Gifted Education – Federal level

Even though the United States has a federal definition of gifted students, there is no federal-level mandate to identify gifted students and place them in gifted programs. As a result each state has its own rules about gifted education.

Despite no mandate, in 2008 there are federal funds for gifted programs through the Javits Grant, “available to institutions of higher education (IHEs), local education agencies (LEAs), nonprofit organizations, other organizations and/or agencies, and state education agencies (SEAs).”

As the Javits Grant web site states “The purpose of this program is to carry out a coordinated program of scientifically based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities designed to build and enhance the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special education needs of gifted and talented students. The major emphasis of the program is on serving students traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient (LEP), and disabled students, to help reduce the serious gap in achievement among certain groups of students at the highest levels of achievement.”

The National Association for Gifted Children is rallying the gifted community to contact their state representatives and senators to support funding for the 2009 Javits program because, “as he did seven times before, President [Bush] has requested $0 for the Javits program in his Budget Request to the Congress.” NAGC also has a web site showing which representatives and senators have already co-signed the letters requesting $11.25 Million for the Javits Program in fiscal year 2009.

By the way, no Javits grant competition was held in 2007 and 2006 due to lack of funds.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Education received 140 applications for the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program and funded 14 Priority Two grants totaling approximately $3.5 million.

In 2004, due to limited funding in 2004, no Javits grant competition was held and the funding was distributed among high quality proposals that were submitted in 2003

And in 2003, the Department received 105 applications for the Javits competition and funded two Priority One and five Priority Two awards totaling $8.17 million.

Most of the grants were awarded either to state departments of education or universities and colleges that train teachers to specialize in gifted education. Very few school districts received federal funding.

I was a bit jealous to find that the GATE program at the Davis Joint Unified School District in California – one of the school districts that received federal grants –offers self-contained classes for gifted children. (The program’s site includes the district’s restructured standards specifically for the GATE program.)

I also liked the Gifted Programs page of the Page Unified School District in Page, Arizona, which offers “enriched curriculum with the flexible grouping of students […] to facilitate differentiated instruction.”

From among the districts that received federal funds, the closest one to where we live – the Nashua, NH School District – does not seem to have a link straight from their home page to their “REACH: Recognizing Extraordinary Abilities in Children” program site.

According to another page I found through the search engine, in 2007-2008 school year 618 students participated in the REACH program and the district is planning to allocate $335,099 to REACH in 2008-2009 FY. (see page 4 of the document).

I could not find much detailed information about the program on the REACH site. It seems students identified as gifted “have their needs met through accommodations proscribed within individual action plans (IAPs)”, which sounds very much like the Individual Education Plans (IEPs) used in Special Education. But it’s not clear from the information posted whether the program is self-contained, or offers pull-out, or simply provides differentiates instruction within a heterogenic classroom.

Either way, it’s not our district, so our son cannot attend that program.

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