Monday, February 27, 2012

To track or not to track.

I am a major advocate of gifted education. 

There.  I said it. 

I think some students are simply smarter than others and those students should be catered to just as any other “special” student population is catered to.  “Gifted” students learn differently, think differently and have different needs than their more mainstream counter-parts and those needs are not met in a heterogeneous classroom with students spanning four and five grade-levels of ability.

Some say that we shouldn’t be pouring resources into students who are going to succeed academically even if left to their own devices.  They claim that “gifted” programs are just more enrichment for already enriched middle- and upper-class, white kids. 

The first claim is patently untrue when between 18 and 25% of gifted students drop-out of school.  This statistic is very similar to the rest of the entire student population.  Can you imagine?  Because of our lack of awareness and differentiated curriculum a quarter of the absolute best and brightest of our society will enter the workforce, or not, without a high school diploma! 

As for the latter claim, I do believe that it is true that middle- and, of course, upper-class students are set up to succeed with standardized tests, which is the most common method of identifying gifted students.  Not only do children from higher socio-economic statuses experience more enriching and healthy environments from in utero onward but most of the contextual questions are geared toward the suburbanite and leave the urban and rural dwelling kids at a loss. 

An elementary teacher who spent nine years teaching in Gambell, Alaska told me that her students, on a state-mandated standardized test, were given pictures of a whale, a cat and a cow and told to circle the one that they eat.  The students in Gambell DO eat one of the three on a regular basis but it AIN’T the cow or the cat. 

Successful spring whale hunt in Gambell

So even if they've changed the names on the tests in the last decade and now Jamaal and Constancia are part of the story, what do Billy Ongtooguk and Anna-May McCoy know from breaking ten dollar bills at the mall after getting off a 15 mile train ride?  Details like that make a huge difference, especially to younger kids who are, possibly, left to wonder why a splitting moll needs so much money.

In a recent class we were being led in a debate over a hypothetical “case study.”  Students from a poor, urban environment were being bussed into an affluent, suburban school in order to raise their test scores.  The principal of that school did not integrate the students into the rest of the student body, however.  He kept them together in isolated classes in an isolated wing in order to, he said, give them time to adjust and to bring their scores up to par before mixing them with the rest of the population.

Controversy over busing has occurred since its inception.

A teacher from the kids’ previous school had transferred with them and the question of the case study was “What obligation, if any, did she have to those students and to her new principal?”

I was struck at how my class worked and weaseled to try to figure out how Ms. Blah-blah could get those kids a fair shot in the school when my thought was WHY are we trying to integrate those hard-working, blue-collar kids into a population of snotty, entitled, shallow, sheltered, materialistic brats?  Why on earth do we believe that their middle and upper class, white culture is desirable?  What is it about that culture that raises those kids’ test scores?  The nice classrooms?  The new jeans?  The grassy playing field?  Isn't this program just another form of the BIA's relocation program?

What makes the difference is that those little suburbanites have probably never had to worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they’re going to make it home safely after school and they've had books in their pudgy, white fingers from the time they could eat their Gerber Strawberry-Apple Puffs.

Plus the entire curriculum of this nation and every test that those suburbanite white kids will ever take has been written glorifying the lifestyle that they lead.   A pathetic, hamster-wheel, lifestyle with agiant carbon footprint which is desiccating the whole rest of the planet….

There is also the argument against tracking which cites the Pygmalion or Rosenthal Effect saying that if a teacher expects a group of students to do better, the group of students will do better.  The self-fulfilling prophecy, a major logical fallacy in the education realm, ensures that students ABSOLUTELY will meet our expectations, no matter how high or how low we set them.

On the OTHER hand, one size DOES NOT fit all!!!  Being careful to teach to the center so that there are no "winners" or "losers" makes EVERYONE a loser.  To paraphrase Bill Gates, in what area of life is it true that there are no winners and losers?  In what human activity should effort not bring pay-off?  And, honestly, does everyone really deserve a high school diploma?  Maybe if Americans in general, Alaskans in specific, were allowed to wrap their minds around the work and lifestyles that NOT having a GED or a diploma brings we could A) stop importing so many low-paid workers from Russia and Central America and B) encourage more students to finish secondary school.

