National Standards for the Gifted

For a very long time, our country has maintained a hodgepodge of educational expectations for students, often not even coming close to the standards of other developed countries. The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is composed of a panel of educators convened by the nation’s governors and state school superintendents who are working to create benchmarks to bring all areas of the country in alignment with the same expectations. As reported by TheNew York Times, these are not without controversy. Alaska and Texas declined to participate in the standards-writing effort, arguing that they should decide locally what their children learn. After viewing the proposed standards, some states, like Massachusetts, may oppose the proposed national standards because state educators feel that they already have higher standards in place and may want to keep those.

Although the implementation of high academic standards is probably a good thing for our country in general, we must also be careful that the standards (if accepted by states) do not limit the learning of gifted students. It would be impractical to set a unique set of standards for the gifted population because these students fall on a long continuum of abilities. Instead, it is best to think of any national standards as a baseline of expectations, allowing more capable students to progress much more quickly and in greater depth.

In 1998 the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) developed and released the Pre-K - Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards designed to assist school districts in examining the quality of their programming for gifted learners. These are standards for creating and maintaining effective gifted programming in schools. At the very least, these gifted program standards should be implemented in addition to the national educational standards. The NAGC standards include:
  • program design,
  • program administration and management,
  • student identification,
  • curriculum and instruction,
  • socio-emotional guidance and counseling,
  • professional development, and
  • program evaluation. 
Students who are capable should not be held back by any standards set for the general population; instead, they should be allowed and encouraged to move beyond those general standards.

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