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A decade of longitudinal research on academic acceleration through the study of mathematically precocious youth.



Academic acceleration Academic acceleration is the advancement of students in subjects at a rate that places them ahead of where they would be in normal school curriculum. This can include having the student skip one or more grades in generalized or specific curriculum; for example, a student could be  can be defined as "[educational] flexibility based on individual abilities without regard for age" (Paulus, 1984, p. 98). Noted methods of acceleration include early entrance to school, grade skipping Grade skipping is a form of academic acceleration, often used for gifted/talented students, that involves the student entirely skipping the curriculum of one year of school. , fast-paced classes in certain subjects, college courses for high-school students, and advanced placement in certain subjects (Copley, 1961; Gold, 1982). Across methods, acceleration is the subject of much discussion in the educational and psychological literature (see review by Benbow, 1991). Some authors express concern about difficulties that might be faced by accelerated students (e.g., Jung, 1954; Miller, 1980; Smith, 1984). Others note that acceleration, when studied empirically, is shown to benefit students academically without showing an association with psychosocial psychosocial /psy·cho·so·cial/ (si?ko-so´shul) pertaining to or involving both psychic and social aspects.

psy·cho·so·cial
adj.
Involving aspects of both social and psychological behavior.
 difficulties (see Kulik & Kulik, 1991, 1992). Several studies of acceleration, which are unique due to the longitudinal lon·gi·tu·di·nal
adj.
Running in the direction of the long axis of the body or any of its parts.
 design employed, were produced through the Study of Mathematically Precocious pre·co·cious
adj.
Showing unusually early development or maturity.



pre·cocity , pre·co
 Youth (SMPY SMPY Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth ). The most recent of these studies are the focus for this article.

The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth

Julian C. Stanley founded SMPY in 1971 at The Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University, mainly at Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins in 1867 had a group of his associates incorporated as the trustees of a university and a hospital, endowing each with $3.5 million. Daniel C. . Through the study, he pioneered the talent search model for the identification of gifted young people. This model offers junior high school students the opportunity to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test ap·ti·tude test
n.
An occupation-oriented test for evaluating intelligence, achievement, and interest.
 (SAT). To qualify for a talent search, students must score in the top few percentile ranks The percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its frequency distribution which are lower. For example, a test score which is greater than 85% of the scores of people taking the test is said to be at the 85th percentile.  on a grade-appropriate standardized test A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent" [1] . Because of the difficulty of the SAT (which was designed for use with high school seniors), young gifted students' scores spread across a greater range than is possible with junior high level tests, thereby allowing highly gifted adolescents to be distinguished from moderately gifted students. The individuals who are identified as highly gifted (i.e., who perform exceptionally well on the SAT) are then informed of special academic opportunities and encouraged to challenge themselves intellectually. To validate To prove something to be sound or logical. Also to certify conformance to a standard. Contrast with "verify," which means to prove something to be correct.

For example, data entry validity checking determines whether the data make sense (numbers fall within a range, numeric data
 the talent search procedure, among other reasons, one of the first projects undertaken by SMPY was the longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 of students identified as highly gifted.

Additional groups of gifted individuals were added to the longitudinal study in subsequent years. SAT score requirements for inclusion in the study varied over time; therefore, each of the subject groups differs from the others in terms of ability level as well as historical cohort cohort /co·hort/ (ko´hort)
1. in epidemiology, a group of individuals sharing a common characteristic and observed over time in the group.

2.
 and geographical location. Table 1 summarizes the composition of the five cohorts currently being studied.

The long-term goal of the SMPY longitudinal study is to better understand gifted individuals and the development of their abilities and achievements. To achieve this aim, follow-up surveys are periodically sent to the research subjects. These self-report surveys address academic and psychosocial issues, attitudes and interests, family background, and future plans. They include open-ended, multiple-choice, and Likert-type response formats, as well as requests for specific, quantitative information (e.g., test scores). To date, Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 have been surveyed at the age of 18 (an age that approximately coincides with high school graduation Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. The date of event is often called degree day. The event itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation. ). Cohorts 1 and 2 also have been surveyed at the age of 23 (after college graduation). The after-college survey of members of Cohort 3 is now underway, as is a survey of Cohort 1 at about age 33. Currently, it is from the after-high school and after-college surveys that SMPY obtains the majority of the data for its studies.

