The role of the principal

What message about gifted and talented learning does the principal of your school send?

At the most recent Baltimore County Board of Education meeting on January 9, 2018, our presentation to the Board centered around the very important role that principals play in advocating for, and assuring equal opportunity to, gifted and talented programs and services.

Principals are the instructional leaders of the school and are responsible for setting the tone and focus within their building.  However, the GT CAC routinely hears from parents about significantly disparate scenarios among BCPS schools; some are very aware of their GT population and proactive in providing solutions for students who are ready and capable for more, while others are not.  Some schools tout their GT programs while others do not. Some bring in the Office of Advanced Academics at helpful junctures, while others do not.

With the implementation of the Maryland’s new state “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) plan,  gifted and talented students will be considered as one of the “accountability groups”, meaning that disaggregated data on these students will be collected and reported.  Due to this new focus, it will be even more important for principals to make sure they are correctly implementing services, assessing teacher effectiveness, and setting the tone for expectations as it relates to the education of gifted and talented students.

 

From NAGC’s “Shared Responsibility for Differentiation for Gifted and Talented Learners”: http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/administrators/Shared%20Respons%20for%20Diff%20for%20GT%20Learners.pdf

 

In our January 9th presentation to the Board, we asked that BCPS allow the Office of Advanced Academics to present at principal meetings several times a year in order to achieve more consistent messaging about GT options and to contribute to a firmer knowledge base and a more equitable distribution of information about Advanced Academics in BCPS.  Additionally, at our December 13th GT CAC meeting with Interim Superintendent Verletta White, one of the recommendations we provided was to include GT evaluative measures in both the principal and community superintendent’s annual evaluations.  In other words, how are principals and community superintendents providing both district-level and building-level support for GT students?

 

Read our Areas for Growth and Recommendations provided to Superintendent White at our December 13th meeting!

 

If you want to read more about how administrators can support gifted and talented learners, then take some time with the “Administrators Toolbox” that the NAGC has put together.  And, don’t forget the importance and the value of the principal in your own child’s educational journey!

 

From NAGC’s “Shared Responsibility for Differentiation for Gifted and Talented Learners”: http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/administrators/Shared%20Respons%20for%20Diff%20for%20GT%20Learners.pdf

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Evaluation

e·val·u·a·tion: /əˌvalyəˈwāSH(ə)n/

noun: 1. the making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment. “the evaluation of each method”

According to University of Virginia professor and specialist in gifted and talented education, Carolyn Callahan, at the crux of any gifted and talented program should be a sound educational philosophy with articulated beliefs about who gifted students are and the types of services that they should be provided. (Lessons learned from evaluating programs for the gifted)

Getting the philosophy and overarching goals in place is the first step — beyond that, however, districts have to develop mechanisms by which they evaluate themselves — How do you know what you have created is very good? What are your criteria?  What is the rubric on which you measure yourself? On what data do you base your judgment?

Evaluation of gifted and talented programs is critical, but underutilized, even though it is required by Maryland regulation.  As stated in COMAR

 

 

and

 

 

If you look at the 2016 Bridge to Excellence Master Plan for Baltimore County, however, in the file labeled “BCPS MD Goals and Objectives“, the word “gifted” is not used at all and the word “advanced” can be found six times, but never in a manner that is evaluative of BCPS’s Advanced Academic program.  Similarly, if you look at the file labeled “Federal and State Grant Application“, the word “advanced” is used four times, and only once in reference to the Advanced Academic program, and the word “gifted” is used five times, but again, never in a way that reflects measurements on “goals, objectives, or strategies regarding the performance of gifted and talented students . . .” as COMAR requires.  Additionally, while COMAR does list requirements related to gifted and talented programs, it does not provide a framework or suggestion of how districts should do what is specified.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) does provide a document that can assist school districts in developing appropriate programs and services to meet these gifted and talented students’ needs, the “Criteria for Excellence: Gifted and Talented Education Program Guidelines“.  Item 6.0 deals specifically with evaluative recommendations, including:

6.1 The evaluation process is based on data and provides accurate, timely, and relevant information to decision makers and stakeholders for program, staff, and school improvement.

6.2 A systematic plan for ongoing evaluation is part of program planning and implementation.

6.3 Evaluation should be conducted by persons having expertise in gifted and talented education and should assess processes and products of each component of the gifted and talented program.

6.4 The evaluation process focuses on whether the goals, objectives, and strategies for gifted and talented students have been reached. The quantity, quality, and appropriateness of the programs and services provided for gifted and talented students are assessed and data are disaggregated and made public.

6.5 Attention is given to the assessment of student progress using multiple indicators that measure mastery of content, demonstration of higher level thinking skills, achievement in the specific program area(s), and affective growth.

