Category Archives: Diversity

Bridging the Excellence Gap with Guest, Dr. Jonathan Plucker

gtchat 03152016 Excellence Gap

 

This week, we welcomed Dr. Jonathan Plucker to #gtchat to discuss the Excellence Gap and what could be done to impede its growth. Although the focus of the chat was on the U.S., it was noted that recent data shows that this phenomenon is unfortunately occurring in other countries as well.

The Excellence Gap refers to differences in advanced achievement between groups of students; usually focusing on gaps in underperforming groups based on race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. Individuals in all demographic groups have the potential to achieve at advanced levels, but identification is key. Competency must be addressed at every level of achievement; not just the minimum level.

According to Dr. Plucker, “Many different factors have caused the existence and persistence of large excellence gaps including poverty, discrimination, poor access to quality education, psycho-social barriers, among others.”  Excellence gaps can occur due to inadequate funding and resources in schools serving low income and disadvantaged minority communities; inadequate training for teachers working with underperforming subgroups of students; and because of attitudes about high achievement potential of low-income and minority students.

Dr. Plucker pointed out, “It is important to close the Achievement Gap for two reasons: to improve the lives of gifted poor and minority students and to provide our economy and culture with the talent it needs.” According to the NAGC, “Reducing and eliminating excellence gaps is an issue of equity, social justice, economic advancement, and national security. Increasing the number of students realizing their full potential puts the nation back on the path to global leadership. A 5 percent reduction in the 4th gr math excellence gap would increase performance at advanced levels by 80,000 students.”

How do we address and overcome the challenges presented by excellence gaps? Dr. Plucker told us, “Scott Peters and I just finished book on this. Our “Big 6” strategies include: 1) realistic opportunities, 2) universal testing and local norms, 3) ability grouping, 4) better educator preparation and support, 5) improved K-12 accountability systems with adaptive testing, and 6) psycho-social interventions with college students.”

“Relentlessly respect the gifted student’s right to learn something new every day!”   ~ Jeanne Bernish

We then turned out attention to what effect the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) might have on closing the Excellence Gap. “We’re not sure yet, as the regulations have yet to be developed; but it COULD mean more adaptive testing and better data reporting. ESSA throws it back to the states, but we need to keep the pressure on at the state level. It cracks the door, but we have to open it,” said Dr. Plucker.

Where do we go from here? What steps should be taken to ensure the momentum continues to close the Excellence Gap? “Keep Excellence Gap data in front of policymakers. Get needs of advanced students into teacher and administrator prep. Get excellence into your state accountability system,” Dr. Plucker told us. Advocates must be vigilant that local LEAs adhere to new rules in ESSA and continue to raise awareness of inequities in educational opportunities for all students.  Jeanne Bernish, Founder of Heather Hill Media, made the excellent point that we should “relentlessly respect the gifted student’s right to learn something new every day!”

“Data are depressing, but we should be energized. We firmly grasp the problem and policymakers are coming around. Full speed ahead!”                                                              ~ Dr. Jonathan Plucker

A transcript a may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  2 PM (13.00) NZDT/Noon (11.00) AEDT/Midnight UK (Subject to change due to Daylight Savings Time). to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

NAGC Position Statement: Addressing Excellence Gaps in K-12 Education (pdf)

Progress Lags in High School, Especially for Advanced Achievers

‘Excellence Gap’ Robs Talented Students of Their Potential

Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities: Report Card of State Support for Academically Talented Low-Income Students (pdf)

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and CLASS Coalition Host 2nd “Closing the Excellence Gap” Summit http://goo.gl/KKYBTm

Top 10 Moments of 2016 “Closing the Excellence Gap” Summit

Finding Teachers Who Can Stimulate High Achievers (pdf)

Center for Evaluation & Education Policy – Excellence Gap 2012

Connecticut Association for the Gifted – Excellence Gap

UK:  Why Isn’t Pupil Premium Closing Excellence Gaps?

