Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about giftedness
When is it advisable to skip a grade level?
If a student is chronically and significantly insufficiently challenged in most subjects, steps must be taken to ensure that he or she does not develop motivational and learning problems and remains eager to attend school. Initially, efforts should be made to improve the situation for the child or adolescent through individual differentiation, for example, by assigning more challenging tasks or by eliminating redundant exercises that are repetitive in nature. When a student’s underachievement is particularly or exclusively evident in one subject, arrangements can be made for the student to attend classes in that subject at a higher grade level (revolving door model). In many cases, these actions already lead to considerable improvement. Sometimes, however, they are not enough and the question of whether the current grade level is indeed the most appropriate place for the student should be considered. It is possible that the requirements of the next grade level would better align with the child’s or adolescent’s learning opportunities and learning needs. In that case, academic acceleration (i.e., skipping to a higher grade level) may be an option to consider. Legally, this is possible in all German federal states (i.e., Bundesländer).
Generally, prior to making the decision to skip a grade, students are assessed to determine whether their intellectual aptitude is well above average and their academic performance in all core subjects is satisfactory or better. If these conditions are met, it is very likely that the student’s academic acceleration will be successful and that he or she will be more motivated to learn in the higher grade level and feel more content at school. For highly gifted and fast-learning students, however, it is important to realize that skipping a grade may not suffice as a support measure, because they may quickly catch up and, due to their fast learning pace, they may soon be underchallenged again. Thus, in some cases, skipping a grade is a necessary but by no means sufficient intervention.