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Gifted students benefit from ability grouping

Schools should use both ability grouping and acceleration to help academically talented students, reports a new Northwestern University study that examined a century of research looking at the controversial subject.

Ability grouping places students of similar skills and abilities in the same classes. Acceleration, most commonly known as grade skipping, subject acceleration or early admission into kindergarten or college, gives students the chance to access opportunities earlier or progress more rapidly.

The widely debated educational techniques effectively increase academic achievement at a low cost and can benefit millions of students in U.S. school systems, according to the study, published in Review of Educational Research.

"Although acceleration is widely supported by research as an effective strategy for meeting the needs of advanced learners, it's still rarely used, and most schools do not systematically look for students who need it," said study co-author Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, director of the Center for Talent Development at the Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy.

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