiments toward the value of acceleration and viewed the process as potentially hazardous.

Elkind, D. (1988). Mental acceleration. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 11(4), 19-31.

Use of the term "acceleration" to describe interventions to enhance children's intellectual potential is inappropriate, as the term cannot be justified from the standpoint of mental measurement, mental growth, genetics, or education. Maximizing a child's potential through creation of stimulating environments is recommended rather than concentration on early attainment of skills.

Howley, C. B. (1987). It's controversial, but "acceleration" could bring gifted kids up to full speed. American School Board Journal, 174(6), 32-33, 40.

The article discusses acceleration for gifted students as a relatively cheap, highly effective method rarely used in public schools. Recent research supports both grade skipping and acceleration in selected subjects, depending on a particular student's interest, ability, and maturity. Two sidebars highlight the Gessell Institute's curriculum enrichment alternative and a successful Baltimore acceleration program.

Willis, W. G. (1987). Retention/promotion decisions: Selective use of data? Perceptual and Motor Skills, 64, 287-290.

Investigated the use of psychometric data (the Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test, Prereading Phonics Inventory, and First Grade Screening Test) to facilitate retention/promotion decisions for 40 kindergartners and 18 1st graders. Results suggest that members of decision-making teams may use data selectively and that recommendations to retain or promote may be subject to bias.

Howley, C. B., & Howley, A. A. (1985). A personal record: Is acceleration worth the effort? Roeper Review, 8(1), 43-45.

Parents of three gifted children describe their advocacy that has resulted in procuring appropriate education for their children by acceleration despite school opposition.

Kulik, J. A., & Kulik, C. L. C. (1984). Synthesis of research on effects of accelerated instruction. Educational Leadership, 42(2), 84-89.

A meta-analysis of 26 studies shows that accelerated gifted students outperform students of the same age and ability who are not accelerated and achieve as well as equally gifted older students in the higher grades. Correlational studies suggest that accelerates are equally successful later in life.

Kulik, J. A., & Kulik, C. L. C. (1984). The effects of accelerated instruction on students. Review of Educational Research, 54(3), 409-425.

Results from a meta-analysis of 26 controlled studies on the effects of accelerated instruction on elementary and secondary school students are presented. The examination performance of accelerates surpassed the performance of equivalent age and intelligence nonaccelerates and equaled the performance of same-grade but older, talented nonaccelerates.

Paulus, P. (1984). Acceleration: More than grade skipping. Roeper Review, 7(2), 98-100.

The definition of acceleration for gifted students is expanded to include early entrance, partial acceleration,compressing curricula, advanced courses, and mentors and tutors. Popular theories about the social and emotional harm to accelerants are disproved.

Williams, M. (1984). Diamond in the rough: A story of acceleration. Gifted Child Today, 33, 21-23.

A talented and gifted instructor discusses the background and effects of deciding to accelerate a gifted seven-year-old into the fourth grade. The move was accomplished with special attention to transition stages and resulted in the child's successful emotional and academic adjustment.

Benbow, C. P., & Stanley, J. C. (1983). Opening doors for the gifted. American Education 19(3), 44-46.

Curriculum must be adapted to match the ability and developmental stages of the academically gifted. The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Johns Hopkins University determined that curriculum flexibility, not change, is the best approach.

Robinson, N. M., & Robinson, H. B. (1982). The optimal match: Devising the best compromise for the highly gifted student. In D. Feldman (Ed.), Developmental approaches to giftedness and creativity (pp. 79-94). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This chapter discusses early college entrance for young gifted students. It recognizes that no alternatives seem to be ideal, but it explores some of the positive aspects of rapid acceleration. Assumptions that are commonly made in the US educational system are examined and the University of Washington's Early Entrance Program is discussed in detail.

Horne, D. L., & Dupuy, P. J. (1981). In favor of acceleration for gifted students. Personnel & Guidance Journal, 60(2), 103-106.

The article reviews the advantages and disadvantages of two types of programs for intellectually gifted students, enrichment and acceleration. A number of studies on this issue are cited, and it is concluded that acceleration is preferable. It challenges the student as much as enrichment, is less expensive, and is helpful to students whose families move often. The claimed social damage to accelerated students has not been substantiated. Accelerants achieve more in school and in life, and their mental health, social life, and family adjustment compares favorably with the average.

Cohn, S. J., George, W. C., & Stanley, J. C. (1979). Educational acceleration of intellectually talented youths: Prolonged discussion by a varied group of professionals. In W. C. George, S. J. Cohn, & J. C. Stanley (Eds.), Educating the gifted: Acceleration and enrichment (pp. 183-238). Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

This is a chapter in a book chronicling the "revised and expanded proceedings" of the 9th Annual Hyman Blumberg Symposium on Research in Early Childhood Education. The book addresses the acceleration vs. enrichment debate that arose when Julian C. Stanley founded the Study for Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) at Johns Hopkins University. This chapter discusses the benefits of acceleration by comparing it to 4 types of enrichment.

American Educational Research Association (1977). Educational acceleration of intellectually talented youths: Prolonged discussion by a varied group of professionals. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Symposium on Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youths, New York, NY.

Provided are 17 papers presented at the American Educational Research Association's (AERA) 1977 Symposium on Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youths. Following introductory comments by H. James are entries with the following titles and authors: "Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youths-The Gifted and the Creative: Acceleration or Enrichment?" (R. Havighurst); "Acceleration-Simplistic Gimmickry" (M. Gold); "A.E.R.A. Symposium on Intellectually Talented Youth" (H. Robinson, et al.); "Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youths" (S. Daurio); "Selection of Appropriate Criteria and Comparison Groups for Use in the Evaluation of Educational Provisions for the Gifted and Talented" (A. Branch); "Acceleration- A Varied Approach" (E. Kearney); "Acceleration and Enrichment for the Gifted in New York City Public Schools" (V. Ehrlich); "A Possible Economic Correlation of Acceleration for the Individual and for Society" (D. Jackson); "Super Students, Average Schools" (S. Anderson); "Acceleration and the Excellent Mathematical Reasoner" (W. George); "Sexism, Democracy, and the Acceleration Versus Enrichment Controversy" (L. Fox); "The Acceleration/Enrichment Debate-”Basic Issues" (D. Keating); "Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youths-The Mathematical and Physical Sciences" (E. Gibb); vSome Reflections on the Acceleration-Enrichment Controversy" (A. Anastasi); "Brief Paper for Symposium on the Educational Acceleration of Intellectually Talented Youth" (J. Stark); and "Acceleration Versus Enrichment- The Tenth Rule of Three Cubed" (A. Kurtz).

Stanley, J. C. (1973). Accelerating the educational progress of intellectually gifted youths. Educational Psychologist, 10, 133-146.

Contends that aptitude and achievement tests designed for much older students are invaluable for finding extremely high ability at younger ages. Results of the first two years of the Study of Mathematically and Scientifically Precocious Youth are examined to show that considerable educational acceleration is not only feasible but also desirable for gifted young people who are eager to move ahead. Skipping school grades, taking college courses part-time, studying in special courses, and entering college early are inexpensive supplements to regular school practices. The usual in-grade, non-accelerative "enrichment" procedures often recommended for intellectually gifted children are not advocated. An heuristic overview of the main assumptions and findings of the study thus far is presented.

Northwestern University, Center for Talent Development. (n.d.). Acceleration for gifted children: An interview with W. Thomas Southern. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from

This interview with a premier scholar in the area of academic acceleration offers an interesting perspective on the historical use of acceleration, as well as current research and practice.