Today I am going to write about gifted students and the Common Core State Standards. There is plenty to write about this neglected area of special education without discussing CCSS. The needs of gifted students have never been fully addressed because, in general, people think gifted students learn fast and school will be easy. Parents of gifted students are often happy their child is diagnosed as gifted, and fearing they look presumptuous, may not discuss issues that directly affect the school curriculum and their child.
They also might think all is well when it really isn’t. I think some parents of gifted students and parents whose children appear to be doing everything right in school—passing all the tests with flying colors—are content to sit back and believe the changes happening to the curriculum are just fine. Since their student appears to do well, why should they question anything?
For example, parents of gifted students might not feel the need to opt their child out of any test. Many gifted kids like tests. Tests are like a game to them. They score well and then, mentally rewarded, they get ready for the next test. It becomes a never ending vicious circle. I say vicious because, while gifted students might do well on the tests, it doesn’t mean they are getting a good education. Their needs are never being fully addressed. In many cases they aren’t getting much real intellectual stimulation at all.
It certainly isn’t gifted education like it should be. It is far from it.
Here is what the National Association for Gifted Children has to say about Common Core State Standards:
The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have significant implications for teachers. The CCSS calls for general education teachers to recognize and address student learning differences, and incorporate rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills. Despite the obvious connection to the field of gifted education, the nature of advanced work beyond the CCSS is not addressed. In fact, the authors of the CCSS state, ‘The Standards do not define the nature of advanced work for students who meet the Standards prior to the end of high school’ (English Language Arts Standards, p. 6).
Although the CCSS are considered to be more rigorous than most current state standards, they fall short in meeting the specific needs of gifted learners, and if held strictly to the standard, could actually limit learning. To overcome this pitfall, it is imperative that gifted educators create a full range of supports for high-ability learners through differentiated curriculum, instruction, and assessments.
In addition, it will become increasingly more important for gifted education coordinators, facilitators, and teachers to reaffirm and advocate for the need for specialized services for academically advanced and high-potential students. Beyond providing direct student services, gifted education professionals play an important role in the translation of the CCSS to the classroom by collaborating with other teachers and serving as a valuable resource for implementing differentiated curriculum and assessment. Gifted education professionals may also need to expand their role and act as a mentor/peer coach in providing sustained, job-embedded professional development to school personnel to ease implementation issues. Moreover, the research base from gifted education can contribute to the professional development that school administrators may need to support complex curriculum and deep student learning.
Here is an example of what happened with gifted education in Hoosier territory due to the Common Core HERE. Notice the gifted program is “to follow on grade level the CCSS.” This pretty well insures that nothing special will occur for students who are gifted even though the document goes on to say the students will get enrichment activities. It really implies that all children will get the same activities.
When it comes to gifted students, like all students requiring a special education, the notion of enrichment is vague. It is hard to imagine teachers with large class sizes being able to devote much time at all to differentiating the curriculum.
Gifted students, like all students, run the risk of never having their interests identified. Common Core, in its narrowness, will not prepare them well. Gifted students continue to be slighted in their public schooling. I should also add all schooling since Common Core is now a part of private schools, parochial schools and homeschooling.
I would love to hear from parents and teachers of gifted students. What do you think about Common Core State Standards?
Kelly Ferreira says
Before Common Core our middle school offered regular math classes and advanced math classes (pre-Algebra & Algebra). Kids and parents were able to choose classes based on student interest, previous test scores, and class grades. With the implementation of CC students no longer have any options: Only 1 class per grade level is offered (Math 6, Math 7 and Math 8). In high school kids will take (Integrated Math 9, 10, and 11) leaving only 1 year for an elective high-level math class such as pre-Calculus. It appears that Calculus cannot be reached in our district under the new guidelines. The math director in our Vista School District believes higher-level math classes in middle school are too hard for children and actually cause them to drop out of higher level math in high school. Common core is one size fits all! Rotten to the Core!!
Marjorie Nielsen says
This is not the case in our school district, my 6th grader is in a math class for gifted and he is on track to take more advanced classes in order to take AP classes in high school. Is it an option to go another school district or private???
Kelly Ferreira says
Some districts are following an integrated curriculum and others are following a traditional one (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2). It is my belief that the integrated track will “dumb” students down, and that’s what our district is going to do. Our district feels that Common Core is more rigorous; therefore, they feel advanced classes in middle school are not necessary. Our neighboring district is keeping the traditional track and advanced classes, but we don’t want to move. We’ve hired a math tutor to teach our kids real math (minus the common core)!
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Kelly, for giving a firsthand account of what is happening at your school. I fear your math director might find the opposite effect to be true. Many gifted students get bored or get used to regurgitating information and getting good grades for it.
Marjorie Nielsen says
This is an excellent article. I just don’t know what to do about it. I feel helpless
and that it would take a long time to make any changes. I live in the Charlotte area, does anyone have any recommendations of any schools that are specifically geared to the gifted?
Nancy Bailey says
Hi Marjorie. Thanks for posting. Does the Gifted and Talented Association provide much support? http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/irwinacademiccenterES/Pages/www.ncagt.org.aspx. Perhaps there are some parents there that are experiencing the same problems unique to the Charlotte area. If not, you might bring to their attention your concerns. Let me know how you make out.
