Common Core State Standards, National Science Standards and Gifted Education

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K-12 content standards, developed in Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Science, to illustrate the curriculum emphases needed for students to develop the skills and concepts required for the 21st century.

The new standards 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 standards stress rigor, depth, clarity, and coherence, drawing from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Frameworks in Reading and Writing, the Trends in International and Science Study (TIMMS) report in Mathematics, and the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education in Science.

The adoption of the CCSS and NGSS has significant implications for teachers. The standards call 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 standards is not discussed, although there is discussion about accelerating coursework in Mathematics in the CCSS appendix materials and course mapping for middle and high school in the NGSS appendices.

Although the new content standards 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 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 and NGSS 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.