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Monthly Archives: October 2015

IQ testing vs. the CED model for identifying giftedness

In Yun Dai’s and Renzulli’s (Yun Dai & Renzulli, 2008) article, there are many salient points that explain the complicated nature of giftedness. Students who exhibit giftedness are complex with many competing needs that sometimes hinder or promote their success. Therefore, it is urgent to note these conflicting factors and to facilitate the students so that they can excel in school.

The metaphor of the gifted student being like a snowflake in the article does not go unnoticed. While there are many structural similarities between how different snowflakes develop from ice crystals and grow over time, each one is also very different in its eventual outcome. Along the same lines, one should not expect too much similarity in the way each student performs and grows. “Living systems share one thing in common with snowflakes: They self-assemble and self-organize” (Yun Dai & Renzulli, 2008, p. 115). In biology, this idea refers to the physical developments that make each person similar and yet unique, one can also extend it to the notion that our psychological and educational development is equally unique and individualized. Therefore, one should endeavor to differentiate for each child—including/especially gifted children—in order to match their learning preferences and developmental differences. As a result of this model for education in general, and giftedness specifically, it is important for teachers of gifted students to individualize their pedagogy and information to align with the student’s proclivity toward those items—as described by the authors—that fall into his/her maximal grip and personal interests. It is also important to realize that these things may change over time because “…manifested gifts and talents are emergent properties of person-task transactions over time” (Yun Dai & Renzulli, 2008, p. 116). That means that giftedness can appear over time in an area of strong interest and maximal grip and it may last for an undetermined period of time. Therefore, it is important to try and keep the incidence of such gifted learning engaging to get the most potential from the work. In the art room, for example, some students will experience a period of giftedness related to a specific topic or technique that they grasp more readily than other students. The difficulty for the teacher is sustaining the interest and supporting the growth over extended period of time to expand the skill to other areas of art.

One area where the article seems to be at variance with the Florida’s plan for educating gifted students is in the identification process. Florida states that IQ testing is the best, most unbiased method for determining giftedness and the eligibility for gifted programming in school (Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction Division of Public Schools, 2010). The report says that an IQ of 130 or higher, which is two standard deviations higher than average, is required for students to receive gifted services with some exceptions made available to the districts to include underrepresented populations (p. 7). Aside from the fact that this rule differentiates gifted qualification based on race and socioeconomic status, it is also a fundamentally incorrect way to look at giftedness if the goal is to help maximize the education process for students. According to Yun Dai and Renzulli (2008), the CED model proves that giftedness is not a static determination. People with similar IQ status have vastly different sub tests and therefore, different ranges of abilities in alternate content areas. In the CED model, the system is dynamic accounting that people perform differently based on task and learning environment; so, it is a more inclusive system where gifted traits can appear to almost any student in a particular topic or area of study rather than looking at the overall potential of the student. The authors do acknowledge that the different models are seeking different information. “In short, the CED model is more concerned with explicating developmental processes than with individual trait descriptions; the two may have differing theoretical interests and practical utilities (p.126). In the Florida model, the state is clear from the first page of the report that its goal and preoccupation is maximizing the number of higher proficiency scores in order to develop stronger “…interest for businesses hoping to expand or to relocate in the state” (Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction Division of Public Schools, 2010, p. 1). They see higher summative test scores as a way to lure business with the promise of a more talented potential employee pool than they are about actually maximizing the performance of gifted and talented students for the students’ own sake. There interest in the gifted population is as a means for increasing state revenues. That is unfortunate.

If the concern is about giving all students their best opportunity for expanding their individual potential for real learning, then the CED model will help describe how to maximize that potential. Rather than the memory-based learning that goes on in the typical classroom, all gifted and talented children—regardless of IQ—need to have the opportunity to do more creative and productive work. Yun and Renzulli (2008) write, “In the context of formal education, the tension between innovation and conventional expertise is the same as between schoolhouse giftedness and creative productive giftedness…there is no single benchmark, such as IQ, that can capture the complexity and diversity of the phenomena” (p. 125). In other words, giftedness is far more complex than a simple IQ test can determine. There needs to be other ways to educate children in more challenging and engaging environments for all abilities. Gifted education should be more about the style of teaching and learning than it is about the initial overall potential of each student.

References

Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction Division of Public Schools. (2010). Florida’s plan for K-12 gifted education. Tallahasee, FL: Florida Department of Education.
Yun Dai, D., & Renzulli, J. S. (2008). Snowflakes, living systems, and the mystery of giftedness. Gifted Child Quarterly , 52 (2), 114–130.

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Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Education, Gifted learning, Uncategorized

 

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Artistic talent and giftedness

As an art teacher, I have a special interest in those children who are showing signs of visual giftedness. In other words, these children—while possibly not identified as gifted via the typical testing and teacher identification modes—show exaggerated visual art development. As a result of these observations, some outside research was conducted to learn more about the visually talented group.

In Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, he claims that there are at least seven intelligences. They work together and they should all be regarded as equal to one another, including what he calls spatial intelligence, which is a synonym for artistic giftedness. According to Reis (n.d.), “Gardner believes that people are much more comfortable using the term ‘talents’ and that ‘intelligence’ is generally reserved to describe linguistic or logical ‘smartness’; however, he [Gardener] does not believe that certain human abilities should arbitrarily qualify as ‘intelligence’ over others” (para. 3). This is an important point as some students who are artistically gifted may not have the test scores in other areas, but would still benefit from gifted services. Yet, schools test for linguistic intelligence and computational/mathematical intelligence only while ignoring all of the other areas where a child’s intelligence and giftedness may be more prominent. Therefore, one could argue that possibly five out of seven children—corresponding to the five intelligences that are not tested—who have a gift are missing out on services due to the current mindset of education that puts a stronger value on math and language related intelligences.

Codd (2004) says that there are some important thinking skills that artistically gifted students have to offer. These skills include perceptual discrimination, metaperception, and creative interpretation. Perceptual discrimination helps a child pick out spatial relationships, textures, and color differences not normally perceived by others. Metaperception helps a thinker reason aesthetically to make qualitative decisions. Finally, creative interpretation provides the artistically gifted child with the ability to use his/her metaperceptive decisions in distinct and individualized ways. Being able to differentiate creatively helps one solve real world problems in new and inventive ways. Therefore, these qualities are essential to any gifted education model.

In conclusion, there are at least seven intelligences in which a person can be gifted that are all equally important for processing information. Yet, our current methodology for identifying and recommending students for gifted services typically focus on two of the seven. Visual-spatial intelligence is essential for the kinds of thinking that leads to new discovery aimed at solving real world problems. Therefore, it should be an essential part of any gifted identification and program implementation process.

References

Codd, M. (2004). Recognizing the child gifted and talented in visual art. Retrieved from Grown Minds: http://www.level7learning.org
Reis, S. M. (n.d.). Reflections on the education of gifted and talented students in teh twentieth century: Milestones in the development of talent and gifts in young people. Retrieved from Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/general/faculty/reis/Education_GT_Students_20th_Century.html

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Education, Gifted learning, Uncategorized

 

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RTI and giftedness

Based on the Coleman and Hughes (2009) article, the goal of their research was to find how/if giftedness is a forethought in the RtI model, or only an afterthought of the authors. Several RtI and MTSS websites don’t mention giftedness at all, and there are only a few references to a students’ strengths as opposed to a larger focus on the intervention for remediating weaknesses. This seems counterintuitive to the model itself.

For example, searching Florida’s MTSS guide (University of Southern Florida, n.d.) brings no mention of working from a student’s strengths, nor does it mention giftedness. While the first page of the guide emphasizes that MTSS is to benefit everyone saying, “’Need-driven’ decision-making seeks to ensure that district resources reach the appropriate students (schools) at the appropriate levels to accelerate the performance of ALL students to achieve and/or exceed proficiency” (p. 2), the emphasis is on proficiency, not potential. In other words, like in many other academic initiatives, the state is not looking to maximize a students learning ability or strengths. Rather, its goal is to ensure meeting the lowest common denominator standards for all students.

Perhaps that explains why the American Institutes for Research (McInerney & Elledge, 2013) only mentions the students’ strengths one time in the context of using them to meet minimum standards. Houston (2007) lists the focus on minimum standards as one of the seven deadly sins of the implementation of NCLB and subsequently IDEA. He writes, “Yet, the real winners in the coming competition between East and West will not be the nations that focus on basic skills, but those that cultivate high-level skills and ingenuity. In that regard, America has hand an edge for some time…[However] in our rush to build skills, we undermine our wisdom” (p. 748). In other words, it has been the gifted and talented that have helped America remain at the top of many categories in the world economy, but the focus on remediation and bring everyone to minimum standards has made programs like RtI and MTSS secondary thoughts for helping our gifted students thrive. Rather, the main objective is to ensure that the majority pass a summative test that is set to minimum standards. It is unfair to the gifted students and undermining the actual goals of education, which should be about giving all students a chance to achieve their maximum learning potential.

Fortunately, there are also reports that refocus RtI on gifted students to help find their needs and to maximize their learning potential. Hall, et al. (2009) explain that where RtI is about building upon the needs and strengths for all students, it specifically applies to the gifted population as follows, “In the world of gifted education, this refers to implementing and sustaining efforts which ensure our students have access to differentiated curriculum, flexible pacing, cluster grouping, acceleration and other universal interventions available to all students in the regular classroom” (p. 2).

