Curriculum compacting is a form of preassessment that allows students to "skip" the content they already know to differentiate instruction and provide the student with appropriate challenges. This can occur in three simple steps:
1.) Defining the learning objectives, goals, and outcomes of a unit or lesson.
2.) Determine which students have already mastered all or most of a specified set of learning outcomes through preasessments. This data should be recorded.
3.) Provide students with different instructional options for the material they have already mastered. This may look different for each student. It would be a good idea to develop learning contracts for students working independently.
Winebrenner (2001) gives this analogy to explain curriculum compacting: "Think of a trash or garbage compactor. The information and skills students have demonstrated mastery of is 'trash'- it is expendable and can be thrown away without being missed because they have already had enough of it. Taking this a bit further, by getting rid of the rubbish, student can 'recycle' their time for enriched or accelerated learning."
Implementation of curriculum compacting is made easier with the use of The Compactor:
The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented has done research that proves the effectiveness of curriculum compacting:
- 95 % of the teachers in their study were able to identify high-ability students and document their strengths. For the areas that were not mastered, 80% of the teachers were able to document those, list appropriate instructional strategies, and determine a mastery standard.
-Around 40-50% of traditional classroom material was able to be eliminated for certain students in one or more of the four main content areas. Mathematics and language arts were the most commonly compacted.
-When teachers eliminated up to 50% of the regular curriculum for gifted students, the out-of-level postachievement results were positively affected in reading, math computation, social studies, and spelling.
Attached below is an example of curriculum compacting. I completed the compactor and created an appropriate learning contract for a second grade student. Olive scored in the 99th percentile in creativity and reads on a fifth grade level. She enjoys writing and performing.
Here is a blank compactor for your use:
Karnes, F. & Bean, S. (2009) Methods and Materials for Teaching the Gifted. Waco, Tx: Prufrock Press Inc.
Renzulli, J. & Smith, L. (1978) Individual Educational Programming Guide: The Compactor. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press, Inc.