Mass education has led to an increase in literacy rates across the globe. Mass education is a product of the school system where children spend about 12 years of their lives in the school learning new subjects and skills.
In the school, teachers follow a standardized curriculum to teach subjects and administer tests that allow pupils to advance from one grade to the next.
In the K-12 system, the child starts school at kindergarten and then progresses through to the twelfth (12th) grade, and thereafter acquires the high school diploma that allows him/her to pursue further studies in college.
Normally, the pupil spends a full year in one grade and thereafter takes an examination that qualifies him/her to move to the next grade.
Once the pupil reaches Grade 7, (s)he becomes a student as (s)he is preparing to join middle school or junior high school.
Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
As mentioned, a student takes a whole year to complete a grade and cover the syllabus as set in the school curriculum.
However, there are intelligent students who can cover this syllabus in less than a year, and can take and ace an end-of-year examination and progress to the next grade.
This intelligent student is described as a gifted student, and (s)he needs to be given gifted education.
Gifted education, also described as Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), is an educational program that uses special pedagogics, educational philosophies and learning theories to offer academic acceleration and enrichment.
Academic acceleration simply means that the gifted student is taken through the subject that (s)he understands at a rate faster than normal students, and by using his/her using level-appropriate studying materials which can be different from that endorsed in the curriculum.
This means that the student completes the standard school curriculum for a particular grade at a faster rate than that anticipated by the experts who created the curriculum.
Fast Track Education for Gifted Children
This faster-than-normal advancement through a standard curriculum makes the student ready to join the next grade in less than a year.
Even so, this is not practical as students in the next grade has already advanced in their standard curriculum and cannot easily accommodate the gifted student who will be a beginner in their curriculum. This leaves academic enrichment as the most viable alternative.
Academic enrichment means that the gifted student completes the curriculum of his/her grade at the normal rate, which is a school year, though (s)he will have gained more knowledge than normal students because (s)he is given more/additional education than the rest.
This happens because of the approach used, which is usually, the enrichment approach where the student is allowed to complete normal curriculum work on a topic, and (s)he is then taken through an enrichment program where additional related material is used to teach him/her more about the topic.
Specialized Schools & the SHSAT
GATE programs that optimally provide academic acceleration and enrichment are offered by a special category of schools called a selective school.
In the United States (US), the selective school provides high school level education, and for this reason, it is called a specialized school.
This means that a specialized school can only admit a student who has completed eighth grade, and the school usually focuses on specific subjects where the student is given enhanced education through academic enrichment and acceleration.
Even so, to join a specialized school, the student must take a competitive admission test. If the student is in New York, then (s)he takes the specialized high school admission test (SHSAT).
In 2019, there were about 29000 candidates who took SHSAT, and about 5000 of them received admission offers from 8 specialized high schools.
SHSAT is a competitive examination that requires the student to be well-prepared to take it. There are private tutoring and online preparatory course providers who can help the student to prepare well for SHSAT and learn how to ace the exam.
One of the best providers of SHSAT preparatory course is ArgoPrep, a platform that we recently reviewed.