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Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 0

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 1 Table of Contents

Title page Abstract Table of Contents Introduction Problem Statement Review of Relevant Literature Method References

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Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 2 Introduction Giftedness in students is a quality usually recognized as high achievement in academic areas (Clark, 1997). This definition can be expanded to include areas of creativity, artistic ability, and leadership. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2002) and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) define gifted students as possessing high abilities in one or more of the aforementioned areas (Novello, 2009). They further express that gifted students need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop their abilities (Novello, 2009, p. 38). It would stand to reason that in order to improve, students abilities must be supported and challenged. Support can come in many forms, from parents to educators to peers. In fact, supporters for gifted education cannot agree on the best support for students, only that there must be some form of support (Cross, Cross, & Hinch, 2010). A study of the Swedish school system, in which giftedness is not only unidentified, but unsupported, found gifted students suffered not only with harassment from other students, but indifference by their teachers (Persson, 2010). These same students performed poorly at later stages of their education due to feelings of underachievement and lack of preparation for true intellectual stimulation (p. 20). The only anomalies to the findings of this Swedish study occurred when a student received even a small amount of attention or challenge from a mentor or teacher. Purposeful, structured assistance could help even more students. Identification is often the first step: additional support can only be provided if the students need is known. If the gifted student is already proficient with the material in the traditional classroom, they can seem to excel at the work even though it is mundane to their actual ability. Rudasill (2009) suggested that the self-concepts of gifted students are higher than those of students who have not been identified, perhaps due to their high academic ability acting as a protective buffer from peer ridicule and pressure. But will they be able to develop their talents if they never move beyond what they know? The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) asserts that gifted students need programs which provide them with academic challenge (NAGC, 2005). Programs exist which perform this function with varying results. Pullout programs, which remove the student to a separate classroom and group them with gifted peers, are one example. A study of various school within a school programs reported teachers and students in all of these gifted programs express strong satisfaction with their academic programs (Matthews, 2007 p. 256). Academic acceleration, also known as grade skipping, is another example. Researchers in Australia looked at student self-esteem comparisons between those students who were accelerated by 2 grade levels, 1 grade level, or not accelerated at all (Gross, 2006). The study found that student self evaluation rose with the amount of advancement, so that those put two years ahead of their age mates were even more satisfied with their education and environment compared to identified gifted students moved only one year ahead, while those students remaining at age-grade level were very far from feeling either included or fulfilled by their level of education. The evidence collected suggests that regardless of the nature of the program, students do benefit from advancement. Research has attempted to understand the achievements of students within gifted programs compared to high performing students in traditional classes (Delcourt, Cornell, & Goldberg, 2007). Other studies have looked at developing self-concept and self esteem within and without gifted programs. Delcourt,

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 3 Cornell, and Goldberg (2007) outlined several studies reporting on the impact of programs with regard to grades, achievement, and affective outcomes (Delcourt, Cornell, & Goldberg, 2007, p. 2). The researchers explored the first two years of student involvement in gifted programs, comparing student learning (based on achievement tests) and attitudes (using motivational surveys). The primary intent was to prove that gifted programs of any type have positive effects versus no program at all. What happens to students when they are no longer a part of a gifted program? When students no longer have access to separate educational materials and lessons designed to challenge them in ways not usually found within the traditional school setting, does this change affect their grades or achievements? Problem Statement The purpose of this study is to look at students who have been in identified as gifted, participated in a gifted program, and subsequently left the program due to aging out of the program. Comparisons can be made between a students academic performance during and after receiving gifted educational support. Does student academic performance change after leaving a gifted educational support program? Literature Review One program does not provide for all gifted students just as one definition does not describe all gifted students (Anonymous, 2005). That is the official opinion of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Program options range from acceleration, or moving the student into higher grade levels; pull out, which removes the student to another location for a predetermined interval; school within a school, which groups gifted students in separate classrooms from their age peers at the same school; to inclusion, which puts students identified as gifted in the same classrooms as their non-identified grade mates. With financial support and implementation requirements among national programs as drastically different as the programs themselves, the NAGC asks for a national accord with regard to assisting our population of gifted students (Viadero, 2009). Their debate centers on what form assistance should take. Program Options and Relative Effectiveness Studies investigating the effects of grade skipping have explored the benefits to the students involved. More often referred to as academic acceleration, it has largely been painted as the pathway to creating social outcasts, or emotionally stunted people (Gross, 2006, p. 417). In an ongoing twenty-year Australian study of 60 academically gifted students, the opposite result was found. Seventeen students were skipped ahead more than 2 years in their education and went on to lead very productive lives: married with children and successful, while 33of the students, who remained with their age peers, tended toward underachieving status and looked on their education as wholly unsatisfactory (Gross, 2006). Drawing comparisons with Terman and Hollingworth, Gross made the observation that highly capable students dont avoid grade mates out of superiority or arrogance, they simply have trouble connecting with them on a basic interest level by nature of their more learning-based interest levels. Pull-out programs relocate the students identified as gifted to a separate location one or more times during the school week. Laursen (2005) notes that while pullout programs provide some support for gifted students; often it is simply not enough. Students are isolated from their grade peers, which may serve to increase the social distance between students. As a result of this, pullout programs are the