Why Minorities Can’t Be Left Out of Gifted and Talented Programs

How Family Background Influences Student Achievement

Advocating for High-Achievers

Excellence Gaps: Role of Translational Research Implementing Large Scale Educational Change (Video)

Dr. @JonathanPlucker ‘s Website

“Talent on the Sidelines: The Widening Gap in Excellence”

“Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps & America’s Persistent Talent Underclass”  (pdf)

Interview with Jonathan Plucker on Talent on the Sidelines (podcast)

Tackling Inequality in Gifted-and-Talented Programs

Questions and Answers about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (pdf)

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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The Gifted Identification Process with Guest, Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

 

gtchat 01262016 Identification

 

The gifted identification process has been a hot topic in gifted education for decades. Far too often it is mired in personal prejudices, politics, and misapplied theories about what constitutes a gifted student. Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, our guest expert, shed some much needed light on the topic during our chat and we thank her for taking the time to share her insights with us.

There are several issues associated with the fair assessment. The fairness of group vs individual testing is an important factor when considering assessing gifted students. There needs to be a procedure in place for identifying students in immediate need of services as well as potential for need. The identification process must involve the collaboration of multiple stakeholders – administrators, teachers, parents and the student. Dr. Gail Post, clinical psychologist, pointed out that “when schools form a gifted “program” with loose guidelines”; it can become an issue.

Best practices in the use of assessments include aligning assessment tools with state and local definitions of gifted as well as the school’s gifted program’s goals and objectives. School personnel need to be familiar with the test being used and know how to administer it. Joshua Lemere, 4th grade gifted education teacher in NC, explained, “[Best practices include] valid and reliable assessments; if using work samples, clearly defined rubric with independent “examiners”. If using a checklist and rating scale, then the auditor MUST BE trained in how to effectively use it without bias.” Dr. Stephen Covert, Principal at Pine View School for the Gifted in Sarasota, Florida, related, “it’s not just those who ‘play well at school’.” Susan E. Jackson of Celebrating High Potential  added, “Quantitative assessments should be re-normed for local population to be valid.”

“Too often creative,  aberrant gifted is ignored. It happens to diverse students too much!” ~ Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

The responsibilities of program administrators in the identification process are first being responsible for eliminating bias in the choice of assessments to be used to identify gifted students. Carolyn K of Hoagies’ Gifted suggested, “Program administrators should do in-service to refresh teacher training on specific measures, and keep an eye out for unusual gifted kids.” Finally, administrators should periodically review the identification process.

“Program Administrators should understand and re-design identification protocol as needed. They are responsible to ensure equity and fairness.” ~ Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

Next we considered how poor identification methods can adversely affect low-income, minority, and ELL students. Most often, they fail to account for cultural bias in tests. Dr. Davis told us, “Portfolios, performance based assessments, and observations are all excellent criteria and tools to use. Parent checklists appropriate for all cultures should also be used. A recent study from Vanderbilt demonstrated that Black students are less likely to be referred when teachers are white.  Also important that any checklist be culturally fair and up to date. Many districts use lists that are 20+ years old. Limited access to high end high school courses limits students ability to apply for and be accepted in competitive colleges.”

“Students suffer from low self esteem, isolation, underachievement when they don’t have access to high end classes.” ~ Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

What do parents need to know about their school’s identification process for gifted programs? Parents need to understand that there are no nation-wide or even state-wide standards for identification. They should be aware of the criteria their school uses and ask how their child was evaluated for selection into gifted program. Barry Gelston of Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse, queried, ” Should I homeschool my child?”

Dr. Davis added, “Parents need to know WHO will administer the testing what the results of the tests ‘say’ about their child’s potential. They need to know about the district’s appeals process in case the child is not ‘eligible for services’. Parents need to know if outside/alternative testing is allowed and what the time-frame is.Parents should ask if they can attend the ‘decision’ meeting to serve as an advocate for their child.”

