Yes, I know this is a blog for gifted parenting. So, why am I writing about educational programming? Isn’t that the area of expertise of educators and school administrators? Well, believe it or not, parents are often asked to become involved when it deals with gifted education. You see, most of the experts in general education have never taken a university level course in gifted education. Until recently, few existed!
When my children were younger, our school board directed the establishment of an exploratory committee to review the district’s gifted education program. Years later, the committee was re-established for another review.
It may seem like a daunting task for a parent; especially in the company of educators, administrators, school board members, and consultants. It is, in fact, an excellent way for parents to get involved with their child’s education and hopefully begin to build positive relationships with school personnel.
Where does one begin to develop a gifted education program? If you live in the U.S. or a country with a standards-based curriculum, you need look no further than the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). With incredible foresight and expertise, they developed gifted programming standards that align with the national standards. (A link will be provided at the end of this post.) One of the stated uses for these standards is to “assess, evaluate, and improve local plans and programming”. The perfect place to start!
Originally written in 1998, the Gifted Program Standards was a project undertaken by the NAGC in cooperation with the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children). In 2007, a workgroup began to revise the standards by tweaking the focus to emphasize “programming” instead of a fixed “program”. This approach was meant to encompass the full range of options needed for a gifted child to reach their full potential.
Today, the NAGC provides free access to the standards on their website for anyone to use. The new standards are evidenced-based … a buzzword in the education world … and promote student outcomes. Diversity and an understanding that gifted, general, and special education must all share the stage are hallmarks of this new initiative.
A concern voiced by many in the gifted community is how gifted students are assessed. In its introduction to the 2010 Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards, the NAGC recommends the use of “off-level measures” for students performing well above grade level, performance or product based assessment by having students demonstrate their knowledge or create a product representative of their knowledge, and tests that focus on critical thinking skills.
Parents of gifted children who have researched educational options will quickly see that these standards are comprehensive in their scope, yet broad enough to account for the many different profiles of gifted learners.
Briefly, the standards cover six programming areas:
Learning and Development
Curriculum Planning and Instruction
Hopefully, this has sparked your curiosity to consider utilizing this incredible resource. It is important to consider that although these standards were created in the U.S., they certainly constitute a viable option for gifted programming in any country and they are provided free for your use. Go take a look!