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 4 hardest to defend against accusations of elitism. Students may be in a terrific learning environment, but they will be challenged in more ways than just academically. Operating a gifted program side by side with traditional curriculum students is known as school within a school (Mathews, & Kitchen 2007.) It avoids the issue of isolating gifted students by keeping them in the same school as their age mates, who may also already be their friends. In their study, Mathews, & Kitchen (2007) looked at satisfaction among teachers and students involved in school within a school programs and concerns about the rapport with the main body of the school overall. Discussions involved the positive effects of community building and fostering a supportive school climate. Gifted students enjoyed the benefits of challenging school work while also improving their social skills, which is one of the areas in which gifted students need the most support. Many groups look at gifted support as inherently elitist. One study specifically looked at this parallel between prejudicial theory and the proposed differentiation made for those identified as gifted. Surveying supporters of gifted education, it was hypothesized that political preference would determine personal preference with regard to the type of support given to gifted students. As a portion of their study, Cross, Cross, & Finch (2010) used the 11-item short form of the Marlowe-Crowne Scale to test whether answers given were genuine or only what responders felt were expected of them; in this way, a limitation of the surveyits limited base for contextbecame more valid for the purposes of understanding the inherent prejudice of the issue. It was predicted that if those questioned possessed political leanings toward Social Dominance Orientation, believing in special privileges for special groups, and Right Wing Authoritarian values, looking to established tradition and leaders for guidance, they would be more inclined to prefer isolationist gifted learning. The two political groups tend to think in opposite directions; however, with regard to gifted learning, both the hierarchical and traditional methods of gifted education tend toward maintaining a separate gifted classroom. Surprisingly, the responses actually favored inclusion as the best practice. The advantage to inclusion is the opportunity it presents to all students, not just gifted. Inclusion involves teaching to all students in the same classroom, identified as gifted or not. Every child is given a challenging learning experience and they are able to work together, giving them the opportunity to appreciate the strengths everyone possesses. Support for Giftedness versus No Support The experiences of potentially gifted students in a system with no support for gifted education have been studied using a Swedish Mensa population (Persson, 2010). This method allowed for some recognition of intellectually gifted status within a country which has no formal gifted identification system or school support program. Internet based questionnaires measured their attitudes regarding school environment. The responding former students rated primary grades as hostile; while the transition to secondary and then to tertiary education improved somewhat, all participants were far from satisfied at any level of the education system (Persson, 2010, p. 536). The idea of any support is better than no support is echoed by others. Dr. Dorothy Sisk, author, teacher and program director for the Texas Governors Program for Gifted Children with more than twenty years experience in gifted education, speaks of gifted childrens out of balance emotional and social aspects (Novello, 2009). Their academics may be above what is expected for their age, but they need help understanding their heightened awareness of their emotions and perceptions. Sisk describes the challenges encountered by a student with a 14-year old mind and an 8-year old body enormous (Novello, 2009, p. 40).

