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Common Core State Standards:  Research Support for Differentiating for Gifted and Talented Students 


Practices that inform the teacher preparation and programming standards in gifted education related to assessment, curriculum, instruction, and grouping issues are all embedded within the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  These practices have an extensive research base.  Brief descriptions of the research support and the corresponding citations are below; click here to locate the complete references.

Research suggests the need for specific interventions to support students who are gifted and talented in the domains of Mathematics and Language Arts and who are well above grade-level expectations.  Curricular, instructional and environmental interventions are driven by the assessment of individual characteristics and needs of gifted and talented students.

Assessment of Individual Characteristics and Needs

  • Because of their advanced cognitive functioning, internal locus of control, motivation, and talents, teachers need to provide intellectual challenge in their classrooms to gifted and talented students (Ablard & Tissot, 1998; Barnett & Durden, 1993; Carter, 1985; Gross, 2000; McLauglin & Saccuzzo, 1997; Robinson & Clinkenbeard, 1998; Swiatek, 1993).
  • Educators also must be receptive to gifted students’ affective needs and sensitive to the socio-emotional and coping needs of special groups of learners (e.g., highly gifted, gifted students with disabilities, gifted students from diverse backgrounds, gifted girls, gifted boys) (Albert & Runco, 1989; Ford & Harris, 2000; Coleman, 2001; Cross, Stewart, & Coleman, 2003; Gross, 2003; Kennedy, 1995; Peterson, 2003; Shaunessy & Self, 1998; Swiatek & Dorr).
  • Gifted students’ cultural, linguistic, and intellectual differences should be considered when planning instruction and differentiating curriculum (Boothe & Stanley, 2004).
    Educators need to use preassessment and ongoing assessment to adjust instruction that is consistent with the individual student’s progress (Reis, Burns, & Renzulli, 1992; Winebrenner, 2003).
  • Assessments used to document academic growth include authentic tasks, portfolios, and rubrics and performance-based assessments (Siegle, 2002; Treffinger, 1994; VanTassel-Baska, 2002).
  • The results of progress assessments can be used to adjust instruction including placement in appropriate group learning settings and academic acceleration (Feldhusen, 1996; Kulik, 1992).


  • Teachers need to use metacognitive and higher-level thinking strategies in the content areas, activities that address the gifted students’ areas of interest, and foster research skills (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Center for Gifted Education, 2000; Elder & Paul, 2003; Hébert, 1993; Johnsen & Goree, 2005; Moon, Feldhusen, & Dillon, 1994; VanTassel-Baska, Avery, Little, & Hughes, 2000).
  • Educators should develop gifted students’ use of cognitive strategies and encourage deliberate training in specific talent areas (Bloom & Sosniak, 1981; Ericcson & Charness, 1994; Feldman, 2003).
  • Technology can be used in independent studies to access mentors and electronic resources and to enroll in advanced classes (Cross, 2004; Ravaglia, Suppes, Stillinger, & Alper, 1995; Siegle, 2004).


  • In the classroom, curricular modifications for gifted students include acceleration, enrichment, grouping, problem-based learning, curriculum compacting, tiered lessons, independent study, and specific curriculum models (Brody, 2004; Betts & Neihart, 1986; Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross, 2004; Gallagher & Stepien, 1996; Gentry, 1999; Johnsen & Goree, 2005; Kulik & Kulik, 1992; Milgram, Hong, Shavit, & Peled, 1997; Renzulli & Reis, 2004; Rogers, 2003; Southern & Jones, 1991; Tomlinson, 2002; Tomlinson, Kaplan, Renzulli, Burns, Leppien, & Purcell, 2001; VanTassel-Baska & Little, 2003).
  • Models emphasize the need for considering students’ interests, environmental and natural catalysts, curriculum differentiation, and the development of higher-level thinking skills (Elder & Paul, 2003; Gagné, 1995; Renzulli & Reis, 2003; Tomlinson & Cunningham-Eidson, 2003).
  • When designing a differentiated curriculum, it is essential to develop a scope and sequence and align national, state or provincial, and/or local curricular standards with the differentiated curriculum (Maker, 2004; VanTassel-Baska & Johnsen, 2007; VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh, 2006).
  • Specific curricula have been designed for gifted students and include affective education, leadership, domain-specific studies, and the arts (Clark & Zimmerman, 1997; Nugent, 2005; Parker & Begnaud, 2003; VanTassel-Baska, 2003a).
  • Educators should integrate academic and career guidance into learning plans for gifted students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds (Cline & Schwartz, 2000; Ford & Harris, 1997).
  • Differentiated curricula results in increased student engagement, enhanced reasoning skills, and improved habits of mind  (VanTassel-Baska, Avery, Little, & Hughes, 2000).
  • When individuals from diverse backgrounds are provided challenging curricula, their abilities and potential are more likely to be recognized (Ford, 1996; Ford & Harris III, 1997; Mills, Stork, & Krug, 1992).


  • Working in groups with other gifted students and mentors can yield academic benefits and enhance self-confidence and communication skills (Brody, 1999; Davalos, & Haensly, 1997; Grybe, 1997; Pleiss & Feldhusen, 1995; Torrance, 1984).
  • Working under a successful mentor in their area of interest can foster personal growth, leadership skills, and high levels of learning (Betts, 2004; Brody, 1999; Davalos, & Haensly, 1997; Feldhusen & Kennedy, 1988; Grybe, 1997; Pleiss & Feldhusen, 1995; Torrance, 1984).
  • Other learning situations that support self-efficacy, creativity, and life-long learning include early college entrance programs, talent searches, competitions, problem-based learning, independent play, independent study, and the International Baccalaureate Program (Betts, 2004; Boothe, Sethna, Stanley, & Colgate, 1999; Christophersen & Mortweet, 2003; Gallagher, 1997; Johnsen & Goree, 2005; Rotigel & Lupkowski-Shoplik, 1999; Olszewski-Kubilius, 1998; Poelzer & Feldhusen, 1997; Riley & Karnes, 1998).
  • Three factors need to be present for students to develop their talents: (a) above-average ability and motivation; (b) school, community, and/or family support; and (c) acceptance by peers in the domain of talent (Bloom, 1985; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Gagne, 2003; Renzulli, 1994; Siegle & McCoach, 2005).


Click here for the complete references.

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