It is in states like Montana—states that recognize the special needs of gifted students are equally important as those of the disabled and not just for a passing score on a standardized test that shows little about learning and more about training (Houston, 2007)—where the groundwork for using RtI to indicate gifted learning interventions can begin to flourish. These states recommend accounting for the percentage that understands the lesson the first time so that they don’t sit bored during a reteach. They write, “Students who score at the higher level of Tier 1 should be receiving instruction that will continue to keep them challenged” (Hall, et al., 2009, p. 4). This is left out of Florida’s manual and other similar guidebooks that do not really concern themselves with the needs of the gifted population through RtI and MTSS.

There is much more that can be done using tiered programs to explore how they can be implemented to assist in differentiating for the gifted, the twice exceptional, and the disabled student. The key is recognizing that the need on either end of the spectrum is equally important. More states should follow Montana’s lead and put out research-based materials that don’t ignore the needs of gifted students.

References

Coleman, M. R., & Hughes, C. E. (2009). Meeting the needs of gifted students within an RtI framework. Gifted Child Today , 32 (3), 14-17.
Hall, M., Poole, D., Rearden, M., Carlstrom, R., Smith, S., & Speaks, J. (2009). Response to intervention (RtI) and gifted and talented education (GT): All educators for all students. Montana Office of Public Instruction.
Houston, P. D. (2007, June). The seven deadly sins of no child left behind. Phi Delta Kappan , 744-748.
McInerney, M., & Elledge, A. (2013). Using a response to intervention framework to imorve student learning: A pocket guide for state and district leaders. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research.
University of Southern Florida. (n.d.). MTSS implementation components: ensuring common language and understanding. Retrieved from Florida’s multi-tiered system of supports: http://www.florida-rti.org

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Education, Gifted learning, Uncategorized

 

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Telescoping, accelerating, and compacting learning for gifted students

According to the West Virginia Department of Education (n.d.), telescoping “…involves a child – or preferably a group of children of the same age – to complete the school’s curriculum of several years in less time…the student does not skip any subject, but moves more rapidly through them” (para. 13). To do this, it appears that one must allow the children to work independently at a faster pace to learn the curriculum thereby freeing up more time to do enrichment projects. This is often combined with compacting to allow students to test out of material that they have already mastered. Together, it seems that the students can have more access to working in their specific areas of talent or those they are passionate about.

Rogers (2007) writes that subject-based curriculum compacting examples“…show substantial, positive academic effects in specific subject areas” (p. 386). This is an important consideration as to how one should differentiate for the academically advanced and artistically talented students. If, for example, a student retained information about a technique in the art room, s/he is likely bored when it is retaught in later years. Allowing for some acceleration to get the student past that already mastered topic will increase the time for actual art production that practices the use of the skill and builds on the prior learning. It can also free up some time for independent studies. “…independent study does have an impact on motivation to learn, and it is possible that with the appropriate structuring through the use of a curriculum model…that the independent skills learned through individual study will be transferable to other academic areas…” (Rogers, 2007, p. 386).

Accelerating, telescoping, and compacting are all ways that can be used to reduce the time that it takes to advance through a curriculum. Although some hesitate about using acceleration, the majority of the studies support its use. According to the Davidson Institute for Talent and Development (Assouline, Colangelo, Lupkowski-Shopik, Lipscomb, & Forstadt, 2003), when one looks at the related studies there is “…no basis for the generally negative perceptions held about acceleration” (para.6). Similarly, “Acceleration has been shown to be positive for both achieving and underachieving gifted learners…” (Ministry of Education, n.d., para. 6). Therefore, if one can find ways to allow the students more access to enrichment projects and independent study, the better the gifted child will respond to the curriculum.

Gifted students frequently find themselves bored in class. They deal with it in different ways. However, if the curricum can be accelerated to eliminate what they already know through compacting, accelerating them past what they have already mastered, and shrinking the time it takes to complete a subject through telescoping that would minimize the potenital boredom while allowing more time for enhanced and deepener learning. The research seems to support the use of these concepts with gifted students.

References

Assouline, S., Colangelo, N., Lupkowski-Shopik, A., Lipscomb, J., & Forstadt, L. (2003). Relevant educatoinal and spychological research. Retrieved from Davidson Institute for Talent Development: http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10257.aspx
Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Gifted education: A resource guide for teachers. Retrieved from British Columbia: https://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/gifted/strategies.htm
Rogers, K. (2007). Lessons learned about educating the gifted and talented: A synthesis of the research on educational practice. Gifted Child quaretrly , 51 (4), 382–396.
West Virginia Department of Education. (n.d.). WV gifted education guidelines. Retrieved from Special Education: https://wvde.state.wv.us/osp/giftedguidelines-5a.htm

 
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