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September 2010

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Standing Above it All

The simple utterance of the word “standard” can evoke a variety of emotions from those involved in education, and to be honest, I am usually hesitant to accept any new form of competency, outcome, expectation, benchmark, indicator, or “standard in disguise” as I like to call them. Standards eventually reduce education to a list of what students should and need to know, without consideration for individual interest, learning style, or pace.

With that being said, the release of NAGC's new Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards has dramatically changed the way I look at my entire educational environment. The new standards, which are grounded in theory and research and proven through educational practice, provide the crucial directive language that is needed in order to serve gifted learners through all of their stages of development.

As the Teacher Resource Specialist for NAGC, I have had the privilege to work with these standards over the course of the past several months, and during this review time, have found both the language, which focuses on diversity and collaboration, and the goals, which use student outcomes as a driving force, to be welcome revisions from the previous set of standards.

The Fall issue of Teaching for High Potential, which will arrive in your mailbox this week, contains information about the new standards from a variety of perspectives. Here are a few quotes from the issue that confirm my beliefs.

  • "The new NAGC standards address the need to focus on students’ conceptual, social, and intellectual growth in addition to the chronological checklists of academic achievement."
  • "Cultural diversity is the ‘hub’ of the wheel of the NAGC standards."
  • "A major shift from the previous standards document is the emphasis on the affective-side of the equation relating to giftedness and talent."

A visit to the new standards on the NAGC website reveals a wealth of information and supporting resources. Each standard is broken down into two sections, Student Outcomes and Evidence–Based Practices. From there you can access Related Resources in support of each standard, Guiding Questions to help with evaluation of progress and assessment, a Glossary of Terms, FAQs, a downloadable PDF of the standards, and the entire Research Support document. Access to these standards is only a click away!

A standard is only as good as its interpretation and use. I believe that the new Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards set the standard for great educational practice, and I am confident that in reading through them, you’ll appreciate their clear guidance. One can only imagine the wealth of materials and educational programming that will stem from their use. I am eager for the future. 

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