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  January 20, 2009

Bi-Weekly Newsletter

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From the West Virginia Department of Education
Playing To Your Strengths

Vickie Mohnacky

   One of the sessions that I attended at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Annual Convention and Exhibit on October 31, 2008, was titled "Cultivating Healthy Gifted Programs and Services" by Rebecca D. Eckert, University of Connecticut and Joan K. Jacobs, Lincoln Public Schools. The presentation summary stated, "If you have ever worried about the future of gifted education, you are not alone." Not that I am worried about the future of gifted education in West Virginia, but there are concerns being voiced by teachers and parents with the changing approaches in special education. So I attended this session to find tips, tools and techniques for the continued development of gifted education in West Virginia.

   The presenters began with defining a healthy program (not in any particular order):

  • State mandated services
  • Policies and procedures in place
  • Services provided under a plan
  • Teacher preparation in gifted education required
  • Funding
  • Achieving students
  • Buy-in from general education teachers
  • Student satisfaction
  • Parent satisfaction
  •    These are a few signs of an unhealthy program:

  • Poor community perception (elitism)
  • Poor school perception (just fun and games)
  • Only students from high/middle income families identified
  •    The presenters recommended taking a positive, proactive approach in building awareness and support. They suggested answering the question, "What are we doing well?" and then playing to our strengths. With this in mind, I began a list for West Virginia:

  • Gifted services are mandated by state code
  • Policies and procedures are defined by state regulations for the education of exceptional children (Policy 2419) which includes students identified as gifted
  • Gifted services are covered under an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Given state policy and an IEP, students and parents have procedural safeguards
  • State special education funding which can be used for gifted education
  • 99.9 percent of students identified as gifted score in the mastery and above level on state's standard test
  • Teaching endorsement in gifted education required
  • Dedicated teachers
  • State organization
  • List serve
  • Web site resources
  •    Reviewing this list, gifted education in West Virginia has many positive elements. This does not mean that we ignore problems such as identification and funding, but in building support, we should identify what is working and then work for continued growth and development.

    West Virginia Department of Education
    Office of Special Programs, Extended and Early Learning
    Building 6, Room 304
    1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
    Charleston, WV 25305
    Gifted education teachers in West Virginia receive this newsletter bi-weekly from the West Virginia Department of Education. To change your e-mail address or update your information, please email Vickie Mohnacky at or call (304) 558-2696.