Child-Centered Gifted Education, Child-Centered Gifted Consortium

In March 2020, an international group of educators and leaders in gifted education coordinated by Dr. Linda Silverman began meeting virtually, weekly, to discuss ways to support each local community with the intensities of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fall of 2020, the meetings shifted to monthly and continued forward, and conversations also began to define "what does it mean to have a child-centered approach?" at individual schools and across the field of gifted education. These conversations resulted in a new definition and framework published in June 2022, found HERE.


In many schools, ‘curriculum’ may be defined as the set of purchased materials used by teachers to enable students to meet Colorado content standards.

AcademyACL does not define our Curriculum as purchased materials. Our Curriculum is defined, with a “big C” as AcademyACL’s specific, intentional plan to create an engaging, supportive and challenging learning environment that consistently graduates students who meet and surpass Colorado standards by nurturing their individual needs and passions. This Curriculum includes content, instructional methodologies, and assessment based on best practices in gifted education and general education aligned with Colorado and national content standards. Any purchased materials and resources that we buy (defined as “little c” curriculum materials) are used with this overall Curriculum intent in mind, and teachers adapt and modify those resources to fit the needs of the students in the room.

AcademyACL uses the Integrated Curriculum Model designed for gifted learners by Dr. Joyce Vantassel-Baska and the College of William and Mary. This model integrates Big Ideas, Advanced Content, and Differentiated Process & Product.

Our Curriculum…

  • Builds upon standards and capitalizes on student interest.
  • Focuses on critical, logical, & creative thinking skills.
  • Uses thematic learning & integrated subjects, and includes visual-spatial techniques.
  • Joins the arts, language, & technology to core subjects.
  • Supports daily physical activity & good nutrition for critical brain development.

Some of our materials include:

  • Everyday Math with its solid research base for gifted learners
  • Big Ideas Math
  • Michael Clay Thompson’s grammar, vocabulary and poetry units
  • Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Writer’s Workshop
  • Language, history and science units from the College of William and Mary
  • Junior Great Books

AcademyACL teachers use a variety of materials to address all of the components needed for a full-time gifted education program that help students make progress on Colorado Academic Standards.

Curriculum Resources

What about “Common Core” national standards? Standards, Curriculum, & Assessments

There are three issues in the “standards” discussion in the current national debate:

  1. The standards themselves
  2. The curriculum used to help the students meet the standards
  3. The assessments used to evaluate students’ progress on the standards

At AcademyACL, we use standards as a floor for what students should be able to do at a given level; not a ceiling. We believe that the standards are not the limit of what children can learn, but they are a baseline that can include many other important learning opportunities.

All public schools, including public charter schools, are required to meet and exceed the Colorado Academic Standards. These were adopted in 2009 and updated in 2010 to integrate Common Core elements into the Colorado standards for reading, writing and math. You can visit the state website for a description of the development of academic standards.

AcademyACL is a free public charter school and is held accountable to the state of Colorado and to Colorado Springs District 11 for the success of its students on these Colorado Academic Standards, as measured by the following formal assessments:

We also use the following to measure student growth and progress:

  • Curriculum-based assessments from purchased resources and teacher-created materials
  • Scholastic Reading Inventory and Scholastic Math Inventory

These assessments provide us with multiple ways to support our students as they set personal growth goals and master advanced content. Most importantly, we have goals other than state assessments for our students.

Many of our gifted students easily test into high ranges, but a few do not formally test as well; due to test-anxiety, the grade-level limits on the tests, and other factors. This is where our Curriculum is the most important work that we do, as we look at their actual work samples to see where they are growing, meeting above-grade-level work and reaching their social-emotional goals.

Digital Citizenship

Today’s students are “digital natives” (coined by author Marc Prensky, 2001). AcademyACL is developing its work with students on concepts of “Digital Citizenship”.