Yee Han Chu

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Jodi B. Holen


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent a promise by general education that all students can be college and career ready through the acquisition of essential knowledge, skills, and abilities. These essential elements will be rigorous, supporting the higher-order and independent thinking skills typically associated with the achievement of excellence. CCSS, in short, promises excellence in all students. The needs of those students who demonstrate high ability do not receive any separate mention: (1) how has the concept of excellence been incorporated into the CCSS; and (2) what is the potential impact on high ability students?

These questions are examined using the theory of cultural appropriation. Proving cultural appropriation requires establishing a community of insiders and a community of outsiders; cultural property belonging to the outsiders; the actual taking of that cultural property by the insiders, and the transformation of cultural objects in a way that harms the community of outsiders. Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is used to show the transformation of higher-order concepts through the CCSS. This analysis reveals how the CCSS authors have been able to create the pretense of excellence by infusing the standards with words and phrases popular in gifted education, while cloaking the primacy of equity.

The tension between equity and excellence has long dominated the relationship between gifted education and general education. The CCSS function like a Trojan Horse; lulling the gifted education community into a false belief of ideological acceptance. An ideological framework of closing the achievement gap in the CCSS is hidden in the standards. CCSS is just an extension of general education's historical commitment to equality through equity.

These CCSS are potentially harmful to high ability students. High ability students will not be able to receive acceleration in the early grades as advised under the CCSS. They will not be able to skip content and perhaps graduate early. They will not be able to experience "real creativity." The gifted education community must approach the CCSS with caution and reestablish their claim over gifted education concepts so that high ability students will be served. The CCSS do not provide excellence for all.