Responsive Acceleration Pathway

RISD Advanced Learning Services

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What are the acceleration for gifted education requirements in Texas?

As explained in the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, identification and service of gifted students is required by Texas Education Code and Texas Administration, “The plan shall be used for accountability purposes to measure the performance of districts in providing services to students identified as gifted and talented.”


It further states the following:

"3.8 Acceleration and flexible pacing are employed, allowing students to learn at the pace and level appropriate for their abilities and skills, and are actively facilitated by district administrators, counselors, and teachers.

3.9 Local board policies are developed that enable students to participate in dual/concurrent enrollment, distance learning opportunities, and accelerated summer programs if available."


Click here for the full document: Texas Education Agency Gifted Talented Education

What does the research say about acceleration?

Acceleration is “progress through an educational program at rates faster or at ages younger than conventional” (Pressey, 1949, p. 2). In this case, the intervention is academic acceleration, which is the most effective intervention for highly able students who are ready for a faster pace at a younger age (Assouline et al., 2015).


The research (See A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps Excuses that Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, Vol. 2) unequivocally supports the positive impact of acceleration on short-term and long-term student development.


Clearly, acceleration is a best practice intervention with high impact for our highly-able students.


Assouline, S. G., Colangelo, N., VanTassel-Baska, J., & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A. (2015). A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students. Iowa City, IA: Belin-Blank Center.


Pressey, S. L. (1949). Educational acceleration: Appraisals and basic problems (Ohio State SELECTED REFERENCES 25 University Studies, Bureau of Educational Research Monograph No. 31). Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

What acceleration options are available in RISD?

RISD offers three main ways to accelerate through grade levels or courses.


  1. Verification of Credit - Please consult your counselor.
  2. Credit by Exam
  3. Students who have been identified for gifted services have opportunities for acceleration as outlined in the Texas State Plan as mentioned above. This acceleration can occur as single-subject acceleration, full-grade acceleration, or Responsive Acceleration Pathway.

What is Responsive Acceleration Pathway (RAP)?

Some students learn at a faster pace than others and a very small subset of GT-identified require acceleration that cannot be adequately provided in a general education setting. In some cases, they need up to two years of acceleration in all four core areas of instruction (reading, math, science, and social studies). For example, we anticipate 18-25 per grade level from all across the district.


For RAP, we will group students in grades 3-6 who have this need on single campuses (to be determined) for advanced acceleration. Students will progress through the curriculum at a faster and more personalized pace than their current grade peers completing up to 8th grade content by the end of 6th grade.


In secondary, students would have the option of graduating early or pursuing additional college credit bearing courses. More information will be provided to families of the students who qualify for Responsive Acceleration Pathways.

How do students qualify for RAP?

We use a rubric (below) to identify students who may need this level of acceleration. Once they are identified with at least 3 points, the RAP teachers complete a full profile of academic, ability, and social-emotional characteristics through testing data, teacher/student/parent interviews, and any other information that would be relevant and helpful.



***Note: We test all second graders, including students who have already qualified for gifted services, so that all may be considered for RAP.***


We will do our best to follow the following timeline but there will likely be delays. We will update it as we can. Virtual students will be considered once they are tested.

Week of February 22, 2021: Letter sent to potential current third-grade families (Cohort 1)

Week of March 8, 2021: Identification completed for potential current third-grade students (Cohort 1)

Week of March 8 or 22, 2021: Letter sent to potential current second-grade families (Cohort 2)

April 9, 2021: Identification completed for potential current second-grade students (Cohort 2)

April 9, 2021: Cohort 1 participation commitments from identified students and families

April 16, 2021: Cohort 2 participation commitments from identified students and families


Parent information meetings to be scheduled and included in the identification letters.


If you do not receive a letter for your identified GT student in the above grade levels and you feel s/he would need this level of acceleration, please contact our office as indicated the the last section of this newsletter.

Tier 4/Responsive Acceleration Pathway Qualification Rubric

How will RAP be implemented in 2021-2022?

In 2021-2022, identified 3rd-grade students will build the skills necessary to grow as a learner and scholar. Using Depth & Complexity along with self-directed learning, the RAP teachers will extend mastery beyond grade-level TEKS so students know “how to learn” and not just “what to learn” which will enhance their long-term success in acceleration.


Identified 4th-grade students will complete 4th-grade and 5th-grade content in one year. Because they will not have the opportunity to experience 3rd-grade RAP, this first cohort of learners will have the success skills built into the learning.


All curriculum will be cross-curricular and interdisciplinary. In fact, sometimes the students will have the opportunity to work with the other grade level. Additionally, each student will have an individualized, differentiated learning plan.


We will use a rolling model with full implementation in the school year 2022-2023 all located at the Math, Science, Technology Magnet Elementary School. These students would be MST students and attend there every day of school.

Will RAP students have "specials"?

YES! Some specials are required by the state but more importantly, they are an important part of a student's overall development.

What about students in 5th grade and 6th grade?

With the Board of Trustees approving the resolution for Adopting the Middle School Transformation Concept, it is crucial that we plan with the future in mind. It also is important that any implementation is done with great thought and care. Two teachers developing three grade-levels of curriculum implementation can be completed with fidelity. Attempting to add a third year of curriculum potentially would negatively impact each of the levels of instruction.

How will RAP be implemented in 2022-2023?

In 2022-2023, we will roll up the fourth-grade students who have completed fourth- and fifth-grade content into sixth-grade. They will stay as a self-contained cohort at MST. They will be in the MST teacher rotation while maintaining support from the RAP teachers.


Third graders will roll up to the 4th/5th-grade class and we will add a new cohort of 3rd-grade students.


We will repeat this process in the 2023-2024 school year. The following year, 2024-2025, both the fifth graders and sixth graders will move up to Lake Highlands Middle School so they can take advantage of the advanced curriculum at the earliest possible time.

Will RAP continue in junior high/middle school?

Because of the Board of Trustees's commitment to the middle school transformation concept, we will be able to provide cohort support through eighth grade. Lake Highlands Middle School will be the first site since the Lake Highlands Learning Community will be the first to transition to this model. We hope to expand the cohorts to all four learning communities as they each transition to middle school concepts.

Will RAP continue in high school?

These student will attend their assigned high school. They may apply to magnet schools and attend if they are accepted. This model allows students the best of both worlds...cohorts through eighth grade and yet remaining in their home community for the high school years.


For students who are already beyond the grades of the first two cohorts, RISD continues to seek opportunities to ensure the highly-able have opportunities commensurate with their abilities.

Who to Contact

Talbot Boulter

Administrative Specialist

Advanced Learning Programs and Services