How can we Change Gifted Education?

The other day I read the article from NPR, How The U.S. Is Neglecting Its Smartest Kids like many of you did. The article is about the findings of author Chester Finn who wrote the book Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Studentswhich comes out next month. I agree with what Chester Finn found during his research. I am sure his research is sound, and through. I will probably go out and spend the money and buy his book.

What I missed in his article are some of the intangibles that comes with Education; such as teacher and student relationships, teacher and parent relationships, how parents view the school system, and how much the political tide has turned on teachers and educators to make education such a negative profession.

There are a few things that other countries may do better than the US when it comes to  teacher preparedness, adequate Gifted Education training, and helping pre-serivce teachers be successful in the classroom, and stay in teaching in those tough beginning years. I am also sure that in many counties teachers and educators aren’t seen as villians, and instead seen as pillars of their community.

We can focus on a lot of negatives when it comes to Education such as testing, not enough finding, the failing schools, school voucher program, and teacher turnover, but in all of this there are some positives. We should be looking at Education not as the negative Nelly, but as a wheel that needs to move in a faster, and new direction.

Here are some aspects of Gifted Education that need to change in my opinion. We need to see Gifted Education as a necessity rather than an option. We need to give gifted students the appropriate education they need and deserve. Gifted students need the chance to be challenged, be motivated, and exposed to real world activities. Gifted students need to have an outlet to explore their passions, and time during the school day to do that. We need show the world that Gifted Education isn’t an elitist idea, but rather an educational tool to keep those high ability students from becoming high probability issues in the classroom because of boredom. Finally, we need our higher educational institutions to begin to place more emphasis on Gifted Education.  Colleges and universities need to begin to teach pre-service teachers about how to teach gifted students. They need to know characteristics of gifted children, teaching strategies that work with gifted children, and most importantly they need to see that using gifted educational strategies will work with and benefit all students in the educational spectrum.

Gifted Education isn’t going to change until we have full funding of gifted educational programs. We need to have the support of national, state, and local educational associations to promote gifted education as a necessity, not a choice. Just as in the 1970’s Special Education supporters got IDEA passed, we in Gifted Education need to have our own federal law passed.

If you don’t know what IDEA is here is a short synopsis:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

The equivalent of IDEA is the Talent Act of 2015: Which states in part:

To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers (TALENT) Act has four key emphases:

  • Support Educator Development to Ensure Academic Growth for High-Ability Students
  • Confront and Address Excellence Gaps
  • Provide Public Transparency of Student Achievement Data
  • Continue Research and Dissemination on Best Practices in Gifted Education

We need to support this Act, and lobby for it to be passed, and help put into place those key components that gifted children need, and deserve.

We talk about how are students are falling behind in math, science, and innovation, but we don’t push our high ability students to go into those areas with valuable resources. Our education system is falling behind because there is no real vision of where we are going. I think the Common Core standards is a good start. We need to continue to move our educational view past the idea that gifted students can succeed with less because they are smart, to gifted students are valuable and they need are help and resources to be successful.

Here are a few facts from the Ohio Association for Gifted Children.

State of Gifted Education 2015

Effect of Deregulation on Gifted Education in Ohio

Disparate Treatment of Economically Disadvantaged Gifted Students in Ohio


2 thoughts on “How can we Change Gifted Education?

  1. Maybe it’s getting lost in translation, but in my mind gifted learners are not the same people as highly intelligent persons and definitely not high achievers. There is more to achieve than just high achievement, even for gifted learning. Being able to use your intelligence, to be creative, to be happy with who you are and what you do.

  2. This is key in my opinion: “We need to see Gifted Education as a necessity rather than an option.” This is such a big mountain to move because those who see gifted ed. as an option are those who do not understand what giftedness really is.

    I also read the NPR article by Chester Finn and you are right: it doesn’t give the intangibles. Data, test scores and numbers are one thing, but you are correct to bring up emotional, psychological and situational factors which most definitely affect education and its outcomes. Good relationships are critical.

    “Colleges and universities need to begin to teach pre-service teachers about how to teach gifted students.” I know personally, having had a teacher who really understood the social and emotional needs of gifted children during my son’s last year in public school before being forced to pull him out to homeschool would have prevented the need for leaving public school. Even without access to gifted education services which were not offered in middle school in his school system, having a teacher who understood the traits, needs and quirks of giftedness would have made a huge difference for him. We left because he had two teachers who only knew gifted students as the smart ones who should be expected to excel without any help. Training pre-service teachers is THE place to start.

    I’ve shared your article on Twitter and on my Facebook page and I will keep sharing it because it is just that important and insightful!

    Thank you, Jeffrey, for all that you do for gifted children!

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