Early Childhood

N.C. Program Holds Promise for Gifted Classes

By Christina A. Samuels — June 14, 2005 3 min read

With the help of a federal grant, North Carolina is expanding an early-childhood program it started with the goals of closing the achievement gap between minority and white students and moving underrepresented groups into education for the gifted.

Students in Project Bright IDEA, which stands for Interest Development Early Abilities, have shown growth in language arts and mathematics, state educators say. Bright IDEA began in the 2001-02 school year with 12 classrooms in six school districts and a budget of $10,000 for materials. About 1,000 students went through the pilot program over three years. Several teachers continued the program on their own during the 2004-05 school year.

See Also

See the related item,

Chart: Class Gift

The results were intriguing enough that the U.S. Department of Education awarded North Carolina a five-year, $2.5 million grant through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program to study the approach further and expand it into classrooms in six more districts. Eventually, the project will train more than 200 teachers in 36 schools across North Carolina, who will reach more than 5,000 students in kindergarten through 2nd grade. The first full year of the federally financed research program will begin this fall.

“It’s making a difference,” said Valorie Hargett, the state consultant for the academically and intellectually gifted for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and a principal designer of the program. “These are schools who need help. They’re wanting to do things differently.”

Project Bright IDEA trains teachers in how to encourage the same characteristics in their students that gifted people are believed to possess, such as flexibility, persistence, and an ability to grasp larger concepts. The young students are asked to find the “big ideas” behind every lesson, are given content-rich literature, and are constantly instructed in using “intelligent behaviors.”

The goal, Ms. Hargett said, is for children to learn to go beyond the standard curriculum.

“If they’re focusing just on knowledge, they’re leaving the classroom thinking they’ve got everything,” she said. “They must leave our classrooms asking questions.”

Schools with large populations of minority students and schools receiving federal Title I aid were chosen for the pilot study. Students were not screened to enter the program, but teachers underwent extensive training.

The results have been encouraging so far.

Students were assessed using the North Carolina K-2 Assessments for Literacy and Mathematics, and they showed significant gains by the end of the school year. The students were not measured against their peers in regular classes, though that will be a part of the expanded, federally supported study.

Achievement among black and Hispanic students increased close to the levels reached by non-Hispanic white students and Asian-American students.

Nurturing Intelligence

Thomasville Primary School, in the 2,600-student Thomasville city district, decided on its own to compare Bright IDEA 2nd graders with their peers in regular classrooms. The results showed Bright IDEA students scoring in the 80th percentile in reading on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, compared with the 39th percentile for students who were not in the special program.

The 659-student school is almost evenly divided among Hispanic, black, and white students.

“We found out that we are nurturing all our students by doing this,” Principal Phyllis Lupton said. “Even if we have brought children who were below average to average, that’s a good thing.”

Amie Cook, a 2nd grade teacher at Thomasville Primary, has taught two classes of Bright IDEA students. The program forces teachers to think conceptually about every lesson, she said. Instead of doing a collage after reading a piece of literature, Ms. Cook said, her students may write a “letter to the editor” or engage in a debate—anything to get them thinking deeply about the work they’re doing.

Too often, schoolwork for students considered to be low-achieving focuses on drill-based instruction and memorization, she said. But the important thing, Ms. Cook said, “is not what children do when they know the answer. It’s what they do when they don’t know the answer.”

Controlled Study

Margaret Gayle, the executive director of the American Association for Gifted Children, based at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and another designer of the program, said she was looking forward to what further study of the program would bring. In the federal study, children will be compared with control groups that are not in Bright IDEA classrooms.

“We want to know if we will continue to see gains that will make the project worth all the work,” Ms. Gayle said.

Related Tags:

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
Speech Therapist - Long Term Sub
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Early Childhood How Two Child-Care Centers Put Competition Aside and Created a Partnership During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, two early-childhood centers put their competition aside to work together to support families during the pandemic.
Charles Dinofrio
7 min read
Early Childhood New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote
As school districts move to remote instruction for the fall, day-care providers, dance studios, and after-school programs step in to fill school-day child-care gaps.
7 min read
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Early Childhood Will Kindergartens Be Empty This Fall?
As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, parents around the country are struggling with whether to send their child to kindergarten this fall. Some say they won't.
6 min read
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Courtesy of Satiria Clayton
Early Childhood Letter to the Editor A Eulogy for Ken Goodman
To the Editor:
Several weeks ago, I spoke with an Education Week reporter about Ken Goodman in anticipation of an obituary about Ken’s passing and legacy (“Kenneth S. Goodman, ‘Founding Father’ of Whole Language, Dead at 92,” May 21, 2020). Great conversation. I looked forward to the tribute. I knew it would be complicated and controversial; Ken was complicated and controversial. But I was sure the controversy would be treated as part of the tribute.
1 min read