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Current legislation concerning the allocation of funds within an educational system has led to a shortage of funds for gifted education programs. The legislation, name "No Child Left Behind" is arguably leaving gifted students behind by cutting the funds for programs that allow them to succeed at their full potential. Approximately one and a half million students are not challenged by the regular education curriculum (Jerome). In addition, roughly forty percent of gifted students do not succeed to their full potential (Jerome). Since No Child Left Behind concentrates on bringing all students up to standard, there was little room for promoting excellence among gifted students that were already achieving on grade level.
Students with gifted capabilities at all levels learn differently from other students without gifted capabilities. In comparison, gifted students have a high self-confidence, strong desire for leadership positions, and high energy levels (Marvin W. Berkowitz* and Mary Anne Hoppe). Because of the differences between students with gifted abilities and regular education students, gifted students require individualized instruction to succeed at the higher level they are capable of achieving on. However, since "No Child Left Behind" legislation was passed, funding for such gifted programs has declined (Amsterdam's News). Because of the decrease in funding, Jerome argues that "gifted students may just be among the most underserved students in the nation" (Jerome).
Students with gifted abilities are a special population within the general education programs. However, despite the exceptional needs of these students, there are no legal requirements dictating the amount of funding provided for meeting the needs of these students. There are also no funding mandates allocated for serving gifted students (Jerome). Because of the lack of funding, the most able students are not being education to their full potential. Because of the leadership desire and strong self-confidence that is common among gifted students, they will inevitable become leaders within this country (Jerome). Educating the future leaders of the country should be a priority; however, there is a lack of funding to adequately provide this opportunity to gifted students across the nation (Jerome).
As quoted by Jerome, the three main issues regarding gifted education programs that developed as a result of the "No Child Left Behind Act" are:
(1) the end of supportive funding;
(2) few or no legislated mandates for gifted education;
(3) NCLB focused on bringing up the bottom rather than raising the top
The "No Child Left Behind Act" led to higher spending for education, but did not allocate money for gifted programs (David Institute for Talent Development). With the understanding that students cannot learn unless they are being taught new material, the lack of funding for gifted programs directly effects the achievement of gifted students. According to Jerome, "No Child Left Behind means no child can move ahead". President Obama is currently attempting to combat this issue by creating legislation that calls for increased funding for schools and accountability from teachers of gifted students. Increased awareness of the importance of gifted education could lead to increased spending to fund gifted programs. Understanding teacher attitudes towards the importance of gifted education could become beneficial to those allocating funds for education.
For the purposes of this study, factors that may affect a teacher's view on the importance of gifted education include years of teaching experience, level of a teacher's education, a teacher's exposure to gifted educational programs, the subject a teacher teaches, the grade level a teacher teaches, the perceived behavior of gifted education students, the perceived benefit of gifted education, the individual use of gifted programs within his or her classroom, and the number of gifted students he or she has taught. Each of these factors will be compared with the overall importance of gifted education as indicated by a teacher.
Years of teaching experience
One of the differing factors from one teacher to another is the number of years of teaching experience he or she possesses. This particular factor may influence attitudes about gifted education because experience as a teacher often times affects viewpoints on various aspects related to teaching. Teachers with more experience may have more exposure to gifted programs and may be more able to assess the importance of such programs.
A teacher's educational degree
Another varying factor between teachers is the level of degree each one has obtained. Different teachers have obtained different degrees - bachelors, masters, specialists, and doctoral degrees. The level of education a given teacher has obtained may influence the way he or she views gifted education. Those that have obtained higher degrees may view gifted education as a higher priority because of their personal strides toward higher education. In addition, those with lesser degrees may not see the importance of pushing one-self to optimal achievement - achievement that could be brought on by participating in gifted education programs.
A teacher's exposure to gifted programs
The relationship between the importance of gifted education programs and the exposure a teacher has had to such programs could provide information that can be helpful to the implementation of additional programs in school districts. According to Henley, programs for gifted education have been limited, altered, or eliminated across the nation. This leads to a decline in overall teacher exposure to such programs (Henley). This decline in exposure could affect teachers' views on the importance of gifted education.
