May 28th, 2012

Massachusetts Ranks at Bottom for Funding Advanced Learning

In the Milford Daily News, Scott O’Connell reports on the dire lack of Massachusetts statewide funds to support students with advanced learning needs — “Gifted Education Funding Falling Short on High Achievers”.  Here are some excerpts:

Often misunderstood because of its name, gifted and talented education is essentially a kind of special education for students who fall on the opposite end of the learning spectrum. Like special education students, gifted learners have different needs from the typical student, Modest said.

……Many districts aren’t adequately providing for those separate needs, said Framingham State University professor Loretta Holloway, a member of the state’s Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Council.

“Repeatedly teachers are saying they’re getting pushed back from doing something different for these kids,” she said.

The latest solution proposed by the advisory council, which held its last meeting of the fiscal year this past Wednesday, is to insert advanced learning requirements into the state’s new teacher evaluation system. That would at least give some direction to districts in a state that doesn’t even have an official definition for gifted and talented education, Holloway said.

……In Marlborough, the School Department is starting a new gifted and talented initiative in the fall that will take a cluster model approach to teaching advanced learners, in which all the advanced learners are put in the same classes, to make it easier for teachers to address them specifically.

……“We need to study whether the ‘advanced’ group, who may be years above grade level in achievement in at least one area of concentration, are sufficiently challenged in that area,” she said. “If under-stimulated, this group is prone to underachievement, depression and, in the worst-case scenario, high school dropout status.”

The complete article by Scott O’Connell is here.

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