But think about this:  People say "Gosh, our method of evaluating students is classist.  We'd better get rid of it." 

By "it" they, of course, mean the classism, right? 

Isn't that interesting!?!  We would rather focus on changing our methods of education and evaluation than try to address the very real issues that are ACTUALLY causing the problems!  Those problems being that lots of little kids don’t have decent health care, food to eat or education! 

How about that!?!

You see, I knew if I put my big brain on this problem for long enough (my big brain whose most intellectually stimulating thing in her childhood home environment was reruns of Star Trek and who remembers fighting her little sister for scraps of RABBIT), I'd figure out how to get rid of this stupid argument over "tracking" vs. "inclusiveness."  What we ACTUALLY need is Universal Health Care for pregnant women and kids... check.  Good food for growing kids... check.  And universal Pre-K for 3 and 4-year-olds...  ALMOST check.

Now, unless my anti-tracking professors are trying to say that kids from lower socio-economic status are genetically incapable of (according to the Federal Jacob Javitz Act defining the identification of gifted students):

·         Scoring two standard deviations above the mean in an Intelligence test which has been modified to be not culturally specific
·         And/OR performing in the top 97th percentile in a similarly modified standards based assessment test
·         And/OR show excellent academic achievement via grade point average
·         And/OR become precociously skilled at an artistic endeavor
·         And/OR show exceptional leadership skills
·         And/OR be recommended by a teacher or a parent for a gifted program,

I think we may be on to something.

Friday, February 17, 2012


This week’s assignment for The History and Sociology of Education featured the first five chapters of Feinberg and Soltis’ School and Society (Boo!) and the first three chapters of Gladwell’s Outliers (Yay!).  I was immediately reminded of my dislike for sociology and was impressed with the apparent inconsistency and hypocrisy embedded in our “Foundations of Education” curriculum.  (No blame on our lively and well-educated professors.)

To set up a bit of context here, sociology (the study of our society) consists of three basic, usually competing theories.  They are:

·         Functionalism:  The idea that every cultural phenomenon serves a purpose which is to the greater good of the culture.
o   Example:  Public school serves our culture’s need to transition children from dependents into producers and to reaffirm our cultural identity.

·         Conflict Theory:  Every cultural phenomenon serves to reinforce the existing power structure of society.
o   Example:  Public school serves to reinforce cultural bias which privileges, rich, white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant males.

·         Interpretivism (also Symbolic-Interactionism):  All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players.  They have their entrances and their exits and, in his time, one man may play many parts.  (Or something like that.)
o   Example:  Public school helps us learn to interpret our role in society.

The major problem with all three of these theories (SI to a lesser extent) is that they presuppose 1) the linearity of history, 2) the inevitability of cultural “evolution” & 3) that we, our culture, “modern,” Western Industrial (or are we post-modern, post-industrial?) society is the apex of what a group of people can achieve.  Meaning the best, ultimate, most desirable.

What did Mahatma Gandhi say about "Western Civilization?"  He said it would be a good idea.


Here we are, spending a third of our time in a class called Native Issues in Education which focuses on the trouble Alaska Native students (who make up 25% of Alaska's student population) have in our public school system when the primary trouble they have is the THRUST of the other two classes!  Reconcile that in your noggin!

What is the primary purpose of school? 

Noah Webster, author of The Blue Back Speller and, later, Webster’s Dictionary considered the primary purpose of state funded public education to indoctrinate American students into an American culture.  “America,” as in, “The United States of,” barely existed at that point.  Webster felt strongly that educating the youth via traditional (ie English, as in God Save the King England English) methods would undermine the Revolution that our little colony had just fought and won.  He wanted the first words of babes in the cradle to be “Washington.”

Father, I cannot tell a lie...  This story was fabricated by a journalist promoting Washington for president.

If you’re not already troubled by the picture I paint, fast forward a generation or two.  In the mid-eighteen hundreds there was a massive influx of Irish immigrants into the cities of New England, particularly New York, Boston and Philadelphia.  At that time, our nation was experiencing many reforms which included labor laws to keep children out of factories and compulsory education laws. 

