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How Teachers Can Identify Gifted Students and Promote High Achievers

How Teachers Can Identify Gifted Students and Promote High Achievers

Because some states have no means to identify and therefore specifically teach gifted students, some schools throughout the country run the risk of allowing gifted students to become underachievers. In order for teachers to address gifted students' skill set, some may use wish to use District Administration's suggestions for identifying and teaching these students. 

"A lack of federal funding and patchwork policies across states often leave decisions on identifying and serving gifted students to district administrators. An estimated 3 million to 5 million academically gifted students attend K12 schools, and it is unknown how many are receiving services, according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)," according to the District Administration.

Certainly, 15 states have no programs in place designed specifically to identify gifted students. And only three states require general education teachers to have any kind of gifted student training.

As a result, it's easy in these states for gifted students—especially minorities and English Language Learners (ELL)—to be grouped with other classmates and never be challenged.

"Multiple assessments are especially important for identifying gifted students who are minorities, economically disadvantaged or English-language learners—all of whom are underrepresented in gifted courses, says Tamra Stambaugh, assistant research professor in special education and executive director of Programs for Talented Youth at Vanderbilt University," according to the article.

First, Stambaugh suggests teachers look for other measures of academic success versus test scores alone when identifying gifted students. Further, when analyzing test scores, she says teacher must look at individual test subjects instead of grouped scores because gifted students must outperform in one subject while performing average in another.

She speaks in favor of performance-based assessments, where students are taught something in the classroom and than assessed on it rather than simply relying on test scores which require background knowledge to identify gifted students.

Finally, Stambaugh suggests when teaching ELL, give them assessments in their native language. Also, look for clues in identifying gifted students that include traits such as "learning English quickly, translating for peers and using English creatively, such as by making puns," the article said.

Other schoolwide initiatives can be taken on to encourage the growth of gifted learners that would otherwise fall through the cracks. In Pinellas County, an urban county in Florida, it is one of 41 school districts across the country that use a schoolwide enrichment model where "[g]ifted teachers visit classrooms on a weekly basis to lead creative, project-based learning clusters, which students can chose based on their interests."

This method has proven that the time spent with gifted teachers leads to more identifying of gifted students.

Once a program or method is in place to identify gifted students, schools and districts can take on endeavors to support these students with challenging curriculum without having to break the budget.

The District Administration suggests using ability grouping, accelerated curriculum, one-to-one technology initiatives where possible, and promoting special interest activities. These endeavors all will have a stake in challenging gifted students so they don't continue to perform under their capacity.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/02/2015

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