A celebration of educating gifted, talented children

Julia Link Roberts & Nancy Green, The Courier-Journal, August 8, 2013 (links added)

When people around the world think of Kentucky, the first image that likely comes to mind for many is that of thoroughbreds racing down the track at Churchill Downs.

But while being home to many of the world’s foremost race horses will always be a legacy of ours, next week, Kentucky will be hosting an international event that recognizes our state’s longstanding leadership in developing another talent — our high-ability and high-potential students.

Next week, Louisville will be the host city of the 2013 gathering of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, a biennial event hosted in cities around the world that brings together hundreds of the world’s leaders in gifted and talented education. Attendees from 40 industrial and developing countries will share their expertise and experiences in meeting the needs of advanced students.

Kentucky’s selection as the host city for this conference is testament to our state’s leadership in serving these learners. Our state definition of gifted and talented students includes those with demonstrated and potential ability to perform at high levels in academic subjects, creativity, leadership, and in the arts. Our state also requires that districts provide gifted education services to students identified as gifted and provides some funding to support this work.

While too many other states provide no funding to support delivery of gifted education services and some don’t even require that any services be provided, Kentucky provides guidelines to support student identification, requires that teachers of gifted students have specialized training and requires districts to have a gifted education administrator to coordinate this work.

Perhaps the most exciting development for gifted education in Kentucky is the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. Now beginning its seventh year, the residential school serves our state’s most outstanding students in math and science who spend their junior and senior years in high school immersed in college courses. The academy enables our brightest students from across the state to go deeper and farther in these subjects than is possible in their home schools. Indeed, earlier this year, the academy was named by Newsweek magazine as the nation’s top public high school for the second year running and has consistently earned other accolades.

But while Kentucky is one state that leads by action, our national performance is not so sterling despite a once-vaunted commitment to nurturing our top academic talent. Born out of necessity during the early days of the Cold War more than a half century ago, this commitment catapulted our nation to decades of superiority as the world’s leading innovator and set the foundation for many of the technological advancements that are common to our everyday life. [read full article]

Julia Link Roberts is the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University, executive director of The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU and executive director of the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. Nancy Green is Executive Director of the National Association for Gifted Children in Washington, D.C.

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