Common Core interjects the idea of rigor into standards for all. So where do gifted students fit in this plan? If every student is meant to accomplish these high standards, are there higher standards for students whose IQ is off the charts, or who have been identified as twice exceptional (students with a disability but who are also gifted)?
According to the National Association of Gifted Children, there are three to five million gifted students in the U.S. What is being done for them and how will Common Core impact the gifted student population?
Common Core enthusiasts will say that through differentiation and universal learning (online), gifted students will get even more rigorous activities beyond the already demanding standards. The trouble is they are still pretty much the same standards.
Common Core devotees, who stand to profit greatly, will tell you that Common Core will fix the gifted issue in our schools. What will it mean for students hanging out on the far right of the bell curve? Well here are some problems to consider when it comes to Common Core and gifted students. And, of course, many of these problems face all students.
- First, most gifted students attend regular classes. Teachers might not focus on gifted students. They will concentrate instead on the students with problems who will drag scores down if they aren’t given a lot of drilling.
- Gifted students with inquisitive questions or quirky behavior might be considered a liability to the teacher with a large class and many demanding students. Or they might be considered nice students to have around. I have heard of gifted students who are sent to the library to tutor other students. While a little of this might be fine, gifted students should be working on their own school material.
- Many gifted students develop a deep interest in a particular subject. But students are being denied a well-rounded curriculum. With no exposure to a variety of subjects, and that special subject, gifted students miss out on important learning.
- Along with the above, we all know that the arts are gone in many poor schools. But how many elementary and middle school students are currently missing out on coursework like science? Many subjects have been eliminated by Common Core.
- Busy teachers might assume their gifted students will automatically do well on the tests. Surprisingly, gifted students might fool them and not do well. In fact, some gifted students will intentionally fudge the test. Never underestimate a gifted kid with an attitude.
- Most regular education teachers take little, if any, coursework on how to work with gifted children. Working with gifted students can be particularly overwhelming. A student with autism, who is also gifted, or a student who has both a learning disability and giftedness, might also present special challenges for the teacher trying to align everyone to Common Core-like material.
- Gifted students have unique needs. If those needs are not met, students might develop behavioral difficulties. Common Core does not really focus on gifted students and their sometimes complex characteristics.
Gifted programming has always left something to be desired. There has never been a set protocol throughout the country to really assist these students and address their unique needs. So is it any wonder many parents of gifted students look at Common Core and question its authenticity?
And from what I can see, Common Core doesn’t involve thinking outside the box, it is more about putting gifted children in a box and making them fit—a very little box indeed.
I welcome your criticism and comments.