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late 1950's, with the dawn of the space age, national attention was focused on the gifted through a series of NSF and NDEA programs, but those initial efforts have lost their impact because the priorities of the 1960's shifted to the problems of poverty and the disadvantaged. It is further important to maintain program continuity when a new Commissioner of Education takes office. This continuity of focus does not mean that new administrations of Commissioners of Education should not be able to set their own priorities but will insure payoffs from programs scheduled to run for several years.
STRATEGIES AND ENTRY POINTS
Given that USOE sets up an agency or mechanism as the focus for a national, coordinated delivery system, what avenues should USOE pursue in establishing this agency and what are the best entry points within the USOE for it? Three alternative strategies to set up an agency or mechanism are:
(1) USOE could create a new bureau solely responsible for GTCY;
(2) USOE could create a new division within a bureau ; or
(3) USOE could set up a GTCY Program Group with the responsibility to coordinate or orchestrate and focus resources
for GTCY. Appendix G discusses the pros and cons of each strategy, along with procedures for fitting each into the existing structure.
The final chapter summarizes the findings in this and preceding chapters and proposes some immediate steps in response to the major deficiencies uncovered.
SUMMARY, FINDINGS, AND THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION'S
RESPONSE The Commissioner's study has produced many recommendations from various sources concerning the need for special programs, suggested priorities in planning individual programs, estimates of the professional support and teacher training required, and adjustments in legal definitions that would enhance the possibility of State and local fiscal support. Details on these recommendations may be found in the text or in the appendixes of this report.
The steps to be taken by the Office of Education in response to these recommendations are, however, the responsibility of the Commissioner of Education. These follow the summary and major findings of the study outlined below. While they reflect the needs indicated by various contributors, they are also tailored to 1) the desire for some immediate action consonant with other priorities identified within the program of the Office of Education and 2) a consistent and sustained effort over several years.
SUMMARY AND MAJOR FINDINGS There can be few, if any, exceptions to the observations threading throughout this study that the gifted and talented youth are a unique population, differing markedly from their age peers in abilities, talents, interests, and psychological maturity. The most versatile and complex of all human groups, they suffer the neglect that is typical of all groups with special educational needs. Their sensitivity to others and insight into existing school conditions make them especially vulnerable; they frequently conceal their giftedness in standardized surroundings. The resultant waste in human terms and national resources is tragic.
The relatively few gifted students who have had the advantage of special programs have shown remarkable improvements in self-understanding and in ability to relate to others as well as in improved academic and creative performance. But many more young people go unnoticed. Very little identification has been carried on in depth, or with proper testing instruments. Many of the assumptions about giftedness and its incidence in various parts of American society are based on inadequate data, partial information, and group tests of limited value.
According to the testimony and experience of professionals and parents of gifted and talented, our educational system has been inconsistent in seeking the gifted and talented, finding them early in their lives and individualizing their education. Our educational system mirrors society's ambivalence and inconsistency toward the gifted and
talented. Special injustice has occurred through apathy toward cer: tain minorities, although neglect of the gifted in this country is a universal and increasing problem.
The major findings of the study—those with particular relevance to the future planning of the Office of Education—may be summarized as follows:
A conservative estimate of gifted and talented children ranges between 1.5 and 2.5 million out of a total elementary and secondary school population (1970 estimate) of 51.6 million.
Existing service to gifted and talented children and youth do not reach large and significant subpopulations (e.g., minorities and disadvantaged) and serve only a very small percentage of the gifted and talented elementary and secondary population generally.
Differentiated education for the gifted and talented is presently perceived as a very low priority at Federal, State, and most local levels of government and educational administration.
Although 22 States have legislation to provide resources to school districts for services to the gifted and talented, such legislation in many cases merely represents intent.
Even where there is a legal or administrative basis for provision of services, funding priorities, crisis concerns, and lack of personnel cause programs for the gifted to be miniscule or theoretical.
There is an enormous individual and social cost when talent among the Nation's children and youth goes undiscovered and undeveloped. These students cannot ordinarily excel without assistance.
Identification of the gifted is hampered not only by costs of appropriate testing—when these methods are known and adopted—but stem also from apathy and even hostility among teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, and psychologists.
Gifted and talented children are, in fact, deprived and disadvantaged, and can suffer psychological damage and permanent impairment of their abilities to function well which is equal to or greater than the similar deprivation suffered by any other population with special needs served by the Office of Education.
SE services for the gifted and talented will, in fact, also serve other target populations such as the disadvantaged singled out for attention and support.
Services provided to gifted and talented children can and do produce significant and measurable outcomes.
States (and local communities) look to the Federal Government for leadership in this area of education, with or without massive funding.
