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Illinois Association for Gifted Children
If your child has been identified as “gifted” --perhaps to qualify for advanced programs in school or outside enrichment programs -- summer is a great time to explore your school, community, and the Internet to learn more about the academic and social-emotional needs of gifted children. The Illinois Association for Gifted Children website page “I Just Learned My Child is Gifted” includes several helpful resources about meeting the needs of gifted learners. Also, the National Association for Gifted Children website offers a wealth of resources related to meeting the needs of gifted learners, including a page related to potential Social and Emotional needs.
Summer also offers an opportunity to explore your community for resources (e.g. museums, music programs, libraries, weekend enrichment/summer programs) that offer enrichment experiences and/or learning opportunities for your child. You may consider attending conferences such as the Northwestern Center for Talent Development’s Annual Family Conference that will take place on the Northwestern University Evanston campus on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Also, mark your long term 2019-20 calendar for the 2020 IAGC Sliver Conference to take place February 6-8, 2020.
If your child has not yet entered kindergarten, take some time to learn about programs for high ability students in your school district. In addition to your school or district website, the Illinois School Report Card site is one place where you can find out about your child’s academic programs and enrichment opportunities for high ability students. (For the 2018-2019 school year and after, the Illinois Report Card Act requires schools to report information about gifted programming, the number of students served, the percent of teachers with gifted training, and growth data for high achieving students.)
Acceleration is one intervention you may wish to discuss with your child’s teacher or your school principal. “Acceleration” is when a student moves through the academic curriculum at a younger age or a faster rate than typical students. Evidence shows that acceleration is an intervention that benefits high ability learners. (The University of Iowa’s Acceleration Institute website includes a variety of resources and information about acceleration and its benefits.)
Under the Illinois Acceleration Act, districts must have policies for early entrance to kindergarten and first grade, grade level acceleration, and acceleration in individual subjects. Your child’s school district should have information available about its acceleration policy and identification procedures for placement. The decision about whether acceleration is best for your child must involve parents and be based upon a variety of factors--not just a single test. Also, school districts need to notify parents of any accelerated placement decision with respect to their child.
Finally, when school begins this fall, make an appointment with your child’s classroom teacher to discuss your child’s learning needs. Your child’s teacher should be able to explain what types of differentiation and enrichment are available in the classroom, as well as provide information about what programs the school has to meet the needs of gifted learners. It may be helpful to ask-- “What programming/curriculum best meets my child’s needs?” Students may be gifted in different areas, so the best program may be different for each child. Your child’s teacher may also offer guidance about extracurricular and enrichment opportunities at the school designed to meet the needs of gifted/high ability learners.
As a parent, you are your child’s most influential teacher, and play a vital role in supporting your gifted child on his or her personal and academic journey. We hope that you will discover resources, build networks, and make friendships through the IAGC to help you along the way!
-Patricia Steinmeyer (IAGC Education Committee, Co-Chair)
Your Participation is Needed Now!
This blog has been updated to reflect the online survey whose format is somewhat different than the downloaded survey.
The Illinois State Board of Education is currently asking for input on proposed changes to Illinois’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. The proposed amendment will guide how public schools across the state are evaluated and rated as well as establish priorities and support for school improvement.
Illinois’ ESSA Plan is available online. Proposed changes to the plan begin on page 47 of the document at https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ESSA-Amendment1-20190422.pdf . Several potential ESSA Plan changes could significantly impact educational opportunities for gifted and advanced students. Some of our members have spoken to these changes at the recent ISBE listening tour meetings across the state. Now we are asking our members to complete an online survey on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website, https://www.isbe.net/Pages/ISBE-ESSA-Amendment-Feedback.aspx
IAGC’s participation in similar ISBE requests for comment has had a positive impact. Please consider IAGC’s positions as you take a few minutes to complete the online survey:
Question #1: Should the weighting of academic indicators remain at 75%?
