The story of academically gifted Gracia Malaxetxebarria, who lives in the state of Queensland in Australia, is not an uncommon one–except that her mother went to uncommon lengths to see justice done.
Gracia, with an IQ of 147 (the average is 100) wanted to move into a higher grade, where the work was more compatible with her intelligence level. When Gracia’s mother put this to her daughter’s public school, it denied the request, apparently for the reason that Gracia “needed more time to develop socially.”
So Gracia’s mother took her to a private school, where she went into Year 8 at the age of 9, three years ahead of her age peers. Despite the fact that she achieved high marks and received good reports from the private school, the public school system still refused to allow her to transfer back to a public school at the same grade level.
Gracia’s mother took the matter to court and won Gracia the right to grade acceleration in the public school system.
This is an important victory. In some public school systems in Australia there is still strong resistance to the idea that gifted children have special educational needs. When faced with this resistance many families withdraw from the system rather than fight it. For this reason, stories about high achieving children often involve home schooling families. For example, home schooled twins Edward and Katherine Alpert, also from Queensland, made the news this year for completing bachelor degrees at the age of 15.
University of New South Wales academic Miraca Gross is co-author of a 2004 report called A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, with University of Iowa researchers Nicholas Colangelo and Susan G. Assouline.
The report finds that acceleration — skipping grades — is positive for students in the short-term