K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learn more about curriculum compacting

Two paths to knowledge
For students who who always finish their class work early or want more information than you have time to give, try curriculum compacting.
Format: article
By Waverly Harrell.
It is important for gifted children to be with other gifted children, the more often the better.
Format: article
By Cathy Kroninger.
Understanding twice-exceptional students
This article discusses the twice-exceptional student, defined as a student with both gifts and a learning disability. The author lists three categories of twice-exceptional students, addresses the challenges involved in identifying these students' exceptionalities, shares strategies for teaching twice-exceptional students, and emphasizes the importance of supporting the students' social skills.
Format: article/best practice
By Jennifer Job.
Camp Earth bound: Problem solving and finding for fun
Students will work together in small groups of four to six students to solve the following word problems. Their solutions will require them to practice interview techniques and create a database and/or spreadsheet of their results. This information will be the basis of the answers to the following eight word problems. Skills such as area, cost, calorie count, ratio, percentage and scale, as well as persuasive writing will be applied.
Format: lesson plan (grade 6–7 Mathematics)

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.

See also differentiation, gifted.

Additional information

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:

  1. Select the learning objectives for a given subject.
  2. 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.
  3. Identify students who may have mastered the objectives or have the potential to master them at a faster than normal pace.
  4. Pretest those identified students before beginning instruction on one or more of the objectives. Alternatively, pretest all students in the classroom.
  5. Streamline practice, drill, or instructional time for students who have learned the objectives.
  6. Provide instructional options for students who have not yet attained all the pretested objectives, but generally learn faster than their classmates.
  7. Organize and recommend enrichment or acceleration options for eligible students.
  8. 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.