One of the foundational elements
of education in West Virginia is that all students will have equitable education
opportunities. Equity in education for high ability students, who may already
be proficient in grade-level skills, is making forward progress in their learning.
As for all learners, an appropriate education for gifted learners is one that
fosters growth, allowing students to make gains in achievement over time.
in West Virginia was mandated by WV Code 18-20-1 in 1990 and provided as early
as 1977 by many county school districts. The code provides that exceptional
children, including those identified as gifted in grades one through eight and
exceptional gifted in grades nine through twelve, be educated according to guidelines
set forth by the state board of education in Policy 2419; "Regulations
for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities." Policy 2419
provides that child find activities, identification, the development of an individualized
education plan (IEP), and specialized instruction delivered through a full continuum
of differentiated curricular options, instructional approaches and resource
materials, include giftedness. Link to WV State
Code mandating gifted education.
Concepts of Giftedness
Many receive high grades with little effort on information they already know or can learn more rapidly. These students may not realize that all learning takes effort and, when faced with learning challenges later, avoid those challenges and underachieve.
Some students identified as gifted achieve at levels lower than their capabilities. This may be due to the type of instruction they receive, lack of support from home, health-related issues, or a conscious decision by the student to disengage from learning in favor of conforming with peers.
High ability can be evident in young children as "exceptional performance on tests and/or other measures of ability." As children mature to adolescence, however, "achievement and high levels of motivation" become the primary characteristics of their giftedness.
Gifted education, with its focus on concepts for deeper understanding while reinforcing content, is such that it engages the student in learning that has meaning and purpose and thus, encourages the student to decide to invest in learning rather than in other popular options outside of learning.
Trends, Issues and Future Directions
"The changing conception of intelligence is one of the most powerful, liberating forces ever to influence the restructuring of education, schools, and society. It also is a vital influence behind the development of the Habits of Mind..." Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind (2008, A.S.C.D)
Is It Fair?
Most people agree that it is not fair to require students identified as gifted to do more of the same kind of work to fill in time when they have correctly finished a classroom assignment before other students in the class. Nor is it fair to ask those students to complete extended activities in addition to their general assignments. The idea that all students identified as gifted enjoy more work is misguided. Not many people want to write a report in addition to the project when everyone else just does the project. (The Challenge, 2008) Experts agree that gifted students don't need more work; they need a different kind of work that is appropriate to their individual level of academic achievement.
Some parents complain when their child is asked to complete more challenging or demanding activities that are higher in content and level of thinking. They question the fairness of requiring students identified as gifted to complete work with more rigor and complexity. If fair means the same instruction, the same assignments, the same scoring guides; then, no, it is not fair. (Vincent 2000) But if fair means giving assignments at the student's appropriate level of academic achievement, then, yes, it is fair. "We don't require students to eat the same kinds of food or to participate in the same after-school activities." (Tomlinson and Doubet 2006) When we ask bright students to do work that is a bit challenging for them, we are asking them to do exactly what we're asking every other student to do: stretch, learn something new, grow, and make progress.
If a child shows an interest and talent in music, for example, the parents would probably try to provide private lessons. The music teacher would assign music at or slightly above the child's demonstrated level. If a child showed promise as a basketball or football player, the coach would direct the player to the appropriate exercises to develop and extend skills. Why wouldn't we apply this same concept to academics?
Doubet, K. & Tomlinson, C.A. (2006) Smart in the Middle Grades, Classrooms That Work for bright Middle Schoolers. Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association.
Marland, S.P., Jr. (1971). Education of the gifted and talented: Vol. 1, Report to the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Link to ERIC ED056243.
Perkins, D. N. (1995). Outsmarting IQ: the emerging science of learnable intelligence. New York: The Free Press.
Rogers, K. B., (2002). Re-Forming Gifted Education, Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, Inc.
Vincent, Donna What's Fair: The Story of Gifted Gail and Special Eddy The Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Summer 2000)
"Fact Or Fiction: What Do the Experts Say?" The Challenge Magazine of The Center for Gifted Studies, WKU, Summer 2008.
Office of Special Programs
Building 6, Rm 304
1900 Kanawha Blvd
Charleston, WV 25305