Leaving Gifted Children Behind

May 21, 2007, 01:00 ET from Millersville University

    MILLERSVILLE, Pa., May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When the No Child
 Left Behind Act (NCLB) was introduced in 2001, its purpose was to set goals
 for improved test scores in low-performing elementary and secondary
 schools. With the program entering its seventh year, researchers and
 educators are finding improvements in some schools, but several educators
 are arguing the NCLB leaves high-performing students behind.
     Dr. Barbara Marinak, Millersville University of Pennsylvania professor
 of elementary education says that attention is being focused on students
 who are less than proficient in reading and mathematics leaving gifted
 students unchallenged. In addition, Marinak is concerned about how
 statewide assessment data is being used. "We are hearing stories of gifted
 students being included or excluded from gifted programs based on
 individual state tests which are not an appropriate measure of gifted
 performance or potential." She explains that school districts' main concern
 is moving toward the 97% percent proficiency mark by 2014 as stated in the
 NCLB Act.
     "The trends we are seeing that impact gifted education include less
 time being available for curricular variety and individualization," said
 Marinak. "As schools feel increasingly pressured to meet the demands of the
 current NCLB, opportunities beneficial to gifted students are disappearing.
 An additional problem is that districts are seeing lower test scores of
 gifted students. We are seeing an erosion in scores from advanced to
 proficient or from proficient to basic."
     Dr. Carol Welsh, Millersville professor of educational foundations,
 sees the effects more often in urban schools. "It is in urban schools that
 serve gifted students from the most at-risk socio-economic point of view
 where the impact of NCLB is most evident. In my opinion, the urban students
 need more experience, more relevant practice and at least as much time on
 subjects like science and social studies and the arts as their suburban
 counterparts to develop their talent, not less," she said.
     The solution for gifted students in all socio-economic areas? Welsh
 suggests move beyond normal standardized testing. "Create a system where
 gifted students can take the test with older grade levels and complete the
 tests as soon as they have mastered the grade 11 test. This would allow
 them to work on research projects in the available time," she said.
     Beginning this fall Millersville University will become the only public
 institution of higher education in Pennsylvania to offer a master's of
 education degree in gifted education.

SOURCE Millersville University