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FOUR CASE STUDIES
While there are numerous programs for the gifted and talented, the experience most pertinent to this study is those cases where the planning and implementation have been statewide. Planners in other State agencies may benefit from the practical wisdom gained in Connecticut, California, Georgia, and Illinois.
These accounts are reprinted in full in appendix F. The background of each program is reported as fully as possible here to show the derivation of interest and support and how each State arrived at its own priorities.
CALIFORNIA'S PROGRAM FOR MENTALLY GIFTED MINORS (MGM) In 1955 and 1956, personnel in the California State Department of Education participated in exploratory and planning meetings on the role of the State in encouraging school districts to make special provisions for gifted children. Å California State Study conducted from 1957 to 1960 evaluated 17 different kinds of programs numbering 929 pupils; it concluded:
The special provisions made in these programs were beneficial for the gifted ... participating pupils made striking gains in achievement with accompanying personal and social benefits.
Developmental activities from 1961 to 1971 include the demonstration project, California Project Talent (1963–1966), and a title V, ESEA project (1968–1969) to prepare a statewide framework on gifted education and exemplary curriculum guides.
The types of programs which the initial State regulations identified as appropriate for mentally gifted minors were:
1. Enrichment in regular classes.
7. Other, or combination of programs. Changes in the State regulations in 1969 established two general categories of programs: special services or activities and special day classes.
During the first year of the program (1961-1962), school districts spent an average of $83 extra per pupil for mentally gifted minors. A few school districts spent as much as $900 extra per pupil. The average per pupil extra expenditure for 1969–1970 was $121. Pupil participation grew from 35,164 full-time equivalent pupils (over 38,000 individuals) in 1961-1962 to approximately 112,000 full-time equivalent pupils in 1970–1971. At the present time, 250 California school districts (with about 95 percent of the statewide pupil population) make special provisions for mentally gifted minors. State money available for the Mentally Gifted Minor program in the 1970–1971 school year is approximately $8.5 million.
Ten years after the start of the program the State contributes up to $10 for identification (on a one-time basis) and up to $60 per pupil per year for the extra costs of instruction. Over the past 10 years a number of legislative bills and studies pegged the needed support level at $150 to $200 per pupil, plus funds for identification.
A report published by the California Assembly Interim Committee on Education in 1967 stated :
1. Contrary to some popular notions, intellectually superior children are often the most neglected children in the classroom.
2. Talent development is an important part of any growing and productive state.
3. Without the intellectual and creative skills to meet the unknown problems of tomorrow, any society will begin to stagnate
and decay. The California Assembly ended its report with seven recommendations:
1. . . . We recommend that legislation more clearly establish the objectives in existing or altered MGM programs, and that the education of gifted children be given a more prominent place within the efforts of public schools.
2. . . . We recommend that the State increase its support to a maximum of $40 for identification and $200 for programs. . . . We recommend that a sample of the existing school district programs for mentally gifted minors be audited by the Office of the Auditor General to investigate the validity of expenditures that have been claimed for excess cost reimbursement.
3. We recommend that the State establish a system of scholarships for teachers of academically talented students to provide them with advanced training in subject matter specialties or in methods of teaching gifted children. ...
4. We recommend that school districts be encouraged to seek the best qualified teachers, both in subject matter training and demonstrated competence in teaching ability and that some of the additional salary cost be offset by State aid.
5. We recommend that State teaching credential restrictions on the grade level that can be taught be suspended for MGM programs, if it is certified that a teacher who is not ordinarily authorized to teach a particular grade level is the best available teacher for the gifted program and if the State Board of Education so approves.
6. . . . We recommend that provisions of the Education Code which specify certain subject matter and hours of instruction for public schools be suspended, upon approval of the State Board of Education, for authorized programs of instruction for mentally gifted minors.
7. We recommend the creation of a “Statewide Council on Talent Development," composed of lay and professional persons from all areas of public and private life, which would serve to study methods to improve the education of mentally gifted minors, transmit innovations in curriculum and instructional techniques to the public school authorities of the State, and stimulate improvements in the quality of education offered to all of the school children. The statewide council would be charged with the responsibility of presenting to the Legislature specific and periodic proposals for the improvement in public education for the academically talented and school children as a whole.
CONNECTICUT'S COMPREHENSIVE MODEL FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED
Author John Hersey was chairman of a special study committee in 1956 which compiled a comprehensive report of the needs for programs in Connecticut for the gifted and talented. Little or no action
was taken on the Roberts Report (the committee report) until a nationwide search in 1965–66 for a consultant for the gifted and talented to provide leadership for the State and its 169 school districts.
Concurrently, the State Board of Education arranged for a comprehensive study of existing legislation related to the education of exceptional children (including the handicapped and the educationally gifted and talented). The 1966 report to the State Board of Education included:
1. An analysis of procedures, policies and problems.
2. An analysis of other conditions in the State which affected the efforts of local educational agencies.
3. A synthesis of the concerns and recommendations of persons within the State interested in exceptional children.
4. Recommendations concerning legislative policies and procedures. The study found gaps and overlaps in the existing legislation for exceptional children. Some provisions were mandatory and others were left to local initiative. Some statutes delegated insufficient authority for enforcement of the mandate and for leadership and direction by the State Department of Education.
There existed a severe shortage of professional personnel competent to diagnose, direct, experiment, evaluate, and program for exceptional children. This observation indicated that institutions of higher learning had insufficient support by legislation for such service.