The diversity of the topics covered in the longitudinal questionnaires allows a variety of research topics to be pursued. To date, issues studied range from psychosocial adjustment (e.g., Richardson & Benbow, 1990; Swiatek & Benbow, 1992) to possible gender differences in brain functioning (O'Boyle & Benbow, 1990). One of the topics to which SMPY devotes considerable empirical research Noun 1. empirical research - an empirical search for knowledge
inquiry, research, enquiry - a search for knowledge; "their pottery deserves more research than it has received"
 effort is academic acceleration.

The research in this area deals with acceleration in general (i.e., students who accelerate their educations, regardless of the methods used) as well as specific types (e.g., fast-paced mathematics classes). Further, it addresses students' development in both academic and psychosocial areas.

Acceleration Studies

Cohort 1. One subgroup sub·group  
n.
1. A distinct group within a group; a subdivision of a group.

2. A subordinate group.

3. Mathematics A group that is a subset of a group.

tr.v.
 of Cohort 1 has been followed up twice. This subgroup is comprised of participants in SMPY's first fast-paced mathematics class (named the "Wolfson class" after its teacher). In 1983, Benbow, Perkins, and Stanley evaluated the 16 students (nine males, seven females) who took the class during its first year. These sixth- to tenth-graders qualified for the class by scoring at the 99th percentile percentile,
n the number in a frequency distribution below which a certain percentage of fees will fall. E.g., the ninetieth percentile is the number that divides the distribution of fees into the lower 90% and the upper 10%, or that fee level
 on the mathematics subtest of the Academic Promise Test (APT (Automatic Programmed Tools) A high-level programming language used to generate instructions for numerical control machines.

1. (language) APT - Automatically Programmed Tools.
2. (company) APT - Audio Processing Technology.
). The evaluation focused on academic achievements and attitudes, drawing information from the after high school follow-up survey and a brief self-report questionnaire that was designed specifically for Wolfson qualifiers. Swiatek and Benbow (1991a) conducted the second follow-up, which involved 37 of the 44 students who completed the Wolfson class during either its first or its second year (26 males and 11 females). In the second year, students qualified by first scoring at least 500 on the SAT-M and 400 on the SAT-V, then scoring at least at the 48th percentile on the Educational Testing Service The Educational Testing Service (or ETS) is the world's largest private educational testing and measurement organization, operating on an annual budget of approximately $1.1 billion on a proforma basis in 2007.  Cooperative Mathematics Algebra algebra, branch of mathematics concerned with operations on sets of numbers or other elements that are often represented by symbols. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic and gains much of its power from dealing symbolically with elements and operations (such as  I test. Academic and psychosocial data for this follow-up were drawn from the after-college survey. Students who qualified for the Wolfson class but did not complete it were used as a comparison group in both follow-up studies (N = 10 males and 7 females in the first study; N = 35 males and 23 females in the second study).

A psychosocially-oriented study of Cohort 1 was conducted by Richardson and Benbow (1990). They correlated cor·re·late  
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates

v.tr.
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.

2.
 extent of grade-skipping and subject acceleration with social interaction, self-acceptance/identity, self-esteem, and locus of control locus of control
n.
A theoretical construct designed to assess a person's perceived control over his or her own behavior. The classification internal locus indicates that the person feels in control of events; external locus
 among several hundred accelerated individuals.

Cohort 2. Brody and Benbow (1987) compared both academic and psychosocial outcomes at age 18 among four groups of Cohort 2 students (N = 510), separated according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the extent of their acceleration. Because this study focuses upon extent, rather than type of acceleration, several different methods of acceleration are represented.

