Common Core State Standards: A Good Fit for Gifted Education?
Jennifer G. Beasley, Ed.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. She will be presenting at ASCD’s Common Core Professional Development Institutes which you can learn more about and register for here.
With so many states committing to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) many educators of the gifted and talented are wondering what the CCSS might mean and whether these new standards will be a good fit for the students they serve.
What is Common Core?
In order to address whether it is a good fit for advanced learners, we need to know just what is at the heart of the standards. According to the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) the standards
- “Are aligned with college and work expectations;
- Are clear, understandable and consistent;
- Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- Are evidence-based.” (NGA & CCSS, 2010, p. 1)”
This initiative was created to meet the need to collaborate in order to better prepare all learners for 21st century skills.
What is the field of gifted education saying about the Common Core State Standards?
In a webinar on June 10, 2010, the NGA and CCSSO stated, “Many students will meet the expectations outlined in the standards prior to the end of high school. For them, advanced work… must be made available.” Following that presentation the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) released a statement on behalf of the organization. In this statement, NAGC recognized the continued need to adjust standards, the curriculum and instruction to meet student readiness. According to the NAGC, “Too many advanced students languish in today’s classrooms with little rigor and much repetition. With careful planning, the new standards offer the prospect of improving the classroom experience for high-ability students in significant ways.” (2010)
Put another way, the new standards hold promise for all learners as we prepare students for college and the workforce, but like all standards, we need to continually assess students to find out their academic strengths and weaknesses in order to adjust the goals to meet individual needs. Standards and goals are the destination that we are heading towards, but they are not the road we take to get there. Challenging, high-quality curriculum is still in the hands of the experts, the teachers. It is up to us to create a journey for each student that is enabling all to experience rigor.
Is Common Core a good fit for curriculum that challenges all learners?
The short answer is yes. The Common Core State Standards are not arbitrary but draw on a firm foundation of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) frameworks in reading and writing as well as conclusions from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report. The Common Core is determined to address the problem of a curriculum that is “a mile wide and an inch deep” by building upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college and their careers (NGA & CCSSO, 2010).
The Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum. As stated before, they are a set of shared goals and expectations for the destination our students are heading. NGA & CCSSO stated in their Myth v. Facts About the Common Core Standards, “teachers will need to continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms” (2010, p. 4).
As we look to the future—not just in the gifted classroom but in all classrooms—we cannot lose sight of our mission to honor each child and do all we can to respond to their needs. My favorite quote by Lorna Earl in her book Assessment As Learning, sums it up for me: “The teacher’s overriding moral purpose is to meet the needs of students, even if it conflicts with personal preferences.”
As we forge ahead into new territory, let us never forget our purpose. We must strive to hold on to the best practices in curriculum and instruction as we look to preparing our students for their future.
- National Association for Gifted Children (2010). Application of common core state standards for gifted and talented students.
- National Governors Association & Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). About the standards. Retrieved August 31, 2011, from www.corestandards.org.
- National Governors Association & Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). Reaching higher: The common core state standards validation committee. Retrieved from www.corestandards.org.