The compulsory education law was troublesome for the Irish-Catholic immigrants as the overtly Protestant public education system sought to undermine children’s faith in Catholicism and purposefully described Ireland and her descendants in the most insulting ways possible.  A Catholic Bishop who came to be known as Dagger John became the advocate for state funding for private catholic schools (the first “charter” school movement).  Because people were so outraged at the idea of the government funding a religious institution, a proposition diametrically opposite to the principles of our founding, the compromise was that the state would not fund any religion in public schools.

Future Archbishop of New York Dagger John Hughes

So…  How do we educate Ireland out of the Irish?  How do we assimilate these immigrant children into a greater American Society?  What does it mean to be an American?

These questions are very real.  They have been and continue to be asked all around the country.  Your children are currently in an institution that has asked those questions, come up with an answer and is indoctrinating its beliefs into your kids!

With these questions we successfully eradicated most of the Indian languages (and, therefore, cultures) native to this continent with three generations of BIA Indian Schools.

These students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania are examples of students who were forcibly taken from their families, shipped hundreds of miles across the country, beaten for speaking their language and trained to be factory workers.

How do you feel about homeschooling now?

Michel Foucault will be remembered as one of the greats in twentieth century philosophy.

Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, came up with a very interesting idea called “institutionality.”  That concept is to encompass the way different aspects of our culture reinforces the dominant ideology of the culture.  For instance, the Dick and Jane series of primary school readers, shows Jane in a dress, helping mom, as an audience for the active Dick who is most often engaged in active play and getting in trouble.  This is a prime example of how our school, while in the process of teaching children to read, is also in the process of indoctrinating little boys and girls in proper ways to appear and behave.

Oh, oh, see Jane.  Good little Jane.

Teachers, as products of our culture, are not immune to the effects of institutionality and, by their own actions, perpetuate cultural norms.  Why are girls more likely to experience math anxiety and not do well in science?  There are many theories, one of which is that teachers, believing that boys will do better, encourage boys more in those subjects.  There was a classic study done on teachers, testing whether a teacher’s belief in a student’s ability would effect that students ability to perform. 

As it turns out…  OhYeah.  (It's called the Pygmalion Effect or the Rosenthal Effect.  Look it up.)

So, to get back to the point, on the one hand, we are being taught that the reason why our educational system is failing 25% of our student population (ie Native Alaskans) is that the way our culture learns, teaches and behaves is completely foreign to those students way of being.  On the other hand, we are being taught that the curriculum, the body of information which it is our job to impart to our students, is merely the agar in which our ideology festers.  We are being taught that it doesn’t matter what we teach kids, as long as the way we teach them is imparting the social mores and cultural norms that someone has decided they should learn. 


Add that to the fact that, as it turns out, the Native ways of learning and knowing have been found be scientific research in cognitive and behavioral psychology to be far superior to our classic “Western” methods.  Nice.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

P.I.L.Y. People Inside Love You

In the mid-1990’s researchers in the fields of psychology and education began to understand that students who are under emotional duress are not going to be optimal learners.  Whether it is because of difficult home environments, neighborhood violence or conflicts at school, children who have most of their energies focused on day to day survival don’t have a lot left over for algebra and U.S. History.

Psychologists published a work titled Promoting Social and Emotional Learning:Guidelines for Educators which has since inspired a variety of curricula being introduced across the country.  The links provided here are worth the time to look up.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a systematic approach to “prosocial” survival strategies for children in school.  The statistics (according to the stupidly expensive text) show a remarkable improvement in academic performance and a giant drop in behavioral referrals for schools that have implemented these kinds of programs:

·         50% of students show increased test scores
·         38% of students show increased GPA’s
·         28% drop in behavioral referrals
·         A rise in rates of attendance

The three “essential principles” of SEL are:

1.       Learning requires a foundation of caring relationships
2.       Emotions dictate what we learn and how we learn it
3.       Students who can set goals and problem solve will have more success in school and in life.

