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University of Iowa News Release

June 2, 2004

June 3 'Talk of Iowa' Explores Grade-Skipping, Academic Acceleration

Three guests, including the lead author of the soon-to-be-released report "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students," will appear on WSUI radio's "Talk of Iowa" program at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 3, to discuss grade-skipping and other forms of academic acceleration.

"Talk of Iowa" is a daily call-in program produced by both public radio WSUI AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI AM 640 in Ames. Listeners can participate in the program by calling 466-9100 in Johnson County, or 1-866-780-9100 from anywhere in Iowa or Illinois.

The program will be archived on WSUI's website and will be available to listen to online within a day or two of the program at http://wsui.uiowa.edu/talk_of_iowa.htm.

Host Ben Kieffer will interview three guests for Thursday's hour-long program: Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., director of the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development in the University of Iowa College of Education and lead author of "A Nation Deceived"; Alexis Hanson, a University of Iowa student from Hudson, Iowa, who skipped grades twice between fifth grade and high school; and Hanson's mother, Maureen Hanson, who has two other daughters who have benefited from academic acceleration.

Funded with a $205,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation, "A Nation Deceived" is expected to be completed in September and will be one of the most comprehensive syntheses to date of research on academic acceleration, a term that covers such practices as grade-skipping, early entrance to college, single-subject acceleration and Advanced Placement (AP) courses and programs.

The final version of the Templeton National Report on Acceleration, authored by Colangelo and coauthored by Belin-Blank Center Associate Director Susan Assouline and Miraca Gross, a professor of gifted education at the University of New South Wales in Australia, will include 11 chapters, with contributions from some of the country's top researchers and practitioners in the area of academic acceleration.

Preliminary findings of the study show that potentially thousands of academically gifted K-12 students across the country are being denied opportunities to take the kinds of challenging coursework that might lead to careers in math, science and other important fields, even as the United States' preeminence in these areas continues to slip.

In many instances obstacles are being placed in the students' paths by the very people charged with educating them to their highest potential: teachers and school administrators.

Colangelo says he hopes the report will help debunk some of the myths that plague accelerated education, including the notion that grade-skipping and similar practices have adverse psychological, social or emotional effects on students. He said some of these concerns may stem from the disproportionate attention given to highly unusual cases, such as students still in their teens who are accepted by medical or law schools.

Many educators are unprepared or unwilling to help students and parents adequately assess -- and meet -- the gifted child's needs, Colangelo contends. They may not want to appear to be giving preferential treatment to such students. They may have had a negative experience and, as a result, are unwilling to assist other gifted students. Or they may fear that the cost of helping students with accelerated education will greatly exceed allocated per-pupil funding. The truth, Colangelo said, is that costs for accommodating gifted students are often minimal.

He said the report is intended not as an indictment of today's educators but as a wake-up call to America about the enormous loss of potential to schools, families and the nation when academically precocious students are denied access to opportunities for academic advancement.

For information on obtaining a copy of the report when it's completed, contact the Belin Blank Center toll free at 1-800-336-6463, or 319-335-6148.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.