All Children Deserve Great Teaching

George T. Betts, Board President, and M. René Islas, Executive Director
National Association for Gifted Children

In a recent Education Week “Work in Progress” blog titled Shouldn’t All Students Be Able to Participate in Gifted Programs? (9/29/15), Douglas Green argues that all children across the achievement spectrum should receive gifted education programming. His description of “gifted programming” is really a description of great teaching. He is right—all children deserve great teaching every day. However, children with specific gifts and talents need more than just great teaching. They need different approaches to schooling.

Children with gifts and talents are often able to learn more concepts, in a deeper sense, and faster than other students of average ability. Gifted education allows teachers to accommodate these special abilities by removing the traditional barriers like rigid age-based curriculum. Research conducted by Sally Reis, Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology at The University of Connecticut, shows teachers of gifted children could eliminate 40-50 percent of the curriculum on the first day of class without affecting student achievement. These children already know the content at the start of the school year. To these children it may be painful to force them to sit quietly and patiently through material they already know. Gifted education strategies like curriculum compacting and acceleration lets them move on and explore new or more complex content that is at their level. Not every child of average ability would thrive in this type of environment.

Rather than criticizing gifted education, Green should call for better teaching for all students and high quality gifted education. This would require more pre-service training, effective professional learning practicing teachers, and stronger policies that acknowledge the special needs of students with gifts and talents.

We encourage you to share your thoughts on Education Week Teacher WorkinProgress Blog. Thank you for keeping the dialogue moving forward.



October 5, 2015