Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Common Core and gifted ed

About two years ago, I interviewed several education observers who were amazed at how far the Common Core idea had gone. The vast majority of states had signed on to this set of higher standards, and agreed to teach students according to objectives that would make them "college and career ready."

As with much in education, however, politics eventually reared its head, and now a number of states are backtracking. The Common Core has become an enemy for those on both the left (who've not been as excited about the testing and accountability movements) and the right (who've decided that the Common Core is a threat to local control of education).

Well, now it seems there might be another problem. According to a new paper from the Fordham Institute, some districts are using the adoption of the Common Core as a reason to jettison gifted education.

The idea is pretty straightforward: Common Core is raising standards, so gifted education is no longer necessary! Others use a secondary argument: implementing the Common Core is expensive, so funds must be transferred from non-essential services such as gifted education.

Both arguments are problematic. Raising the floor on American education does little for people who were already well above it. As the Fordham paper points out, the math standards are only fully developed through Algebra 2, while many gifted young people make it through calculus years before age 18.

As for costs, this argument only works if you view gifted education as one of those nice-but-needless expenses, which gets a little closer to the problem with all this. Many districts view gifted education as something extra and special for kids who already have a lot. They don't view it as an educational intervention for kids who really need it.

The reality is that many people in education don't like the idea of gifted education. The Common Core becomes an easy excuse to attack it, but if it wasn't the Common Core, it would be something else. The Common Core may have its merits and drawbacks, but it's an entirely separate issue from gifted education, and should be treated as such.


lgm said...

The way the exclusion of the gifted is done here is to declare any classes not required for the diploma, remedial, or sped to be nonessential, and therefore not offered. Alg 2 and Foreign Language 3 are the end, no matter if the child is young enough to be compelled or not. Some DE courses are then offered at parental expense, or student may spend senior year at a community college at his own expense.

Connie Taylor said...

I agree with your post completely, and it's a shame that people are finding yet another way to shortchange gifted students. My own take is that any child that is far enough away from the norm, either above or below, needs additional services. Anyone two standard deviations from the mean (or three, if you're really strapped for cash) should be getting additional help in the schools.

Anonymous said...

As a Gifted and Talented Teacher, I am finding that with Common Core implementation, we are receiving more referrals from teachers for testing rather than less. This is due to the nature that higher- level students cannot be challenged appropriately with the daily classroom work. More often that not, these referrals result in students who do not qualify for the GT program, but still need additional enrichment.