Ability Grouping - Arranging students by ability to meet various instructional purposes. These groups are specific to the educational goal to be achieved and can be flexibly formed and reformed as needed. Ability grouping is NOT synonymous with “tracking”
Above Level Testing - Also called out-of-level testing – Administering a test level that is designed for an older student. For example, a 5th grader might take chapter tests from the 6th or even 7th grade placement tests to demonstrate knowledge.
Acceleration - Access to higher level learning activities and skill development than typically provided in regular education to students of the same age. The pacing, complexity, and depth of planned coursework are modified as indicated by individual needs. Acceleration may include: planned course compacting/telescoping, subject acceleration, specially designed instruction, credit by examination or performance, interdisciplinary planned courses, distance learning courses, higher education level courses, independent or self-directed study.
Achievement Test - An objective assessment that measures educationally relevant skills or knowledge about academic subjects.
Adaptations - Using the curriculum and adjusting it to meet the needs of the student.
Advanced Placement Courses - Planned courses of study in which secondary regular education students may gain college credit and/or advanced college placement. Credit is earned by successfully meeting criteria established by higher education institutions on a nationally given and scored advanced placement examination.
Affective Curriculum - Curriculum that focuses on person/social awareness and adjustment, and includes the study of values, attitudes, and self.
Anchor Activity - A strategy for differentiation instruction that provides for meaningful ongoing activities to which students automatically move when they have completed an assigned task. The anchor activity can occur throughout a unit, a grading period, or longer. The purpose of anchor activities is to provide students with meaningful work once they have finished an assignment or project ahead of time; to provide meaningful work at the beginning of each class as might be appropriate; to provide meaningful work for students when they are “stumped” and waiting for teacher assistance; and to provide ongoing tasks tied to the curriculum and instruction.
Aptitude - An inclination to excel in the performance of a certain skill.
Asynchrony - A term used to describe disparate rates of intellectual, emotional, and physical rates of growth or development often displayed by gifted children.
At-Risk - A term used to describe students whose economic, physical, emotional, or academic needs go unmet or serve as barriers to talent recognition or development, thus putting them in danger of underachieving or dropping out.
Authentic Assessment - A student evaluation technique using student products or performance instead of traditional standardized tests. It allows for greater focus on student individuality and creativity in the learning process. It is the practice of collecting data to better understand the abilities of a student by presenting real-world challenges that require the application of relevant knowledge, understandings, and skills. Some basic elements include requiring students to develop responses rather than select from predetermined options; elicit higher order thinking in addition to basic skills; synthesize with classroom instruction; use samples of student work (portfolios) collected over an extended time period; and be facilitated by technology.
Bloom’s Taxonomy - Developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy is often used to develop curriculum for gifted children. There are six levels within the taxonomy that move from basic to high levels of thinking. These include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Brainstorming - Brainstorming is an activity used to generate many creative ideas that have no right or wrong answers and are accepted without criticism. Effective brainstorming is characterized by fluency and flexibility of thought.
Ceiling Effect - If a student correctly answers all or almost all of the items on the test, and the test is too easy for the student, the student has reached the “ceiling” of the test. The test does not measure the extent of the student’s abilities. It is important to give a student a test that is difficult enough so that you can see a spread and where strengths are.
Choice in Assignments - A strategy for differentiating instruction that provides for varying assignments that the teacher can provide and the student can choose/select. All the assignments are targeted toward standards to be learned yet allow for student choice depending on student interest.
Cluster Grouping - Ability grouping within a heterogeneous classroom.
Compacting - Elimination of content that the student has already mastered allowing a faster paced learning progression based on the student's rate of acquisition/retention of new materials and skills. It is a strategy for differentiating instruction that provides a three step process which (a) assesses what a student knows about material to be studied and what the student still needs to master, (b) plans for learning what is not known and excuses student from what is known, and (c) plans for freed-up time to be spent in enriched or accelerated study. The student is given reduced amounts of introductory activities, drill, review, and so on such that the time saved may be used to go into more depth within the curriculum.
Content - The specific information that is to be taught in the unit or course of instruction that identifies what a student should know, understand, and be able to do as a result of a given unit of instruction, subject, or course. In differentiated instruction, the teacher selects levels of content after diagnosing student readiness through pre-assessment.
Continuous Progress - Students receive appropriate instruction regularly and move ahead as they master content and skills.
Cooperative Learning Groups - Grouping students with varying ability levels often reflecting the full range of student achievement and aptitude to complete a common task and/or project. Misuse of the process occurs when some children are constantly assigned to help others learn rather than being allowed to advance at their own pace and/or the common task/project provides little or no challenge nor learning opportunity appropriate to each child's abilities.
Credit by Examination - Students receive credit for a course upon satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination.
