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