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Common Core State Standards and Gifted Education


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are K-12 content standards, developed in Mathematics and English Language Arts, to illustrate the curriculum emphases needed for students to develop the skills and concepts required for the 21st century.  Adopted by 45 states to date, the CCSS are organized into key content strands and articulated across all years of schooling and in most cases replace the existing state content standards.  Science standards are nearing release as well.  The initiative has been state-based and coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  Designed by teachers, administrators, and content experts, the CCSS are intended to prepare K-12 students for college and the workplace.

The new CCSS are evidence-based, aligned with expectations for success in college and the work place, and informed by the successes and failures of the current standards and international competition demands.  The new standards stress rigor, depth, clarity, and coherence, drawing from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Frameworks in Reading and Writing and the Trends in International and Science Study (TIMMS) report in Mathematics.  They provide a framework for curriculum development work, which remains to be done although many states are already engaged in the process.  States like Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Maine are working within and across local districts to design relevant curriculum and to align current practice to the new standards.  

NAGC has developed handbooks that include examples of differentiated assignments in each standard area.  Visit the NAGC bookstore for more information, or click on the links to the right.

How do the Common Core State Standards relate to programs for the gifted? 

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have significant implications for teachers. The CCSS calls for general education teachers to recognize and address student learning differences, and incorporate rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills.  Despite the obvious connection to the field of gifted education, the nature of advanced work beyond the CCSS is not addressed.  In fact, the authors of the CCSS state, “The Standards do not define the nature of advanced work for students who meet the Standards prior to the end of high school” (English Language Arts Standards, p. 6).  

Although the CCSS are considered to be more rigorous than most current state standards, they fall short in meeting the specific needs of gifted learners, and if held strictly to the standard, could actually limit learning.  To overcome this pitfall, it is imperative that gifted educators create a full range of supports for high-ability learners through differentiated curriculum, instruction, and assessments.

In addition, it will become increasingly more important for gifted education coordinators, facilitators, and teachers to reaffirm and advocate for the need for specialized services for academically advanced and high-potential students. Beyond providing direct student services, gifted education professionals play an important role in the translation of the CCSS to the classroom by collaborating with other teachers and serving as a valuable resource for implementing differentiated curriculum and assessment.  Gifted education professionals may also need to expand their role and act as a mentor/peer coach in providing sustained, job-embedded professional development to school personnel to ease implementation issues.  Moreover, the research base from gifted education can contribute to the professional development that school administrators may need to support complex curriculum and deep student learning.

For additional FAQs and answers on implementing Common Core State Standards with gifted and talented and high-potential students, click here.