Supporting and sustaining talented low-income students in Massachusetts

Assumption College Undergraduate

education majors teaching gifted studentsMassachusetts teachers, gifted/talented coordinators, school administrators, researchers, and parents were among the thousands who attended the 61st Annual National Association for Gifted Children Convention in Baltimore last month.

Speakers included Worcester’s own Michael Barney, Director of the Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science. Barney also serves on the Board of Directors of the NCSSSMST (National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology), where his role is to conduct strategic planning, implement initiatives, and manage the business of the consortium.

In his speaking session, Barney discussed the importance of STEM-based projects for high-achieving students. He highlighted a long-term engineering project that has real-world applicability and is developed in teams. “Students research, design, and build an assistive device to help a client with a disability in their community.”

A sense of urgency marked the gathering, as organizers issued this rally cry: “We are losing the traction we need to ensure that all children are challenged to their fullest in the classroom. The nation’s future — our future — depends on educators and parents coming together to ensure that children realize their full potential.”

This echoes a similar message sent by the Massachusetts Gifted and Talented Advisory Council report to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for 2012-2013.

The report concluded that “an optimal level of struggle is needed — particularly in grades K-8 and in low-income communities, gifted students are chronically underserved in schools. They are then unprepared for the rigors of high school, college, and career. Educators waste their potential by creating disengaged, risk averse learners who may be talented, but who have lost the drive and resilience they will need for continued success.”

College-bound students interested in working toward a solution to this issue may choose to pursue an education degree. More to come in upcoming blog posts on how an education degree from Assumption College can prepare you for teaching gifted students.

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