Background Information on Compacting

A Definition of Curriculum CompactingCurriculum compacting is a procedure used to streamline the grade level curriculum for high potential students to provide time for more challenging and interesting work. Curriculum compacting is an instructional technique that is specifically designed to make appropriate curricular adjustments for students in any curricular area and at any grade level. Essentially, the procedure involves (1) defining the goals and outcomes of a particular unit or segment of instruction, (2) determining and documenting which students have already mastered most or all of a specified set of learning outcomes, and (3) providing replacement strategies for material already mastered through the use of instructional options that enable a more challenging and productive use of the student’s time.

Teachers nationwide indicate that they are committed to meeting students’ individual needs, yet, many teachers do not have background information to put this commitment into practice. Too often, for example, some of our brightest students are asked to learn material they already know, which can lead to frustration, boredom, and ultimately, underachievement. One strategy that has been proven to be effective in addressing underachievement is curriculum compacting and replacement of compacted material, with self-selected work in a high interest area.

This module explains how to streamline or “compact” curriculum through a practical, step-by-step approach. In it, teachers can learn the skills required to modify curriculum, as well as techniques for pretesting students and preparing enrichment options based on individual areas of interest. Practical issues such as record keeping and how to use the compacting form are also discussed. These guidelines can save valuable classroom time for both teachers and students.

Curriculum compacting, as presented in this module, has been researched since 1975. It can be used with individuals and groups of students with above average ability in any academic, artistic or vocational area. Most important, it has been proven to be beneficial. Current research demonstrates that compacting can dramatically reduce redundancy, and challenge gifted students to new heights of excellence. It can be particularly meaningful for high ability students who are underachieving as it provides one clear way to eliminate work that may be too easy and replace that work with self-selected opportunities in an area of interest. This approach is based on the Enrichment Triad Model, developed by Joseph Renzulli in 1977.

To learn to use the two strategies of compacting and replacing work based on self-selected enrichment projects, you should review the information on the following pages, and then complete the checklist on SECTION XVI to ensure you understand these procedures.

Next Section: An Overview of the Enrichment Triad Model
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