Acceleration, Volunteering & Enrichment

How do GT students react or cope with crisis?

The founding members of GEFN have worked to create and curate the below content to assist families of Texas GT students during times of crisis.  This website will be updated when possible and appropriate. Please check back for new content, and please join our mailing list here for future updates on GEFN resources, initiatives, and action.

On this page:

Our guide to accelerated learning in Texas (next section of this page)

Texas Education Agency (TEA):

When faced with a global or an existential crisis, gifted children may cope better by making a positive difference.

Opportunities to help others

In his book Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope (2013), the late Dr. James Webb discusses involvement in causes as one way to cope with existential depression.  He shares: “Becoming involved with an idealistic cause… lessons the likelihood that you will feel ineffectual, since groups of people often can accomplish things that one person alone cannot, and… you do not feel as alone.”  As our nation and world face the impact of a global pandemic, there is no shortage of need for helpers. Enabling our gifted children to do their part can make a positive difference, and it may help our children cope with the suffering they see.  

Below are a few ways children can help right now – we will add others as we learn about them!  Please contact us so that we may list opportunities you find or create.

Children can:

  • Host an online fundraiser to support local food banks, hospitals, and nonprofits assisting vulnerable populations (may need adult assistance)
  • Help with citizen science projects online, with adult assistance (additional list of projects published by National Geographic
  • Research and brainstorm future ways to address an injustice or threat to people or to the environment
  • Upstander summer camps (online/virtual) from the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, FREE, with flexible time commitment. Camp Upstander is for ages 6-10 and Upstander Institute is for ages 11-18.

Next: Learning at home may be an opportunity to embrace flexibly-paced online courses or pursue credit by exam.

Online Learning: Acceleration and Flexible Pacing

We are pleased to offer you our parent resource on full grade acceleration, published by the Gifted Education Family Network and Gifted Unlimited, LLC. Learn about research recommendations can help educators and parents determine whether a grade skip – also called full grade acceleration – may be in a student’s best interest. Sources and links for further reading are included. Get the free PDF.

“It may be counterintuitive, but the present situation actually poses an unusual opportunity to serve these kids better than many have been served in regular classrooms. They could be learning more right now when they’re not twiddling their cognitive thumbs sitting through lessons pitched too low for them and enduring painful efforts by regular teachers to differentiate instruction in ways that benefit them as well as the strugglers.”

— Commentary: “Want more Doctor Faucis? Ensure that smart kids get educated, too.” Chester E. Finn, Jr., The Fordham Institute, 4/15/2020

Acceleration is supported in the field of gifted and talented education as an effective and important strategy for meeting the needs of GT students.  In the aftermath of COVID-19 quarantine, some students have chosen to remain in online public school. They may even accelerate unintentionally through flexibly-paced online resources. To ensure equity of access to acceleration solutions, GEFN strongly supports ensuring that public schools make every effort to provide GT students with free, appropriate opportunities for flexibly-paced instruction in core subjects, including during online learning.  Whether school buildings are closed or open, GT students may also discover opportunities to accelerate through home enrichment.  

If acceleration is needed by Texas GT students, particularly those without immediate access to flexible pacing in the needed core subject(s), parents and students may wish to explore information about the Credit by Examination (CBE) process, requirements for districts to offer acceleration in areas of student strength, and additional resources for advanced learning.

Credit by Examination – Texas

From the Texas Education Agency:  “The Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.023, allows students in primary grades to accelerate a grade level and students in secondary academic courses to earn credit for a course on the basis of credit by examination. Credit-by-examination assessments (CBEs) must be approved by each local board of trustees.”

The Texas Administrative Code (19 TAC §74.24) lays out the requirements that both students and districts must follow in order for a student to test out of courses or full grades through the Credit by Examination process.  Currently, districts may choose when they offer CBE tests provided they are within quarterly windows listed in 19 TAC §74.24(a)(1)

Advocacy note:  These requirements state that districts “must provide” certain opportunities to take Credit by Examination assessments, and further state that students “must be accelerated” and “must be given credit” when students achieve certain scores and seek credit under the statute.  To skip grades in grades K – 5, a parent or guardian must give written approval and a school district representative must recommend that the student be accelerated. The statute also provides flexibility to allow districts to give credit in additional circumstances (“may allow” and “may be given credit”).  

The CBE statute specifies how frequently districts must offer free opportunities to receive credit through the Credit by Examination process.  UT High School Online and Texas Tech University ISD also offer CBE tests, for a fee, which can be taken and transferred to home districts with district permission.  Families will want to contact their districts prior to testing to learn more about local CBE policies and registration deadlines.

Acceleration in Areas of Student Strength – Texas

Although the Credit by Examination statute only details a specific process for full-grade acceleration in grades K – 5, gifted-identified students in grades K – 5 may still be able to accelerate in single subjects in Texas.  Districts must offer opportunities “in areas of student strengths” (single-subject acceleration) to GT-identified students in grades K – 12 (see Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students §4.5; see also 19 TAC §89.3(4)).  It is left to districts to determine how students may qualify for acceleration in “areas of student strengths” and how to facilitate this acceleration. 

