A Good Day For Gifted Education Advocates

Today marks an important milestone in gifted education advocacy.

The Congressional conference committee appointed to work out differences between the House and Senate-passed versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reached agreement on a bill that could go to the president before the end of the year. 

For the first time, the needs of gifted and talented students are included in the teacher training provisions of the bill (Title II).  For example, states will be required to include in their plans a description of how they will use the Title II professional development funds to improve the teaching skills of school professionals in identifying the specific learning needs of gifted students and in tailoring academic instruction to those needs.  Also, school districts that receive Title II funds will be required to address the learning needs of students who are gifted and talented. 

Another first-time provision, that Title I funds may be used to identify and support low-income gifted and talented students, is a potential game-changer for high-ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Two other important provisions NAGC sought to include in ESEA made it through the committee.  State and local report cards must now include disaggregated student achievement data at EACH level of achievement and the Javits Gifted Students program was retained in ESEA after being eliminated in the House version of the bill. 

The new provisions in ESEA came directly from the TALENT Act, legislation that our community wrote about to their Members of Congress and that so many state leaders spoke about in Congressional office visits over the past several years.  These efforts paved the way for further conversations and support in both the House and Senate. 

These new requirements in ESEA provide advocates opportunities to educate and advocate so that states and districts are able to implement these provisions as effectively as possible.  The new data requirement on the state report cards will help us make the case that we are leaving many high-ability students behind; the Javits research will continue to inform us about best classroom practices; and the Title II requirements will help move the needs of gifted students onto the agenda in all districts, many of which have not before offered professional learning on the topic.

Thank you to the entire gifted education community that has worked alongside NAGC and our Congressional champions to ensure that ALL teachers are better able to understand high-ability students and to develop numerous strategies to support their learning needs. 

It was a good day, indeed.


NOTE:  The final bill, which included all the gifted education provisions described above, became law on December 10, 2015.  View more resources about the Every Student Succeeds Act