Should gifted students skip gradesShould  a student skip a grade level due to academic giftedness? This is an issue that I struggle with. The academically gifted student should definitely have...

Should gifted students skip grades

Should  a student skip a grade level due to academic giftedness?

This is an issue that I struggle with. The academically gifted student should definitely have their needs met in school. However, in my experience, students who are exceedingly smart have a sizable social deficit. Keeping them with their peers benefits them because it gives them exposure to appropriate age level social interactions.


Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I currently teach mainly high school juniors in my AP English Language and Composition Class.  Each year, the number of students who are "graduating early" increases.  We are on a block schedule which enables students to take 8 classes every year.  That combined with the number of high school credits students can earn in middle school has made it quite easy for students to combine their junior and senior years.

The issue I have observed is certainly the social maturity effects.  My students who skip--all of them have been males so far--want to identify with the students with whom they have been in class all their academic careers but are also supposed to be experiencing all the privileges and "lasts" of the senior year.  This appears to be very conflicting for them, and I have had two now return to visit while on their college breaks who are rather disillusioned with their early college experience.

Right now, I teach a student who skipped his sophomore year, and he's having a difficult time fitting in.  He makes off-the-wall comments in class just to get attention, and the other students seem to resent him because they view him as getting a privilege that they don't have.

lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think a student skipping a grade probably creates more problems than it solves, particularly with regard to social maturity.  There is much talk in the gifted/talented community, and even among parents of successful students about kids being "bored" in school, as if that is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to a student.  I would contend that these "bored and unchallenged" students are no different than "bored and unchallenged" adults in the work world; this is more a fact of life than it is an emergency situation requiring drastic action including but perhaps not limited to vaulting a student a grade or two above his peers.  This is not to say that we as teachers shouldn't work to enrich the learning of all kids in whatever ways possible; it is to say that this idea that every student in every classroom in every school in America should feel entertained and exhilarated at every possible moment is impossible, and absolutely not preparing a student for further education nor future encounters with the "real world."  Like it or not, sometimes in life, one has to sit down, focus on a task, and be bored, if one is going to be successful. 

jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My school segregates students by intelligence. Sometimes this method of separating students by how intellectually "gifted" they are is called, innocuously, "tracking." It has very much the same effect and purpose as skipping grades.

I revile the whole idea. It's as if school was only about how intelligent one is. Forget about manners and social skills, emotional intelligence and maturity or nurturing cooperation and kindness. If a child is skipped a grade because he is more intelligent or "gifted" than his peers, the school is saying, Let's forget about the social connections and support groups you have built up over all the previous years... it's of little consequence what they may offer you in your overall development and what you may have to offer them. Your intelligence is what is of the utmost importance to you and to us, so let's put you in a class of kids just like you.

How near-sighted and unfortunate.

And by the way, skipping grades or moving a child into a special, "gifted" class is often prompted by certain over-achieving  and goal-oriented parents. How near-sighted and unfortunate of them, too.

fernholz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Skipping a grade would have a negative impact on the child. Think of the social skills they lack. Also they'll lose the friendships they've made over the years. Older students will probably look down on the student and grade level peers might be jealous and negative towards the student.

If this were being considered, it would need to be the decision of all teachers, parents, administration, and the child. They would need to be exceeding in all their classes and it needs to be consistent.

I would highly advise not letting students skip a grade. There are other incentive for doing well in school. Also the students needs could be met in the regular classroom by differentiating. For instance in English the student could read a novel at a higher reading level. Other students would benefit as well. If this student still isn't challenged, their parents need to enroll them in a gifted and talented program either in a school setting or through a private organization.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Teachingrocks makes a very good point when considering the social implications of gifted students skipping grades. Most students mature as they grow older. Skipping students ahead by grades takes the out of a familiar and similar social/emotional group, and it forces them to try and assilimate into an entirely different group.

Why is this necessary? Is it because the gifted student is not being challenged enough academically at his or her current level? Differentiation should be applied to gifted students as well as to IEP students. Both groups need personalized consideration. Unfortunately many teachers who try to arrange this for gifted students end up simply giving them more "work" and not merely more challenging options. Gifted students don't need "more"--they simply need "more challenging." If the teachers can do this, then gifted students could remain with the social/emotional group with which they are already adjusted to. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I skipped 6th grade way back when and I don't think it did me any lasting damage.

However, my case may be unusual since I was attending a small missionary school out in Micronesia and was promoted along with three others who spoke English well (it gave us a huge advantage).  So maybe I didn't have as much of a social deficit as you say kids who are able to skip here in the US tend to have.

For me, the only real regret I have is that skipping a grade (combined with starting school early because I have a January birthday) meant that I graduated from HS when I was 16.  That was fine except that it (I think as I look back) hurt my sports career.  I made varsity teams but didn't play much.  I think a couple or even one year more physical maturity would have helped.

Anyway, that's my story...

