Questar Assessment The Bridge

Winter 2017

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Dear *|FNAME|*,

Welcome to The Bridge! Whether you’re a new subscriber, or a reader of our inaugural issue in November, we’re delighted you’re here today. When it comes to students with special needs, we often think only of children who struggle to keep pace with their peers. But what about the other end of the spectrum? The student whose early academic promise can quickly morph into boredom and disengagement, and who might never achieve their full potential if their abilities go unidentified and unchallenged? This issue focuses on identifying giftedness through assessment, and nurturing it through what Questar’s chief assessment officer, Katie McClarty, Ph.D. calls acceleration — a topic on which she is a leading authority. (She weighs in below.) Take a look and then please let us know what you think.. We welcome your feedback, as well as ideas for stories to cover in future editions.

Best regards,

Jamie Candee

Jamie Candee
President and CEO

Assessing Giftedness
Assessing Giftedness

In support of its sole mission to support the growth and development of gifted and talented children, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) advocates for the use of assessments to identify students for gifted programs, among other goals. NAGC's work is paying off, as some school districts are turning to universal screeners to identify giftedness in place of the more common referral process that has historically under-identified as gifted students in high-poverty schools.

If universal screening uncovers more gifted students than ever before, moral philosopher, James Flynn, would likely not be surprised. In his 2013 TedTalk, "Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents," he explains how the last century has altered our minds to deal with our increasingly complex world. (Although, before we get too smug, we need to note that he's not sure we're actually smarter.)

Accelerating the Gifted

Although there are different schools of thought about the role assessment should play in identifying gifted and talents students, the debate really heats up when the talk turns to what to do for these students once they’ve been identified. To accelerate or not to accelerate? That is the question.

Some argue against accelerating the gifted child at all. Yet, according to the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), gifted children make up five to seven percent of the total student population—and 75 percent of them receive little or no services at all. And without services like grade skipping and subject acceleration to help the gifted advance at a faster pace more natural to them, many believe they will having difficulties living up to their promise. Accounting for the realities of large class size, lack of funds, and more, IEA’s executive director, Elizabeth Jones, stresses the importance of acceleration at just the right pace for the individual child.

In spite of their limitations, public school districts across the country are finding creative ways to accelerate their gifted students. Take Paterson Academy for the Gifted and Talented, for example. More than 80 percent of this New Jersey magnet program enrollees are low-income, and all have been accelerated a grade level or more in math, language arts and science. And 13 high-poverty rural school districts in Virginia are experimenting with offering place-based lessons to engage their gifted students.

Dispensing with those realities, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case in his 2010 TedTalk, "Bring on the learning revolution!" for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning to nurture all students’ natural talents. Fusion Academy, a private alternative school for grades six–12 and with 37 campuses across the United States, is testing Robinson’s idea in real time. With a one-to-one student/teacher ratio, Fusion specializes in meeting the needs of students who have been identified as gifted, ADHA, dyslexic, and more. Their newest campus in Evanston, Illinois, will open in January 2017.

In Your Neighborhood

Feb. 22-25
Long Beach, CA
Visit Booth #201
National Title I Conference

Mar. 5-8
Scottsdale, AZ
ATP (Association of Test Publishers) Innovations in Testing Conference

Questar Corner

Katie McClarty, Ph.D.
Chief Assessment Officer

All students need challenging schoolwork and appropriate educational supports, including gifted and talented students. For many gifted children, acceleration is one way to provide that needed challenge. Although some raise concerns about the cost of providing additional services for high performing students, many forms of acceleration — such as grade skipping or single subject acceleration — can be implemented at little or no cost to the school. These practices can and should be available to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Moreover, decades of research support the practice, showing positive academic outcomes and no adverse social emotional outcomes. To read more about the types and impacts of acceleration, check out A Nation Empowered (which includes a chapter I authored on career outcomes for accelerated students) as well as a paper I published about high school and college outcomes, which recently received the 2015 paper of the year award from Gifted Child Quarterly.

Questar Assement
5550 Upper 147th Street West, Minneapolis, MN 55124
© 2017 Questar Assessment Inc. All rights reserved.

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