- While some believe a gifted education is meant to help higher-performing students gain access to advanced material, a new study from the National Center for Research on Gifted Education has found that many of these pupils are not getting this exposure, wrote The Hechinger Report.
- The survey took a look at three states in the South and Midwest, with three-quarters of the schools surveyed noting that they don’t design a separate curriculum for gifted students. Additionally, what students learn differs dramatically depending on the class, as individual educators are able to actually choose what they want to teach.
- Ultimately, there appears to be a lack of agreement on what constitutes a gifted education — and what doesn’t — in districts that offer these programs. In some cases, offering advanced courses for students is not apparently the main goal.
Gifted students may not be moving faster academically in the gifted classes their schools offer. Instead educators may be focused on developing critical thinking and creative thinking skills instead of accelerating student learning.
Schools sometimes offer gifted activities through programming that includes pull-out classes mixed into the regular school day. But these extra sessions do not always align with an academic curriculum, according to the National Center for Research on Gifted Education's survey. Instead these extra programs are helping students develop other skills, including those focused on processing.
For schools hoping to use gifted education to push students further in their education, administrators and curriculum directors may want to consider aligning these pull-out courses for gifted students to the specific curriculum in a district. The question is, though, whether districts want to use gifted programs to give students advanced material or to help them develop other thinking skills. In other words, do districts want students to learn more, or learn more deeply? Answering that question will help them decide how to tailor gifted programming for pupils.
For those concerned about whether accelerated learning can be a source of stress for students, a study from Norway looking at high-ability students and their study of mathematics in a special accelerated course found otherwise. Published in the Frontiers of Psychology journal in 2018, the paper noted that “all of the students perceived acceleration and ability groups as something positive.”
For those districts, then, that decide to focus on accelerating student learning, pull-out sessions could give pupils more time on academics, perhaps pushing them a grade or even two above where they’re currently assigned, and helping them gain more from their time in school.