Success in the 21st century requires a commitment to developing student talent as early as possible. To address this urgent need, gifted education supporters have introduced legislation to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to provide responsible federal leadership in meeting the needs of gifted and high-ability students. To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers (TALENT) Act, which replaces the Javits Act, has four key emphases:
1. Changes To Assessment And Accountability Systems: The TALENT Act seeks to ensure that assessments are able to accurately determine student mastery of state content standards, which will enable teachers to make appropriate instructional adjustments. The Act also makes changes to the accountability and assessment system to ensure that all students make learning gains. The TALENT Act will:
- •Require that state assessments are vertically aligned and able to measure student knowledge of standards established above their grade level.
- •Establish a requirement that states, districts, and schools report learning growth for their most advanced students on state report cards.
- •Require states to include in their application for funds under Title II, Part A Grants a description of the comprehensive strategy that a state will use to improve educators’ teaching skills for students who are gifted and talented -- including indentifying specific learning needs and tailoring instruction to meet such needs.
- •Authorize the Professional Development and Best Practices Grant Program, a targeted, competitive grant program that will conduct schoolwide and classroom-based research to develop innovative instructional practices and provide high quality professional development for teachers and other educators on strategies known to be successful with this special-needs population.
- •Require Title I schools to describe how they plan to identify and serve gifted and talented students, including high-ability students who have not been formally identified as gifted.
- •Require states to include in their Title I plans steps the state will take to assist local school districts in supporting gifted students, including high-ability students who have not been formally identified. States are also required to develop a recognition programs for districts that increase the proportion of their underserved populations of advanced students scoring at the advanced level or higher on the state academic achievement tests.
- •Expand the Rural Education Achievement Program to allow for funding and services to support gifted and talented students who live in rural communities through activities such as professional development for teachers.
- •Establish a priority for underserved, high-ability students in the professional development and innovative instructional practices grants under the Act.
- •Initiate a competitive research grant program to investigate the effectiveness of strategies to identify and serve gifted and talented students, including high-ability students who have not been formally identified as gifted.
- •Establish a National Research and Dissemination Center that will conduct research on strategies for identifying and teaching gifted students, develop resources for teacher training and professional development systems and for parents to help them support their children’s education, and disseminate findings broadly, including to the network of technical assistance centers established by the Education Technical Assistance Act and by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- •Direct the Secretary of Education to collect data and report on the education of gifted and talented students to ensure that the nation's most advanced students are getting the educational supports they need to achieve at the highest levels.
NATIONAL ADVOCACY ALERT!!!!
RARE OPPORTUNITY: It is rare that gifted education appears in the national legislative agenda; the federal government has taken the position that gifted education is a state responsibility. Our national organization - the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)- has been working hard to raise federal awareness and support for the need for services for these learners of advanced potential. In the amending and reauthorizing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the TALENT Act has been introduced in both the House & Senate (S.857; H.R. 1674). Copies of the bills and the bill summary are available on the TALENT page of the NAGC website at http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=7804
NAGC is grateful to the Congressional sponsors, Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Bob Casey (PA) and Representatives Elton Gallegly (CA-24) and Donald Payne (NJ-10) for their leadership.
In short, the legislation focuses in 4 key areas that have an impact on whether and how gifted students receive a quality education: professional development, accountability, disadvantaged student access to services, and research and dissemination on best practices in gifted education. The TALENT Act has been referred to the Senate and House education committees, but we do not expect that the bills will be considered by the committees as stand-alone bills. Instead, our goal is to incorporate the text of TALENT into the House and Senate education committee versions of the reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The committee chairmen will be introducing their versions of a new ESEA after consulting for months (years!) with stakeholders, colleagues, and staff.
How can we influence this?
The most effective way to show the chairmen that there is support for TALENT and for high-ability students is to gather cosponsors for both bills. We need cosponsors from ALL STATES for S. 857 (in the Senate) or H.R.1674 (in the House). That comes from individual people lobbying their own representative and both senators from Indiana. INDIANA CAN DO THIS!!!
Please contact your Senators and Representative ASAP to ask them to cosponsor the TALENT Act (S.857 in the Senate; H.R. 1674 in the House).
1. Access the online email forms for your Members of Congress at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov (use www.votesmart.org if you need to figure out who your representative is from your address)
2. Enter your name and address on the form and give this simple message: “As a [parent/teacher/supporter of gifted and talented children] I strongly believe that federal education policy should support high-ability students so that they receive an education appropriate to their needs. As a constituent I ask that you become a cosponsor of the TALENT Act [INSERT the correct bill number for the House or Senate], which addresses the needs of advanced students through professional development, accountability, and dissemination of classroom practices shown to work with this special population of learners. Thank you for your attention.” (be sure to include your contact information)
Of course, adding some additional information about the availability of gifted education services in your congressional district or the impact of quality gifted education on your children strengthens the message. But include the simple request to cosponsor TALENT!
Thank you for contacting me to share your support for the TALENT Act. I appreciate your continuing advocacy for the education of gifted and talented students.
This legislation aims to address the needs of gifted students through assessment requirements and increased support for educators, and authorizes funding for an entity to develop and disseminate best practices for meeting the needs of gifted students, among other provisions. The TALENT Act was introduced on April 14, 2011, and was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions for further review.
I anticipate that the education of gifted students will be discussed during a reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act; however, it remains unclear when a formal reauthorization may occur. I will continue to monitor discussions in Congress, as well as any proposals that are made by the Obama Administration and key stakeholders in the education field, in anticipation of future consideration of a reauthorization.
The foundation for a quality education begins at a young age, which is why I have supported efforts at the federal level for early childhood education and child development. For example, I strongly support funding for the Head Start program. In my estimation, Head Start is one of the most valuable programs funded by the federal government. This program has proven beneficial as it serves to prepare children for school and emphasizes parental involvement in the development of their children. The recently passed Continuing Resolution to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011 included approximately $7.5 billion for Head Start.
I also believe that early literacy is a key indicator of a child's future success. Fostering a love of literature through daily reading plays an important role in reaching that goal. Toward that end, I have partnered with the Indiana State Teacher's Association (ISTA) in conducting the annual Lugar-ISTA book drive. The book drive collects books to be distributed to children who might not otherwise have them at home. Over the last two years, we have collected and distributed nearly 60,000 books. We look forward to expanding this effort this year with the help of the Indiana Library Federation.
Along with early childhood education initiatives, I believe proper nutrition is another key component of academic success, and I have been a strong proponent of child nutrition efforts throughout my career. In 1995, I led the successful opposition to ending the federal school lunch program. I informed my colleagues that the nutritional needs of a poor child who has no choice of geographical location do not differ from state to state and that all children who meet certain criteria should be provided a lunch. As a result of my efforts, the federal school lunch program survived.
I firmly believe that a strong public school system is vital to our state and our nation. While many of our public schools are doing well, some are not. We must keep working toward a day when all children are reaching their potential.
Thank you, again, for contacting me. I hope you will continue to contact me on issues of importance to you.
Richard G. Lugar
United States Senator