A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

Enjoy our blog, but haven’t joined in a chat on Twitter? We’d love to have you share your expertise with others. Who knows? You may be quoted in one of our posts and you will definitely be included in the transcript. Not sure where to start? Check out our post here to find out how! And remember that #gtchat now meets on Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P. See you there!

 

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT/1 AM (1.00) UK. to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Why Gifted Children Can Slip through the Cracks

How Teachers Can Identify Gifted Students and Promote High Achievers

In One Elementary School, a Researcher Finds Sharply Divergent Views on its Gifted Program

Identifying and Nourishing Gifted Students 

Identifying Gifted Learners (Livebinder)

#gtchat Blog: Gifted Identification

Identification of Gifted Children

The Ongoing Dilemma of Effective Identification Practices in Gifted Education (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Gifted Identification Page

Ethical Considerations for Gifted Assessment & Identification of Diverse Students (pdf)

The Role of Assessments in the Identification of Gifted Students

Giftedness Defined: How to Identify a Gifted Child

Best Practices for Identifying Gifted Students (pdf)

Study: Washoe Gifted, Talented Selection Process Biased

Educational Views: Dr. Joy Lawson Davis (audio 2:37)

Gifted Children at About.com with Carol Bainbridge

Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners by Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

Identification from the NAGC via Jerry Blumengarten

An Overview: Tests and Assessments from the NAGC via Cathleen Healy

These Kids were Geniuses — They were Just Too Poor for Anyone to Discover Them

Gifted by State from the NAGC

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Every Student Succeeds Act and Gifted Education

gtchat 01192016 ESSA and Gifted Education

 

Recently, the U.S. Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, the new legislation is commonly referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A $21 billion appropriation of federal funds to states and  school districts, it proclaims to reduce the overuse of standardized testing and one-size-fits-all mandates.

This week, #gtchat reviewed the positive and negative aspects of the new bill for gifted students and their education.  According to NAGC Executive Director M. René Islas, “ESEA Re-authorization marks the first time that Congress makes clear that Title I funds may be used to identify and serve gifted students, which will ensure that high-ability students from low-income families and other under-served populations receive the challenging instruction that they require to achieve their potential. In addition, the law retains the authorization of the high-impact Jacob Javits Gifted Education Grant program, which has yielded numerous strategies to identify and serve academically talented students.”

Many participants at this week’s chat expressed doubts that the new legislation will make any difference at all for most gifted students and were leery of comments coming from the NAGC. However, the importance of having gifted students even acknowledged in the ESSA was considered a victory by most. The ESSA also specifically mentions types of services; such as acceleration, enrichment, and dual enrollment. Only time and a commitment to advocacy will tell if it will be effective.

Much of the law is about ‘allowing’, but there are several important ‘requirements’ that pertain to gifted students. For Title I, the funds are allowed to be used to identify and serve gifted students. When reporting student achievement data on low-SES, race, ELL, gender and students with disabilities; states must now include data on students who achieve at the advanced level. All identified gifted students may participate in programs funded by Title 1; regardless of socio-economic status.

For Title 2 funding, schools are required to provide PD which addresses needs of gifted students. “In applying for Title II professional development funds, states must include information about how they plan to improve the skills of teachers and other school leaders that will enable them to identify gifted and talented students and provide instruction based on the students’ needs.” (See “Q&As about the ESSA” from NAGC below.)

Gifted Education will continue to be at the discretion of the local school district. Although it is important legislation, advocates are being tasked with ‘getting the word out’; the ESSA is over 300 pages. In the end, it will be incumbent upon advocates for gifted education to educate local districts on provisions for gifted students in the ESSA. A transcript of this week’s chat may be found at Storify.

