Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

A Survey of Educational Acceleration Practices in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

A Survey of Educational Acceleration Practices in Canada

Article excerpt


A nationwide survey of Canadian school districts was undertaken to determine the extent to which 18 forms of acceleration were permitted and practiced. Of the high enrollment provinces, BC school districts' participation rates were highest in the most types of acceleration. A surprising number of districts did not allow some forms of acceleration. In most provinces and territories, options that emphasize engaging quick learners in advanced content were more often permitted than those that involved placing accelerants with older students, but the forms most often implemented included both content- and grade-based options. Quebec was the exception where school districts preferred grade-based options.

Key words: Acceleration, gifted, grade skipping, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, early entrance, correspondence courses, curriculum compacting


Une enquete nationale sur les districts scolaires canadiens a ete menee pour determiner dans quelle mesure les 18 formes d'acceleration de l'apprentissage etaient autorisees et pratiquees. Parmi les provinces ou lcs inscriptions etaient les plus nombreuses, les taux de participation dans les districts scolaires en Colombie-Britannique etaient les plus eleves pour la plupart des types d'acceleration. Un hombre surprenant de districts ne permettaient pas certaines formes d'acceleration. Dans la plupart des provinces et des territoires, les options permettant a ceux qui apprennent le plus vite de prendre part a des matieres plus avancees, etaient plus souvent autorisecs que celles consistant a placer ces memes eleves avec des eleves plus ages ; mais les formes d'acceleration les plus souvent mises en oeuvre comprenaient a la lois ces deux types d'options. A l'exception du Quebec, ou les districts scolaires favorisaient le passage des eleves dans des niveaux superieurs.

Mots-cles : acceleration, surdoue, sauter une classe, placement avance, baccalaureat international, admission precoce, tours par correspondance, compression des programmes d'etudes


Education programs and curricula can be differentiated in a variety of ways to provide Canada's most capable learners with opportunities to progress at a developmentally appropriate pace, to offer them opportunities to learn "what they don't already know" (Stanley, 2000, p. 216). All of the many forms of academic acceleration enable these students to "progress though an educational program at rates faster or ages younger than conventional (Pressey, 1949, p. 2). These practices may result in advanced standing in one or more subjects, advancement in those subjects, and may also involve grade advancement.

Advanced learning and precocious intellectual development are distinguishing characteristics of gifted and highly able learners (Lubinski & Benbow, 2000; Rogers, 1986, VanTassel-Baska, 2010). These students not only acquire knowledge and skills faster than most students of the same age (Frasier & Passow, 1984), their understandings are more sophisticated and complex (VanTassel-Baska, 2010), and their passion for intellectual challenge is more intense (Bleske-Rechek, Lubinski & Benbow, 2004). Their exceptional learning potential enables them to develop skills with less practice and support than their age mates (Kanevsky, 1990; 1992).

It seems reasonable to expect that efforts to provide academically talented students with an appropriate education would include opportunities to advance through their studies at a faster pace than their chronological age mates, however this is not always the case (Colangelo, Assouline & Gross, 2004a; 2004b). The two volumes of "A Nation Deceived" (Colangelo, et al., 2004b) chronicled, critiqued and summarized almost 100 years of research and drew attention to the ways in which high ability learners could be offered opportunities to move through their studies at a faster, more developmentally appropriate pace. …

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