Education Opinion

State of the States in Gifted Education 2011

By Tamara Fisher — November 30, 2011 4 min read
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A couple weeks ago when I was reporting from the national gifted education conference, I mentioned the release of NAGC’s biannual “State of the Nation in Gifted Education” report. At the time, details from the report weren’t yet available online, but they are now, so I wanted to direct you to some links as well as highlight for you some additional points from the report that I find most intriguing.

Every other year, the National Association for Gifted Children surveys U.S. states (and territories) seeking information and data regarding the identification of and provision of services for gifted children in that state. For the 2010-2011 report, 44 states and one territory responded to the questionnaire about gifted policies, programs, services, and other practices.

The following are data points from the report that caught my interest:

* Thirty-one of the responding states have a mandate related to gifted and talented education, some requiring identification, some requiring services, and some requiring both.

* Fourteen states have no mandate to identify or provide services for gifted learners, and five of the states that do have mandates do not provide funding for those services.

* Fourteen states reported that the number of students in the state who are identified as gifted and talented is information not collected or not available.

* Only twenty-nine of the responding states report advanced proficiency indicators on district report cards or state accountability reporting forms. But shouldn’t that be relevant information for an innovative nation to want to know about its schools in all states?

* While seven states have policies permitting early entrance to Kindergarten, ten states specifically do not allow early entrance. Another twenty-four states leave the decision to local districts.

* Decisions and policies regarding whether a student may be dually enrolled in middle and high school are made at the local level in most states. While ten states directly allow this kind of dual enrollment, eight states specifically prohibit middle/high school dual enrollment. Seventeen states allow high school credit to be earned in these situations, and one state specifically prohibits a middle school student taking high school courses to earn high school credit for that work.

* Fourteen states fund a virtual high school. (I imagine this number will continue to grow as technology becomes a more and more viable delivery option for schools and students.)

* Only six states require pre-service training for regular classroom teachers on characteristics and needs of gifted students. Yet it is in the regular classroom where gifted learners are expected to have the bulk of their learning needs met.

* In thirty-six states, regular classroom teachers are never required to receive training about the gifted learners who are inevitably in their classrooms.

* Twenty-one states require teachers who work specifically with gifted learners to have a
certificate or endorsement in gifted education. That means that more than half of the states do not expect teachers whose sole focus is the gifted learner to even know something about those students.

* A sizable majority of responding states said pre-service training in gifted education for future teachers (34) and professional development for general education teachers in instructional strategies for gifted learners (40) were areas in need of attention, along with the need for funding for these ventures (34).

* Twelve states cited a national focus on bringing underperforming students to proficiency as resulting in limited challenge for students who had met or surpassed that target already.

* Thirteen states indicated that gifted and talented education programs, services, or staffing had been reduced and/or that less money was being spent on those educational features as a result of national education law focusing on a bar of proficiency.

* Among the states that do provide some funding for gifted education, reported state funding per identified gifted student ranged from less than $8 to more than $2,500. (And this amount, obviously, would be $0 in other states.)

You can access a summary of the report at this link on NAGC’s website. This four-page summary in PDF format would be a concise version of the data to distribute to stakeholders in your district.

An extensive overview citing many additional data points is available at this link.

A summary of the findings featuring a multitude of graphs and other visuals is available at this link. Two in particular that I found interesting were this one showing what states found to be most in need of attention regarding gifted learners:

and this one showing the level of training teachers in each state receive (or are never provided!) about gifted learners:

Images used with permission from the National Association for Gifted Children.

A news release, titled “Nation’s Infrastructure to Support Gifted Students is Crumbling, Survey Finds,” can be accessed here. It’s in a nice format for sharing with stakeholders in your school or district.

And a flash drive containing a complete picture of the survey and its entirety of results is available for sale in the NAGC bookstore.

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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