According to a recent article at NorthJersey.com, elementary schools in Wayne, NJ will soon be participating in a new kind of gifted education.
"Students of varying abilities will be engaged via lessons while in the same classroom using their creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, and logical reasoning skills," the article notes. "Faster learners may be given the task of calculating off the tops of their heads what could be bought with $20 from a list of items without using pen and paper. However a student who requires a little more help would be allowed to check their work with a designated "shopkeeper." And students needing more help would be given objects to count during their assessment."
To be fair, the program calls for a once-a-week pull-out as well, but on the whole, this is basic differentiation in the classroom. People like to claim that this "new" way of doing gifted education allows them to reach more students. But shouldn't good teachers be able to differentiate for different students, anyway, without calling it gifted education?
Of course, the problem is that differentiation is difficult to get right. The easier approach is to teach to the middle, which leaves gifted students bored and plenty of other students perplexed. So teaching teachers how to do differentiation well has plenty of merits. But if the goal is to enhance learning for gifted students, it would be easier to do ability grouping instead.
Which leads me to suspect that this is not the goal...