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?