Data Sources: Serving GT Students in U.S. Public Schools
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We start with the Review of Educational Research (12/2016), where three researchers examined 100 years of evidence on two widely debated educational techniques: ability grouping and acceleration.
This team “applied second-order meta-analysis to several dozen previously published syntheses that had analyzed nearly 300 original studies.” They concluded that acceleration works. This echoes earlier separate findings from The Acceleration Institute at The University of Iowa. The Acceleration Institute identifies 20 types of acceleration strategies. They also offer newly published guidance on acceleration policies, co-authored with Wendy Behrens from the Minnesota Department of Education.
There is compelling evidence that acceleration and most forms of ability grouping are effective at increasing academic achievement and have the potential to provide widespread benefit to millions of students in U.S. school systems.
The second data point comes from the 8/2016 policy brief out of Johns Hopkins University, authored by a team of leading U.S. researchers who specialize in GT learners. Among them are Dr. Scott J. Peters, Ph.D. of U. Wisconsin – Whitewater and Dr. Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D., the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University and president of the NAGC board of directors. Plucker also delivered a keynote address at the 2018 MEGT Mid-Winter Conference for Minnesota’s GT educators.
Nearly all aspects of America’s schools are built upon age-based grade levels and corresponding grade-level expectations: standards, instruction, curriculum, and assessment, among others… Currently, the evidence suggests that between 15% and 45% of students enter the late-elementary classroom each fall already performing at least one year ahead of expectations. Our initial question – How many students are learning above grade level? – needs to be extended. The more important questions may be:
1. How should we reorganize our schools now that we know that large numbers of these students exist?
2. How can we best meet these students’ learning needs if they already have mastered much of the year’s content before the year has even started?
3. How can schools balance the potential for excellence against the need to achieve basic proficiency when the variation in student achievement within classrooms and schools is so vast?
Note: Reporting on this study also appeared in District Administration, November 2016
This documentary is in production, though the producers share this synopsis: At a time, when our understanding of intelligence is radically changing, where do gifted individuals fit in? Defying popular myths that assume gifted people are wealthy, white, and will do fine on their own, The G Word reveals the economic, cultural and gender diversity of the gifted at every stage of life, the educational challenges, social isolation, emotional sensitivities and physical threats faced by many of them in our schools and society at large and the search for solutions.
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