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 (belinblank.org). 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 (accelerationinstitute.org), and graduate programs and research in gifted education.

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State Policies in Pennsylvania  

Pennsylvania's state policy leaves local education agencies (LEA) to determine whether and to what extent acceleration is permitted. PA Code 16.2 states that "operational responsibility" is given to the school districts to determine the methods of identification and programming, and each district is responsible for providing gifted education services that enable students to "participate in acceleration or enrichment programs, or both" based on their unique needs.

Grade-based Acceleration

Early entrance to kindergarten

State policy leaves LEA to determine whether early entrance to kindergarten is permitted. In general, children must turn 5 on or before January 15th of the school year in which they intend to enroll, but each LEA may establish its own cut-off date.

Early entrance to 1st gradePennsylvania Code § 11.13 defines a "beginner" as "a child who enters a school district’s lowest elementary school grade that is above kindergarten," which is often first grade. § 11.15 gives local school boards the power to determine the entrance age for first grade, so long as it is not less than 5 years and 7 months before September 1st, and § 11.16 states that early admission to first grade is allowed.
Whole-grade acceleration

A white paper released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (available here) states that "PDE Chapter 4 regulations allow for all forms of curricular acceleration including early entrance to kindergarten and first grade, single subject acceleration, curriculum compacting, whole grade acceleration, dual enrollment and early entrance to college." However, the Department also recognizes that acceleration is not commonly implemented in PA public schools, "in part, because of a lack of clear communication, professional development and explicit advice available to our educators."

Early high school graduation“A school entity may choose one of two methods of determining whether a student has met the proficient level of achievement. First, the school entity may choose to graduate students achieving proficiency on the PSSA administered in grade 11 or 12. In the alternative, the school entity may choose to graduate students achieving proficiency on a local assessment aligned with the academic standards and the PSSA.” Assessments and Graduation Requirements
Early entrance to collegeIf you know where to find this information, please e-mail us.

Content-based Acceleration

Dual or concurrent enrollment in community college, college, or universityState policy specifically permits dual enrollment in high school and college. Each LEA is responsible for determining the earliest grade/age permitted to dual enroll, and whether high school credit is awarded for college courses.

The University of Pittsburgh offers two dual enrollment programs for high school students: the Accelerated High School (AHS) program and the College in High School (CHS) program. AHS allows high school juniors and seniors to take courses on the University of Pittsburgh campus while simultaneously attending high school, and CHS allows students to earn high school and college credit by taking college courses in their high school classrooms.

Carnegie Mellon University also offers summer Pre-College Programs that allow juniors and seniors in high school (or suitably qualified younger students) to take courses on the CMU campus and earn college credit. There is also a residential option for students who are at least 16 years old.

The University of Pennsylvania Penn Pre-College Program allows sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school (as well as some high school freshmen based on academic record) to earn college credit over the summer.

Finally, Summer Study at Penn State University offers a variety of college-credit and non-credit programs for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Middle school students permitted dual or concurrent enrollment in high school

State policy leaves LEA to determine whether dual enrollment in middle and high school is permitted, and whether high school credit is given for courses taken in middle school.
Advanced Placement®State policy permits, and thousands of Pennsylvania students participate in AP courses each year.
Talent SearchPennsylvania students may participate in a number of regional and national talent searches, including those offered through the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank Center or Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.
Credit by examination/proficiency-based promotion

State policy leaves LEA to determine whether proficiency-based promotion is permitted. Each LEA determines methods of demonstrating proficiency; common methods include multiple choice tests, essays, standardized tests, portfolios, and performance. Advancement options after proficiency are determined by the LEA.
Other forms of content-based acceleration

Typically left to LEAs to determine. If you know of state-level code, please e-mail us.

Additional Information

Pennsylvania Department of Education Gifted Website
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education

The information presented on this page was compiled from a variety of resources, including the State of the States in Gifted Education 2012-2013 (a report by the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted and the National Association for Gifted Children), Websites, professional literature, and personal communication. The Acceleration Institute has not verified the accuracy of this information and does not warrant its accuracy or fitness of use for any purpose. Users should verify information prior to taking any action. Furthermore, the appearance of selected programs and/or resources does not imply an endorsement or affiliation. Programs and resources are highlighted for informational purposes only.