Firstly let's define the two:

Acceleration: is the advancement of students in subjects at a rate that places them ahead of where they would be in the regular school curriculum.

Compacting: is a process by which students are pre-assessed to determine what parts of the curriculum they have already mastered. When those areas of knowledge and skills are identified, these students are not required to complete the grade-level work. Instead, they work on alternate activities.

Further Explanation


Sometimes, gifted youngsters may be so advanced in knowledge and so clearly operating at an intellectual level beyond that of their same-age peers that educational acceleration is a realistic and desirable alternative to normal grade-level work. Educational acceleration is often perceived simply as placing a child one or more grades ahead with older children.

Also may be referred to as Accelerated learning – learning which proceeds at a faster rate, and with deeper understanding, than that normally expected using conventional teaching methods.

Websites for Acceleration


Curriculum compacting is a particularly important strategy for gifted and other high-ability students because they often come to school already knowing much of the grade level material. If these students are not challenged with new or different content, they waste time in school, do not learn important study skills, and do not grow as learners.

The purpose of curriculum compacting is to reduce the amount of repetition that the student receives. The student should already be able to demonstrate a high level of mastery of knowledge in the subject being tested.

Steps to compacting

Steps to compacting include (Reis and Renzulli 1992; Renzulli and Reis 1998):
  • defining the outcomes of the instructional unit using curriculum guides, scope and sequence charts
  • determining what material is repeated within the course
  • pre-testing students against the learning outcomes
  • identifying students who have already mastered this material
  • removing repeated material for those students who have demonstrated mastery
  • replacing removed material with enrichment activities which might include alternative assignments, self-directed learning assignments or acceleration activities such as studying material in the next unit of the curriculum or undertaking other advanced assignments.

Websites for compacting