6.6 Data for evaluation is obtained from a variety of valid and reliable instruments, procedures, and information sources as appropriate.

6.7 Evaluation results are communicated in a timely and meaningful way to program decision makers at the system and/or school level and as appropriate, to students, parents, and the public.

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) also has provides a master checklist resource that includes six areas that also align with MSDE’s Criteria for Excellence.

Parents are looking for gifted and talented programs that are successful, that are held in high esteem, that are judged to be challenging and beneficial, and which ultimately provide some evidence of success that goes beyond what could be expected if no programs or services existed.  Public-facing evaluative measures help stakeholders understand the value of gifted and talented programs in their community.  Otherwise, they are left asking, “if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” How is your school district doing on self-evaluation measures?

 

 

 

 

EGATE

Excellence in

Gifted

And

Talented

Education

 

As an advocate of gifted education in the state of Maryland, you may find yourself wondering what schools in your area do a particularly good job with their GT students and what it is that makes these schools so good at what they are doing. One way to find out is to check to see if a particular school has achieved the coveted “EGATE” status. (Check here for Maryland schools that have been awarded EGATE status between 2010 and 2016). Unfortunately, for those of us in Baltimore County, you’ll find that only two schools were able to obtain EGATE status in the 2010 – 2016 time span — Chadwick Elementary School and Perry Hall Middle School both attained their EGATE designation in 2012 — meaning that Baltimore County represents only .04% of Maryland schools with EGATE status over these 6 years. We can do better than this!

Do you think your school has what it takes for EGATE? Want to find out more about it and think about ways you might be able to  support your school to consider moving towards EGATE status? Keep reading!

EGATE is an awards program that recognizes PreK-12 Maryland Public Schools whose gifted and talented education programs are aligned with Maryland’s Criteria for Excellence for Gifted and Talented Programs guidelines and COMAR 13A.04.07, the state regulation for Gifted and Talented education. Schools that achieve EGATE status:

  • Receive citations from the Governor as well as the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).
  • Are recognized at an annual state awards ceremony.
  • Display the EGATE school banner.
  • Appear on the MSDE website as an EGATE school.
  • Host celebratory EGATE visits from members of MSDE and the Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education.
  • Serve as a model and resource to other schools planning to achieve EGATE status.

Obtaining EGATE status is a strenuous, rigorous, time-intensive effort requiring support by both the teachers and administrators of the school. But despite the very hard work that goes into being awarded EGATE status, schools across the state continue to strive to achieve it because it not only showcases their excellence in gifted and talented education, but because it also results in overall school improvement. Taking a magnifying glass to your school’s program ultimately benefits everyone — as Whitehall Elementary School in Prince Georges County recently discovered in their journey to EGATE. At the recent Maryland State Conference for Gifted and Talented Education (October 20th, 2017, at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Maryland), staff and administration from Whitehall Elementary School shared their roadmap for achieving EGATE status — both its challenges and successes. They found that, for them, EGATE stood for these things:

Environment – making sure your school’s leadership style, class structure, and organizational effectiveness are supportive of working towards EGATE are crucial.  Ask yourself, is this the right time and place for our school to pursue this?

Gathering evidence – is the bulk of the work. Gathering tangible evidence (variety is key, document everything and remember that more is better than not enough and that nothing is too small!), involvement of all the key players (divide responsibility among anyone who interacts with your gifted and talented  students), and developing a collection schedule and tools (don’t forget to try several ways to collect, electronic and otherwise) are all very important.  Also critical is that everyone understands the criteria for each area of evidence collection.  If only a few members know the elements undergirding the evidence gathering, then organizing data can become overwhelming.

Awareness of the 4 EGATE objectives: 1. Student identification; 2. Curriculum and instruction; 3) Professional development; and 4) Program management and evaluation.

Time Management — EGATE designation is, at minimum, a two-year process. Plan for several years to help everyone get mentally prepared and onboard, to visit other EGATE schools to see their program, and to organize a core team. Also, be prepared to not obtain EGATE status the first time around; in Whitehall’s case they originally submitted their application in 2015, but did not score high enough to attain EGATE.  However, with lessons learned and new data, they resubmitted in 2016 and were successful!

Expect the unexpected – there will be staff turnover, potential difficulty with staff buy-in, and possibly the need to resubmit, so be prepared.

Now that you know more about the EGATE process, are you ready to start work on encouraging schools you are involved with to begin working towards EGATE status? Take a look at the application and then move into action!

 

 

Fill your fall calendar!

Now that school is back in session, your fall calendar may be filling up. Here’s a few more things to consider adding to it !