The Federal role in delivery of services to the gifted and talented is presently all but nonexistent. These findings, which are documented in the appendixes, provide ample evidence of the need for action to eliminate the widespread neglect of this population. Federal leadership in this effort is required to confirm and establish provisions for the gifted and talented as a national priority, and to encourage the States to include this priority in their own planning. The experiences of the disadvantaged and
handicapped tells us that little is done systematically for special needy groups until the Federal Government takes an interest and stimulates action.
THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION'S RESPONSE The findings of this study are not surprising. It is obvious that the attention to the gifted which arose almost 50 years ago has waxed and waned but never reached the level of a total national commitment. The Sixties marked a reversal of the strong interest during the Fifties, originally sparked by foundation programs supporting advanced placement, early admission to college and similar changes toward individualization, and by strong government support for science programs at the end of the decade.
Commissioner S. P. Marland, Jr. has observed that a curve of funding support would show a profile of our society itself, the work of education generally, but especially the work of the Office of Education. The Office of Education is concerned about that distribution curve. There has been inadequate attention to the disadvantaged, to improved vocational education and education for the handicapped, to the thrust for equal education opportunities, to integration. All of these are massive programs to solve massive problems.
That is where our priorities have been. That is where the priorities of this Administration are. We are working hard on these problems.
But over on the other side of the curve are other neglected people. In terms of our national expenditure profile, the Commissioner has emphasized, we are not letting it be known that we are concerned about them. We are not flying the flag for those great intellects that are brighter than most of the rest of us and who, indeed, might help us to raise our sights. Thousands, tragically undiscovered, are in the very populations (such as the disadvantaged, the handicapped, and minorities) on whom we are concentrating in other ways. Adequate attention to the gifted and talented is needed to round out our educational program.
We educators need to reach these gifted young people, to encourage them, and to release them. We can do it and still work on the priorities for all of the disadvantaged minorities and others long neglected in our society. We can do it at the Federal level, the Commissioner has emphasized; it can be done at the State and local levels as well.
A single school administrator can deploy what energies he has, what energies his faculty has, what resources the Board of Education has in ways that are compatible with, but which will still not handicap the rest of his program.
None of these comments implies a “track system” for the gifted. Educators can do so much for so very little with able children simply by freeing them under teachers who recognize and respect them. There are community resources we have not begun to tap to reinforce the efforts of the schools.
It does not take a lot of money, and it does not necessarily take new laws, but it does take concern and interest and commitment.
To inject this feeling and proposition into a system ,whether a large or a small system, there has to be an individual in charge of giving complete and full-time commitment and creativity to it. There are any number of devices for structuring change in a system. But in the end
it depends upon the wisdom and creativity of that person in charge and whether the chief executive officer wants to back up the person and help him or her to move.
Of the items cited in the study, other than the general neglect of the gifted and talented population, the most frequently mentioned was the need for placing leadership persons in visible positions at the State and Federal level. S. P. Marland, Jr., recently stated: “With this report, I, as Commissioner of Education, become a visible advocate for increased attention to this group of young people. Rather than proposing extensive objectives now, either in terms of money or legislation, I believe we ought to initiate those things we can realistically accomplish immediately within the Office of Education in order to meet the problems suggested in the study. The end product of this study will never be reached wholly. It will continue to grow, we hope, and remain infinite in its possibilities. But first it must begin and we believe the most appropriate way is by injecting the principle of action on behalf of the gifted into our ongoing programs.
The Office of Education will institute within its operational planning system specific goals and objectives for an increased Federal role of education for gifted and talented children. The Commissioner has announced his intention to establish a nucleus program staff under the Deputy Commissioner for School Systems; the director of this staff will, in effect, be "in charge" of the gifted and talented group on behalf of the Office of Education. The responsibilities of the program staff will be to develop viable plans for the utilization and management of various OE resources which can be committed to this effort. This is not a program with a one-year priority life. Part of the operational planning system provides for a continuum and a maintenance of national focus on this effort.
Some preliminary Federal objectives, based on the study's recommendations, are:
To establish a working program group for gifted and talented education
To increase the number and capability of staff responsible for gifted and talented education in the regional offices and the State education agencies
To expand the availability of improved instruments and procedures to identify gifted and talented students and to evaluate programs for this group
To increase the number of gifted and talented who are served by high quality programs. Eleven action steps have been developed as feasibility or data development projects to help meet these objectives on a short-term basis while an integrated plan is devised.
The 5-year planning cycle begins with the implementation report described under action step 1 (see below). The remaining steps are concerned with immediate actions to establish the leadership function in the Office of Education and to maximize the spread of this effort to the States and local education agencies. These are immediate steps the Office of Education can and will take in 1972 to launch the Federal program for the gifted and talented. No new legislation is needed for them. These changes can be initiated while long-range planning is