This week also marked the 6th birthday of #gtchat on Twitter! Thank you to all who have and continue to support us!

gtchat 01192016 Happy 6th Birthday

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  1 AM (1.00) in the UK,  2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Every Student Succeeds Act

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Gifted

PALNYC (Parents of NYC’s High Potential Learners) Every Student Succeeds Act

Q&A’s About the ESSA (pdf)

CEC’s Summary of Selected Provisions in Every Student Succeeds Act (pdf)

S.1177 – Every Student Succeeds Act114th Congress (2015-2016)

Federal Policy Briefing: ESSA Briefing (YouTube 1:01:20)

New Education Law Covers Gifted Students, Too

Missouri Board of Education Weighs in on Every Student Succeeds Act

Letter to @usedgov on #Title I of #ESSA (pdf)

A Fair Shot at Opportunity

Special Education Advocates Gear Up for ESSA Implementation

Cybraryman’s Gifted Advocacy Page

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Guest Tom Clynes and Extreme Parenting

gtchat 08212015 Extreme Parenting

 

This week our guest was Tom Clynes, author of The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting & How to Make a Star. If you work with gifted children, advocate for gifted education or are the parent of a gifted child, you will love this book. It is the fascinating story of Taylor Wilson, a science prodigy, who became the youngest person in the world to achieve nuclear fusion at the age of 14.

Our topic this week was ‘Extreme Parenting’ which by any measure would describe the Wilsons’ parenting style. Their counter intuitive approach to parenting flew in the face of conventional wisdom, but proved to be exactly what Taylor needed to reach for the stars and eventually create one for himself.

Beyond a great read, author Tom Clynes makes a convincing argument for the need to provide an appropriate education for gifted children who are languishing in classrooms across the U.S. It is refreshing to hear from someone outside the gifted community establishment come to this conclusion after extensive research into the history of gifted education and seeing first-hand the role education plays in identifying and supporting our nation’s best and brightest.

Boy Who Played with Fusion Bookstore

Photo courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

We first discussed the history of gifted education beginning in the 1950s and how support has declined over the years. Tom told us, “I wrote in The Boy Who Played With Fusion that Nikita Khrushchev did more for gifted education in America than anyone else. The Sputnik launch provoked all kinds of support for intellectually precocious students who were seen as strategic resources. The boom years for bright kids continued into the 1970s; then hit an ideological roadblock in the late 1980s. Specialized education for the academically talented was attacked as being elitist. After 2003, funding for gifted programs was diverted to support the long-overdue focus on the nation’s underachievers. Unfortunately, support for the top of the talent curve is now enjoyed mostly by students who are near the top of the socioeconomic curve. Most of the nation’s gifted students (especially minority and rural children) now have little access to an appropriate education.”

Boy Who Played with Fusion Taylor Wilson TED Talk

Taylor Wilson during a TED Talk. (Photo courtesy of Tom Clyne)

The discussion then switched to the future and what needs to change in how we educate gifted children. Tom had lots of advice on what to do next, “We’ll need to shift the course of an educational culture that has been surprisingly slow to accept its own research. Many educators still cling to the unsupported belief that acceleration hurts children emotionally and socially though hundreds of studies show that most children are happier among intellectual peers. Acceleration has positive, long-term affects on careers, productivity and life satisfaction. Another persistent myth is that it’s expensive to help gifted children develop their talents. Some interventions (such as ability grouping and acceleration by subject) require few resources. These kids don’t need expensive new programs, they just need what older kids are already getting. We also need more teacher training to identify gifted students, and policies to ease early college admission for qualified kids. And educators need to cast a wider net to identify gifted rural and minority students who are often overlooked in talent searches.” You can read more about acceleration here.

“Many educators still cling to the unsupported belief that acceleration hurts children emotionally and socially though hundreds of studies show that most children are happier among intellectual peers.” ~ Tom Clynes 

What are the implications for a nation that chooses to ignore its top students? Tom offered his insights in telling us, “It’s becoming clearer that a nation’s prosperity will depend, increasingly, on the intellectual capability of its population. But U.S. efforts to develop the high end of that capability have stalled; other nations have pushed ahead with innovative programs. By forsaking potential world-changers, we’re hobbling our economies and denying our civilization its next generation of innovators. These are the future Salks, Mozarts, and Curies who will figure out the riddles and push the frontiers of knowledge forward. Instead of trying to rebuild the nation’s talent pool, we are squandering a crucial resource: our brightest children.”