Within these programs teachers are encouraged to work the following concepts into classroom management and academic activities whenever possible:

·         Communication skills
·         Self-control and appropriate expression of emotion
·         Empathy and perspective-taking
·         Conflict resolution
·         Problem solving
·         Respect for others and appreciation of diversity.

For the last couple of years an irritatingly obscure acronym was posted on the entrances to our local PreK-8 school.  “P.I.L.Y.”

Give yourself a minute to try and figure out what that stands for.  Go ahead.  Wander around a little bit, maybe…  Ready to rip the sign off the door and feed it to the cat?  Yeah.

P.I.L.Y. printed in big black letters on red paper and scotch taped to the inside of all the building’s entrances was to stand for “People Inside Love You.”  While I get a little skeezed out by all that sort of stuff, the principles of prosocial engagement and Social Emotional Learning are carried out by making sure that students understand that school is a safe place for them to learn with peers who accept them and from adults who care about their best interests and their future.

Personally, I try to skip the team-building and pep-rally activities whenever possible.  I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day dissecting my aversion to intimacy and my other random displays of anti-social behavior, however, it seems pretty clear to even me that a kid who feels safe and happy in a classroom environment is going to have an easier time learning.

All that being said...  Raise your hand if you've ever made a student cry....  Ah, yes.  You there, in the back row reading Bukowski....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gems from the Rubbish: Some thoughts on the History of Gifted Education in America

Wordle: Gifted Education

Thomas Jefferson viewed public education as a chance to create an educated democracy.  He felt a basic grammar school system would be educators chance to "rake the gems from the rubbish" in order to create a meritocracy in the U.S.

My Educational History and Sociology homework this week shook out to this.  Enjoy.
(Click on the floaty ballons to read the timeline entries.  Move the sliders to the right and left to zoom into a time period.)

As with most controversies in public education, gifted education has experienced shifts in official policy treatment and public opinion over time.  In nearly 150 years of treatment, gifted education in the United States has alternately languished in the backwaters of public opinion and federal funding and been on the cutting edge of national crisis.  A lack of basic understanding of giftedness and the gifted student and an inordinate cultural bias against the intellectual elite continues to keep gifted education in the periphery of education.  Without advocacy, giftedness will continue to be misunderstood and underserved.

            As with most of our social sciences, education, a branch of psychology, came out of the flowering of rational thought that occurred in the nineteenth century.  Unfortunately, this was also the height of colonialism as the United States and Great Britain dominated the world and exploited the people and resources of it.  Psychology and anthropology were, at the time pseudo-sciences, hardly more than philosophies, which sought to justify the natural, and therefore justified dominance, of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  It is not surprising, therefore, that much of the early work in intelligence found that males of WASP background were the only gifted worth mentioning. (NAGC, 2008)
            The first empirical method of measuring intelligence came when Lewis Terman published the Stanford-Binet IQ test in 1916.  This test was used to route doughboys, after the onset of World War I in 1917, into “alpha” and “beta” groups. (NAGC, 2008)  The test seemed to measure an individual’s abilities through the lens of cultural bias rather than an individual’s capabilities, however.
            While some effort had been made to establish gifted education in cities such as St. Louis, New York, San Diego and Chicago, the first real national-level interest in gifted education came in 1954 with the formation of the National Association of Gifted Children in Washington D.C (Jolly, 2009, NAGC, 2008).   In their 2010 position paper, the NAGC says:
Policy makers should be aware that the gifted persons described here will comprise a large proportion of the leadership of the next generation in the arts, sciences, letters, politics, etc.  If we provide this group with a mediocre education we doom ourselves to a mediocre society a generation forward.  Educators know how to provide an excellent education for these students, but it will not happen by accident or benign neglect.- (NAGC Gifted Terminology Task Force, 2010)

