Career and Technical Education


CTE is rooted in the founding of America.

In America’s earliest years, apprenticeships began giving way to more formalized training in specific trades while the understanding of the need for future leaders was also being developed.  During the 1800’s, the public education system and the workforce collaborated to create a pipeline of workers for different jobs; public high schools were opening with the goal of educating citizens while other schools were opening and specializing in training students to enter specific areas of the workforce.

Later in the 1800’s, manual training schools and trade schools opened, creating the foundation of the modern career and technical education in which classroom and hands-on learning were combined.  By 1917, the Smith-Hughes Act was adopted, providing federal aid to states for the purpose of promoting pre-collegiate vocational education in agricultural, industrial, and home economics trades.  Following World War I, there was mass acceptance of career and technical education, with a surge for a need of these skills during World War II.  CTE has evolved over time to include a wide array of career clusters with the goal of preparing students for postsecondary careers upon graduation from high school or college.

From the Association for Career and Technical Education:

Despite the long trajectory of CTE in the American educational landscape, gifted students are often overlooked when it comes to vocational interests. They are not routinely encouraged to consider enrolling in CTE programs or courses despite the fact that CTE pathways can deliver challenging and relevant coursework, while also incorporating high levels of technical expertise — offerings not found in more traditional academic settings.

Much of what is offered in a CTE setting is what gifted and talented students are looking for: being challenged, learning advanced content with real-life applications, having meaningful choices, receiving differentiated curriculum and instruction, and experiencing professionalism within their classroom community. Additionally, students who attend CTE programs and who are recognized as being talented within the CTE-setting may not have been so recognized in their traditional high school setting.  CTE programs can offer diverse learning opportunities in an alternative educational setting and that allows students’ strengths and talents to be engaged and recognized.

Want to learn more about CTE programs? Check out the great resources below!

Baltimore County Public Schools CTE

Maryland State Department of Education CTE

Association for Career and Technical Education

JHU Education Policy Brief: “Necessary Components of an Effective Career and Technical Program”

“Differences Between General and Talented Students’ Perceptions of Their Career and Technical Education Experiences Compared to Their Traditional High School Experiences” (2007)

“Talented Students in an Exemplary Career and Technical Education School: A Qualitative Inquiry” (2008)




Honoring accomplishments in Maryland gifted education

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education held a February 21st ceremony in support of the Governor’s proclamation of February as Gifted and Talented Education month and to  honor a variety of individuals for their efforts and accomplishments in gifted education. It is always a fun night buoyed by the feeling of pride in accomplishment.  However, it can also be eye-opening to compare your school district to what is happening in other districts across the state.  For example, of the 116 total distinctions awarded, Baltimore County was represented in a mere 1.7% .02% (edited on 3/7/18 to correct a mathematical error) of these awards.  What can we do? Better amplify these awards and seek out and nominate those who are doing great work.  Keep reading to find out more about the award categories and what it takes to be a winner!

Awards are given in a number of different categories. The highest distinction is receiving an EGATE (Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education) award.  For 2018, there were seven schools across the state of Maryland that received this distinction: four in Baltimore City, including Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School, Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy, Moravia Park Elementary School, and Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School; two in Anne Arundel county, including Shipley’s Grant Elementary School and Benfield Elementary School; and one in Washington County, Williamsport Elementary School.  You can read more about what it takes to become an EGATE school here.

In addition to the EGATE awards, there are multiple other categories in which nominations can be made. One category is “Outstanding Businesses, Community Partners, and Individuals that Support Gifted and Talented Education“.  We are happy to announce that Julie Miller-Breetz, was awarded this distinction at the awards on February 21st in her capacity as chair of the Baltimore County Citizens Advisory Committee for Gifted and Talented Education (GT CAC). Six other individuals also received awards in this category. To be considered for this award a business, community partner, or person must have:

  • provided resources to support the education of teachers of the gifted, pre-service teachers of the gifted, or students who are gifted and talented;
  • coordinated or managed an educational program that meets the needs of gifted and talented students or educators of gifted and talented students; and
  • advocated for the expansion and improvement of programs, services and/or teacher training to meet the needs of gifted and talented students.

A third award category is for an outstanding gifted and talented program coordinator, which this year went to coordinators in Wicomico and Montgomery counties. To win this award, coordinators must demonstrate:

  • significant contributions to expanding and improving programs and services for gifted and talented students in the school system;
  • participation in ongoing role-specific professional development in the field of gifted and talented education; and
  • leadership in gifted and talented education at the state and/or national level.

Eight outstanding school administrators also received awards — six from Baltimore City and two from Anne Arundel County. To be considered for this award, the administrator must:

  • demonstrate leadership in expanding/improving programs and services for gifted and talented students;
  • provide resource allocation to expand and improve gifted and talented education programs and services; and
  • demonstrate leadership in the expansion or improvement of parent, community, and/or business partnerships that directly support the education of gifted and talented students.

Teacher-leaders are another huge category of nominations and this year 52 teachers were recognized for their excellence in teaching gifted and talented students.  Baltimore City Schools had 12 teachers recognized, Anne Arundel County had 11, Frederick County had 9, Montgomery County had 6, Charles County had 4, Howard and Wicomico Counties both had 3 each, Harford County had 2, and Prince George’s and Queen Anne’s Counties had 1 each. A special shout-out goes to Marlena Colleton-Pearsell, who was one of the Anne Arundel teachers to win this award — Marlena is also a Baltimore County parent who is active in the GT CAC, so congratulations to her! To win in this category, teachers must:

  • work directly with identified gifted and talented students or the teachers of those students;
  • pursue ongoing professional development in the field of GT education; and
  • demonstrate peer leadership in GT education.

Students are also recognized; in fact, this year 34 students received awards! Baltimore City students received 16, Charles County students received 13, Prince George’s County students received 2, and Montgomery County and Wicomico County each had 1 student who received an award. To be nominated in this category, the student must:

  • perform at remarkably high levels when compared with peers in specific academic areas, visual or performing arts;
  • be the current recipient of a school system, state, or national award or competition winner in the student’s area(s) of giftedness; and
  • participate in a gifted and talented program or other advanced level opportunity in their area(s) of giftedness.

Finally, the Maryland Coalition for Gifted and Talented Education (MCGATE) sponsors a yearly essay writing contest for students and this year, seven students received awards in this category, including one student from Baltimore County.  Among the other students were 3 from Montgomery County, 2 from Baltimore City, and 1 from Prince George’s County.

If you are part of the Baltimore County Public School system either as a parent, student, teacher, staff, or administrator, we ask you to set your intention now! What can you do to make sure someone you know who is doing great work in Baltimore County in the gifted and talented field gets the recognition they deserve? Think about who you know, who you can nominate, and how you can best support that person. And, take a look at the nomination forms on the MSDE website now, so you are ready next fall when nominations are due! Let’s see how we can improve our numbers by next year!

List of all the 2018 GT award winners!

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”:


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”:


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






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?






Excellence in






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


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 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:

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!