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Instructional Management for Gifted

From the Multi-Tiered System of Support Guide for Advanced Learner, the following instructional management strategies are how students are grouped for instruction:

Cluster Grouping

What Is It?
A purposeful grouping assignment for gifted students in the regular heterogeneous classroom. Typically, 5-8 gifted students with similar needs, abilities, or interests are “clustered” in the same classroom and are provided proportionate differentiated curriculum and instruction by a teacher with gifted training.

Why Use It? (Research Support)

Cooperative Learning Groups

What Is It?
The highest performing 3-4 students are placed in their own group and provided with a cooperative task or assignment and assessments of performance are differentiated.

Flexible Skills Grouping

What Is It?
Within-class/flexible grouping – a teacher of a mixed ability class subdivides the class into groups according to their “readiness” for the curriculum to be taught.

Within-class Performance Grouping

What Is It?
A teacher's practice of putting students of similar ability into small groups usually for reading or math instruction. (National Education Association, 2019)

How Do I Use It? (Process, Strategies, Steps)
Teachers may group students according to interest, skill, ability, or other factors. Groups may be heterogeneous or homogeneous.

The top performing 5-8 students in a specific core area, such as mathematics or reading/language arts are placed in an otherwise mixed ability class and are provided with differentiated curriculum and instruction in their single area of high performance.

Other possible ways to use it, according to The National Association for Gifted Children:

  • Within-class/flexible grouping – A teacher of a mixed ability class subdivides the class into groups according to their “readiness” for the curriculum to be taught. 
  • Like-performing cooperative learning – When a teacher decides to use cooperative learning groups, the highest performing 3-4 students are placed in their own group and provided with a cooperative task or assignment and assessments of performance are differentiated. 
  • Performance-based pull-out/send-out/withdrawal/resource room enrichment classes – The top performing students at a grade level in a specific subject are removed from their regular class for a determined number of hours per week to work on more challenging and complex content and skills in that high performance area.

Grouping Position Statement from the National Association for Gifted Children

Matthews MS, Ritchotte JA, McBee MT. Effects of schoolwide cluster grouping and within-class ability grouping on elementary school students’ academic achievement growth. High Ability Studies. 2013;24(2):81-97. doi:10.1080/13598139.2013.846251.

Why Use It? (Research Support)
Can improve student self-concept if placed in a high level group

Significant, sustainable academic gains have been shown for high ability students

Teachers can direct instruction more specifically to student needs

MacIntyre H, Ireson J. Within-class Ability Grouping: placement of pupils in groups and self-concept. British Educational Research Journal. 2002;28(2):249-263. doi:10.1080/01411920120122176.

Tieso, C. (2005). The effects of grouping practices and curricular adjustments on achievement. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 29, 60–89.