After-college data collection for Cohort 2 is now nearly complete; therefore, research on the longer-term outcomes of acceleration can include members of this group. There are already two studies using Cohort 2 after-college data. One study used only accelerated students (across accelerative methods) to search for nonintellectual factors that differentiated those who were satisfied with their educational experiences from those who were not satisfied (Swiatek & Benbow, 1992). In this study, members of Cohorts 1 (N = 575) and 2 (N = 201) were used as separate subject groups in order to replicate rep·li·cate
v.
1. To duplicate, copy, reproduce, or repeat.

2. To reproduce or make an exact copy or copies of genetic material, a cell, or an organism.

n.
A repetition of an experiment or a procedure.
 findings. The other study drew subjects from both cohorts to compare a group of 107 individuals (69 males and 38 females) who were; accelerated enough to enroll in college at least 1 year earlier than average with a group who had not accelerated, but was matched with the first group in terms of ability (as measured by the SAT, taken at age 13) and gender (Swiatek & Benbow, 1991b).

Cohort 3. Kolitch and Brody (1992) investigated math preparation for college among 43 mathematically gifted members of Cohort 3 (30 males and 13 females) who were in their first year of college at the time of the study. Many of their subjects were accelerated in math. Because the after high school survey of Cohort 3 was not complete at the time of the study, a special self-report survey was used to collect data on math-related coursework coursework
Noun

work done by a student and assessed as part of an educational course

Noun 1. coursework - work assigned to and done by a student during a course of study; usually it is evaluated as part of the student's
, grades, Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores, extracurricular activities, and encouragement from others.

At this time, Cohorts 1 and 2 are the most common sources of subjects for SMPY's acceleration research. Variables frequently considered are listed in Table 2. As identification and follow-up procedures continue, the numbers and types of gifted subjects available for longitudinal study will increase, as will the time period over which their academic and personal development can be considered.

Study Results

Academic outcomes of acceleration. SMPY's research, described above, suggests that acceleration is often an effective way to meet the academic needs of gifted students (Benbow, Perkins, & Stanley, 1983; Brody & Benbow, 1987; Kolitch & Brody, 1992; Richardson & Benbow, 1990; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a, 1991b, 1992). Across academic variables, accelerated students appear to have some advantage (see Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a, 1991b). Comparisons of individual variables, however, rarely yield significant differences; both accelerated and unaccelerated students demonstrate high levels of academic achievement.

The lack of large academic differences between groups can be viewed as evidence that acceleration is not necessary to ensure high academic achievement among gifted students. Such all interpretation, however, overlooks the effects of methodology on the results of studies in this area. First, when average-ability comparison groups are used, the accelerated students are younger than are the comparison students, yet they equal the older students in academic achievement. Second, the academic performance of accelerated gifted students might be less impressive, as well as unnecessarily longer and slower if those students were required to remain in a lockstep lock·step  
n.
1. A way of marching in which the marchers follow each other as closely as possible.

2. A standardized procedure that is closely, often mindlessly followed.

Noun 1.
 academic program. Ethical considerations render it impossible to design a study in which gifted subjects are randomly assigned as·sign  
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.

2.
 to either accelerated or unaccelerated groups; it would be unethical unethical

said of conduct not conforming with professional ethics.
 to deprive de·prive
v.
1. To take something from someone or something.

2. To keep from possessing or enjoying something.
 interested students of the opportunity to accelerate simply for research purposes. Also, SMPY and others maintain that students who do not wish to accelerate should not be forced to do so (e.g., Benbow, 1991). Given these facts, the research results most clearly show that students who choose to accelerate do not suffer academically as a result of this decision, but that they gain speed in their educational preparation.

In addition, SMPY's findings with regard to academic achievement temper tem·per
n.
1. A state of mind or emotions; mood.