Question 1: What are indicators for a well-rounded education?
Question 1: What should be the testing policy for newly arrived English learners?
Fourth Page: Summative Designations
Question 1: Should ISBE change the number of summative designation categories?
Question 2: Should ISBE change the names of the summative design categories?
IAGC has not taken a position on preferred naming of the designation categories. However, we believe that earning the highest designation should require schools to demonstrate growth of students across the achievement continuum and progress toward closing disparities among racial and economic subgroups in the percentage of students participating in enrichment and accelerated learning options and reaching the highest achievement levels.
Once you have completed the ISBE ESSA survey, please also take a moment to forward this email to colleagues, relatives, and neighbors who care about ensuring that high-ability students in all Illinois communities can develop their talents.
Thank you in advance for speaking up for high-ability students!
ISBE is holding a listening tour regarding changes to the Illinois ESSA plan. See the meeting schedule below. We urge IAGC members to attend a meeting and voice support for keeping the proposed weighting of the Academic Indicator (75%) and Student Success Indicator (25%) for evaluating schools.
We encourage members to inquire:
The 2019 Support and Accountability Listening Tour will include the following stops:
Is My Child Gifted?
“My child seems to learn new things quickly. Is my child gifted?”
Some children quickly learn to read or write. Others excel at solving problems and puzzles. Still others have outstanding athletic or creative talent. Giftedness comes in many forms, and it blossoms among all demographic groups, cultures, and personality types. “Twice exceptional” children may have special learning needs or disabilities and also demonstrate giftedness in other areas.
One of the challenges for determining whether a child is “gifted” is the lack of a common definition or metric. In some states, such as Illinois, “giftedness” in mathematics and language arts has been defined as the “top 5% locally” (Illinois School Code,105 ILCS 5/14A-20). The top 10% locally or nationally is another commonly accepted benchmark for giftedness.1 And when it comes to school districts, designating which students are labeled “gifted” can vary. For example, students who are in the top 10% on a nationally normed test may not be in the top 10% of students scores for the same test in a high performing district. Conversely, some schools may have a very small percentage of students who score in the top 10% nationally. Accordingly, a child who is labeled “gifted” in one district may not be labeled “gifted” in another.
Schools have different protocols for identifying giftedness, but there is no “one test” that is determinative. Multiple measures such as ability tests, achievement tests, classroom observations, student work products, and teacher/parent/student ratings of gifted characteristics are some common measures used to identify gifted children.
It is generally understood that a child who is “gifted” demonstrates abilities and talents that are well beyond what is expected for his or her age group. Gifted children exhibit “asynchronous” development, and may show abilities far beyond their same-aged peers. If you suspect that your child is gifted, you may want to do some background reading about high ability children, observe your child at home, and talk with your child’s teacher(s) about your child’s experience in the classroom. Is there are particular area that interests your child? Does your child have abilities or strengths that are beyond what you observe are typical for a child of the same age? Is your child curious, always asking questions, highly observant, or imaginative? The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has an informative webpage about characteristics of gifted children: NAGC: Common Characteristics of Gifted Children.
Ultimately, given the diverse ways that giftedness manifests itself and differences in identification protocols, the question “is my child gifted?” may lack a definitive answer. But the inquiry prompts further questions that may be even more pertinent to a child’s growth:
As parents explore these questions, the Illinois Association for Gifted Children (“IAGC”) provides a wealth of resources, and encourages and welcomes parents along the journey. We hope that you will join us!
-Patricia SteinmeyerIAGC Education Committee, Co-Chair
1. The National Association for Gifted Children. website. "What is Giftedness?" http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/what-giftedness
All members are invited to join us for the Spring Committee and Board Meetings on May 4, 2019. Committee meetings are scheduled from 10 AM - Noon. The Board meeting begins promptly at 1 PM. We welcome your participation in any or all events! Please register via the links on the left-hand side of this page. If you would like to attend via GoToMeeting, please contact Diane Beedy via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura LaSalle, Concordia University, provides rationale for supporting gifted learners
Although the weather outside is frightful, we hope you can join us inside for the warmth of collegiality and professional learning at the 24th Annual Conference this week. Be safe and join us when you can.