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 5 More interested in understanding the effect of gifted support rather than the nature of that support, one study compared the initial years in school for gifted students with their high achieving peers in traditional classrooms (Delcourt, Cornell, & Goldberg, 2007). Going beyond the normal study of learning achievements, this study looked at student affective outcomes, getting a sense of how they felt about themselves relative to their educational situation. Conducted over two years, the findings were very informative for the purposes of informing practice aimed at developing all childrens talents, but many provisions directed at helping only students identified as gifted were up for elimination simply because no information to the contrary was available. Not only does it need to be known that support can help every student, any type of support is absolutely essential for those students identified as gifted. Delcourt, Cornell, & Goldberg (2007) showed the value in providing support, but not the effect of having that support taken away. In contrast, Persson (2010) studied the effects of having no support at all; the students may have been dissatisfied, but what if they had known what they were missing? Determining the effect a loss of support has on students considered gifted may help illustrate their needs. Hypothesis It is hypothesized that student academic performance will change after aging out of a gifted educational support program. Methods As a preliminary study, grades will be used to look at performance. A causal-comparative study into the grade performance of students during and after their participation in the Spokane Valley Able Learners program will determine if any effect exists between a students performance in a gifted program and subsequent to leaving the program. Consistency of grades while involved in the gifted program compared to the same students grades after they have left the program may show a difference which could be attributed to loss of support. Findings could then be used as a basis for further research. Follow up studies could include a questionnaire to compare teacher expectations and observed student practices. The questionnaire could also serve to eliminate discrepancies such as varying teaching styles, classroom practices which substitute for gifted support, and changes in student study habits. References Anonymous. (2005, April). Position statement on inclusion and gifted students. Gifted Child Today, 28(2), 8. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 833978971). Anonymous, (2010, October). The high school student engagement study. Gifted Child Today, 33(4), 7-8. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2145489531). Clark, Barbara (1997). Growing up gifted: Developing the potential of children at home and at school. 5th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Cross, J., Cross, T., & Finch, H., (2010). Maximizing student potential versus building

Giftedness is Not Temporary: The Need for Continual Gifted Support David Lynch 6 community: An exploration of right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and preferred practice among supporters of gifted education. Roeper Review, 32(4), 235-248. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2268220421). Delcourt, M., Cornell, D., & Goldberg, M.. (2007). Cognitive and affective learning outcomes of gifted elementary school students. The Gifted Child Quarterly, 51(4), 359-381. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1390043111). Gross, M. U. M. (2006, July). Exceptionally gifted children: Long-term outcomes of academic acceleration and nonacceleration. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 29(4), 404-429,485-486. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1123246381). Henshon, S.. (2010, January). Giftedness across the lifespan: An interview with Rena Subotnik. Gifted Child Today, 33(1), 27-31. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1950190581). Laursen, E.K. (2005, September). Rather than Fixing Kids--Build Positive Peer Cultures. Reclaiming Children and Youth: The Journal of Strength-based Interventions. 14(3), 137. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from ERIC. (ERIC accession number: EJ725767) Makel, M.. (2009, October). Student and parent attitudes before and after the gifted identification process. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 33(1), 126-143,145. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1864800811). Matthews, D. & Kitchen, J. (2007). School-within-a-school gifted programs: Perceptions of students and teachers in public secondary schools. The Gifted Child Quarterly, 51(3), 256-271. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1325216971). Novello, J.. (2009, October). Making great kids greater: Easing the burden of being gifted. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 76(1), 38-41. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2090249311). Persson, R.. (2010, July). Experiences of intellectually gifted students in an egalitarian and inclusive educational system: A survey study. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 33(4), 536569,630. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2090272501). Rudasill, K., Capper, M., Foust, R., Callahan, C., & Albaugh, S.. (2009, April). Grade and gender differences in gifted students' self-concepts. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 32(3), 340367,441-442. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1680703731). U.S. Department of Education. (2002). No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (159, 115 Stat, PUBLIC LAW107-110). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/beginning.html

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Viadero, D. (2009, November). Gifted education : The state of the states in gifted education. Education Week, 29(12), 5. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1910993961). Yazzie-Mintz, E. (2010). Charting the path from engagement to achievement: A report on the 2009 high school survey of student engagement. Bloomington, IN: Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. Retrieved from http://ceep.indiana.edu/hssse/index.htm.