School districts across the nation are beginning to implement more programs — and earlier — for gifted students before they become underachievers.
In order to help these schools better identify their gifted students, and therefore allow teachers to be better able to address their skills District Administration has outlined a number of suggestions.
“A lack of federal funding and patchwork policies across states often leave decisions on identifying and serving gifted students to district administrators. An estimated 3 million to 5 million academically gifted students attend K12 schools, and it is unknown how many are receiving services, according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC),” according to the District Administration.
Currently, 15 states have no gifted programs, and only 3 states ask their general education teachers to have training specifically for gifted students. As a result, many gifted students, especially minorities and English Language Learners, end up unchallenged in regular classrooms, writes Nicole Gorman for Education World.
Tamra Stambaugh, assistant research professor in special education and executive director of Programs for Talented Youth at Vanderbilt University, suggests that teachers not only look at test scores, but also other measures of academic success. She goes on to say that when using test scores, teachers should look at individual subjects rather than group scores, as gifted students typically score highly in one subject while receiving average scores in the others.
She suggests instead that teachers look to performance-based assessments, which assesses students on their knowledge of something taught to them in the classroom, rather than test scores that can rely heavily on background knowledge. In addition, she says ELL students should be offered assessments in their native languages, as well as looking for other clues such as “learning English quickly, translating for peers and using English creatively, such as by making puns.”
DC Public Schools recently introduced gifted programs into its schools in an effort to attract more motivated students into the public school system. The movement comes not only as part of the national push to identify and help the increasing number of low-income and minority gifted students, who have for years gone unnoticed, but also as a result of middle-class families who are continuing to ask for more challenging classes, writes Michael Alison Chandler for The Washington Post.
Maryville School District in Missouri has also implemented a gifted program at the request of parents within the district. While the program will be offered to students, it is not mandatory that those who qualify participate.
“We meet with the parents and go over the results with them and let them know the students qualified,” Assistant Superintendent Steve Klotz said. “It is an elective service, the parents can choose to have them go through the process or they can tell us ‘Thank you, we are not going to take advantage of the service.’”