Blog Archives

Ability Grouping and Self-Esteem of Gifted Students

gtchat 02082018 Ability

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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the authorLisa 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:


How “Tracking” Can Actually Help Disadvantaged Students

Education for Upward Mobility – Tracking in Middle School: A Surprising Ally in the Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Gifted Students Are Unnecessarily Sacrificed (2017)

Ability Grouping Is Not Just Tracking Anymore (pdf 2003)

UK: What are the effects of ability grouping on GCSE attainment? (pdf 2005)

AUS: Effects of Socioeconomic Status, Class Size and Ability Grouping on Science Achievement (2013)

Ability Grouping Effects on Academic Achievement and Self-Esteem: Who Performs in the Long Run as Expected (pdf)

Effects of Ability Grouping on Math Achievement of Third Grade Students (pdf)

Raising Standards: Is Ability Grouping the Answer?

Ability Grouping Presentation Notes (pdf 2012)

NZ: Raising the Bar with Flexible Grouping (2017)

Ability Grouping (Slide Player)

Tracking and Ability Grouping (SlideShare)

Flexible Groupings

Grouping without Fear: Effective Use of Groups in Classrooms (SlideShare)

Grouping Gifted Children

Ability Grouping – Has its Time Returned?

Effective Grouping of Gifted Students 

2016 Brown Center Report on American Education Part 2: Tracking and Advanced Placement

The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking

Should Schools Rethink Reluctance to Track Students by Ability?

In Search of Reality: Unraveling Myths about Tracking, Ability Grouping & the Gifted (pdf)

Grouping the Gifted: Myths and Realities (pdf)

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6

Sprite’s Site: Belonging – A Place of Sanctuary

Sprite’s Site: Brown Brogues

Clipart courtesy of Clipart Library

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.


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:


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

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.

Can Equity Be Achieved in Gifted Education?

Global #gtchat was excited to host not one, but two surprised guest experts at this chat! Dr. Joy L. Davis, educational consultant, scholar and author at Creating Positive Futures; and Dr. Donna Y. Ford, Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. A full transcript can be found here.

Joy-Lawson-Davis1Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

donna ford

Dr. Donna Y. Ford

During this chat we discussed barriers which exist to participation  in gifted programs for high-ability, low-income students; which groups of children are most widely excluded from gifted programs; and who is most poised to make a difference – parents, educators, policy makers.  Finally, best practices in achieving equity in gifted education and practical steps that could be taken by local educators to make a difference were proposed.

In 2012, the NAGC released “Unlocking Emergent Talent: Supporting High Achievement of Low-Income, High-Ability Students” which “challenges the nation to move beyond its near-singular focus of achieving minimum performance for all students, to identifying and developing the talent of all students who are capable of high achievement, including our promising low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students who too often literally languish in our schools.” Information from this report was used in the research for this chat.


Title I + Gifted Education=Partnership for Equity from @davis_joy

Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged

Poverty’s Multiple Dimensions

Overlooked Gems A National Perspective on Low-Income Promising Learners (pdf)

#IAGC Diverse Populations: The Prism of Giftedness

In the News: U-46 Found to Discriminate in Gifted Program

New & Important Books to Help with Eradicating Inequities in Education” from @davis_joy

Donna Y Ford, PhD’ (website)

Bright, Talented & Black (Amazon) from @davis_joy

Multicultural Gifted Education” from @donnayford

Bright, Talented & Black (website)

We Are Gifted 2 (Dr. Joy’s Blog)

Mirror Books: Power of Positive Images (Dr. Joy’s Facebook Page)

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Gifted Education: Recruitment Issues (pdf) by Dr. Ford

Renowned Educators Share Strategies to Support At-Risk-Youth

From the Texas Education Agency: What is Equity in G/T Education?

Civil Rights Date Collection (U.S. government)

Critique of ‘Unlocking Emerging Talent’ from @GiftedPhoenix

Cybraryman’s Culture Page



Fostering Parent Awareness and Creating Community

Fostering Parent Awareness was a spirited chat with parents and educators sharing their experiences with raising parent awareness in their respective schools. This chat ranks as the 2nd most in tweets and participants since March 2012 when TAGT became the primary force behind #gtchat. Activity prior to and after the chat were at near all-time highs as well. A full transcript may be found here.

We at #gtchat sincerely appreciate the opportunity to provide an outlet for the gifted community to network and discuss relevant topics each week. Several milestones in terms of statistics were achieved this week including over 1,000 followers on Twitter for @gtchatmod, over 200 ‘Likes’ on our new Facebook page and nearly 3,000 pageviews here on our blog! Our original mandate to ‘build bridges’ within the gifted community is being realized each and every day!

During the 24 hours including this week’s chat, over 100 participants posted tweets from 25 states in the U.S. and from 12 countries. It is exciting to see the ‘global’ reach of our chat. This week, we will be announcing the addition of a second chat during the week that will be at a more convenient time for those in the UK, EU and Pacific Rim. Follow @gtchatmod on Twitter for all the latest news. If you have wanted to join chat, but were hesitant on how to participate; visit our page on the TAGT website to learn more.

Links from chat:

Appropriate Expectations for the Gifted Child (DeVries)

Considerations and Strategies for Parenting the Gifted Child

Parent Perceptions of Preadolescent Giftedness and Self Concept

Gifted Child In the Family: Early Detection of Giftedness (.pdf)

Gifted Education: More than Just an IQ Score Advice for Parents

The Moral Sensitivity of Gifted Children and the Evolution of Society (SENG)

Exceptionally Gifted Children: Different Minds (SENG)

Tips for Parents: Self-concept and Self-esteem Regarding Gifted Learners (from @DavidsonGifted )

Tips for Parents: The Real World of Gifted Teens (from @DavidsonGifted )

Resource Guide for Parents and Educators of Gifted Learners (.pdf)

Goodness of Fit: The Challenge of Parenting Gifted Children

“Pushy Parents”…Bad Rap or Necessary Role?

Parents’ Conceptions of Giftedness from @HoagiesGifted

The Effects of Participating in Gifted Programs Extend Beyond Academics from @DukeTIP

Time Spent Outside the Classroom @DukeTIP

Cybraryman’s GT Page   

Not More. Different from Venspired    

CSI: Challenging Scientific Investigations (blog)

Cybraryan’s Parenting Gifted Students

Livebinder: Apps for HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills)

Living the Life Fantastic Gifted News and Resources

Using Social Media to Advocate for the Gifted

Jo Freitag’s Gifted Resources

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Equity in Gifted/Talented (GT) Education

Laughing at Chaos (blog) 

Top 5 TED Talks for Parents of Gifted Kids  from IEA Gifted 

Giftedness and the Kaleidoscope of Colours … One Parent Looks Back from Innreach’s Blog

What Schools Need: Vigor Instead of Rigor

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