2. A tendency to become easily angry or irritable.

3. An outburst of rage.
 two frequently stated concerns about acceleration. The first concern is that there are gaps or weaknesses in what students learn through accelerated coursework (see Hildreth, 1966; VanTassel-Baska, 1989). The gifted accelerates studied by SMPY do not demonstrate any such difficulties. Rather, their strong performance at advanced levels of study attests to their understanding of previous material (see Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a, 1991b).

The second concern is that accelerated students may work too hard and "burn out" on academics (Compton, 1982). SMPY's findings also do not support this possibility. Rather, the gifted accelerates studied complete college and attend graduate school in numbers in numbered parts; as, a book published in numbers.

See also: Number
 that exceed the national average. A more specific finding is that, during the first year of college, over 90% of a group of SMPY participants who were accelerated in mathematics express plans to major in mathematics or science (Kolitch & Brody, 1992). Also, students who completed the Wolfson class participated in college-level math and science at levels that were at least equal to qualifiers who did not complete the course (Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a). These findings suggest that accelerated students do maintain interest and involvement in educational pursuits.

Thus, SMPY's research suggests that acceleration does not harm gifted students academically, but that it often helps them establish interests and build a strong foundation for future learning. These conclusions are consistent with those of other researchers (see Benbow, 1992). Academic outcomes do not provide a complete picture of the gifted accelerate, however. Psychosocial outcomes also are a necessary component of research in the area of gifted education Gifted education is a broad term for special practices, procedures and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. Programs providing such education are sometimes called Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) or .

Psychosocial outcomes of acceleration. SMPY's research on the psychosocial aspects of academic acceleration also has yielded encouraging results. The students studied express high levels of satisfaction with college (Swiatek & Benbow, 1991b) and with their accelerative experiences (Swiatek & Benbow, 1992). In fact, the study attempting to identify nonintellectual factors related to satisfaction with acceleration encountered difficulties because the vast majority of accelerated students were satisfied (i.e., there was restriction of range in satisfaction scores; Swiatek & Benbow, 1992).

Comparisons between accelerated and unaccelerated students show no differences in locus of control (Brody & Benbow, 1987; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991b) or various personality characteristics (Brody & Benbow, 1987). Although very highly accelerated students may be somewhat less involved in extracurricular activities than are other students (Brody & Benbow. 1987), accelerated students as a group are involved in about the same number of pursuits as are unaccelerated students (an average of approximately 2.3 distinct types of activities during college; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991b).

Results regarding self-esteem are less clear-cut. In some SMPY studies, self-esteem scores are slightly lower among accelerated students than among nonaccelerates (Richardson & Benbow, 1990; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a), while other studies detect no differences (e.g., Swiatek & Benbow, 1991b). It is important to note, however, that both accelerates and nonaccelerates receive scores that indicate positive self-esteem and differences are minute. The small differences that are found may be explained by Festinger's (1954) social-comparison theory: slight decreases in self-esteem may occur because accelerates are exposed to higher ability comparison groups than are nonaccelerates (see Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a). Thus, SMPY's research indicates that concerns about negative psychosocial effects of acceleration may be unfounded. Accelerates appear to be equal to nonaccelerates in the psychosocial areas that were investigated. The one exception to this generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion
n.
1. The act or an instance of generalizing.

2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application.
 may be self-esteem (Richardson & Benbow, 1990; Swiatek & Benbow, 1991a), but any differences in this area are small and can be explained by social comparison theory (see Festinger, 1954).

General conclusions regarding acceleration. Because all subjects in research on acceleration are willing participants, conclusions are necessarily somewhat limited. As noted above, ethical considerations prevent more comprehensive research designs. This limitation does not hinder hin·der 1  
v. hin·dered, hin·der·ing, hin·ders

v.tr.
1. To be or get in the way of.

2. To obstruct or delay the progress of.

v.intr.
 the application of research results, however, because willingness is an important factor in deciding whom to accelerate (Benbow, 1991). Given this caveat, several conclusions regarding academic acceleration can be drawn.