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generally, I am opposed to gifted students skipping grades for the reasons explained here. Also, gifted students are not necessarily gifted in every academic area, and developing social skills throughout school is certainly an important part of becoming well educated. Addressing the needs of a gifted student is simply a challenge that educators must meet without taking the easy way out and passing him along to the next grade. In some schools, gifted students remain with their age group as they move through school but are allowed to take some higher level classes. Another approach I've seen is the "pull out" option; gifted students remain a part of their elementary classroom but attend some classes each week in a different school setting in the district.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Skipping grades is hard for children on a social level. While they need that extra academic stimulation, it's really important to consider what socialization skills the child would be lacking in order to fit in with older kids. I agree with the previous post that stated it is decision that needs to be left to the parents and most importantly, the child.

I think it would be ideal to leave the child in their normal grade level, but find activities that will be stimulating as well. This way they are interacting with peers their own age and getting the stimulation they need at the same time.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In concurrence with so many others, the problem is definitely that gifted are no longer challenged as "no child can be left behind."  Several of the AP students are now on the dual-enrollment at the community college.  But when they take English 101, they come with few mature reading and writing skills and little analytical-thinking skill.  When asked to do real college writing, they fall short and often do not pass the course.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Strictly from a social aspect, I would not advise it for the average student. I thoroughly enjoyed my high school years, especially my senior year, which I could have eliminated in this manner. For someone totally bored with high school, perhaps it is more advisable. I never advise rushing through these important, late teenage years. Most people will look back at them as the best times of their lives. Why shorten them?

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is not one answer that would satisfy each situation. It really is up to the parents, children as they assess the school as well as the benefits and negative. My teachers wanted me to skip a grade, but my parents did not want to. I think they made good decision, since I was not ready in terms of maturity.

atyourservice | Student

They should be given the choice just in case they want to. Back when I was in Africa my teachers told my parent I was a bit too smart for my grades and wanted me to skip grades, but I declined. Now that I think back I don't regret it. I am really socially awkward, so I am glad I got to be in classes with people the same age as me. Plus I don't think my brain was ready for the higher level.

kevin0001 | Student

I don't think a child should skip grades due to their intelligence, even if they are ahead and know most of the subject. Skipping grades can make other students jealous and may hurt the gifted child. Skipping grades can also mean that the child won't get to experience the friendship and relationships of lower grade levels. They might even feel depressed because they advanced.

crystaltu001 | Student

I think skipping grades is hard for people. You have to be super mature if you want to skip a grade. I think you need to be ready for the next grade if you want to skip your current one. I think staying in the grade you belong is better because you can interact with people your age.

arrellbelle | Student

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was gifted enough to skip at least 3 grades since my reading comprehension skill was already at a college level. However, my mom opted out of that idea and I stayed for all the grades and although I would've had my Bachelor's degree right now, i'm rather glad because I get to experience the full college experience and also, college is expensive so that we were able to save enough money in case.

selena-hoe | Student

i have been asked if i wanted to skip a grade but i declined because i wanted to stay with my friends but it ended up being a good thing because i still ended up learning things i didnt know before and i also was able to help my classmates with things they didnt understand but i did. :)

teach205 | Student

Only if the maturity level of the student is considered

teacherof7 | Student

I believe that it would be beneficial only if the student is academically gifted, but also mature for their age.  I wouldn't recommend this in a middle school setting, but possibly elementary or high school.

jenniferdawnw | Student

I definitely agree with the majority.  I have taught middle school for 10 years now and have only seen this happen twice. They were two boys.  One boy was moved up two grade levels and would sit in his desk indian style while sitting on his feet.  You can only imagine the ridicule that took place.  The other boy was moved up one grade level and only made one friend by the end of the year.  The social immaturity was too noticable.  You can also imagine talking to students in an 8th grade science class about age appropriate material and the deer in the headlights look these two boys would have.  I personally would not want my son hearing material an 8th graders might hear in science class, until he is in 8th grade.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The social implications of skipping grades are very important and should not be overlooked. However, enabling students with substantially higher aptitudes and and capabilities to fully realize their capabilities should also be an important objective for any education system.

Also, I would like to point out that the problem of social deficit or other similar problems are not limited to students who skip grades. This is a problem which needs to be tackled rather than avoided.

Finally, we need to weigh the benefits of faster educational advancement of exceptionally bright student with their social needs. We may have to accept some social disadvantages to achieve much greater academic advantages.

kfrogteacher | Student

I agree with mshurn. Gifted students may not be gifted in all areas and to expect a student to deal educationally and emotionally with a move up that they are not prepared for is a problem waiting to happen. I have also seen the pullout program and also a seperate class for G/T students to work on special projects in their gifted areas. these programs address the students natural talent in their given area. It also, with some programs, allow for a G/T "showcase" to allow others to seetheir talent and possibly be encouraged by it.

I do feel that successful students need incentives to keep them engaged and these programs provide extra incentives for them. Additionally, teachers have training, lesson plans, and assignments that allow for students that comprehend on that level to get a more in-depth understanding of the subject they are learning. this allows them to be engaged and not bored. I feel this is a major factor for these kids!

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