Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What Should Gifted Programs Look Like?

In last month's District Administration Magazine, Contributing Editor Rebecca Sausner writes that gifted researchers "seem to divide rather neatly into sides that believe either that grade acceleration of gifted students is the best approach, or that enrichment opportunities for all, with advanced enrichment for the gifted, are the way to go. National organizations seem to straddle the continuum between the two." Her article, Gifted Education: Deceived, Denied and in Crisis is subtitled, "Why gifted ed still matters and what you can do to improve your district's offerings" although she does a better job surveying the current status of gifted education in the schools than in suggesting what to do about it.

The article does give an excellent overview of the situation facing gifted students in the public schools. I was disturbed to find out that "The National Research Center for Gifted and Talented, run by Renzulli out of the University of Connecticut, received $11.2 million last year, which comprises the bulk of the Jacob J. Javits Gifted and Talented Students budget." I checked out the Renzulli project. It looks like a fabulous site, built for individual differentiation, that provides a gateway to huge numbers of enrichment sites. Considering it's entirely web-based, one would think it would be an ideal product for homeschoolers.

Unfortunately, their program is only available to school districts. According to their FAQ, "The license cost for the Renzulli Learning System is $35 per student per year, with a minimum enrollment of 20 students per school." When I emailed to ask whether individual homeschoolers could benefit, I was told, "Perhaps if a large homeschooling group was to get together and buy a site license..." (sigh)

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