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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Becoming Aware of Acceleration Options for Students

As a teacher, do you know your state’s acceleration options for students? If you don’t, you’re not alone. In my experience, in the state of Florida, for instance, few parents and, even teachers, were aware that a law exists to provide acceleration options to advanced students grades k-12 in public schools. The little-known, relatively unadvertised policy, passed in 2012, only seemed known to a few, savvy parents at the school where I worked as a teacher of the gifted.

However, the policy was a major win for students who need additional rigor and challenge. For instance, provisions within the Academically Challenging Curriculum to Enhance Learning or ACCEL policy include:

  • The establishment of options to provide academically challenging curriculum to k-12 students. Schools must establish, at a minimum, specific ACCEL options for students.
  • Schools must offer whole-grade and mid-grade promotion, subject-matter acceleration, and virtual (online) instruction in higher-grade level subjects. Schools can also choose to offer options in advanced/enriched STEM coursework, flexible grouping and other models or approaches.
  • Principals are required to determine the edibility requirements. This criteria can include looking at a student’s school assessment data, state assessment data, grade point average, conduct and attendance record.

Personally, I witnessed a student benefit greatly from this measure.  I had the pleasure of working with this gifted student for several years, watching how he quickly mastered the grade-level curriculum. I did my best to challenge him academically (within the hour or so I had to work with them each day), but instinctively, I believed he needed more. His parents requested that he be tested for ACCEL, and the results showed he was about two grade-levels higher in all subjects. He was able to complete advanced,  online courses and skip a grade, as a way to challenge his academic abilities.

My point in writing this blog is not to simply inform you of Florida’s ACCEL policy (that only helps if you live in that state), but to urge you, as an educator or parent, to research similar acceleration laws within your state. If you child needs academic challenge, this provides you with much-needed options. Arm yourself with this information. According to the Acceleration Institute, acceleration policies greatly differ from state-to-state. For instance, like Florida, Texas permits various acceleration options, including grade-level and content-based.

More information can be found here: