New Research Supports Positive Impact of Skipping a Grade on Gifted Students’ Career Success and Satisfaction

Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network Study Featured in “A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students”

Chicago, IL — April 16, 2015 — When it comes to the impact of grade-level acceleration on the career success and satisfaction of gifted students, the old idiom “the early bird catches the worm” holds true. That’s the conclusion of research conducted by Pearson’s Katie McClarty, Ph.D., and published in her chapter in “A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students,” from the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa. Director of the Center for College & Career Success at Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network, McClarty will join other contributors to the Belin-Blank report this week at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2015 Annual Meeting.

In the chapter, “Early to Rise: The Effects of Acceleration on Occupational Prestige, Earnings, and Satisfaction,” McClarty’s study compares career outcomes for accelerated and similar-ability, non-accelerated students 12 years after eighth grade. The study concludes that students who skipped a grade are more successful, have higher productivity rates, more prestigious occupations and they earn more and increase their income faster compared to older, similar-ability, non-accelerated peers.

“When making the decision to accelerate a child, many educators and parents feel confident about the child’s immediate ability to perform at the next grade level,” said McClarty. “At the same time, they are also concerned with potential long-term consequences. Our findings build on nearly a century of rigorous research demonstrating that acceleration positively impacts not only gifted students’ academic achievement, but those positive effects continue into the workplace underscoring both the short- and long-term benefits of acceleration.”

“A Nation Empowered” is an update to the 2004 publication, “A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students,” which describes research-based practices for challenging academically talented youth. In two volumes, “A Nation Empowered” tells the story of how interventions have been applied, informing educators, parents and policy makers of the current research on acceleration, its impact on educational policy, and how educators can use the findings to make decisions for their brightest students.

According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), 3-5 million U.S. K-12 students — 6-10 percent — are estimated to be academically gifted. The NAGC describes gifted individuals as those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more areas, such as math, music, language, painting, dance or sports.

McClarty and other contributors to “A Nation  Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students” will be featured during AERA at a special launch event for the publication, hosted by the Belin-Blank Center, on Saturday, April 18 at 4 pm at the Hyatt Regency-Chicago, Water Tower, West Tower-Bronze Level. In addition, McClarty will present her research during a conference session, “Outcomes of Acceleration,” on Sunday, April 19 from 10:35 am to 12:05 pm at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Second Level, Colorado Room.

“It’s not one person’s fault that our brightest students are under-served, which makes it everybody's responsibility to implement interventions based on evidence,” said Susan Assouline, Ph.D., director of the Belin-Blank Center and a member of the editorial team for “A Nation Empowered.” “Dr. McClarty’s research supports the powerful impact of acceleration on career outcomes for gifted students, which will help inform teachers, parents and education policymakers at all levels.”

To learn more, visit “A Nation Empowered."

About Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network

To help address the most pressing questions facing teachers and students, Pearson brought together top education experts in the Research & Innovation Network with the mission to research and invent capabilities and tools educators need to create engaging, meaningful, personalized learning that leads to student success. The Research & Innovation Network is led by Kimberly O’Malley, Ph.D., senior vice president of Research and Development, and supports six centers: the Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning; the Center for College & Career Success; the Center for NextGen Learning & Assessment; the Center for eLearning; the Center for Educator Learning & Effectiveness; and the Center for Product Design Research & Efficacy. Visit Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network website for more information.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit Pearson's website.

Media Contact:

Stacy Skelly,, or (800) 745-8489