Acceleration is an educational option that is inexpensive to implement, requires little specialized spe·cial·ize  
v. spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing, spe·cial·iz·es

v.intr.
1. To pursue a special activity, occupation, or field of study.

2.
 training for teachers, and can be used in most educational settings to meet the learning needs of many gifted students (Benbow, 1991; Feldhusen, 1990: VanTassel-Baska, 1989). SMPY's results regarding acceleration outcomes are consistent with those of other authors. There is no evidence that acceleration harms willing students either academically or psychosocially (cf. Kulik & Kulik, 1991, 1992; Schneider, Clegg, Byrne, Ledingham, & Crombie, 1989). Moreover, it may help gifted individuals to establish a foundation for advanced learning, maintain interest and involvement in academic activities, and earn extra time that can be used for the development of a career (cf. Dweck & Elliot, 1983; Feldhusen, 1989; Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham, 1981; Whitmore, 1980; Zilli, 1971). Therefore, SMPY's longstanding (since 1971) advocacy of acceleration for gifted students who want to participate is consistent with the research literature. As advocacy continues, plans are being made for the further development and utilization of the SMPY research base.

Future Directions

The SMPY longitudinal study is currently located in the Office of Precollegiate Programs for the Talented and Gifted Talented and Gifted or Gifted and Talented may refer to:
  • Intellectual giftedness, an intellectual ability significantly higher than average
  • National Association for Gifted Children, a UK organization
 (OPPTAG) at Iowa State University Academics
ISU is best known for its degree programs in science, engineering, and agriculture. ISU is also home of the world's first electronic digital computing device, the Atanasoff–Berry Computer.
. Through continuing research efforts, the gifted students identified in the 1970s and early 1980s will be studied throughout their adult lives. In addition, new groups (cohorts) of gifted students are being established for longitudinal study. Thereby, the currency of the SMPY study will be maintained.

One of the new groups is now being identified through the annual Iowa Talent Search (ITS). This group of gifted students is different from earlier groups in terms of historical cohort and geographical area. SMPY also is identifying and incorporating into its longitudinal study a group of individuals who are enrolled in the nation's top graduate programs in mathematical and scientific areas. These students meet the criteria for high achievement in mathematical and scientific areas set forth in SMPY's past research (i.e., Benbow & Arjmand, 1990), but they may or may not have been identified as gifted through a talent search program (or any other program). These students will provide a comparison group for better evaluation of the talent search procedure. In addition, the different identification process will allow results to be generalized gen·er·al·ized
adj.
1. Involving an entire organ, as when an epileptic seizure involves all parts of the brain.

2. Not specifically adapted to a particular environment or function; not specialized.

3.
 beyond talent search participants.

The future of SMPY includes many exciting and promising research possibilities. It is hoped that a greater understanding of gifted individuals will follow from the longitudinal studies longitudinal studies,
n.pl the epidemiologic studies that record data from a respresentative sample at repeated intervals over an extended span of time rather than at a single or limited number over a short period.
 that have been and will be conducted. Academic acceleration is one of the focal areas of study, but there are many others. The better we, as professionals, can understand the development of gifted individuals, the better equipped we will be to serve this important population.
Description of SMPY
longitudinal research subject groups

Descriptive      Cohort
Information      1              2                  3

Identification
Dates            1972-1974      1976, 1978, 1979   1980-1983
Geographical
Region           Maryland       Maryland           Maryland
Qualifying
SAT Scores       390M or 370V   550M               700M or 630V
                                580V
                                58TSWE
                                500M and 430V
                                500M and 1000C
                                2(M)+V>1330
Ability Level
(top)            1.00%          0.50%              0.01%
Approximate
# of Subjects    2,220          750                650
Approximate
Response Rates
  Age 18         97%            83%                83%
  Age 23         63%            81%                --
Gender Ratio
(Male: Female)   1:6:1          2:3:1              3:1

