Responding to Student Needs

Once we've determined student needs by creating a comprehensive pupil profile, we must provide appropriate programming to meet these needs. In an RtI system, this means collaborating to decide what learning opportunities match best.

Begin with a High Quality Core Curriculum

It's important to note that the foundation for responding to student needs is a high-quality core curriculum, characterized by curriculum, instruction, and assessment that is:

  • engaging,
  • standards-based,
  • data-driven,
  • research-based, and
  • grounded in culturally responsive practices of relevance, identity, belonging, and community.
This core curriculum is differentiated, modified, enriched, or accelerated to take into account three characteristics of students with gifts and talents identified by Roets*:

  1. Pace. Students with gifts and talents typically need fewer repetitions to learn material. They can master content in 1-3 repetitions while most learners require 18-25 repetitions. Pacing, therefore, is an important modification for these students.
  2. Depth/Complexity. Students with gifts and talents are often able to grasp more abstract concepts than their age peers and to make connections between ideas. For this reason, it’s desirable to include strategies that emphasize depth rather than breadth.
  3. Grouping. Students with gifts and talents often feel different and isolated. Providing opportunities for homogenous grouping, as well as heterogeneous grouping is warranted.
Choose Strategies from a Continuum of Services

The strategies included in the Continuum of Services for Students with Gifts and Talents (see below) are research-based and take the attributes summarized above into consideration. The strategies are organized on two levels.

  • First, they are divided into classroom-based and school/district-based strategies. Those that are in the classroom-based row can be implemented by knowledgeable teachers fairly easily. Those that are school/district-based strategies require more coordination, scheduling, etc. For instance, curriculum compacting can be accomplished in the classroom by the classroom teacher. In contrast, a mentorship requires someone to screen mentors, match the student with an appropriate mentor, schedule meetings, and possibly arrange transportation.
  • Second, the services are arranged in increasing intensity from left to right. For example, pre-assessment, questioning techniques, and cluster grouping are differentiation strategies that are appropriate for a large percentage of students with gifts and talents. They could be considered initial intervention and are strategies that are generally used in the classroom setting. On the other hand, subject acceleration and independent contracts are much more intensive interventions, appropriate for a small percentage of students with gifts and talents. These services generally occur outside of the student's regular classroom.
Click here to access an interactive copy of the Continuum of Services for Students with Gifts and Talents. Clicking on each strategy will take you to a "one-pager" that provides a brief description, summarizes benefits, describes common situations, provides examples, shares pointers, and suggests resources and references for each strategy.


*Roets, L. (1993). Modifying standard curriculum for high ability students. New Sharon, IA: Leadership Publishers
For questions about this information, contact Chrystyna Mursky (608) 267-9273