NGLB – No Gifted Students Left Behind

Education has taken a major swing in the last five years with its new focus on the Response to Intervention movement.  Through the RTI program, students that are in the bottom 20% of their class are to receive Tier I interventions in their regular education classroom.  While many resources define this as differentiated instruction, many others define it as direct, small group instruction.  This all sounds like a great plan to help those that may be struggling or need additional support to succeed, however, there are some students in which this may actually have a negative impact on…the gifted students.

Gifted students can be defined as students who are talented, have a natural talent or gift,  and have intellectual superiority over their peers.  These are students that generally think above their grade level, learn information quickly, are very curious, enjoy challenges, and have strong expressive skills.  The characteristics of a gifted child are numerous and need to be considered when educating a child of this intellectual capacity.

However, with the focus on the lower end of the standardized testing bell curve, these children are often left to fend for themselves.  The push for improving scores on testing has caused the focus to move towards the students needing support to succeed.  The gifted child is considered as “doing just fine” and will do well on the test no matter the amount of additional support they may receive.  So, the focus is placed on the students that are in the bottom of the class.

I can honestly say that this is WRONG!  All children deserve the same amount of attention from a teacher no matter their learning capabilities, whether it be deficient or superior.  I often think about this during my time with my students in their RtI Tier I groups.  Fifteen to twenty minutes of time is required to be spent with my small groups to help improve their mathematical abilities because of an area that they are deficient in.  Unfortunately, in a 42 minutes class, the same time is not afforded to my gifted students.  It is a personal, moral battle that I struggle with as I witness my mathematically talented students work together without me challenging their thoughts, while I work with my Tier I students to understand the basic concepts.

It is time for a change.  The United States falls further and further behind when compared to other countries.  Could it be the drastic cuts in gifted education funding?  Could the focus be on the wrong group of students?  Illinois has completely cut funding for gifted education programs.  Come on Illinois…these are the future Bill Gates of the world.  These are the students that will create the cure to cancer and the solution to the global warming crisis.  Why are we not focusing on these students?  How can we compete in the world market when we are not helping our top students to excel?  It is a disservice to our country to not push these students to do great things!

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Without the funding, providing students a challenge in the regular education program is now placed in the hands of teachers who are being forced to focus their time and instruction on improving the data that they collect on the students.  Many of us are not trained to educate the gifted student.  Training is of the utmost importance to truly understand these students.  If not, teachers will begin to see their gifted children become complacent, doing what it takes just to get by because they are not being challenged.  They will become discipline problems out of boredom, not because they are bad children.  They will lose their love for learning because they are no longer feeling valued or feeling as though they are smart.

What can we do to make the situation better for this small group of students?  Training.  Districts need to train their teachers to challenge these students, while at the same time being able to provide the lower students with support.  Money.  Funds need to be given in order to help districts create and maintain quality gifted education programs.  Parents.  Parents of gifted children need to push for their students.  They need to make sure that their child is being challenged and receiving the additional support needed to tap into the intellectual mind of their child.

NGLB, No Gifted Left Behind, is something that was left out of the NCLB idea.  While RtI will help many students that would have previously fallen through the cracks, the new child that will fall through the cracks is the gifted child.  Educators, parents, administrators…it is time to take a stand and make sure that our gifted children are not left behind to become run of the mill intellectual thinkers.  We must challenge them, provide them with opportunities to flourish and utilize their talents, and push them to their fullest potential.  Do not leave the gifted behind.

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By | 2017-06-13T23:01:52+00:00 April 11th, 2013|Featured, Instruction&Curriculum, Opinion|4 Comments

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  1. Caryl Velisek April 11, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I’ve posted about this before. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. When I was in the third grade, which would have been about 1940, I was given an I Q test and the following year I was sent to Major Work classes, which were in another school several miles away. I had to take two streetcars to get there. It was WWII and my parents didn’t have a car anymore.
    Instead of one grade to a classroom, ours included about 26+ students (most of the time) from 4th, 5th and 6th grades. We didn’t have desks but studied at large round tables. We discussed what we had studied in groups of six or eight, seated in a circle with our teacher. We shared what we had learned and learned how to participate in such discussions and share each others thoughts and ideas. I am forever grateful to the teacher who got me into the program. It broadened my horizons. I married and raised a family but when my youngest was in his early teens, I started writing for a neighborhood newspaper. Today, I have a job I absolutely love and feel I am making a contribution to our world by the things I write about. That Major Work Class helped mold me and gave me so much. We need to recognize everyone’s gifts, whether they are intelligence or something else that can contribute.

  2. Tiffany April 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    This is one of the many reasons I do not teach any more. I enjoyed seeing the drastic jump from my Tier 1 students; however, knowing that my gifted students paid the price for it haunted me. Last year I had Tier 1 students jump 3 reading levels, while my gifted students only advanced one level. Pulling my Tier 1 students for small group four times a week, and my gifted students only once a week was district required—not my choice. According to my administrators, I did my job. I bridged the gap, and got the test scores where they needed to be. This is wrong! A teacher should be able to challange all students at their own level so that they can all advance equally–not to make all children at an equal level. My question is, as a parent of a GT child what can you do? I am thankful that teaching has given me the knowledge of what really goes on in the classroom. However, it also makes it difficult to know that if my GT child is in a mainstream classroom, that her teacher’s hands are tied as far as challanging her to her full potential, due to district and state policies. Again, as a parent, what can I do to enforce change? I feel as if my only option is to homeschool my child. 🙁

  3. […] No Gifted Left Behind […]

  4. Belle July 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    I have a different take on this. Some LA schools use their GT students to bring up their school scores by offering after school test tutoring. The parents go for it thinking that this is in some way advancing their children but in reality it is merely exploiting their talents for test scores. These children are test prepping instead of joining after school clubs, I know first hand because I teach after school and have lost many a gifted student to this TRAP. Don’t kid yourself schools are very aware of what they can get from their students. Smart kids can raise their scores faster than challenged students, this particular school stopped offering test prep for its low students, waste of time. Test prep is not gifted education.

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