Rethinking Gifted Education

Gifted education is a broad term to describe programs and practices used in the education of students who demonstrate exceptional abilities to learn or reason. Currently, more than 3 million students are enrolled in gifted programs nationwide. But gifted programs may not be the best learning environment for some students, according to a new study. 

A new study contradicts the popular theory that students perform better when surrounded by higher-achieving classmates. Researchers found that marginal students enrolled in gifted programs performed no better on national tests compared to their peers who were not enrolled in the program.

In the study, researchers focused on students in 5th grade. They examined more than 14,000 standardized test scores in math, science, reading, social studies, and language.

They included students who barely qualified for gifted education by meeting a certain threshold based on past academic performance.  And then compared their test scores to students who failed to meet the qualifications for a gifted program. In other words, these two groups were very similar academically.

The findings revealed no improvements in students’ test scores who were enrolled in gifted programs compared to the non-qualifying students.

The researchers conclude that having students learn alongside academically stronger peers does not necessarily mean they are going to perform better. 

Parents may want to do some of their own independent research before enrolling their student in a gifted program and consider any associated cost or inconvenience. Each child’s learning style is unique – ‘gifted’ or not – and the learning environment is equally important for a child.

StepUp Summary

StepUp programs teach students to take personal responsibility for their learning. Teaching academic skills is just not enough, in order to become independent learners students need to learn skills with speed, that is fluency. Fluency allows students to retrieve information effortlessly because it comes from memory. Our home and school programs engage students in activities that have repetitive visual, auditory, and motor patterns which drive anticipation and fluency. 

 Watch this video to see StepUp to Learn in action!


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