In a guest Inservice post educator and ASCD Common Core Professional Development Institute presenter Jennifer G. Beasley blogs about what the new standards mean for high-ability students. Beasley explains what’s at the heart of the standards, emphasizing that this knowledge is key to establishing whether or not they are a good fit for advanced learners. And she discusses why “challenging, high-quality curriculum is still in the hands of the experts, the teachers.” 

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?