Vicki Long says
I just have to comment on this because there seems to be a misconception that the CCSS is changing the environment for gifted students. As a consumer of public education for two decades in a state that has always focused on “standards” attached to age/grade, my opinion is that public education has never served this population or the majority of students well. Until we as a country acknowledge that organizing schools with an assembly line approach based on age and time served is completely inappropriate for learning, we will continue to face these problems. Until standards are viewed more as diagnostic tools to ensure continuous progress rather than end of year age/grade goals, we will continue to hurt children and the future of our country.
Nancy Bailey says
You are right, Vicki! Gifted students have rarely had decent programs. And I also agree with what I think is your take on standards. Thank you!
I honestly don’t know a thing about Common Core. There are so many different articles about it that it’s hard to discern which ones are accurate. My daughter is highly gifted. Skipped third grade and got the highest score on her 4th grade FCAT tests last year. She does very well on tests. She is very much the gifted child you described in your article. We try and educate her on things she won’t learn in school at home because it’s all we can do. She’s still somewhat bored in school even after skipping a grade, I can say she’s having a better year this year but it’s early so she may get bored again.
My question to you regarding the article you wrote is: What do we, what CAN we do about it.?
Since you are in Florida…I have to ask, how did you get the administration to skip her a grade?? I have a daughter has tested with a high IQ & being a late birthday, I don’t think she would have a problem transitioning to the next grade. We are in private schooling (following CC) and I thought they’d be more responsive than public, but they are admit about not skipping grades. I’ve started looking at schools that teach a grade level ahead. In the mean time, she is going to the local public school for gifted services., but it isn’t an ideal situation.
Jen- Are you in central Florida? I think we really lucked out. We tried to have her skip second grade but her teachers and the principal weren’t on board and said she wasn’t mature enough (we disagreed). She had already been leaving her math class and going to the math class a grade higher for half the year. The following year when they wouldn’t skip her they agreed to let her continue to go to the higher grade math class. At the end of the year when it was time to renew her EP we had a meeting with the new incoming principal, her second grade teacher, and a new gifted teacher. Her second grade teacher recommended she to skip a grade. We didn’t even expect it. We were told it was just not going to happen. My daughter’s teacher told ALL of us that my daughter was wasting her time. The principal agreed that if her teacher and her parents thought she could do it then he would agree because we all knew her better than he did. I think it was just the perfect storm of people that allowed her to do this. She was thrilled and still does not regret it. My daughter is a June baby so some kids are going to be almost two years older than her. Which was some of the reasoning they tried to use not to skip her ahead the first time.
My boss’s son was in a private school and they sent him for outside specialized testing and he skipped a grade as well. He skipped second grade, I think and now he’s in his second year of college.
Very good dialogue! My daughter is also very much the gifted child you describe in the article. And, I am also in Florida. I had to fight the school staff & principle all the way up to the school board for 3 1/2 years to get her grade skipped. She was moved on Christmas break from 3rd grade to 4th grade – not the best time or way to transition a child, but I took it over nothing. She is also a June baby, so in with kids almost 2 yrs her senior. Long story short, she finished 5th grade in the top of her class & also scored extremely high on the FCAT’s. She’s a month into 6th grade at a new school & has straight A’s. She still finds it extremely easy, but at least she is being “exposed” to new material. She absolutely hated the repetition. I recognize though that it’s still not the best solve for her or other gifted kids – more of a band-aid. I still haven’t figured out why schools have such distain for skipping kids (that want it). The age-driven “one size fits all” approach is so antiquated yet those in charge refuse to even consider anything else. It’s taboo. I kept hearing “it could hurt her emotionally or mentally” & my response was always the same…no worse than what you are doing to her by holding her back. The main thing I’ve learned in advocating for my child is that as parents of Gifted kids we have to stand up and push the envelope, ask the questions, challenge the norm & be hear. Never give up. Be that parent – squeaky wheel gets the grease! Change comes in numbers. Here in Florida, teacher evaluations are based on test scores, which in turn drives pay. Take away the pay scale based on test scores & we may just be able to get somewhere.
Nancy Bailey says
This is an interesting conversation, and thank you, Jen and Carrie, for telling about your experiences with your children.
Skipping grades is frowned upon in a lot of schools, so this was surprising. I wish schools would do more with looping classes, where two grades have the same teacher in a row, or a multiage class, ex. putting 3rd and 4th grade together.
It would be nice if we could look at schools and classes more with student needs in mind.
Jen, I hope you can get things worked out.
Vicki Long says
Having experienced grading skipping of one of my children, I have to say that it is rarely enough for a “gifted” child because by definition that child is more than 2 years beyond age peers.
All parents should be pushing for student groupings by developmental readiness for instruction in a specific set of standards. This is especially true for children that fall outside the narrow norm based on age. Additionally, re-grouping of students should occur throughout the year (at least twice if not more) as mastery is achieved or additional time is needed. As long as schools think of organization in terms of grade level for an entire year, there will be students that fail to optimize learning.
Nancy Bailey says
Vicki, I agree that skipping grades is not enough. Gifted students need a more complete set of solutions for the variety of differences they bring to the table. Thanks!