« Is Burnout Inevitable in Teaching? | Main | Vouchers Are Still an Issue in Milwaukee »

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. 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments