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!
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.
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
Q&A’s About the ESSA (pdf)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad