A bipartisan bill introduced on Friday in the U.S. Senate shifts the education debate in Washington, D.C., toward a focus on gifted, high-ability students—particularly those from low-income or minority backgrounds—who have been overshadowed in a federal educational system that concentrates on its struggling, low-achieving students.
This CEC-endorsed legislation, the To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers (TALENT) Act, which, by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), would provide teachers, school districts, and states with the support needed to better identify and serve students with gifts and talents through changes to assessment and accountability provisions, increased professional development, and the development and dissemination of evidence-based best practices in gifted education. Click here to urge your Senators to co-sponsor the TALENT Act!
“Too often, our society accepts the myths about students with gifts and talents, including that they will do fine on their own, even when research tells us the opposite is true,” Friend said. “The TALENT Act serves as a wake-up call to our nation and our educational system to recognize this forgotten student population.”
The TALENT Act, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Robert P. Casey (D-Pa.), expands the focus of the reauthorization of ESEA.
“America can no longer afford to ignore the needs of our brightest students and, by doing so, squander their potential,” said Senator Grassley. “Our legislation would make the modifications needed to federal education policy to develop and encourage the high achievement that’s possible for so many talented and gifted students and, in turn, enhance the future prosperity of our nation.”
Although there are approximately 3 million students identified as having gifts and talents in the United States, recent studies indicate an underrepresentation of students from low-income or minority backgrounds as top performers on statewide assessments and the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the Nation’s Report Card. Known as the “excellence gap,” this achievement discrepancy typically carries through a student’s educational career and beyond.
“Our nation must correct course and recognize that students with gifts and talents require a learning environment that is challenging and engaging,” said Dr. Cheryll M. Adams, President of The Association for the Gifted, a division of CEC. “Not only is this in the best interest of the student, but the development of future leaders is vital to our nation’s prosperity.”
The TALENT Act meets the needs of gifted and high-ability students in four key areas:
- Changes to Assessment and Accountability Systems: The TALENT Act would ensure that assessments more accurately measure the knowledge and skills of high-ability students and proposes changes to the accountability system to emphasize the highest performance levels.
- Increase in Professional Development: The TALENT Act recognizes the critical role of teachers as the catalyst for learning and academic growth and as such seeks to expand professional development opportunities in gifted education pedagogy for teachers nationwide.
- Focus on Underserved Populations: The TALENT Act responds directly to recent research demonstrating a growing “excellence gap” at the top achievement levels between students from low-income backgrounds and their more advantaged peers by emphasizing opportunities for students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from rural areas throughout the bill.
- Emphasis on Research and Dissemination: The TALENT Act recognizes that the expanding research in gifted education is the foundation for the success of our nation’s students with gifts and talents.