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The State of DCSD Gifted Programming: The Parents Perspective.

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1 The State of DCSD Gifted Programming: The Parents Perspective

2 Introductions Presenters: Lisa Bernini and Sue Mickus With the support of: –Robin Carey, Director of Educational Programming and Services (including GT programming) –Elizabeth Morris, Principal, Northridge Elementary –Discovery Booster Club, Northridge Elementary

3 Objectives We have seen change and sense more change on the horizon. Shape the direction of GT programming in the DCSD. 1. Improved detection of student potential and giftedness. 2. Protect and prioritize gifted learners.

4 Who Are We Talking About? AlexSophie

5 Megan Gabriel

6 What is Gifted? Traditional definition: An intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5% of all learners. -- Hoagies Gifted Education Page

7 IQ Bell Curve from Duke University

8 Learning on the fringes: (1) Children on BOTH ends of the spectrum have unique learning differences from their same age peers. (2) BOTH groups have social and emotional needs based on a gap between intellectual abilities and chronological age. (3) BOTH groups of special needs children benefit from classroom modification -- specialized curriculum, individualized instruction and social and emotional support.

9 What Is Gifted? By law, Colorado mandates services for gifted children under the 2007 Exceptional Childrens Educational Act (ECEA) – the same Act that governs Special Education. The ECEA and our District say: Gifted and talented children are those whose abilities, talents and potential for accomplishment are so exceptional, or developmentally advanced, that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs.

10 District Identification The ideal: a body of evidence. DSCD provides testing through the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) which measures learned reasoning abilities. –This is not an IQ test. –Not all gifted children are identified. This makes awareness of giftedness among classroom teachers even more important.

11 Characteristics of Gifted Children* Possesses strong problem-solving abilities Learns rapidly with little repetition Displays a high degree of creativity Is persistent in seeking task completion Strives toward perfection Is passionate in one or more areas of interest Possesses a large storehouse of information about a variety of topics Uses advanced vocabulary Displays keen sense of humor Is tenacious

12 Characteristics, cont. Prefers older companions Reads early or avidly with greater comprehension Has insatiable curiosity and persistence May question authority Demonstrates intense emotional or physical sensitivity Is concerned about global issues *Characteristics complied by DCSD Educational Programming and Services

13 Did You Know? Gifted children are at risk: Left unchallenged, gifted students can regress and actually lose their gifts. To learn, the brain must be stimulated to create a network of connections like branches on a tree. When theyre not stimulated, the brain actually prunes these connections away. They often feel separated from peers and devalued by adults, often resulting in lost confidence, depression, and underachievement.

14 Did You Know...(cont.) 73% of gifted children are not identified. A shocking 20% of the countrys high school dropouts are gifted. Only 56% of gifted children from lower income backgrounds were still high achievers in reading by the time they reached fifth grade. –the Thomas Fordham Institute Studies show that fewer than 20% of gifted children are sufficiently challenged in school.

15 Did You Know...(cont.) National survey of 900 public school teachers: Who is most likely to get one-on-one attention from teachers? Struggling students:81% Advanced students:5% --Thomas Fordham Institute

16 Meanwhile: --By 2020, there will be 124 million jobs requiring higher skills and only 50 million qualified Americans. -- Edward E. Gordon in Winning the Global Talent Showdown. --25% of Indias children have been identified as gifted. India has more honors kids than America has kids. -- Karl Fisch, Director of Technology, Arapahoe High School

17 Excellence can lose its vibrancy. It can become complacence. It can become apathy. What it always becomes, if its ignored, is less than it could be. -- A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back Americas Brightest Students

18 Objective No. 1: Educate classroom teachers and parents in the recognition of potential and identification of our districts gifted learners.

19 A couple of anecdotes...

20 Improving Identification: --Teacher Certification: Include a course on gifted education --Use In-Service days --In performance-based teacher evaluations, include fostering of creativity and giftedness as measures of performance. --GT Facilitators serving each school --Parent resources for identification and advocacy --Equip teachers with adequate next steps for children identified as gifted.

21 Raise the Bar The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act unintentionally punished students already ahead. The push to help students reach proficiency pulled resources away from gifted learners. -- While raising the bar is necessary for those who are too often left behind... it is critical to Colorados economic future that we also raise the ceiling for our most able learners. --STEMming the Tide: A Colorado Response to the National Crisis in STEM Education

22 ...and the Ceiling Teach To the Top All students benefit. Students will rise to meet expectations. Dont put a cap on how high children can go. We want to keep our most advanced learners.

