Minority students including African Americans and Hispanics; ELL (English Language Learners); as well as low SES (socio-economic status) students are often left out of gifted programs. Today, we also need to be aware of bias against LGBTQ students, children of military personnel, homeless, and most twice-exceptional students.
Barriers to gifted education include school district policies that fail to recognize and value cultural diversity. Presumptions about low-income and minority students are given too much credence by decision-makers. Twice/thrice-exceptional students may not be achieving at acceptable levels and thus barred from participation in gifted programs. Schools tend to focus on disabilities which may be masking abilities.
The identification process can affect equity. Identification of giftedness is too often based on outdated information or research that doesn’t take into account cultural diversity and the needs of ELL students. Parents and students need to be better informed by school districts about the benefits and opportunities afforded by participation in gifted programs.
There are laws already in place to change this situation. Gifted education has been successfully argued under civil rights legislation. Also, twice-exceptional students are often covered by special education regulations. The legality of participation in gifted education programs is often dependent on state laws and regulation. Parents and teachers should check with state or national gifted organizations for laws applying to their particular state or country.
Parents can make a difference in their school district. They are passionate about the education of their children. Parents of gifted children should learn the lessons provided by parents of special needs children who took their battles to the courts. Parenting a gifted child is hard work – parents should become knowledgeable about state regulations regarding gifted education and who their state congressional representatives are as well as their child’s school’s written gifted policies. Parents also need to learn the ‘chain of command’ in their school district. Start with the child’s teacher, then administrator; and if necessary, school board.
There are practical steps can educators and policy makers can take to increase equity in gifted programs. These include seeing possibilities rather than limitations, seeking solutions rather than dwelling on obstacles, emphasizing student’s strengths over weaknesses, and improving communications with parents. Policy makers and administrators need to provide cultural sensitivity training for all educators, high quality course offerings that are culturally sensitive and ELL compliant, and expand access to rigorous curriculum. Administrators should provide PD in gifted education which would aid in achieving accurate identification, increase out of school opportunities for most at-risk students and engage community support for expanded opportunities. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
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: email@example.com
Building Diversity in Gifted Programs (TEDxABQED 6:41)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
Before we began the chat, we thanked the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented for 6 years of incredible support for #gtchat!
AND … Congratulated TAGT on their 40th Anniversary of serving the gifted and talented of Texas!
Today, there are many critical issues facing gifted education and this week at #gtchat we focused on six issues. These issues covered a wide-range including where the emphasis should be placed in educating gifted children – whole child or strictly academics; teacher certification; identification; funding; equity; and best practices.
Should teachers of gifted students be required to be certified in gifted education? Any profession benefits from certification. Gifted education is rarely covered at the undergraduate level. Educators often lack the knowledge to recognize giftedness or the know how to respond to gifted students. Certification enhances a teacher’s ability to fairly and competently provide the best possible education for gifted students.
There are ways of identifying students for participation in gifted programs that respect equity regarding race, gender, economic status, 2E, and more. Identification needs to be universally done in the early elementary years. If a child shows strong signs of giftedness, earlier assessment should be considered. Lack of challenge can lead to many behavior and academic issues later. Specific assessments that reduce bias are available and should be used when appropriate.
Gifted education has a place even in tight school budgets. Denying students services claiming there is no money is just an excuse. School districts always ‘find’ the money when they need to do so. All students deserve a free and appropriate education. Full stop. Gifted education does not have to be expensive. An open mind to its ‘appropriateness’ can lead to many low-cost interventions such as acceleration, genius hour, and PBL.
Should greater emphasis be placed on the whole gifted child or academic achievement? Gifted education should meet the unique needs of each individual student. High achievers are not necessarily gifted and vice versa. Gifted students have many needs beyond academics; dealing with myths about being gifted, bullying, social-emotional needs, and finding intellectual peers.
Many options for gifted programming can be considered best practice. It begins with acknowledging the need for gifted services, early assessment and intervention, and providing a long-term individualized plan. Differentiation and acceleration are widely accepted as exceptional gifted programming; however, they don’t provide for students who exhibit an increased rate of acquisition. This leads to GT students relegated to the back of the room reading.
Why is it important to define what it means to be ‘gifted’? What are the consequences for failing to do so for educators, counselors and associated professionals? When teachers equate the ‘gifted’ label solely as high achievers, the gifted student will rarely receive appropriate intervention or adequate instruction and challenge in the classroom. Professionals who lack knowledge about what it means to be gifted cause a ripple effect throughout the system; such as referring students for inappropriate services, misdiagnosis of gifted characteristic traits, and misunderstanding 2E kids. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 1 PM NZDT/11 AM AEDT/Midnight UK 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 and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Graphics courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
Ability grouping is often a topic of discussion in the gifted community, but this week at #gtchat we expanded the discussion to include whether ability grouping can affect a gifted student’s self-esteem. Ability grouping can be a boost to a gifted student’s self-esteem by reducing exposure to bullying, name calling, and feeling like they are loners. It aids in placing highly-abled students together where cooperative and collaborative work result in mutual respect in pride in results. A shared workload with peers improves a student’s belief in their contribution.
We group athletes and musicians without charges of elitism; why not high-ability students? It is sometimes beyond belief that society is so accepting of the benefits of ability grouping in sports and the arts; yet expresses such anathema towards academic grouping. We can be born to be anything except intellectually gifted. In the court of public opinion, the gifted community must take the high road – look for ways to improve identification, define what being gifted is and isn’t; then, focus on self-care for our kids.
Grouping can take many different forms and look very different in elementary school than it does at the secondary level. Grouping strategies should be tested and adapted to specific situations when necessary. It may be strictly tracking (secondary) in some instances when student choice dictates a specific career path. Grouping can consist of cluster grouping in inclusive classrooms and flexible grouping when called for. Small group rotations in the elementary classroom can allow teachers to differentiate the curriculum and spend time with groups who need the most intervention while allowing others more independence.
Teachers should be flexible in their approach to grouping; willing to change and tweak what might not be working. They should consider that needs of all students to see what works best. Effective grouping can ensure success across the intellectual spectrum; presenting challenge at the appropriate level. Teaching how to work in a group should be the first step when introducing grouping. Assessment of a student’s work should reflect each individual’s contribution; traditional grading methods may not work.
Can ability grouping be used to promote equity in high-ability tracks? States with a larger percentage of 8th grade students tracked in math had a larger percentage of high-scoring AP students four years later. Heightened AP performance held across racial subgroups—white, black & Hispanic. Equity has a better chance to occur when the ‘human’ factor is reduced within the identification process; reliance on universal screening is better.
It’s important that grouping not be used to replace gifted programming. It should be considered simply another tool in the classroom teacher’s toolbox; a different strategy to be used to meet students’ needs. Grouping should be considered in addition to other strategies as part of the student’s total educational plan. Students have different strengths and often challenges which need to be met with a variety of options. A transcript of the chat can be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2 PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM UK 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 and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Ability Grouping Presentation Notes (pdf 2012)
Ability Grouping (Slide Player)
Tracking and Ability Grouping (SlideShare)
Clipart courtesy of Clipart Library
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
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.
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.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.