One of the most serious gaps uncovered in the study was the complete absence of legislation to provide for the education of gifted and talented pupils, those who are intellectually unchallenged by regular curriculum and strategy, and those who have outstanding talents in the creative arts (music, visual, and performing arts).
The study found the limitation of financial support a major block to adequate provisions for exceptional children. None of the needs were fully met ; some were much more adequately served than others. The pattern of differences in classification for State funding complicated procedures for claiming State aid. Inadequate and inequitable funding encouraged the employment of less than competent personnel, improper grouping, disproportionate pupil-teacher ratios, and inadequate identification, programing, and evaluation services.
This study pointed to an all-encompassing piece of legislation for all exceptional children. The 1966 Chubbuck Report recommended that all exceptional children be serviced under an umbrella type of State legislation.
The State Board of Education approved the Chubbuck Report in the fall of 1966 and the Legislative Commission began work almost immediately on a "special education umbrella bill," which mandated school districts to provide programs and services to its mentally retarded, physically handicapped, socially and emotionally maladjusted, neurologically impaired, and those suffering from an identifiable learning disability; and permitted school districts to provide special education to pupils with extraordinary learning abílity or outstanding talent in the creative arts.
The Connecticut statute is predicated on programing rather than numbers of children. The local school district submits a prior-approval for a program; once such a program is approved by the State agency. the local district is eligible to ask for two-thirds reimbursement of the program at the close of the fiscal year.
For the gifted and talented, the most consequential aspect of the statute is the provision for adequate funding to local school districts. A large number of school districts now have the vehicle for implementing programs.
Working in cooperation with the State education agency, the State's colleges and universities have helped increasing numbers of teachers and leadership personnel to improve their skills in differentiated curriculum for the gifted and talented.
In the fall of 1966, only one course was being offered in the entire State on the education of the gifted and talented; now there are three graduate level programs of training and four other institutions of higher learning offering course sequences in this area of special education.
Since 1967, when efforts to activate forces on behalf of the gifted and talented were begun, the numbers of local differentiated programs have moved from 4 school districts to 62 school districts. These 62 districts are serviced by 42 operational programs to cover many types of giftedness. Among the exemplary programs are:
1. An old college campus used as a talent retrieval center for disadvantaged gifted talent.
2. A mountain top used as a site for highly gifted and talented pupils in the earth and space science.
3. A renovated synagogue to serve as a high school center for pupils with outstanding talents in the creative arts from 18 surrounding school districts.
4. A six-room regional center for gifted and talented. In addition to the programs in operation, 20 additional school districts are planning to implement programs for reimbursement in September 1971. More than 1,500 teachers, counselors, and leadership personnel have enrolled in courses, inservice training, and workshops to prepare for impending programs, and over 2,500 professional personnel have attended short-term institutes and conferences devoted entirely to programing for gifted and talented pupils. The model to increase the quantity and quality of programs for the gifted is directly related to three basic elements:
1. A sound legal and properly funded statute to provide reimbursement to local school districts for special programs and/or services for the gifted and talented.
2. Provision of full-time consultive leadership by the State education agency to assist local school districts in programming for the gifted and talented.
3. A coordinated and articulated program for teacher training and retraining in the area of the gifted and talented.
GEORGIA'S PROGRAM FOR THE INTELLECTUALLY GIFTED The Georgia Department of Education Program for the Intellectually Gifted is now in its 13th year. Interest within the State for such programs dates back to a 1958 House Resolution requesting the status and plans for education of Georgia's gifted children.
A small publication on education of the gifted, made available to all public school and Department personnel, began a series for school officials.
A consultant on the gifted was added to the program staff in 1958 to provide services to public school systems interested in beginning special programs for the intellectually gifted. The first years were spent in:
1. Surveying the State to determine the status of special programs for the intellectually gifted.
2. Orienting State Department of Education, university, college, and public school personnel as well as laymen to the status of programs for the intellectually gifted in the State and the Nation.
3. Providing inservice training for department personnel.
5. Providing consultive services to public school systems, colleges, and universities. From July 1960 to July 1961, the consultant participated in the Southern Regional Education Board project, Education of the Gifted, a training program designed to place within Southern State departments of education one person informed on education of the gifted. The department accepted the responsibility for developing a 10-year plan of action. This plan was developed by the consultant working with two committees a statewide committee of public school, State department, and university people; and a State Department of Education committee.
This plan, approved in principle by the Georgia Department of Education's Coordination Committee, recognizes the right of individuals and the need for special programs for those who differ from most children and youth. It permits a flexible State program with standards that can be adapted to metropolitan, urban or rural students' needs.
Student participants were defined as those with an I.Q. of 120 and above who could profit from unusual academic challenges.
At the April 1961 meeting of the State Board of Education, one project per congressional district was approved. Projects began in the fall of 1961 and operated through the 1963–64 school year, when they were terminated because of limited funds. According to information from the participating systems, the projects were successful and those phases which could become parts of the regular school instruction program without financial support were absorbed.
The passage of the new Minimum Foundation Program of Education Act of the 1964 General Assembly established the Governor's Honors Program. The basic plan for operating this program was developed by the consultant for the gifted, a department committee, and a statewide committee. The program is now in its 8th year of operation. A second consultant on the gifted was added to the department staff in 1967 to work with the Governor's Honors program.
Action by the 1968 General Assembly brought new emphasis to program development for the intellectually gifted. House Bill 453 mandated special programs for all exceptional children, including the intellectually gifted, by school year 1975-1976. To help implement this bill, the State Board of Education approved a new State program for the intellectually gifted. The State Superintendent of Schools