23 The recognition of potential and the identification of gifted learners is critical. True equality in the classroom comes from giving all children a chance to learn something new everyday.

24 What Do the Numbers Tell Us? Federal Funding Jacob K. Javits Act –In 2010, $7.5 million, primarily for research –Javits Act not renewed by Congress Current federal funding: $0 Could this be why America is falling behind?

25 State Funding Gifted Education:$8.2 million English Language Learners: $20 million Special Education: $278.2 million –Colorado Department of Education (2008-09) –Colorado spent 34 times more on Special Education than on Gifted students. –2010 Rule Change: local school districts may no longer have to match state funds received for gifted education

26 The support of local districts for gifted learning has never been more critical.

27 District Funding No. of Identified Students (as of Oct. 09) % of DCSD Student Population 2009-10 Operating Expenses Spending per Identified Student Gifted31205.2%$488,861$156.69 Special Ed50098.4%$44,988,200$8,981.47 DCSD spent 57 times more on Special Education as on Gifted students. --Financial Transparency, Financial Plan & Budget 2009- 10, DCSD website

28 Whats Going On In DCSD? Rather than any single gifted program, a continuum of programming services must exist for gifted learners.-- NAGC Neighborhood Schools Programming. GT Facilitators collaborate/consult with classroom teachers to extend content for identified gifted students. ** After budget cuts, mostly gone. Discovery Program is designed to meet the needs of gifted students whose abilities are so advanced that they require special provisions to meet their needs. ** Budget cuts have chipped away at curriculum.

29 2009 Budget Cuts 2008 ballot measures failed Gifted education lumped with other programs such as art, music, foreign language, athletics and busing as items for possible reduction or elimination Parents of gifted students rallied.

30 The Aftermath... Discovery Program remains but with specialized curriculum funding significantly reduced Parents are picking up the tab for bread and butter curriculum materials (math books, science kits, reading workbooks, etc.) Most GT Facilitators gone Class sizes for these special needs learners allowed to reach the same levels as the regular classrooms

31 The Aftermath...(cont.) GT Coordinator position eliminated Discovery Advisory Board eliminated Budget cuts continue to erode what limited resources have been dedicated to gifted students. This must STOP!

32 The Rally Continues NRE Discovery Booster Club Established. –Primary purpose: fundraise for classroom materials and curricula –Thousands in parent donations and fundraising –Thousands spent on classroom materials –Exterior painting of and landscaping around mobile classrooms

33 Douglas County Affiliation of the Colorado Association For Gifted and Talented Function: educate, advocate, and provide a community for families of gifted learners Serve preschool through high school students and families in public, private, charter and home schools Work began December 2010 Supported by DCSD staff and Director of Educational Programming and Services

34 Objective No. 2 In this climate of budget reduction and change, protect and prioritize special needs, gifted learners and a continuum of services.

35 Protect and Prioritize Each time budgets are cut, parents of gifted learners should not have to come hat in hand to DCSD. Special needs gifted learners a priority on par with other special education services. Gifted programs are not like other academic programs such as music, art, foreign languages, etc.

36 To address the special needs of these students, protect and prioritize: (1) a continuum of gifted learning services, (2) sufficient teaching resources and classroom materials, and (3) reasonable class sizes.

37 Conclusion: A Shift In Thinking Traditional Beliefs...Contemporary Beliefs... Identification is a yes or no answer based on an achievement or intelligence score. Identification focuses on a profile of student strengths and needs. Ability is rewarded and must be demonstrated. Effort, achievement and potential are recognized. A question of excellence versus equity. Excellence and equity are not mutually exclusive. Gifted education is a privilege. Gifted education is a need. - excerpted from Equity and Excellence: Culturally Diverse Students in Gifted Education, 2003

38 The Economics Families have moved to Douglas County specifically for programs such as Discovery, supporting local businesses and raising home prices. Schools are the lifeblood of a community. Our school board has a moral imperative to do right by the community.

39 Our Future We cannot afford to lose the abilities of our most advanced learners. Dont clip the wings of our gifted students. Provide resources. We need to properly identify, fully prioritize and actively protect our special needs gifted students in every school in our district. The greatest fallacy in gifted education: Left alone, gifted children will be just fine.

40 Gifted programming is a necessary educational program, not a choice.

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