The nation’s first school for gifted children opened in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1901.
Since then a debate has swirled around gifted education’s implementation, effectiveness, and importance. But most educators agree that challenging material and a faster pace benefit high-achieving students.
“Students with high abilities need gifted education programs that will challenge them in regular classroom settings and enrichment and accelerated programs to enable them to make continuous progress in school,” writes the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC).
Ninety percent of teachers from the same survey favored having more professional development opportunities available to them to develop skills for teaching advanced kids, but only 25 percent report access to such training.
While most teachers find their advanced students would benefit from acceleration, 76 percent find that the needs of advanced students are a low, or middle, priority at their schools.
Several long-term studies have shown the positive effect of gifted programs on students’ futures.
One, for example, followed 320 gifted students who received advanced education services from adolescence through the secondary level. By age 38, 63 percent (203) of these participants had master’s degrees or above, and 44 percent (142) held a doctoral degree. These students received doctoral degrees at a rate 50 times the average.
Students interested in studying this field have the opportunity to perform an independent research study or honors thesis on the topic. Students can also volunteer at local enrichment programs or work as a mentor or tutor through the Reach Out Center.
For more information on pursuing a career as a full-time gifted and talented educator, talk to your advisor about earning a Master’s degree in gifted education — available at several universities across New England.