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Texas: Ahead or behind other states in gifted education?

November 23, 2009

Despite a need for some improvements, a new nationwide survey has found that Texas makes one of the strongest commitments of any state to meet the needs of its estimated 356,000 gifted students.

Two major factors for Texas’ success are state funding to local districts and regional education service centers to support gifted education and teacher training, and strong language in its definition of giftedness that all school districts must follow. Texas leads the nation in spending at $91 million for educating gifted children in 2008-2009, but spends less per capita than states such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Iowa. Likewise, Texas proves among the best examples for identification of giftedness among minorities and limited English-language students. New legislation passed this year will create new evaluation standards, which will help improve consistency among the programs of Texas’ nearly 1100 school districts.

Texas’ investment in gifted and talented students comes at a time when many other states are providing reduced or minimal support or, in more than a quarter of all states, providing no support at all.

“We are pleased that there has been continued legislative support for gifted education,” said Tracy Weinberg, Associate Director of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. “However, there is still room for improvement, particularly in regards to accountability. There is no guarantee that all school districts are in compliance with state laws regarding identification and services for gifted students.”

The findings are reflected in the 2008-2009 State of the States Report in Gifted Education by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, which was released on November 12, 2009. Overall, the report finds a fragmented collection of policies and practices supporting gifted students that vary greatly between states and local districts and that are almost universally underfunded and under-resourced.  Nearly half of all states provided no funding for gifted students during the last school year, and most high-ability students are taught by teachers with little to no training in gifted education, the report concludes.

“At a time when other nations are redoubling their commitment to their highest potential students, the United States continues to neglect the needs of this student population, a policy failure that will cost us dearly in the years to come,” said Dr. Ann Robinson, President of the National Association for Gifted Children and Director of the Center for Gifted Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“The solution to this problem must be a comprehensive national gifted and talented education policy in which federal, state, and local districts work together to ensure all gifted students are identified and served by properly trained teachers using appropriate curriculum,” Robinson added.

The ramifications of the nation’s underinvestment in gifted education is evidenced in many areas including continued underperformance on international benchmarks, particularly in math, science, and engineering, and in the shortage of qualified workers able to enter professions that require advanced skills.

“We are very proud of the progress we have made, and will continue to advocate for gifted children until every district in the state provides exemplary gifted and talented programs,” said Dr. Cecelia Boswell, President of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.

One Comment leave one →
  1. cgaregister permalink
    December 1, 2009 12:36 am

    Alright Texas, get ‘er done!

    Leaders lead. Texas must step up – especially in funding! Call your Texas legislators. North Texans should know that HOUSTON legislators are writing the gifted bills and amendments. Come on NORTH TEXAS – GET INVOLVED! Call YOUR representatives – let them know how much you appreciate that TEXAS is a leader in Gifted Ed! Check the state by state comparison map at http://www.davidsongifted.org/

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