The NAGC still serves as an advocacy and support group and a clearinghouse of information on the education of gifted and talented children. 
            The 1950’s were a golden age in gifted education as the United States sought to compete with the Soviet Union in the arms and space races.  In her report on the urban gifted programs, VanTassel-Baska says, “the launch of Sputnik translated to a veritable windfall for gifted education.” (VanTassel-Baska, 2010, p. 39)  As America closed the technology gap and the Civil Rights Era and Brown v The Board of Education came to the forefront, the biases of gifted education and intelligence tests put gifted education onto the back burner and it wasn’t until the federally published Marland Report of 1972 that the term “gifted and talented” was even officially defined. (NAGC, 2008)
            The Reagan Revolution of the 1980’s saw the public education system come under fire in the interests of privatization.  A Nation at Risk was published criticizing public schools for their lack of academic rigor and their emphasis of egalitarianism over excellence in education for gifted students.  The funding cuts and promotion of charter schools and voucher systems did nothing to address the lack of options for gifted students in already underrepresented communities of girls, poor and minority students. (Jolly, 2009)
            In 1988 Congress passed the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act is passed to provide special competitive grants to fund gifted programs on a state level.  Two years later, in 1990, an extension of this program opened up the National Research Center for the Gifted and Talented in four college campuses across the nation.  This created a brief flowering of gifted programs across the nation.  No Child Left Behind in 2002 quashed whatever gains gifted education had made, however, when the buzz word became “proficiency” rather than “excellence.”  Ironically, NCLB specifically addresses the special needs of gifted and talented students, expands the Javits act and redefines giftedness as:
Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.- (NAGC, 2008)

However, gifted education remains neglected as state and local school systems struggle to meet the other requirements of NCLB.
Controversy:  Equity vs. Excellence
            Should resources be poured into making sure that all students have an equal chance at the same education or should resources be focused into helping the best and the brightest be all that they can be?  This dilemma plagues the United States and its educational system and seems so deeply entrenched that overcoming its polarity seems unimaginable.  Many education specialists point toward the prosocial effects of egalitarianism and “mixed” classrooms with students of various levels of ability and capability working together.  Carol Ann Tomlinson, an expert on gifted students, says that the use of mixed classroom causes issues due to the “inordinate use of [gifted] learners as ‘junior teachers’” in scaffolding scenarios.  She says that teachers need to “move away from cooperative learning as a ‘savior’ strategy.” (Tomlinson, 1995)
            Many teachers would resent the implication that they take advantage of certain students but only a misunderstanding of what it means to be gifted could account for the continued push toward heterogeneous classrooms despite research which clearly shows that acceleration and pull-out strategies are optimal for gifted students. (Cloud, Badowski, Rubiner, & Scully, 2004)  Only a continued fear of intellectual elitism could account for the ubiquitous lack of service for gifted students in our nation.  As John Cloud writes in Time:
“Americans don’t seem to have any problem with teenagers who show genius in sports (LeBron James) or entertainment (Hilary Duff).  But we have a deeply ambivalent relationship with intellectually gifted kids.”

