What Do Teachers Need to Truly Challenge Every Kid in the Classroom?

They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up.
Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don’t feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.
“The start of this was a little embarrassing,” says Matthew Makel, who researches academically gifted children for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program.
One day, a philanthropist asked one of Makel’s colleagues, Jonathan Plucker at Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, what should have been a simple question, “How many students score above grade level on standardized tests each year?”
They couldn’t answer. So Makel, Plucker and a few fellow researchers took a closer look at the data. Their results have just been published as a policy brief (not a peer-reviewed study) by Johns Hopkins.
The authors studied statewide results on the Smarter Balanced tests in Wisconsin and California; statewide results on the Florida Standards Assessment; data from 33 states on the NWEA MAP test; and data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The first two are high-stakes accountability tests, while the MAP test is usually given twice a year to benchmark student progress. The NAEP is a low-stakes national data collection.
Makel and …