High achieving students bored and under extended

January 10, 2013

Research reported in The Age, lead by Professor Patrick Griffin, was conducted on 36,000 Years 3 to Year 10 students in reading comprehension, maths and critical thinking from 500 Catholic and state schools in Victoria.
Once tested students were grouped according to ability and taught by teachers at their ability level for 6 months. Researchers found that teachers did a ‘brilliant job’ with the bottom 25% of students, but the top 25 per cent of students, the talented high ability students, did not on average, improve.
Professor Patrick Griffin has several hypotheses as to why this was the case:
  1. Both state and federal governments are preoccupied with ‘closing the gap’ between the results of disadvantaged students and advantaged students, rather than improving the results of all students.
  2. Some teachers assume high-ability students can learn independently.
  3. More advanced skills tested are not taught in the curriculum.
  4. Some teachers have found dividing students into ability groups too difficult and reverted to teaching students at their year level, leaving the top students bored and under-extended.
What do you think? Make your comment below.
See also the Psych4Schools Blog related to differentiating the curriculum,Will your students help to shape Australia’s future? 6 September 2012

What you can do to help high ability students

Encourage your students to achieve their personal best by providing extension and enrichment that requires them to exert mental effort rather than simply relying on natural talent. Implement a differentiated curriculum that encourages students to move beyond their comfort zone, to experience the excitement and stimulation of new learning and, in turn, harness their true potential.

Psych4Schools members

Click here to view our guide to implementing extension and enrichment programs at your school.