Descriptive      Cohort
Information      4              5

Identification
Dates            1986-present   Present (1)
Geographical
Region           Iowa           National
Qualifying
SAT Scores       500M or 400V   --
                 or 930C (2)
Ability Level
(top)            0050%          --
Approximate
# of Subjects    1,020          900
Approximate
Response Rates
  Age 18         --             --
  Age 23         --             --
Gender Ratio
(Male: Female)   1:3:1          1:1

(1) Subjects for Cohort 5 are being identified during graduate school
attendence and will be followed in the future

(2) ACT scores also are accepted for Cohort 4 (see Swiatek, 1992)

M=SAT-Math V=SAT-Verbal C=SAT Composite score
Variables commonly studied by SMPY with
regard to academic acceleration

                         Academic Variables

Educational level                    National rank of graduate program
Educational aspirations              Proportion of graduate
College attendance                     math/science majors
National rank of college attended    Proportion of students creating an
Grade-point average                    original invention or process
Proportion of undergraduate          Proportion of students authoring
  math/science majors                  published material
Proportion of undergraduates         Proportion of students having a
  taking elective math/science         probable publication in
  courses                              preparation
Proportion of students earning       Proportion of students
  undergraduate honors and/or          contributing to a research
  awards                               project
Graduate school attendance

                        Psychosocial Variables

Self-esteem                          Life style expectations
Locus of control                     Personality characteristics
Extracurricular activities           Value orientations


REFERENCES

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Child naturally endowed with a high degree of general mental ability or extraordinary ability in a specific domain. Although the designation of giftedness is largely a matter of administrative convenience, the best indications of giftedness are often those
 Quarterly, 36 (2).

Benbow, C. P., & Arjmand, O. (1990). Predictors of high academic achievement in mathematics and science by mathematically talented students: A longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 430-441.

Benbow, C. P., Perkins. S., & Stanley, J. C. (1983). Mathematics taught at a fast pace: A longitudinal evaluation of SMPY's first class. In C. P. Benbow & J. C. Stanley (Eds.), Academic precocity precocity /pre·coc·i·ty/ (-kos´it-e) unusually early development of mental or physical traits.preco´cious

sexual precocity  precocious puberty.
: Aspects of its development (pp. 51-78). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Compton, M. F. (1982). The gifted underachiever in middle school. Roeper Review, 4, 23-25.

Copley, J. O. (1961). The American high American High School may refer to the following:
  • American High School (Fremont, California), the school in Fremont, California
  • American High School (Miami-Dade County, Florida), the school in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida
 school and the talented student. Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, city (1990 pop. 109,592), seat of Washtenaw co., S Mich., on the Huron River; inc. 1851. It is a research and educational center, with a large number of government and industrial research and development firms, many in high-technology fields such as , MI: University of Michigan (body, education) University of Michigan - A large cosmopolitan university in the Midwest USA. Over 50000 students are enrolled at the University of Michigan's three campuses. The students come from 50 states and over 100 foreign countries.  Press.

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New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Wiley.

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n.
1. The practice of placing students with others with comparable skills or needs, as in classes or in groups within a class.

2. See tracking.
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cerebellar hemisphere  either of two lobes of the cerebellum lateral to the vermis.
 involvement during cognitive processing may relate to intellectual precocity. Neuropsychologia, 28, 211-216.

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Smith, E. (1984). Giftedness gift·ed  
adj.
1. Endowed with great natural ability, intelligence, or talent: a gifted child; a gifted pianist.

2.
 on demand in every classroom. Gifted Education International, 2, 142-144.

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Zilli, M. G. (1971). Reasons why the gifted adolescent ad·o·les·cent
adj.
Of, relating to, or undergoing adolescence.

n.
A young person who has undergone puberty but who has not reached full maturity; a teenager.
 underachieves and some of the implications of guidance and counseling guidance and counseling, concept that institutions, especially schools, should promote the efficient and happy lives of individuals by helping them adjust to social realities.  to this problem. Gifted Child Quarterly, 15, 279-292.