The type of subject a teacher teaches
Different teachers teach a variety of subjects ranging from the arts to science with computer applications, English, physical education, math, and history falling in the mix. In some areas, certain subjects are tested more heavily than others. Some subjects are even given mandated tests distributed by state authorities that could determine if a student is able to graduate or move on to the next grade. Such high stakes testing mandated by outside authorities for certain subjects could influence the way teachers of those subjects view gifted education programs, specifically pull-out programs that remove gifted students from the classroom for given amounts of time. In addition, high stakes testing mandated for certain subjects also focuses on bringing up the low-scoring students instead of promoting excellence among the top scoring students. In doing so, gifted students are often times not considered as a top priority for teachers of those subjects (Henley). This could lead to a decline in teachers' views of the importance of gifted education.
The grade level a teacher teaches
6) To determine the relationship between the perceived behavior of gifted students and the views of the importance of gifted education.
Eddles-Hirsh - Cross hypothesized that behavioral changes were due largely to the gifted children's frustration at being continually forced to adhere to a curriculum well below their developmental levels. Although time spent in the mixed-ability classroom was frustrating and stressful for many of the Brandon School participants, the majority looked forward to the weekly challenging activities offered in the pull-out program.
My words - Add this variable - Do students that you identify as gifted or above average learners behave in a unacceptable manner when they are bored or unchallenged by the work?
Marvin W. Berkowitz* and Mary Anne Hoppe - In reality, they are often bored and can become unruly if not challenged with appropriate work and stimulation Furthermore, such students often need challenge lest they become bored and then act out, entering a downward cycle of school failure.
7) To determine the relationship between the perceived benefit of gifted education and the views of the importance of gifted education.
Eddles-Hirsh - All 9 of the Westwood School participants believed that the opportunity to work with like-ability peers had increased their academic growth. These participants also described supportive relationships with their teachers, with 7 of the participants perceiving that they could rely on their teachers for emotional support. Six of these participants additionally believed that teachers went out of their way to encourage collaboration and student autonomy in the classroom.
8) To determine the relationship between the use of gifted accessible programs in their classroom and the views of the importance of gifted education.
Gifted students prefer bright light for working environments.
They dislike noise, warm environments, and mobility.
They are motivated, persistent, and responsible.
They thrive on challenging tasks, they like product-oriented tasks.
Gifted students should have an individualized education plan (similar to those with Learning Disabilities)
Students discouraged from gifted education because of the desire to keep mean test scores high in a given district.
"But this practice alienates neighborhood school principals and teachers. Worried that scores will drop if their cream is skimmed off, some educators discourage their best students from leaving, either by failing to nominate them for gifted programs, or by telling parents their children would be better off in the neighborhood schools."
Vaughn (Ashley's Article)
"The effectiveness of various types of programs for gifted learners is of great concern to parents, educators, and funding agencies"
pull-out programs can produce significant learning among gifted youth.
Pull-out provide a radical departure from the everyday, regular curricula in which student interests are often not taken into consideration
Henley - 3. Gifted children were missing their gifted education classes so they could be included in test preparation. Thus, pullout programs, which may have been the only services for the gifted, were being eliminated.
One might speculate that gifted learners have always been overlooked and viewed as unimportant. Yet, evidence mounts (Gentry, 2006; Mendoza, 2006) that NCLB has increased the lack of attention given to this population.
9) To determine the relationship between the number of gifted students teachers have taught and the views of the importance of gifted education.
Golden - Gifted students are no longer a focus group.
10) Are gifted students challenged in the regular classroom?
Researchers have suggested that many gifted students do not have their learning needs met in the typical classroom and rarely experience academic challenge, which does not bode well for their involvement in the academic talent development process (Archambault et al., 1993; Gross, 2004).
Gates - These children may be gifted in a specific area but struggle in others. Too often educators assume that the child who exhibits giftedness can learn in any environment, and therefore they conform the environment and teaching to those students most in need of help. Those students who need the most assistance are relegated to a remedial education, whereas those who have the highest potential either work alone or in an environment that does not stimulate them and meet their needs
Mooij - they found an immense gap between the curricula for gifted learners and the learning needs of such learners.
Marvin W. Berkowitz* and Mary Anne Hoppe
Such opportunities are also forms of curricular enrichment, which in turn helps prevent the boredom of gifted students when limited to the same curriculum as other students