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Gifted Students Are Unnecessarily Sacrificed

In an attempt to help underperforming students, public school teachers are shortchanging their gifted classmates ("A Better Way to Teach the Gifted - and Everyone Else," The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17).  Only in the U.S. are the gifted treated so poorly. 

I've long believed that tracking is essential to correct the problem.  But it is seen as elitist.  That's why I think that "mastery-based education" has a better chance of gaining support.  It allows students to progress to ever-increasing more difficult material once they demonstrate their proficiency.  As a result, a classroom could theoretically have each student working on different skills. 

The strategy would be in step with personalizing instruction.  It would allow the gifted to be engaged to a degree that only few schools can claim.  I taught several mixed classes, where a few gifted students were bored to death.  I tried to help them by giving them special projects that required essentially independent study. We agreed on a particular assignment.  But after that, they were on their own for the most part.  I never felt the approach was as good as a class composed entirely of gifted students.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the gifted will be accorded the attention they deserve.  I say that because differentiation in education in the U.S. is considered anathema to democratization. 

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