Cubing - A strategy for differentiation instruction that is based on student readiness (prior mastery of knowledge, understandings, and skills) and interest (what “hooks” the student in wanting to know, understand, or do more). Each six-sided cube carries instructional tasks. The six sides reflect the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Possible uses for this strategy include introducing new concepts; building interest in a new concept; informally assessing students; helping students see relevance of a concept; reviewing concepts, and helping students think creatively about concepts.
Concurrent or Dual Enrollment - Most often refers to high school students taking college courses, often for college credit. Dual enrollment is viewed as providing high school students benefits such as greater access to a wider range of rigorous academic and technical courses, savings in time and money on a college degree, promoting efficiency of learning, and enhancing admission to and retention in college. The terms may also be used to refer to middle grade students taking high school courses and earning credit towards graduation
Cooperative Learning - An instructional method that allows students to work in small groups within the classroom, often with a division of assignment of several specific tasks or roles. This group strategy allows students to practice working in a group and taking leadership roles. However, when gifted students participate in cooperative learning groups intentionally clustered by mixed ability students, special care must be taken to differentiate tasks appropriately.
Creativity - The process of developing new, uncommon, or unique ideas.
Criterion-Referenced Testing - An assessment that compares a student’s test performance to their mastery of a body of knowledge or specific skill rather than relating their scores to the performance of other students.
Curriculum-based Assessment (CBA) - Assessment that is tied directly to the curriculum. Procedures for determining the instructional needs of the student based upon the student’s on-going performance within existing course content.
Curriculum Compacting - After showing a level of proficiency in the basic curriculum, a student can then be allowed to exchange instructional time for other learning experiences.
Diagnostic Test - An in-depth evaluation process to determine the specific abilities or learning needs of individual students.
Differentiation - An organized, yet flexible way of proactively adjusting teaching content, process, product, or environment to meet students where they are and help them to achieve maximum growth as learners. The teaching philosophy and mindset is that a teacher acts responsively to a learner’s needs, i.e. meeting the student where he/she is the curriculum.
Differentiated Instruction (DI) - This instructional approach recognizes that all students must master a common body of knowledge and skills but each student can gain mastery of the intended curriculum in an approach most appropriate to his learning needs. Differentiation relates to content (what students learn), process (how students learn), and product (how students demonstrate what they’ve learned) in anticipation of and response to student differences in readiness (prior mastery of knowledge, understandings, and skills), interest (a student’s curiosity and passion that “hooks” the learner into wanting to know, understand, or do more), and learning profile (how the student prefers to learn) (Tomlinson).
Distance Learning - Distance learning format provides for communication via video technology, synchronously (at the same time), from one to many delivery points. The best practice use of distance learning is interactive live broadcasting.
Educational Placement - The overall educational environment in which gifted education is provided to a gifted student.
Enrichment - In-depth learning experiences that provide interaction with new ideas, skills, and topics that enhance/extend the regular classroom curriculum. These experiences are based upon individual student strengths, interests, and needs.
Flexible Grouping – Arranging students by interest and/or need. It is a strategy for differentiating instruction that provides for students to be a part of many different groups based on the match of the task to student readiness, interest, or learning profile. Guidelines for flexible grouping includes assigning groups when the task is matched to individual; determining readiness (prior mastery of knowledge, understandings, or skills) or working with a variety of classmates; creating clear guidelines for group functioning taught in advance of group work and consistently reinforced; ensuring that all students have opportunities to work collaboratively with students who are like themselves and dissimilar from themselves; and designing groups with an intentional instructional plan.
Flexible Pacing - Provisions that place students at an appropriate instructional level and allows them to move forward in the curriculum as they achieve mastery of content and skills.
Formative Assessment - Formative data are collected throughout a unit of instruction to help make “mid lesson unit” corrections prior to the graded Summative Assessment. (Informing teachers of what students are learning during instruction. Examples: formative test, peer evaluation, observation, questioning, exit card, portfolio check, quiz, journal entry, self-evaluation.
Gifted education - Specially designed instruction to meet the needs of a gifted student that is conducted in an instructional setting, provided in an instructional or skill area, provided at no cost to the parents, provided under the authority of a school district, directly, by referral or by contract, provided by an agency, individualized to meet the educational needs of the student, reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress, and provided in conformity with a Special Education IEP.
Group Investigation - Students working in small groups on multi-step projects such as: Future Problem Solving, History Day, and Odyssey of the Mind.
Heterogeneous Grouping - Grouping by chronological age level and without regard for the diverse needs of students, their learning styles, or their interests.