Author Note. Special thanks are extended to Camilla P. Benbow for her helpful comments and suggestions in the preparation of this manuscript manuscript, a handwritten work as distinguished from printing. The oldest manuscripts, those found in Egyptian tombs, were written on papyrus; the earliest dates from c.3500 B.C. .

Originally published in Roeper Review 15(3), February/March 1993, pp. 120-124.

Guest Editors' Comments on A Decade of Longitudinal Research On Academic Acceleration Through the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth

In this article, Mary Ann Swiatek discusses the longitudinal studies conducted by the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a program developed by Julian Stanley Julian Cecil Stanley (1918–August 12, 2005) was a psychologist, an educator, and an advocate of accelerated education for academically gifted children. He founded the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY), as well as a related research project, the Study of  at the Johns Hopkins University. SMPY was designed to provide accelerative academic experiences for students who achieve high scores on the math section of the SAT while in middle school.

Longitudinal studies involve studying the same individuals over time. This research method has a long history in the field of gifted education and has helped answer many questions about gifted children. The two pioneers of gifted education in this country, Lewis M. Terman and Leta Hollingworth, both undertook longitudinal studies in the first half of this century, looking to debunk de·bunk  
tr.v. de·bunked, de·bunk·ing, de·bunks
To expose or ridicule the falseness, sham, or exaggerated claims of: debunk a supposed miracle drug.
 myths such as the widespread belief that there was a relationship between genius and madness Madness


Alcithoe

driven mad by Dionysus. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 16]

Alcmeon

driven mad by the Furies. [Gk. Myth.
. Lewis Terman Lewis Madison Terman (born 15 January 1877 in Johnson County, Indiana, died 21 December 1956 in Palo Alto, California) was a U.S psychologist, noted as a pioneer in cognitive psychology in the early 20th century at Stanford University.  used a large subject pool; studied academic, social, and personality traits as well as educational and occupational outcomes; and followed his subjects well past middle age (in fact, the remaining "Termites," as his subjects were frequently called, are still being studied today, more than a third of a century after Terman's death and almost 80 years after the study was begun).

Terman's studies were largely quantitative; he compared statistical data from his subjects to national norms. Terman's contemporary, Leta Hollingworth, also conducted longitudinal research. She studied a much smaller number of individuals using an intensive case study design. Her largely qualitative studies are filled with vignettes and the rich particulars of the lives of specific children. Various ill-conceived beliefs about the troubles that giftedness implies or confers were largely refuted by both studies. Today, the field of gifted education continues to use longitudinal research (see, for example, the book, Beyond Terman: Contemporary Longitudinal Studies of Giftedness and Talent, edited by Rena F. Subotnik and Karen Arnold and published in 1994 by Ablex Publishing).

In this article, Swiatek reviews a number of topics that have been the focus of SMPY's longitudinal research, such as whether accelerants differ from nonaccelerants in terms of adjustment, activity involvement, or self-esteem. These topics are similar to many of the research questions asked by Terman and Hollingworth.

The two chief myths explored in this article are that students who accelerate will become bored and lose interest in their area of talent or will have gaps in their knowledge as a result of the acceleration. If acceleration diminishes a student's interest in an academic area or provides him or her with a less effective education, then we should not advocate acceleration. However, in this study there was no evidence that accelerants lose interest in the area of acceleration or experience knowledge gaps.

At the time of this article's original publication, Mary Ann Swiatek was a research associate for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, Iowa State University, Ames. She received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology Counseling psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns.  from Iowa State University in 1993 and is now the Research Specialist for the Carnegie-Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary Students (C-MITES C-MITES Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary Students ). She also teaches at Lafayette College Lafayette College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. The school, founded in 1826 by citizens of Easton, first began holding classes in 1832.  in Easton, Pennsylvania Easton is a city in Northampton County, in the eastern region of Pennsylvania, in the United States. The population was 26,263 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Northampton CountyGR6. .
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Author:Swiatek, Mary Ann
Publication:Roeper Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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