Common Core State Standards: Definitions of Key Terms
Below are definitions of the key terms used through the discussion of the Common Core State Standards and the Standards' relationship to gifted and talented education.
Acceleration is a broad term used to describe ways in which gifted student learning may occur at a faster more appropriate rate throughout the years of schooling. It refers to content acceleration through compacting and reorganizing curriculum by unit or year, grade skipping, telescoping two years into one, dual enrollment in high school and college or university, as well as more personalized approaches such as tutorials and mentorships that also would be sensitive to the advanced starting level of these learners for instruction. Both Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate at the high school level represent programs of study already accelerated in content. AP courses also may be taken on a fast track schedule earlier, as appropriate
Assessment is the way to determine the scope and degree of learning that has been internalized by the student. For purposes of gifted education, the assessments must be matched to differentiated outcomes, requiring the use of authentic approaches like performance-based and portfolio-based assessment demands. Some assessments are already constructed and available for use, exhibiting strong technical adequacy and employed in research studies while others may be teacher-developed, with opportunities to establish interrater reliability among teachers who may be using them in schools.
Characteristics and needs of gifted learners is the basis for differentiating any curriculum area. In Language Arts, verbally talented students learn to read early, talk in complex sentences, write coherent text, and become sensitive to language at an earlier stage of development than typical learners do. Because of this advanced readiness to engage with their world, their curriculum diet should be advanced, rich in experiences for increasing complexity and depth, and open-ended to allow for creative manipulation of ideas and concepts. In Mathematics, mathematically precocious learners learn their number facts early, can perform computational operations before they are taught in school, and have a sensitivity to patterns, and love to engage in problem-solving through puzzles and games. Because of this advanced readiness, these students need to be accelerated through the basic material in Mathematics in order to focus on higher level math concepts and problems.
Curriculum is a set of planned learning experiences, delineated from a framework of expectations at the goal or outcome level that represent important knowledge, skills, and concepts to be learned. Differentiated curriculum units of study already have been designed and tested for effectiveness in both Language Arts and Mathematics or units may be developed by teachers to use in gifted instruction.
Differentiation of curriculum for gifted learners is the process of adapting and modifying curriculum structures to address these characteristics and needs more optimally. Thus curriculum goals, outcomes, and activities may be tailored for gifted learners to accommodate their needs. Typically, this process involves the use of the strategies of acceleration, complexity, depth, and creativity in combination.
Instruction is the delivery system for teaching that comprises the deliberate use of models, strategies, and supportive management techniques. For gifted learners, various inquiry strategies such as problem-based learning and creative problem-solving, and critical-thinking models such as Paul's reasoning model, used in a flexible grouping approach in the regular classroom constitutes instructional differentiation.
Teacher Quality refers to the movement at all levels of education to improve the knowledge base and skills of classroom teachers at P-12 levels, which is necessary for effective instruction for advanced students. It is the basis for a redesign of teacher education standards and a rationale for examining P-12 student outcomes in judging the efficacy of higher education programs for teachers. Policy makers are committed to this issue in improving our P-16 education programs.
Glossary of terms used in the Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards
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