Call: 847-963-1892 (Leave a message - Extension 1)
Plan your day(s) of attendance at the 24th Annual IAGC Conference by reviewing the program book and strand sheet ahead of your arrival.
2019 Conference Program
2019 Conference Sessions by Strand
Tamra Stambaugh joins Illinois educators to share her expertise in supporting advanced learners at the IAGC Conference on January 31 and February 1. Get a sneak peak of her upcoming presentations here.
As educators, we have a lot to balance. Our students come to us with a wide range of abilities that require differentiation as well as a range of social-emotional needs that may inhibit their academic learning. The research on talent development and the development of expertise clearly outline that while ability matters, other non-cognitive and affective factors are also important in the development of talent. In fact, several studies have shown that skills such as perseverance, healthy risk taking and goal setting, a learning-focused mindset, motivation, opportunity, and strong psychological strength may differentiate the level of attainment among those individuals of equal ability. Students need to develop these affective skills just as much as they need to develop expertise in a content area such as English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, or the arts.
So how do we teach the academic standards necessary, differentiate for a wide range of ability levels, and support our students’ social-emotional development? The development of expertise and the development of affective needs are not polar opposites, but go hand in hand. We can provide challenging academic opportunities using curriculum frameworks and resources so that students are not only exposed to accelerated and enriched curriculum but also understand the effort, perseverance, and pride that comes with achievement. If students are reading about an event in history, some students might examine that event through the lens of economics while others are ready to examine the event by studying how the event precipitated by the interaction of economics and geography. We can also combine academic content standards – especially in English Language Arts - with social-emotional skill development. For example, students might read a biography and outline text features and evidence that support a main idea while also learning how the individual dealt with adversity or developed skills to promote their achievement. Students can also read fictional stories and apply the themes or character trait analysis as outlined in the text to their own lives.
But how do we find the time to do this? Curriculum frameworks provide a guide for differentiating instruction, equalizing opportunities for students, and combining social-emotional needs with content standards. I hope you will join me for discussions and practice applying evidence-supported frameworks found in the new Affective Jacob’s Ladder resources and the content-based curriculum from the Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth to your own classroom lessons content. Learn strategies to simultaneously support the social emotional and cognitive development of your academically advanced students as you continue to differentiate instruction for them.
See you soon!
What is your school district doing to provide talent development opportunities for underserved high-ability learners? Read this preview of the upcoming IAGC Conference presentation on Young Scholars by Kirsten Maloney, K-12 Advanced Academic Programs Coordinator, Fairfax County Public Schools here.
The number of minority and low-income students continues to rise in the U.S., and yet these subgroups continue to be underrepresented in gifted programs. Drawing on such a small fraction of both background and number of students is not only a social equity issue, but also one that disadvantages economic prospects for our communities and our country as a whole. Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) framework for closing the achievement gap includes six drivers. The Young Scholars model is included as a strategy in our access to rigor driver to promote talent development and bring together multiple critical elements to address excellence gaps in gifted education.
I have worked with the Young Scholars model as a teacher leader, as an educational specialist in central office, and most recently as the K-12 coordinator of advanced academic programs in FCPS, a large school district in northern Virginia. Most recently, our team has used the model’s many entry points to facilitate school leaders’ reflection and goals setting for continuous improvement in the areas of access, opportunities, and achievement for students traditionally underserved in gifted programs. We have also focused on vertical articulation to ensure efforts to develop student potential in the primary grades continue in a strategic way as students enter secondary school and enroll in advanced coursework.
My presentation will focus on the components of the model, professional development opportunities for teachers, and school examples of how goal setting has influenced teacher mindsets and efficacy.
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The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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