Thursday, February 21, 2008

Powering Up for the Gifted Student

Apart from the controversy surrounding public school districts offering virtual education, via online courses, Stanford University has found another means to circumvent the public funding for online courses. Stanford offers a fee based program of online learning for gifted students looking for advanced work in the areas of math, physics, computer science, and writing. With the cutbacks in funding for gifted programs in public education, the Stanford model supplies one model for addressing needs to challenge our gifted students. According to an article in The Stanford Daily, Stanford University has reached over 60,000 students nationally through its K-12 gifted programs. Check out the program via the following article, and post your comments. How do you feel about private funding to cover gifted education? Will the growth of such programs further absolve public schools from meeting the needs of our gifted children as they find outlets elsewhere and pay for them? With the class divides keep the poor from receiving a gifted education once again? Check the article in the Stanford Daily by following the below link:

Education Program for Gifted Youth

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Lisa T. said...

In Connecticut, a school system is only responsible for identifying students as gifted, but not necessarily providing these students with special programming to meet their educational needs. Many gifted students develop school attendence and behavioral problems because they are not challenged enough in the regular classroom and act out because they are bored. Whereas the situation is entirely different in the cases of students with any other special educational needs, the state is mandated to provide services. This does not make sense to me. I feel that if a state does not provide the appropriate instruction to a student, then the public schools should pay for online programs. I don’t know about how the school budgets figures out how much a student costs to educate, but if gifted students isn’t getting their money’s worth, who’s to blame? Maybe online courses could be a way for public schools to meet the needs of the gifted. These courses should be provided for all gifted students not just the ones who can afford them.

Debbie said...

I agree with what Lisa T. said, though I have never thought of it this way. It does make sense for schools to provide for the education of gifted students...and I believe that is part of what is considered "special education" though often not tested for and diagnosed. In the case of a program like Stanford's it is critical to remember a point of the article: "In a virtual classroom, there is no instructor standing by to ensure that the work gets done, so students need a high level of self-discipline and organization to succeed." I know students who have gone through home school programs and in each case their success is determined by their motivation. In addition to motivation, students also need an education in time management skills so a course like this does not take away from their other studies. Whoever foots the bill for this opportunity should be prepared to monitor students' work closley (as with any online or distance learning course).

Tina Miller said...

I know for a fact that gifted students who are not provided with a challenge often act out or get bored or get in trouble. I agree with both Lisa and Debbie, in our exceptional adolescence class all students with special needs including those that were gifted were viewed under one umbrella. In order for these students to get what they truly deserve, if it means funding outside programs or creating their own programs, they deserve it. I would hate to think that some gifted child from Hartford didn't go to college because they were bored and not challenged so they gave up. In the article it also said that financial aid was provided. Wouldn't it be gfreat if some of our local colleges like UHart and UConn or even a community college could partner with schools and help our gifted students. Unfortunately here is another case where social economic class can define what's available. If school systems have concerns about the costs of virtual schools, maybe they need to look at the costs of creating alternative programs.

mary beth said...

The Wethersfield school system identifies gifted students in 4th grade based upon testing and teacher observations. They used to have a special program for these students from grade 4 to 8 but the funding dried up a few years ago. Instead, some students in middle school took high school classes in their gifted subjects. A bus would transport them back and forth during the school day. Once they entered high school, these students took advantage of AP level classes in high school and some were given the opportunity to leave school to attend college classes or magnet schools on a part-time basis. I'm not sure how this was funded, but it was my understanding that the school system was doing their best to accommodate the educational needs of these special students. I also know that the magnet schools in Hartford offer specialized programs in art and music and gifted students attend their home school in the morning and then are bussed to Hartford for the afternoon. I think each school system has a number of slots available for students to do this...I don't know if they limit the number. I guess my point is that some school systems do make an effort to accommodate students recognized as gifted, and they do so at the taxpayer's expense not the individual student's expense. I think these school systems would be interested in the Stanford model and would make a good faith effort to incorporate it for students who would benefit from it. MB

Margaret H. said...

I agree that schools need to provide students with special educational needs services but what about gifted students? They need services just as much as special education students. I thought that we were not supposed to leave any child behind. Not providing gifted students with resources to challenge them aren’t we leaving them behind?
In addition, if students are not being challenged then they may become a disciple problem. I know from experience I had a student who was in a lower level class then he should have been. During that class time he was a constant problem. He would distract other students in class from doing their work. I was able to move him up a level in class and then his disciple problems slowly went away. Since he needed to spend more time on his work he had less time to distract other students. Even though I know this student was not a gifted child I feel this could apply to students who are. Schools need to be able to provide for every student no matter what level of academics they need.

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