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Revisiting (Ohio) Gifted in the 21st Century — Finding 4

March 19, 2010

The Ohio Association for Gifted Children (OAGC) has been invited to share  concerns/requests at the April State Board of Education regarding the upcoming education budget.  As a prelude to this presentation, the High Ability bloggers thought it would be interesting to highlight the progress made on the seven findings in the “Gifted in the 21st Century” Task Force Report.  This report was released in 2002.  This week we will look at Finding 4.

Finding 4. Educators Who Serve Children Who Are Gifted: Current teacher preparation programs in Ohio do not require any coursework in differentiated instruction, assessment or appropriate service options for children who are gifted. According to Passow and Rudinski (1993), most states acknowledge the crucial role of teachers in the identification and education of the gifted and the need for providing staff development. Without adequate knowledge, attitudes and skills, teachers are unable to provide differentiated instruction to children who are gifted. From the results of the Ohio Survey on Gifted Education, Joyce Van Tassel-Baska (1997) found that staff development on the needs of gifted students was often infrequent or nonexistent for Ohio teachers.

At the policy level, this is another area in which the state has seen limited progress. The state updated standards for university programs preparing gifted education specialists to align with NAGC and CEC standards. Additionally, the federal Higher Education Act enacted last year included language requiring that training in the needs and characteristics of gifted students be included in preservice teacher preparation programs. However, there has been little apparent activity at the state’s higher education institutions and little leadership on the part of the board of regents to ramp up gifted training outside of gifted intervention specialist endorsement programs.

The state has, however, witnessed a large-scale effort to develop capacity of in-service educators to address the needs of gifted students in the form of Project I-GET-GTEd, an ODE-led initiative that equips district- and ESC-based gifted specialists to facilitate training regular education teachers, school psychologists, counselors and administrators using materials developed by national experts and delivered using a Web-based learning management system in a format aligned to federal standards for high-quality professional development. Over the last three years, thousands of educators in nearly every county of the state have participated. Sadly, the U.S. Department of Education’s Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program, which provided the funding that enabled the creation of this popular and cost-effective program, is at risk. The Obama administration (like the Bush administration before it) is recommending its elimination. In the past, funding has been restored by Congress over the objections of the White House; but because the budget deficit is near the top of Republican priorities and because several key gifted advocates on the Democratic side of the aisle are departing, the odds of the program’s survival this time seem long.

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