In ‘The Boy Who Played with Fusion’, we see Taylor Wilson’s parents use what Tom Clynes refers to as an ‘extreme parenting’ style which challenges traditional parenting. Tom explains, “By the time Taylor was 11 years old he was collecting and experimenting with radioactive materials, some supremely scary stuff. Instead of doing what most parents would regard as common sense – keeping their kid away from things that could kill him … Tiffany and Kenneth took a counter-intuitive approach to nurturing Taylor’s talents. The lengths to which they were willing to go to support Taylor as he pursued his unnerving interests were, to me, even more impressive than Taylor’s intrinsic talents. At 14, he became the youngest person to build a working nuclear fusion reactor, a miniature sun on Earth. His parents brought in educators and mentors to guide Taylor…so he could pursue his interests safely.” You can read more on that here.

Boy Who Played with Fusion Wilson Family

Taylor Wilson with his parents, Kenneth and Tiffany, and brother Joey (Photo courtesy of Tom Clynes)

In his book, Tom talks about a household culture of “intellectual spoiling”. How can parents create such a culture? Tom suggests, “Compare to “Helicopter parents,” who push their children as hard as they push the system hovering over their every move, steering them toward the parents’ choices. Child psychologists and educators say there’s a better way: Let children pilot their own helicopters. I call it Helicopter Parenting 2.0 . Parents provide the fuel—supplies, mentors, encouragement and then jump aboard and let the kids fly as far and in whatever directions their developing passions and talents take them. Under this new model of parenting, parents create household cultures that encourage children to take intellectual risks. They feed their children’s curiosity by developing customized, hands-on opportunities and by building a base of support that’s both intellectual and emotional.”

“Helicopter Parenting 2.0: Parents provide the fuel—supplies, mentors, encouragement and then jump aboard and let the kids fly as far and in whatever directions their developing passions and talents take them.” ~ Tom Clynes

Finally we discussed what it takes for ‘scary smart’ kids to succeed. Tom said, “Kids whose abilities are identified early and whose talents are supported are most likely to grow into creative, high-achieving adults. The support includes individualized learning experiences, acceleration when appropriate, mentorship opportunities, and social-emotional support. At school, children thrive when there’s active, interest-based learning rather than forced effort. But…beware of labels: Once a child is labeled gifted, the pressure to perform can become an emotional burden. Some students become worried about protecting their image and start avoiding opportunities to grow if there’s a chance of failure. Encourage children to take intellectual risks and open themselves up to failures that will help them learn.”

A final thought offered by Lisa Lauffer of Create Miracles was, “We parents get to enjoy guiding these unique kids along their paths. Let’s enjoy the journey!” A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-with-sponsor

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

“Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting…” Extreme Giftedness

The Boy Who Played with Fusion (Popular Science)

Taylor Wilson: My Radical Plan for Small Nuclear Fission Reactors 2013  (TED Talk)

Taylor Wilson The Boy Who Played with Fusion 2014 (You Tube 41:53)

Would You Let Your Kids Play With Fusion?

Why This 14-Year-Old Kid Built a Nuclear Reactor

The “rage to master”: What it Takes for Those Scary-Smart Kids to Succeed

Is the U.S. Overlooking Its Most Gifted Students?

If I burn out, I burn out’: Meet Taylor Wilson, Nuclear Boy Genius

The Boy Genius and the Genius in All of Us

Igniting a Renaissance

Taylor’s Nuke Site

Taylor Wilson, Teenage Nuclear Scientist, Redesigns Nuclear Power

Taylor Wilson, Nuclear Prodigy (video)

Tom Clynes: The Boy Who Played with Fusion Interview (audio)

Cybraryman’s Parents and Teachers Page

Graphics courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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