Sunday, October 28, 2012

Title I + Gifted Education=Partnership for Equity

Increasingly, gifted education scholars, school district administrators, and advocates are beginning to cross the aisle’ to seek out collaborative programming with organizations and agencies that will help to improve services to high potential students nationwide. The goal for many of these more recent collaboratives is to address the continuing ‘under-representation of children of color’ (primarily African American and Hispanic American) in gifted and advanced learner programs.

One of these potential school-based collaborative partners is Title I. Due to the increasing number of school children living in poverty conditions nationwide, every state has the potential to receive a share of Title I funding.  Poverty is a major impediment to school achievement in America today. The purpose of Title I funding is to bridge the ‘gap’ in resources between low income students and non low income students, thus- improving chances for school success. Annually over $14 billion is provided to school districts whose students are at risk of failure and living in poverty. Lack of understanding of culture and race and continuing discrimination in schools also remains a ‘major divide’ in schools relative to effective teaching and learning of culturally diverse high ability learners. (A future post will address the importance of RACE & CULTURE in serving Gifted children & youth).

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of Title I funding, is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach, at minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” Access to gifted and advanced learner instructional programs will enable students at Title I schools to perform these minimum standards and go beyond proficiency standards preparing them more readily for advanced coursework at the secondary level, and improve their chances of success in college and beyond. Instruction in gifted classrooms focuses more (than in the regular classroom) on higher level thinking skills, concept-based learning, problem-based learning, scientific thinking, literary analysis. Gifted programs are specificially designed to nurture curiosity, creativity, and ‘thirst for learning’ that high ability/gifted students bring to the classroom.  

This past May (2012), a group of experts, including scholars, program developers, and advocates of low income and culturally diverse gifted learners met together for two day Summit in DC at the invitation of the National Association of Gifted Children to discuss and develop solutions to the issue of national under-representation and lack of service to low income learners with high potential. A link to the recently released summit report is below. This problem has plagued our schools and the field of gifted education for far too long. Conversations continue as to the best solutions. Partnering with existing programs is one solution that should be considered.

Title I serves students are ‘at-risk’ for low educational performance for reasons beyond their control. They come from low socio-economic families; may live in single parent homes; some live in large, often multigenerational families; they may be first generation immigrants from economically disadvantaged homes; or be English Language Learners. These factors have little or nothing to do with a students’ capability for high intellectual performance. Numerous research studies have provided strong evidence of the potential for students from all backgrounds to demonstrate high cognitive abilities, leadership capacity, creative ability, and extraordinary compassion and sensitivity for others (see Olszewski-Kubilius & Clarenbach and VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh  below)
As a local district coordinator of gifted services a few years ago, I forged a partnership w/ the Title I department in order to address the issue of under-representation. The first challenge was to provide evidence of the presence of high potential students in Title I schools. In short order, I was able to review district wide test score data and located a number of students with subtest scores and comprehensive ability scores on nationally standardized tests were well within the range considered for placement in gifted programs (90-99th %ile).  Over time,  we were able to successfully forge a partnership with Title I, increase access to enrichment programming to Title I students, provide professional development  for Title I schools, and formally identify an increased number of Title I students as gifted, providing access to existing services and special schools.

Many districts are using this Title I/Gifted Education Partnership model to DIRECTLY ADDRESS UNDER-REPRESENTATION IN THEIR SCHOOLS, some are targeting specific populations who are under-represented in certain programs. More girls for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math programming, more Black males in gifted programs overall, more Hispanic/ELLs in AP courses, etc. The strategy chosen will vary based on needs of the district. This model is one solution to the problem of under-representation, there are more to be considered.
Want to demonstrate that your district is seriously concerned about addressing under-representation in gifted education?
~Form a partnership with the Title I department, and develop targeted services for Title I schools, break the old ‘deficit perspective’ of students in poverty, and you are very likely to not only increase the numbers of African American, Hispanic, first generation immigrant children, and low income learners identified as gifted you are also likely to help the district  improve overall student performance for many years to come.
For more details on Title 1, see:
U.S. Department of Education. Title 1: Improving the Academic Achievement of the disadvantaged.

Other Resources, Related News Stories:

Montgomery County Schools, MD. Allocates part-time position for G/T teacher in Title I schools

Taylor, K. (2008) Poverty’s multiple dimensions. Journal of Educational Controversy

Summit Reports:

Olszewski-Kubilius, P. & Clarenbach, J. (2012). Unlocking  Emergent Talent: Supporting High Achievement of Low Income, High Ability Learners. Publication of the National Association for Gifted Children.

VanTassel-Baska, J. & Stambaugh, T. (Eds) (2007) Overlooked Gems: A National Perspective on Low Income Promising Learners. A Joint Publication of the National  Association for Gifted Children and The Center for Gifted Education, College of William & Mary


  1. I enjoyed your post. I hope that, in addition to partnering with Title I colleagues to find and support more high ability students, that some of the pedagogy of talent development can infiltrate programs for all Title I students. I think there's a growing body of evidence that suggests that talent development oriented interventions could give many of these students a bigger boost than interventions that are almost exclusively "remedial" in focus.

  2. Eric,
    I totally agree. The talent development model is very beneficial to all children. Thanks so much for the feedback! All the best,

  3. Eric,
    I totally agree. The talent development model is very beneficial to all children. Thanks so much for the feedback! All the best,

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