Higher Level Questioning Strategies - Questions and activities using analysis, synthesis, evaluation or other critical thinking skills. It is a strategy for differentiating instruction that provides for presentation of questions that draw upon advanced levels of information, requires leaps of understanding, and challenges the thinking of all students. Guidelines for teachers are to: require all learners to think at high levels; require students to defend answers; use open-ended questions.
Homogeneous Grouping - Grouping by common criteria such as the student's interests, special needs or academic abilities.
Honors Course - A secondary level course designed to be advanced in content, process and product and usually requiring regular education students to meet prerequisite criteria before course entry.
Inclusion - Refers to the education of each student in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent appropriate.
Independent Study - Allowing students to follow individual or self-selected areas of interest by designing and implementing their own study plans to demonstrate his/her ability to apply knowledge (facts), understandings (concept and principles), and skills relative to a topic or problem. Also called Guided Independent Study, Self Directed Study.
Individual Education Plan (IEP) - An IEP is a document that delineates special education services for special-needs students. The IEP includes any modifications that are required in the regular classroom and any additional special programs or services.
Individualized Instruction - Content and pacing of instruction geared toward the student’s strengths, abilities, needs, and goals.
Informal Test - A non-standardized assessment that is designed to give an approximate index of a student’s present level.
Instructional setting - A classroom or other place in which students are receiving education.
Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) - A measure of intellectual aptitude at a given point in time based on comparison of children of the same chronological age. It is one of the many ways to measure a student's academic potential.
Interdisciplinary Units - Instruction tied together by a key concept or idea. Information and activities are integrated from a variety of disciplines or courses that study a broad topic or concept by gathering and relating information and ideas from multiple subject areas and disciplines.
Interest Centers or Interest Groups - A means of providing students with meaningful study when basic assignments are completed. It is a strategy for differentiating instruction that provides for “centers” or “stations” or collections of materials that learners use to explore topics or practice skills. Tasks at the centers can be adjusted to students’ readiness, interest, or learning profile. (Also called Learning Centers).
International Baccalaureate (IB) Program - A demanding pre-university program that students can complete to earn college credit. IB emphasizes critical thinking and understanding of other cultures or points of view. A diploma is awarded at the completion of the IB program which allows graduates access to universities worldwide.
lnternship – See mentorship
Learning Contract - Student and teacher jointly develop a plan for the accomplishment of learning goal(s), which both sign and follow. It can take many forms but primarily it obligates the student to the performance of work according to agreed upon specifications, i.e., what will be learned. How it will be learned, amount of time for learning, and how the work will be evaluated.
Learning Environment - The environment where learning is taking place including physical location and/or student grouping.
Learning Profile - A student’s preferred manner for working or learning and is highly important to differentiating instruction. There are many instruments available to detect a student’s preferred manner for working or learning (e.g., Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, Dunn & Dunn’s Learning Styles, etc.)
Learning Styles - Preferred way(s) in which individuals interact or process new information across the three domains of learning identified in the taxonomy of education objectives: cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (attitude). An individual’s preferred learning style is how he/she learns best.
Mentally gifted - Outstanding intellectual and creative ability the development of which requires specially designed instruction, programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.
Mentor - A community member who shares his or her expertise with a student of similar career or field of study aspirations.
Mentorship - Matching a student on a one-to-one basis with an adult member of the community who can provide expertise and or advice in a field of study or other community endeavor. Both mentor and student have predetermined goals and outcomes. This process is especially effective where portfolio/performance assessment is in place.
Modifications - Changing the objectives within the curriculum to meet the needs of the student.
Multiple Intelligence - A means by which teachers can address the interest and learning profile of students. Multiple intelligence theory recognizes the different ways to demonstrate intellectual ability as conceived by researcher Howard Gardner.
Back to top
Norm-Referenced or Standardized Test - A test used to determine a student's status with respect to the performance of other students on that test. A "norm" group is the large number of examinees who have taken a particular test and whose scores form the basis of the norms. Such a test may be based on national, state or local norms. At every level of educational test usage, it is necessary to match the scope of the test with the purpose that test is supposed to perform.
On-line Learning - A form of distance learning that uses computer-networking technology to provide interaction of teacher to learner.
Pace - The speed at which content is presented and instruction delivered. Pacing which matches the student’s rate of learning is optimal.
Parallel Curriculum Model - A curriculum modification strategy to meet the needs of gifted students in terms of depth, complexity, and novelty. This model has four simultaneous pathways of development: Core or Basic Curriculum, Curriculum of Connections, Curriculum or Practice, and the Curriculum of Identify.
Planned Course - The common knowledge and skills in a subject area to be learned by all regular education students of a particular age/grade/level as determined and approved by a local school district within the state mandate.
Portfolio Assessment - A collection of student products used to measure student progress and achievement. Such assessment allows for the demonstration of a wide variety of abilities and talents that do not lend themselves to traditional measures. It is a collection of student work which help students set appropriate learning goals and evaluate their growth. Portfolios can help teachers and parents reflect on student growth over time by focusing on readiness, interests, and learning profile.