  • Upcoming monthly GT CAC meetings:

October 5th, 7:00 PM, Towson High School library

We will be working on prioritizing our goals for the school year and will use the advisory stances we developed last year as our guides. These advisory stances were developed with a lot of committee member work and stakeholder input.  We took that input, categorized it into four main areas, and then worked on expressing the issues within each category.  Want to know more? Take a look at our four advisory stances:

Training and Identification

Delivery of Elementary GT Instruction

Flexible Systemwide GT Program

Communication

November 1st, 7:00 PM, Room 114, BCPS Greenwood Campus

Tiffany Wendland, the secondary coordinator in BCPS’ science office will be joining us to talk about the Next Generation Science Standards, how these standards are changing the science curriculum, and how this might impact students receiving Advanced Academic services.

December 6th, 7:00 PM, Room 114, BCPS Greenwood Campus

Interim BCPS School Superintendent, Verletta White, will be joining us.

All GT CAC meetings are open to the public and no registration is required! Come by and see what we’re all about!


  • Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education

October 12th, 5:00 – 8:30, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, 1400 W. Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21209

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is holding public hearings throughout the state in order to give people the opportunity to testify on policies and strategies to 1) make Maryland a top performing education system in the world,  2) prepare students for the 21st century global economy, and 3) fund the needed amount for public preK-12 schools to achieve those goals.  

 

The Commission was formed through legislation in 2016 to make recommendations that enhance the adequacy and equity of state preK-12 funding and the availability of innovative educational opportunities that will prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce in the 21st century, including examining the “Thornton” formulas established in 2002 and making recommendations to update them.

More information about the Commission and the topics it is exploring can be found on the Commission’s web page.

“Maryland’s public schools are good, but they can be much better,” said Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan, former chancellor of the University System of Maryland and chair of the Commission. “Our students deserve to receive the best education in the world –– and they will need it to be competitive in the 21st century. We welcome the input of teachers, parents, students, and others who care about public schools to tell us what they think we need to do for Maryland to become a world class education system and prepare students for college and careers.” 

This is a great opportunity to advocate for gifted and talented students, so please consider speaking or sending in written testimony!  Interested in attending or participating? Here’s what you need to know:

– Due to the high volume of interest in the October 12 public hearing in Baltimore City, the Baltimore City public hearing will start at 5:00 p.m.

– Sign ups are limited to a total of 60 individuals and must be made in advance. Sign ups will not be taken after 12:00 (noon) on the day of the hearing.

– Individuals who wish to testify are asked to sign up by either emailing PreK-12InnovationandExcellenceCommission@mlis.state.md.us or calling either Mindy McConville or Kim Landry at (410) 946-5510 or (301) 970-5510 no later than NOON on the day of the hearing. You will be asked to provide the following information: (1) your name and contact information; (2) the location/date of the meeting for which you are signing up; and (3) the name of the group, if you are speaking on behalf of one.

– After the limit of 60 individuals is reached, additional interested parties may submit written testimony or sign up to testify at another public hearing location. Written testimony may be submitted by email to the email address above.

– While testimony will generally be limited to 3 minutes per person, the Chair has discretion to make adjustments depending on how many people sign up. While it is not necessary to bring a written statement, if you do, please bring 40 copies with you to the hearing. Staff will collect and distribute it to the commission members.  Please note that the hearing will be recorded and posted to the Commission’s web page. If you are unable to attend but wish to submit written testimony, you may email your testimony to the email address listed above. 


  • Maryland State Conference on Gifted and Talented Education

October 20th, North County High School, 10 E 1st Avenue, Glen Burnie, MD 21061.

Registration for this all-day conference can be done at the Maryland Educators of Gifted Students website at: http://www.megsonline.net/conferences.htm

Brian Housand, member of the NAGC Board of Directors and assistant professor and co-coordinator of the Academically and Intellectually Gifted Program at East Carolina University, will be the keynote speaker.  He frequently presents and works as an educational consultant on the integration of technology and enrichment into the curriculum. His current research focus includes looking at ways in which technology can enhance the learning environment and how to define “creative-productive” giftedness in the digital age. You can read more about him at his website.

 

 

Summer slide

Now that summer is drawing to a close and everyone is headed back to school, take a minute to reflect on how the summer was for your gifted and talented child.

Did your school district have any offerings for gifted and talented students that you knew about and were able to access?

Or, did you have to search out independent camps/classes/ opportunities designed to develop your child’s talent and keep your child engaged, intrigued, curious and eager to start back to school this fall?

If you live here in Baltimore County, chances are that you were working on your own to find summer options for your GT child.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way!

