“If kids are given more accelerated instruction, we see higher growth.” These are the words of one of the researchers involved in a recent study exploring the content of gifted-and-talented instruction. You’d think this would be a given.
It’s the whole idea behind G&T education – giving high-performing kids the chance to advance beyond the limits of the mainstream classroom. Unfortunately, a new survey of 2,000 elementary schools in three states reveals that gifted classes aren’t necessarily delivering above-grade-level education or accelerating academic growth.
What’s happening in G&T classrooms?
The results of “What Really Happens in Gifted Education,” a study by the National Center for Research on Gifted Education show that, despite its proven benefits, accelerated education isn’t the nature of most gifted-and-talented instruction. Rather than studying more advanced material, gifted students are spending their enrichment time on tangentially related “extension activities,” debates, brainstorming, and social-emotional learning. While each of these is valuable, such skills are likely to be outside of what’s expected by the parents of gifted students. Parents certainly don’t expect these activities to take priority over accelerated learning. The failure of gifted programs to meet the goal of student advancement is reflected in these states’ test scores. Students who started third grade performing two years above grade level posted slower academic growth than general education students between third and fifth grades.
A Program Without a Plan
The aims of gifted-and-talented education should include nurturing kids’ natural abilities, further developing the skills of successful students, and continuing to challenge those who demonstrate exceptional performance early on. This survey, however, raises concerns that teachers and educators may not share these goals. In a column for The Hechinger Report, Jill Barshay points out that three-quarters of the schools surveyed do not have a separate math or reading curriculum for gifted students. The lack of a curriculum indicates just how far we are from a consensus on how to best nurture talented students in American schools. Only a quarter of the surveyed schools have an established, documented plan to guide these students’ learning.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Fortunately, as a parent, you have options. You might feel powerless. It’s harder than it should be, and you’ll have to look beyond what most other parents are considering. But you do get to decide where your child’s opportunities stop. If you’re not satisfied with the G&T programming in your school or district, then supplemental enrichment was created for families like yours. Here at Eye Level Learning, allowing gifted students to study topics and content ahead of their grade level is part of our mission. Because our math and English enrichment programs are based on established curriculum standards, they reinforce a strong grade-level foundation while also giving your child tools to propel themselves from concept to concept and grade to grade.
Personalized Learning Acceleration
With its individual focus, Eye Level Learning can be an ideal solution for gifted learning. We do not design a student’s learning plan based on their age or grade, but instead on their personal strengths and weaknesses. An up-front diagnostic assessment allows us to pick an initial starting point for your child. From there, your child will receive a new set of booklets each session. If students complete their homework, they can cover about one year’s worth of material in half a year! If you want to stay involved, the instructor can keep you up-to-date on your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and suggest ways you can help your child further improve.
Make sure your child’s unique learning needs are met, even if it’s not happening in the gifted programs at school. Schedule a free diagnostic assessment and learn more about Eye Level Learning’s enrichment programs today.