Curriculum compacting is a content acceleration strategy that enables students to skip parts of the curriculum they have already mastered and move on to more challenging content and activities.
Curriculum compacting is a differentiation strategy that was developed by Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Linda Smith in 1978. Designed to meet the needs of high ability students, teachers that use curriculum compacting streamline schoolwork to a pace that corresponds with the student’s ability in order to create a challenging learning environment.
Renzulli and Smith’s curriculum compacting model includes the following steps:
- Select the learning objectives for a given subject.
- Find or create an appropriate way to pretest or alternatively assess competencies related to these objectives and determine a score or result that equates to mastery.
- Identify students who may have mastered the objectives or have the potential to master them at a faster than normal pace.
- Pretest those identified students before beginning instruction on one or more of the objectives. Alternatively, pretest all students in the classroom.
- Streamline practice, drill, or instructional time for students who have learned the objectives.
- Provide instructional options for students who have not yet attained all the pretested objectives, but generally learn faster than their classmates.
- Organize and recommend enrichment or acceleration options for eligible students.
- Keep records of the process and instructional options available to students whose curriculum has been compacted for reporting to parents and forward these records to next year’s teachers.
Examples and resources
Check out how one North Carolina teacher uses curriculum compacting to stimulate her science students in LEARN NC’s article, Two Paths to Knowledge.
See Carolyn Coil’s E-zine article, What is Curriculum Compacting?, for the nuts and bolts of compacting and further research findings.