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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
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.
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
“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)
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
Global #gtchat welcomed Dr. Joy Lawson Davis as we discussed “Diversity in Gifted Education”. Dr. Davis is the author of Bright, Talented and Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners; the Director of the Center for Gifted Education at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette; and Chair of the National Association of Gifted Children’s Diversity & Equity Committee. The complete transcript of this chat can be found here.
The opening question was, “What would you like us to know about the lack of diversity in U.S. gifted education programs?” Her reply, “Inequity affects certain groups more than others: Black, Hispanic, Native American, in particular. Gifted classrooms in some areas are the most segregated in America! The huge challenge before us ALL is to ensure that Gifted Education & Equity co-exist peacefully. Radical changes in attitudes about racially diverse students and those who come from low SES (socio-economic status) backgrounds can make a difference. Performance-based assessments, use of ‘talent spotting’, and universal screening are just a few of strategies.”
Next, we asked Dr. Joy ~ “What modifications should be made to assessments/identification process to be more culturally sensitive?” She replied ~ “Using culturally unbiased testing; some verbal tests that were not normed on a diverse population will not give the best results. Assessing students in their native language, training more diverse personnel in gifted education can help. If teachers are culturally insensitive; then they will overlook, misdiagnose, and simply ignore giftedness in diverse children.”
In closing, Dr. Davis reminded us that “We can do this!! Working together we can ERADICATE under-representation of culturally diverse students in gifted education worldwide!” We at #gtchat believe this is a timely and important topic that must be kept on the front burner! Special thanks to Dr. Davis for joining us!
Dr. Joy Lawson Davis website
Bright, Talented and Black (Amazon)
Senginar w/ Dr. Joy Davis ‘Addressing Unique Challenges of Culturally Diverse Gifted Learners’ Feb 12th
We Are Gifted2 (Dr. Joy’s Blog)
Interview of Dr. Davis on Ingeniosus
SENG Conference to Highlight Diversity in Gifted Education
Education of Special Populations of Gifted Students (.pdf 355 pgs)
Joy Lawson Davis @ Great Potential Press
Joy Lawson Davis Bio on Amazon
Cybraryman’s Multicultural Celebration Page
Cybraryman’s Culture Page