A 2016 report by the National Association for Gifted Children argued that “our global community must place a priority in breaking the artificial ceilings we place on children with extraordinary gifts and talents in our schools.” Unfortunately, it seems very little has changed in the years following this report’s publication.
We know that every student—regardless of their background or zip code—deserves the chance to reach their full potential. Yet many gifted and advanced students fall through the cracks of our education system.
Here are four ways schools can help ensure these students get the support they need:
Provide Differentiated Instruction
Personalized instruction based on each student’s abilities, interests, and learning styles is essential for gifted students to advance in their education. For example, “curriculum compacting” allows students to bypass material they’ve already mastered and participate in accelerated options or take advanced courses.
Another way to provide differentiated instruction is through independent study projects or opportunities for self-directed learning. With this method or through mentorship programs, gifted and advanced students can work with experts in their fields of interest.
Offer Flexibility in Grade-Level Placement
If applicable and possible, every K-12 school should consider alternative grade-level placements based on individual student abilities and readiness. This process should include consideration of grade-level skipping or subject acceleration when appropriate and supported by a student’s assessment data.
Dual enrollment programs are another great option because they allow gifted and advanced students to take college-level courses at participating colleges and universities while they’re still in high school. Through this option, students can earn college credit and high school credit for the same coursework and experience greater academic rigor.
Encourage Enrichment Opportunities
Schools that offer extracurricular activities, clubs, and competitions that cater to the interests and talents of gifted and advanced students are a step above the rest. Generally, these schools partner with community organizations, universities, or businesses to offer specialized programs or internships.
By providing access to specialized workshops, supplementary online learning platforms, and/or summer programs or camps that focus on enrichment and exploration, schools can give gifted and advanced students every opportunity to succeed.
Offer Teacher Training and Professional Development
Teachers are the backbone of the learning process. That’s why providing professional development programs that focus on understanding gifted and advanced learners, identifying their needs, and implementing effective instructional strategies is another key ingredient for student success.
Training teachers in differentiating instruction and designing challenging tasks is essential for creating supportive learning environments for gifted students. By offering ongoing support and resources to teachers through mentoring, coaching, or communities of practice, both students and teachers can garner the support they need.
Supporting gifted and talented students in schools is crucial for nurturing their potential and maximizing their intellectual growth. By providing specialized programs and resources tailored to their unique needs, schools can challenge these students academically and foster a stimulating learning environment that promotes their intellectual curiosity and creativity.