Frequently Asked Questions about TAG

  • What is the TAG program?

    Talented and Gifted (TAG) programs happen in regular classrooms. Pullout programs, enrichment activities, curriculum extensions, and field trips may help to supplement learning for TAG students, but the central requirement of a TAG program is that teachers address the level and rate of learning of identified students in their classrooms.

  • Who are we talking about?

    Talented and Gifted Children are those children who may require differentiated instructional strategies within a regular school program because they demonstrate the capability of performing at advanced levels and accelerated rates of learning. The instruction provided to identified students should address their assessed levels and rates of learning.

  • What is meant by "level"?

    The term “level” is not limited to grade-level content, but encompasses complexity in subject, conceptual development and vocabulary as well. Teacher observation of the amount of effort needed to gain mastery for an individual student may provide a good indicator of appropriate level of content. Informal assessment tools used to establish level of learning include writing samples, end-of-year and end-of-unit assessments, individual reading inventories, scores from state assessments and/or Lexile scores.

    The K-W-L strategy may also be used with special topic units, i.e., science, social studies, health, etc. to determine the level of student knowledge prior to starting a unit. Many teachers have found that assessing for understanding of key concepts within a unit gives students the freedom to develop in-depth, independent research projects that complement the learning of the rest of the class.

  • What is meant by “rate of learning”?

    Assessment of rate can be a source of confusion. The best assumptions that can be made about whether or not rate of learning provided is appropriate happen in the course of the actual learning assignment.

    Characteristics of accelerated rate include the student’s quickness in grasping and applying concepts with accuracy, as well as his/her consistency in finishing assignments with mastery in less time than peers. Students who receive top scores while not taking work home, or who spend significantly less time on an assignment than capable peers may need an adjustment in the rate of instruction provided.

     Individual learning rates are not necessarily steady, so it is a good idea to make provision for a continuous monitoring of student response to modified curriculum. One way for teachers to demonstrate rate of learning is to document the date and time a specific assignment or unit of study is started and completed. Modifications for rate of learning could include reading and conference, accelerated study, compacted curriculum, or use of a tutor. Often rate of learning regulates itself as the level of instruction becomes more appropriate.

    The key concept here is continuous instruction. Try to keep student wait time for new learning to a minimum. As much as possible, modifications in curriculum are to be based on the individual’s ability to grasp and master concepts rather than on instructional convenience.

  • Does assigning more work address rate and level of learning?

    No. Identified TAG students should not simply do the work that the whole class does and then do more. Teachers employ high-leverage, research-based strategies that are supported by John Hattie’s findings related to influential educational achievement. Differentiation is employed based on assessment of rate and level of learning.

  • What is Differentiated Instruction?

    Differentiated Instruction is a teacher’s response to a learner’s needs. It is responsive teaching rather than one-size-fits-all teaching.

     “A fuller definition of differentiated instruction is that a teacher proactively plans varied approaches to what students need to learn, how they will learn it, and how they can express what they have learned in order to increase the likelihood that each student will learn as much as he or she can as efficiently as possible.” Carol Ann Tomlinson



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