Pull-out Program - A program which takes a student out of the regular classroom during the school day for special programming.
Pre-test- A test given before instruction to determine current level of performance in a specific skill area. Any method, strategy, or process used to determine a student’s current level of readiness (prior mastery of knowledge, understanding, and skills) or interest ( what “hooks” the students in wanting to know, understand, or do more) which allows the teacher to meet students “where they are.” (Finding out what students know: Examples: pre-test, inventory, KWL, checklist, observation, self-evaluation, questioning, etc.)
Problem-based Learning (PBL) - A focused, experiential learning (minds-on, hands-on) organized around the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems. PBL curriculum provides authentic experiences that foster active learning, support knowledge construction, and naturally integrate school learning and real life; this curriculum approach also addresses state and national standards and integrates disciplines.
Process - How the student will acquire the content information. In differentiating instruction, process is the opportunity for students to make sense of content. Process differentiation is when a teacher selects activities based on student readiness, interest, and/or learning profile.
Product - How the student will demonstrate their understanding of the content. In differentiating instruction, a product is how students demonstrate what they’ve learned. Teachers can provide choice in product based on student readiness, interest, and/or learning profile.
RAFT Assignment - A strategy for differentiating instruction that helps students understand an audience of fellow writers, students, citizens, characters, etc. RAFT is an acronym that stands for Role (of the writer), Audience, Format, and Topic. Readiness - In differentiating instruction, readiness is found by ascertain the student’s prior mastery of knowledge (facts), understandings (concepts and principles), and skills relative to a unit of instruction, subject, or course. Assessing how well a student’s knowledge, understanding, and skills match a topic or task is necessary to provide appropriate curriculum/instruction.
Rubric - A rubric is a chart composed of criteria for evaluation and levels of fulfillment of those criteria. A rubric allows for standardized evaluation according to specified criteria, making grading simpler and more transparent.
Scaffolding - A strategy for differentiating instruction that provides the support a student needs to succeed in challenging work. Scaffolding is the planning of student work and the presenting of materials from simple to complex in such a way as to build student mastery and, thus, skill confidence. (Also known as Tiered Instruction).
Skills Inventory- Instruments used to describe the student’s aptitudes in areas such as leadership, creativity, communication, etc.
Social- Emotional Needs - Gifted and talented students may have affective needs that include heightened or unusual sensitivity to self-awareness, emotions, and expectations of themselves or others, and a sense of justice, moral judgment, or altruism. Counselors working in this area may address issues such as perfectionism, depression, underachievement, or career planning.
Specially Designed Instruction - Adaptations or modifications to the general curriculum, instruction, instructional environments, methods, materials, or a specialized curriculum.
Standardized Test - A form of measurement that has been normed against a specific population.
Summative Assessment- A means to determine a student’s mastery of knowledge (facts), understandings (concepts and principles), and skills used for the purpose of a final grade, decision, or report that causes teachers to align formative and pre-assessments with the “end in mind.” (Determining what students know or have learned: Examples: unit test, benchmark test, performance task, product/exhibit, demonstration, portfolio review, etc.)
Support services - Services that assist a gifted student to benefit from gifted education. Examples of the term include: psychological services, parent counseling and education, counseling services, and/or transportation to and from gifted programs to classrooms in buildings operated by the district.
Telescope - To cover the same amount of materials or activities in less time, thereby allowing more time for enrichment activities and projects that better suit the interests, needs, and readiness levels of gifted students.
Tiered Instruction (also called scaffolding) - Use of varied level of activities to ensure that students
explore ideas at a level that builds on their prior knowledge and prompts continued growth within the same unit, lesson, or theme of instruction. Guidelines for developing tiered instruction include selecting the concept, principle or skill that is essential for understanding the topic; thinking aboutthe students who will be using the activity in terms of their readiness, interest, or learning profile; creating one activitythat is interesting, that requires high-level thinking and is clearly focused on the key concept, principle, or skill; adapting the activity to provide different versions at different levels of difficulty; adapting activities using Bloom’s Taxonomy; matching the students to a version of the task based upon student readiness, interest, or learning profile; tiering assignments, activities, homework, learning centers, experiments, materials, assessments, writing prompts, etc.
Tracking- Fixed groups that are rigidly maintained over time, often kindergarten through 12th grade. This term is not a synonym for grouping that is flexible and changeable, task-to-task.
Twice Exceptional - A term used to describe a student that is both gifted and disabled. These students may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being GT/LD or 2E.
Underachieving - A term used to describe the discrepancy between a student’s performance and their potential, or ability to perform at a much higher level.