Service Options

A comprehensive review of the research (Rogers, 2007) indicates that services leading to the greatest achievement gains for high ability students include the following:

*Acceleration: Opportunities for various forms of content, subject and grade acceleration as needed
*Differentiation: Differentiation in pace, amount of review and practice, focus on larger concepts, and interdisciplinary connections
*Daily Challenge: Opportunity for daily challenge in identified areas of high ability
*Ability Grouping: Opportunities for high ability learners to socialize and to learn with like-ability peers
*Independent Work: Opportunities to work independently in areas of passion and talent.  

A variety of educational service options across the academic spectrum are appropriate for high ability children and may be employed individually or in concert with each other. Whether geared towards elementary, middle, or high school students, a school district can use one or a combination of the following options:

Service Options for Groups of Students

Self-Contained Classroom: A classroom in which all students have been identified as high ability. This is their everyday classroom assignment.

Pull-Out Classes: This allows the high ability child to go to a resource room where work will be more focused on higher level thinking, problem-solving and general work with wide-ranging themes that appeal to the child.

Honors Classes: Regular curriculum covered at a faster pace with greater depth, abstraction, or complexity.

Advanced Placement: A type of acceleration in which students are taught college-level classes in high school and take an AP exam administered by the College Board.

Dual Enrollment: Students can take college courses while still enrolled in high school, earning both high school and college credit.

Between Class Grouping: The practice of “trading students” among teachers at a particular grade level, so that each teacher has a narrower range of abilities for the chosen subject or topic.  The groups will require further differentiation in order to meet the needs of the students within them, but this will be easier for the teacher to provide. This option is frequently combined with a cluster grouping model to provide flexibility for students needing high ability learning experiences in one or more subject areas.

Cluster Grouping: The practice of identifying a small group of high ability students at a grade level and placing them in the same classroom at that grade level with the teacher best-suited and qualified to work with high ability learners.   This teacher is not given any students of low ability to keep her from having an extreme range of abilities in her classroom. Additionally, she is not given the non-identified above average students. All teachers will have strong students in their classes.

Tiered Assignments: Adjusting instruction of the same lesson or concept to accommodate high, middle, and low readiness levels.

Additional Service Options for Individual Students

Curriculum Compacting: Skipping over material that has already been mastered and working instead on areas that are new and challenging.

Independent Study: Allowing a student to work in-depth on a specific area of interest to him or her. (This helps guide the focus on the child’s particular needs and learning styles.)

Single Subject Acceleration: For children working at least one grade level above peers, this allows them to study at their appropriate learning level.

Whole Grade Acceleration: A child who is ahead of peers in most areas (academic, physical, social, etc.) could be moved to the next grade.

Mentorships: A student can work with or “shadow” an adult/college student who works in (or has expertise at) an area of specific interest to the child.

Learning Contracts: Combines the flexibility of independent study with the structure and guidance of “regular” assignments. The child has choices in how and what he or she will learn, how this will be produced, and how the assignment will be graded.

Telescoping Curriculum: Determining what content the student has already mastered so that he/she may move through a subject more rapidly. (An example of this would be completing two
years of math in one school year.)

Field Experiences: Out-of-school educational experiences and programs such as trips, workshops, or extracurricular activities. Examples: Odyssey of the Mind, Future Problem Solving, Mock Trial.