Educators couch their concerns in terms of worry over the emotional and social well-being of a gifted student who might be stigmatized by their label or skipped ahead into classes beyond their maturity level, statistics, however, show that acceleration does not have lasting negative effects on students. (Jolly, 2009)  Reporting done in Time magazine explores the controversy surrounding acceleration has found that patently untrue according to all research dating back to the 1960’s. (Cloud, Badowski, Rubiner, & Scully, 2004)
            Another aspect of the equity vs. excellence dilemma is the emphasis on the social and emotional learning of middle school kids.  Due to the emphasis on adolescent emotional health in middle school curriculum in light of student assimilation into a “learning community,” educators need to be made aware of the special needs of gifted students, particularly girls and students from diverse cultural backgrounds.  These students are often at risk of being targeted by peer pressure in a different way than other students.  Tomlinson describes the tension between the philosophy of middle school education and the philosophy of gifted education as a difficulty with “fostering development of high-end excellence” at the same time as it provides access to education for all learners.  She proposes that educators can solve this problem by planning “for both personal excellence and equity of access to advancement for all learners who are at risk, including those who are gifted.” (Tomlinson, 1995)
            Tomlinson claims that there is a basic problem about what constitutes appropriate middle school curricula.  She says that the entire thirty year history of middle school has been one placing importance on school environment as a safe area for social and emotional development and that, as a result, the importance of academic achievement has been lessened.  Her suggestions for alleviating this issue can be boiled down to refusing to buy into “theories that present middle school students as incapable of high level thought and complex learning” and using “best practice” curricula and methodology for all students. (Tomlinson, 1995)
            Some educators believe that after a child enters high school the availability of honors and A.P. courses negate the need for pull-out services.  Berger describes this period as a very critical time for gifted students who often need more intensive counseling and career development.  She says that counseling should ensure that “students learn that college planning is part of life career development” and that “it need not be a finite even that begins and ends mysteriously or arbitrarily.” (Berger, College Planning for Gifted and Talented Youth, 1989)  She contends that a gifted student may more keenly feel the import of the transition from high school to college and will continue to need extra emotional and social support in order to make that transition smoothly. 
            Because of its roots in racism, even modern intelligence testing and screening for gifted programs get a bad rap from those vigilant for the equity of today’s public school system.  Frank Yekovich’s 1994 review of the literature discusses the problems with both the definition of intelligence and the application of intelligence tests.  He says that IQ tests assess a student’s abilities but are used to determine a student’s capabilities.  This problem is illustrated in “the fact that minority groups are overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in gifted and talented programs.”  Yekovich uses the cognitive psychology rubric to understand the meaning of intelligence and giftedness.  With the current advances in brain imagery technology, however, we know that the gifted brain is structurally different from brains that test at a standard or average intelligence regardless of cultural background (Sousa, 2009), and the federal government’s broader definition of gifted and talented counteracts any lingering cultural bias that straight IQ testing might perpetuate.
            Another very common misconception is that gifted students will do well in school with or without special services or that heaping them up with “enrichment” materials (ie, extra work) will substitute for acceleration or differentiation.  VanTassel-Baska explains that in a 1950’s era study of gifted students, “researchers found that students with IQ 148+ were the most dissatisfied with their school situations and thus the most in need of special services.” (VanTassel-Baska, 2010, p. 23)  Another study showed that underserved gifted students were just as likely to drop out of school after the 8th grade as their average counterparts. (ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children, 1990)

Future Leaders of America
            The vast majority of high achieving individuals in any culture most likely start as gifted kids.  VanTassel-Baska confidently explains:
“The Greeks and Romans recognized the value of talent, as did the tribes of the Bible, responding to the parables told by Jesus.  The Chinese Dynasties and Confucius as a scholar saw value in educating those from all social strata according to their talents.  Cultures embraced the recognition and development of giftedness as a way to determine potential contributors to a society- as leaders, even philosopher kings in Plato’s imagined world, or guildsmen, or clerics.” (VanTassel-Baska, 2010, p. 19)

Is our nation to be left off the lists off all-time greats because of our refusal to recognize the special needs of gifted students?
Currently the United States Department of Education is attempting to promote STEM education; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  It has become abundantly clear that the U.S. is falling behind our international counterparts in these areas and, just like in the post Sputnik era of the 1950’s, funding is being channeled to promote accelerated and differentiated programs for gifted students. (Jolly, 2009)  Jennifer Jolly, expert on the history of gifted education says, “Gifted and talented students become a national priority when excellence is sought and a critical need is perceived.” (Jolly, 2009, p. 36 & 37)  In this time of national priority how will educators choose to channel funding for gifted students?  What services do those students most need?
            Sandra Berger describes the components of developing an effective Gifted program within a school or school district in her 1991 piece written published in the ERIC Digest.  She describes “program” as “part of the mainstream of education [which] doesn’t rise and fall with public opinions. It is a comprehensive, sequential system for educating students with identifiable needs; it is often designed by a curriculum committee; and it is supported by a district or school budget.”  A program is something that is instituted as opposed to a “provision” which is simply an accommodation which is made for one student or a group of students on an as needed basis.  “Teaching strategies,” she says, “may change, but the question of whether or not [a program] should be part of the curriculum is never raised.” (Berger, Developing Programs for Students of High Ability, 1991)
            The old question of equality vs egalitarianism still persist when school systems have trouble identifying gifted students and question the cultural relevancy of giftedness indicators.  Although the national definition via the Javits Act is clear, school districts still clearly underserve their gifted population.  According to the NAGC, 10%-15% of any given student population should fall under the “gifted and talented” rubric. (NAGC Gifted Terminology Task Force, 2010)  Most school districts fall well below that level.
            The National Association of Gifted Children says that, “exceptionally capable adults are among those most likely to contribute to the advancement of a society and its scientific, humanistic and social goals.”  For public opinion and government policy to fall in line with the needs of gifted students, the public must be made aware of the implications of underserving the gifted population and the real meaning of the term “giftedness.”  For this to happen, classroom teachers, administrators and government policy makers must be made aware of the differences of the gifted child and their special needs.  It falls to those who are aware to become advocates of gifted education or our best and brightest, our nation’s real future, will be lost.

