Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 12:47
Schools must challenge top students in class: Education Sec.
Gifted primary and secondary school students are not being sufficiently challenged, writes the Dutch education minister in a letter to Parliament Thursday. His letter provides a progress report on a 2014-2018 government plan for “toptalenten,” gifted students. Schools are paying increasing attention to their top students, but most additional activities for gifted children take the form of extracurriculars, writes minister Sander Dekker. However, those students would also benefit greatly from a more challenging environment in their regular classes. “The cultural shift towards more ambitious curriculum for gifted students has begun,” writes the minister. “Students find this fascinating but are still bored in regular classes. I want to ensure that top students also be taken into account in regular classes.” The plan that Dekker announced in March 2014 specifies 20 measures to achieve more a demanding curriculum that would make those students feel challenged. Some of the measures focus on more flexible educational structure. One of the propositions would allow students to learn at their own pace and also study the material outside of the classroom. The final examinations structure is also modified to allow students to complete their subjects earlier. Schools are thereby encouraged to allow their students to take preferred courses at a higher level. The government is also intending to modify the rewards system for better performing students by, for instance, allowing schools to award them cum laude diplomas and extracurricular certificates. To support schools in rewarding top students, eight talent networks have been set up. Their aim is to allow schools to share their experiences with the reward system, and learn from each other in the process.