Skip to main content
Tailoring the Common Core to gifted students
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014 09:42 AM

Some students are bored in class - they get As without having to push themselves. The scenario of a student passing easily but never being challenged is not a good one. What happens when those kids face academic challenges in college? They may not know how to tackle learning adversity because they were never pushed in K-12. They might even become disengaged. Schools often provide accelerated courses to accommodate gifted students, but what do those look like under the Common Core State Standards? Here's some insight into how the Standards educate those students:

Anchor and specific Standards 
The Common Core provides educational benchmarks for English/language arts and math. It covers anchor Standards and grade-specific Standards. Anchor Standards are the larger, more generalized skills students should attain before graduating, while grade-specific Standards lay out precisely what a regular student should understand before moving on to the next grade. Some educators note that by looking to the anchor Standards, teachers can devise a more challenging lesson plan for advanced students. Teachers of gifted students likely won't be able to follow the grade-level Standards as closely as those who educate students learning at the regular pace.

Emphasizing best practices
While the Common Core emphasizes the development of critical thinking for all students, the skill is especially important in gifted classrooms. If students are aiming for the same goals as their peers in regular-level courses, the way they reach those benchmarks has to change. Concept-based learning, for instance, allows students to focus on the reasons certain educational ideas work.

Challenging content
Gifted students may also be assigned projects normally reserved for higher-level students. For instance, teachers can devise a project that combines subject matters, such as applying math to English. Such cross-curricular content would be too challenging for certain students, but appropriate for those in gifted programs.

Lacking a clear path
While the Common Core is flexible enough for teachers to devise methods of instructing gifted students, the Standards are quite vague. The benchmarks themselves lack a clear definition of what accelerated coursework should entail. Therefore, teachers have to do a lot of the work and schools must find aligned curricula that adequately challenges high-level students. 

"In order to differentiate, you have to understand the Standards and know what they entail. That's ground zero," Jared B. Dupree, the secondary mathematics coordinator for the eastern region of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told Education Week. "I don't see … a strong outlook for quality differentiation for the gifted population for years ... maybe three or four years down the road."

As teachers become more familiar with the CCSS, hopefully gifted students will be challenged and exceed benchmarks.