Timeline of Major Events Adapted from (NAGC, 2008)
•           1868- School superintendent William Torrey Harris institutes a gifted education program in St. Louis schools.
•           1869- Francis Galton publishes Hereditary Genius making the case for intelligence being the result of heredity and natural selection.
•           1901- The first school for the gifted opens up in Worcester, Massachusetts.
•           1916- Lewis Terman publishes the Stanford-Binet intelligence test.
•           1917- The U.S. Army institutes IQ testing to place soldiers.
•           1921- Lewis Terman begins a longitudinal study of 1500 gifted students.
•           1922- Leta S. Hollingworth begins the Special Opportunity Class in New York City
•           1925- Lews Terman publishes Genetic Studies of Genius attempting to define identifiable attributes of gifted students.
•           1926- Leta S. Hollingworth publishes first text on gifted education Gifted Child:  Their Nature and Nurture
•           1936- Leta S. Hollingworth establishes the Speyer school for the gifted in New York City
•           1954- The National Association of Gifted Children is founded
•           1957- The Soviet Union launches Sputnik into orbit causing a national scramble to fund into the identification and development of gifted students who would profit from STEM education.
•           1958- National Defense Education Act is the first big federal effort to promote gifted education.
•           1972- The Marland Report is published by the federal government defining what it is to be gifted and talented.
•           1974- The Office of the Gifted and Talented is given official status within the U.S. Office of Education.
•           1983- The federal report A Nation At Risk includes promotion of gifted curriculum
•           1988- Congress passes the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act which provides competitive grant monies for states to promote gifted programs.
•           1990- National Research Centers on the Gifted and Talented are opened in University of Connecticut, University of Virginia, Yale University and Northwestern University for the purposes of studying gifted children, developing gifted curriculum and educating teachers and administrators.
•           1993- National Excellence: The Case for Developing America’s Talent report is published by the federal government saying that the best and brightest are being neglected by America’s public school system.
•           2002- No Child Left Behind is passed and includes an expanded version of the Javits program and the definition of g/t students is modified to: Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.
•           2004- A Nation Decieved: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students is published criticizing the failure of public schools to address the needs of the gifted.

Works Cited
Berger, S. L. (1989). College Planning for Gifted and Talented Youth. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.
Berger, S. L. (1991). Developing Programs for Students of High Ability. Washington DC: National Association for Gifted Children.
Cloud, J., Badowski, C., Rubiner, B., & Scully, S. (2004). Saving the Smart Kids. Time, pp. 56-61.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children. (1990). Giftedness And The Gifted: What's It All About? Eric Digests.
Jolly, J. L. (2009). A Resuscitation of Gifted Education. American Educational History Journal, 37-52.
NAGC. (2008). The History of Gifted and Talented Education. Retrieved from National Association for Gifted Children:
NAGC Gifted Terminology Task Force. (2010, March). Rediefining Giftedness for a New Century: Shifting the Paradigm. Retrieved from National Association for Gifted Children:
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Bored of Education

Wordle: Billeen

This is a "Wordle" that was generated by a timeline of the History of American Education that I made.
Click on the floaty balloons to read the entries in the timeline.  Click on the bars to read the entries describing the time periods.  Slide the tabs at the bottom to the left or right to zoom into a particular era.