Consider the neighboring Howard County Public Schools system which offers GT summer institutes for talent development for elementary and middle school age children. Or the Fairfax County, Virginia system which offers a Young Scholars program designed to support and nurture academic potential in students from typically underrepresented populations. And for high school GT students,  many states offer a residential Governors Honor program, like Georgia and Kentucky.

Research suggests that enrichment programs, especially summer residential ones, have a positive impact, both on gifted students’ academic achievement as well as their social-emotional development (“A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Enrichment Programs on Gifted Students”)

Developing summer programs for gifted students within BCPS is an area we are actively working on.  On August 22, 2017, we presented on this topic to the BCPS Board of Education (see our Board of Education page for our comments!) and are hopeful that we will be able to engage with BCPS around this issue and maybe even see some changes put in place for the summer of 2018.

What would you like to see BCPS offer GT kids in terms of summer programs? Let us know in comments here or send an email to us at bcpsgtcac@gmail.com!

 

 

 

Know your resources

If you are an advocate of gifted and talented educational efforts in Baltimore County, then you likely know about our group, the Citizens Advisory Committee for Gifted and Talented Education and hopefully you have found things that are helpful to you here on our webpage.

However, have you ever tried casting your net wider, to see what other resources are out there? Let us share some that we think you might want to know about!

  • The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children whose mission is to “focus world attention on gifted and talented children and ensure the realization of their valuable potential to the benefit of humankind.”  If you’ve ever wondered how different countries tackle GT education, then this would be a great resource to check out. Their World Gifted Newsletter allows you to see a brief synopsis of what other countries are doing.
  • The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), has a mission “to support those who enhance the growth and development of gifted and talented children through education, advocacy, community building, and research. We aim to help parents and families, K-12 education professionals including support service personnel, and members of the research and higher education community who work to help gifted and talented children as they strive to achieve their personal best and contribute to their communities.”  The NAGC has a wealth of information on their site, like this whole section on resources for parents, or this biennial “Gifted by State” survey the NAGC conducts to gain data on gifted education policy and practice on a state-by-state basis.  Take your time and deeply explore this excellent resource.
  • The National Center for Research on Gifted Education is conducting research, authorized by funding through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education, “to better learn about how gifted and talented programs are implemented in schools, how long students participate and at what level of intensity, and whether these programs are effective in improving students’ academic outcomes” while also looking at “how students of particular racial and ethnic backgrounds (i.e., African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Native American), students from lower income families, and students from small-town or rural communities are disproportionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs.” Explore their website to learn more about their research and check out their resources page!
  • The Council for Exceptional Children is a “professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities.”  The CEC includes giftedness as an exceptionality, and once at their site, simply type “gifted” into the search box to find some great resources to dig into.  The CEC has a special TAG division (The Association for the Gifted) that dedicates itself to youth with gifts, talents, and high potential as well as those who are twice-exceptional.
  • SENG, or Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is an organization that recognizes the many gifted individuals experience intense emotions and that this, combined with unusual intellectual ability, can set gifted individuals up to be bullied and ostracized.  Their mission is to support gifted and talented individuals not only intellectually, but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  They have a fantastic resource library organized by topic, so take some time to explore.
  • If you are looking for resources that are more Maryland-centric, then you should definitely check out these three sites:
    1. MCGATE (the Maryland Coalition for Gifted and Talented Education), the Maryland affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).  They will come and talk to local groups about gifted and talented education issues, so a great tool to have in the toolbox.
    2. MEGS (Maryland Educators of Gifted Students) puts on an a state conference on gifted and talented education every year (this year’s will be on October 20, 2017 at North County High School in Glen Burnie, so mark your calendars now!) along with other events like their recent spring dinner where they screened a new documentary film, “2E:Twice Exceptional”.
    3. The Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education encourages and supports the education of gifted and talented and twice exceptional students in accordance with Maryland state statutes and regulations as well as the NACG gifted programming standards.  They work through the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in developing, implementing, and monitoring GT programs and advise the State Superintendent of  Schools on best practices as they relate to GT education.

 

Maryland Summer Centers for Gifted and Talented Students

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Now in it’s 50th year, Maryland is once again sponsoring summer centers for gifted and talented students throughout the state. And registration has begun!

Some centers offer a residential experience while others are non-residential and meet daily. Want to learn more? Check out the website to get the application and learn more about the centers: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/programs/Pages/Gifted-Talented/SummerCenters/index.aspx and read the brochure here: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/programs/Documents/Gifted-Talented/SummerCenters/MSCCatalog2017.pdf 

With offerings for many ages and with a variety of focuses including creativity, leadership,  foreign language study, and science and math, you’re sure to find something that will interest your GT learner!

All applications are due by April 30, 2017!