To learn about the experiences of parents of twice-exceptional students with single-subject acceleration, parents may wish to review “Parent Perspectives: Subject Acceleration Experiences of Twice-Exceptional Students” in the Gifted Education Review, Issue 5, pp. 9 – 11.

Parents are encouraged to review the entire State Plan to learn about Texas requirements for districts to offer acceleration, flexible pacing, dual enrollment opportunities, and services that meet the ability needs of GT students.  The Gifted Education Family Network encourages parents to form local, collaborative groups to engage in positive advocacy to improve GT programs and to support GT educators in our public schools.  

Families of GT students K-12 will want to contact their districts to inquire about the process for determining eligibility for single-subject acceleration.  

Online Content – Texas

At the present time, we are aware of limited TEKS-aligned opportunities allowing students to study for or place out of courses or grades.  We will add to this list as we learn of more, and we invite parents and educators to contact us with any other opportunities we can share. Families will wish to contact their home districts in advance regarding credit transfer policies. 

UT High School Online offers individual online courses (High School only) that can be taken and transferred to home districts, with district permission 

Texas Tech University ISD offers individual online courses grades K – 12 that can be taken for transfer to home districts, with district permission

Several Texas public school districts offer full-time online public school enrollment.  More information can be found through the Texas Virtual School Network.

Online Content – General

Families outside of Texas have found the below resources helpful in pursuing advanced, flexibly-paced instruction at home:  

  • Free videos from the Art of Problem Solving (AOPS) – instructional videos to support advanced math curriculum for middle school and high school students.  Recommended by multiple families of highly to profoundly gifted students.   
  • Free advanced math problems at Alcumus, from the Art of Problem Solving (AOPS) with solutions, including problems from math competitions
  • Free AP Online Classes and Review Sessions allowing students to continue working toward college credit/placement, offered during COVID-19 school closures 
  • Elements of Mathematics Foundations – “Complete secondary school online curriculum for mathematically talented students that uses a foundation of discrete mathematics to launch students into modern proof-based mathematics.”  Self-study format in Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, and Precalculus, designed for deeper understanding. Recommended by multiple families of highly to profoundly gifted students. Course 1 is currently free, and EMF is offering 25% off courses 2 and 3 through 4/30/20.  See site for details. 
  • A number of GT students have used Khan Academy to pursue advanced learning.

Should My Child Accelerate?

Experts recommend considering several factors when evaluating a possible acceleration placement.  Both parents and educators will want to become familiar with different forms of acceleration and general research recommendations.  The links below provide an overview of these recommendations and opportunities to download resources that can help parents learn about the pros and cons of different options for GT students in specific cases.  

  • Acceleration facts from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
  • Overview of the Types of acceleration and their effectiveness (2004), on the website of the Davidson Institute, reprinted with permission from GERRIC at the University of New South Wales School of Education  
  • Download A Nation Empowered (2015) for free – published by the Acceleration Institute of the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, this resource summarizes the research on acceleration, features stories from families, and provides an in-depth examination of specific types of acceleration for specific populations.  
  • RELEASED JULY 2020:  NEW – Free parent resource on full grade acceleration, published by the Gifted Education Family Network and Gifted Unlimited, LLC. Learn about research recommendations can help educators and parents determine whether a grade skip – also called full grade acceleration – may be in a student’s best interest. Sources and links for further reading are included. Get the free PDF.

Acceleration Outside of Texas 

Public school requirements for academic acceleration varies from state to state.  We encourage parents to check policies in their states and districts, and if necessary, work together to advocate for best practices. To check acceleration requirements and GT requirements in other states, please see the below resources.

Next: Review our list of favorite online enrichment sites, curated by other GT families in our network.

GT-Friendly Online Enrichment

Expanded Opportunities During COVID-19

A number of companies, museums, and other organizations have created new online content or have expanded existing content in the wake of COVID-19 isolation.  Below are resources recommended for GT families by other GT families in our network. Since so many companies are offering discounts and free content, families are encouraged to search online for additional options that may come up in specific areas (many of our favorite resources have free or discounted options!).  Pricing and options may change. Check websites for current offers.   

Basic Needs

Emotional Needs – Coping During Distancing and Crisis

Economic Impact: Access to Food, Resources: TX

Please see below for information to assist any families in need of food and survival resources during the pandemic.

Twice-Exceptional Needs

Twice-exceptional needs may present additional challenges, particularly if your child has disability needs that make it hard to transition back to in-school learning.  Below are a few reputable resources that may help parents cope with 2e differences during this time.    

We are always curating these lists — check back often.

Disclaimer: The Gifted Education Family Network does not endorse or assume responsibility for any external content linked above.  Resources are shared for informational purposes only. The above information is not medical or legal advice, is not intended as medical or legal advice, should not be interpreted or relied on as medical or legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  

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