Supporting and advocating for appropriate education for the gifted and talented of Massachusetts


 

Great news!!

 

Efforts of the Massachusetts gifted community rallied the Senate to approve our amendment, voting 38 for-0 against, to appropriate $50,000 to study gifted education here. It’s now in the Senate’s version of the FY19 state budget. A big THANK YOU for contacting your Senator. Your voice made the difference!

 

As you know, we weren’t successful in garnering enough support last month to get the funding in the House version. A Conference Committee of three Representatives and three Senators will now reconcile the differences between the two budgets to come up with a final budget version to send to Governor Baker.

 

Action Needed NOW!

This week presents another important opportunity to contact your Representative and Senator to reinforce that you care about this funding.

 

How you can help:


(1)  Constituents of co-sponsoring Senators 
Brownsberger, Barrett, L'Italien, O'Connor, Eldridge, Fattman, and filing Senators Creem and Lewis:

Please send a "Thank you" email to your Senator thanking them for co-sponsoring this amendment and asking for their continuing support of the amendment's language as the budget process moves on to the conference committee. 

 

Sample text:


Dear Senator [name], 

 

Thank you for sponsoring Amendment #247 "Gifted and Talented Students", and successfully advocating for its inclusion in the Senate Budget. As you know, it’s not in the House budget. I care about the education of advanced and gifted learners in Massachusetts. Please do whatever you can to get this funding included in the final budget.

 

Thank you,

[your name]

[your mailing address]


(2)  Constituents of co-sponsoring Representatives
James Arciero, Brian Ashe, Ruth Balser, Paul Brodeur, Gerard Cassidy, Diana DiZoglio, Shawn Dooley,  James Dwyer, Carolyn Dykema, Sean Garballey, Carmine Gentile, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Danielle Gregoire, James Kelcourse, Jack Lewis, Paul McMurtry, David Muradian, Jr., James Murphy, Harold Naughton, Angelo Puppolo, David Rogers, Jeffrey Roy, Frank Smizik, Paul Tucker, Chynah Tyler, Steven Ultrino, Susannah Whipps,

 

    Please send a “Thank You” email to your Representative, urging them to support the gifted     study line item in the conference committee process.


    Sample text:


    Dear Representative [name],

    Thank you for co-sponsoring House Amendment #321 "Gifted and Talented Students", which sought     funding of $50,000 to conduct a study for the state's gifted and talented students. While not adopted     by the House, similar language is in the Senate version of the budget. I know and care about gifted     education. Please continue to advocate for this funding during the conference committee process.    

    

    [your name]

    [your mailing address]


    (3)  If you have contacted your Senator and/or Representative and haven’t gotten a     response, please contact them by email and urge them to support the gifted study funding     through the conference committee process.


    When advocates persist, legislators take notice. If they don’t respond a second or third time,      they risk losing your support and vote. This is an election year. Asking for support now will     find legislators responsive, and improve our position advocating for our bills next year.

 

    Sample text:


     Dear Representative [name],


    Last month I contacted you regarding the “Gifted and Talented Students" amendment, which sought     funding of $50,000 to conduct a study to inform Massachusetts policy makers on the needs of the     state's gifted and talented students. It’s now included in the Senate budget, but not in the House     version.

    I know and care about gifted education. I ask you to support this issue in the conference committee     process to help include it in the final budget sent to Governor Baker.


    [your name]

    [your mailing address]


    (4)  If you haven’t previously contacted your legislators, please email them now. Ask them if     they will support the funding for the gifted study through the conference committee process.

 

    Find your legislators' email address at this website: malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator


    Sample text:


    Dear Representative/Senator [name],


    I care about gifted education, and ask to you to support the line item in the Senate Budget for "Gifted and Talented Students", which funds $50,000 to conduct a study to inform Massachusetts policy makers on the needs of the state's gifted and talented students. It’s not in the House budget,    however. Please do what you can to include this funding in the conference committee budget.


    [your name]

    [your mailing address]

 

Even a single Representative or Senator can make the difference to tip the scales in our favor! It's an election year - legislators are motivated to listen to you.

 

We can be very proud we got the mountain to move bit. Now, let's do all we can to get the gifted study through the committee process into the final budget!

 

Thank you so much for impressing on our legislators that gifted students and their needs indeed exist in MA!

 

The MAGE Advocacy Team

If you have questions, please respond to advocacy@massgifted.org or call Gerry at 781-248-2121.

 

Lastly, if you would be so kind as to copy us, at advocacy@massgifted.org, on your correspondence in your email to legislators, forward your email, or simply send us notice that you communicated. This will help us track who has received the message.

We appreciate all you can do!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Below is the language that was adopted in the Senate.

3rd Redraft EDU 247

Gifted and talented students

Messrs. Lewis and Brownsberger, Ms. Creem, Mr. Barrett, Ms. L'Italien, Messrs. O'Connor and Eldridge moved that the proposed new text be amended in section 2, in item 7010-0005, by adding the following words:- “; provided further, that not less than $50,000 shall be expended  by the department to study and report on a policy and practice review, along with a needs assessment, regarding education in the public schools, of the children who are capable of achieving beyond the age-based grades, and those who are gifted as defined by federal law"; and in said section 2, in said item 7010-0005, by striking out the figure “$12,098,745” and inserting in place thereof the following figure:- “$12,148,745”.



Yes! Our Gifted Children Need Support

This is just one recent article on the needs of gifted children. In this article the "American Journal  of Occupational Therapy" highlights Sensitivities of Gifted Children.


The Latest Report from the Fordham Institute

Is there a Gifted Gap?

by Christopher Yaluma and Adam Tyner

         A key statistic in this report is shown on page 70. When looking at the percentage of schools with gifted programs, the national average is 68.3; in Massachusetts, this is only 5.3.  Furthermore, there are only 16 high poverty schools with gifted programs in the entire state. There are 1,389 elementary and middle schools in the Massachusetts, of which 253 are high poverty.

         Nationally, high poverty schools are as likely as low poverty schools to have gifted programs. However, the participation of students in low poverty schools is twice the rate of those in high poverty schools. Similarly, the rate of participation of Black and Hispanic students in gifted programs is lower than their Asian and white counterparts. These trends are also true in Massachusetts, and are even more troubling. Those with the least resources have far fewer schools to provide gifted programs (1/12 of the national average).

         For the full report, see http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/%2801.31%29 Is There a Gifted Gap - Gifted Education in High-Poverty Schools.pdf

     

*****


Thank you to all of our MAGE Advocates!


At the November 28th Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting in Malden, Board member Katherine Craven spoke of the priorities included in the Governor’s FY19 Budget request, which the Board would advance to Secretary Peyser. 

Katherine Craven stated:

"We think that having a budget study going back to the Ways and Means Committees about resources needed to do something for Gifted and Talented students across the Commonwealth would be a good thing." 

The Board voted to advance the list of priorities, INCLUDING the gifted budget study provision! This is good news!! 


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world." Margaret Mead


Supreme Court Interprets the Scope of the Free Appropriate Public Education Requirements in the case of Endrew vs. Douglas County School District


 On March 22, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court (sometimes referred to as Court) issued a unanimous opinion in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S. Ct. 988. In that case, the Court interpreted the scope of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Court overturned the Tenth Circuit’s decision that Endrew, a child with autism, was only entitled to an educational program that was calculated to provide “merely more than de minimis” educational benefit. In rejecting the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning, the Supreme Court determined that, “[t]o meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP [individualized education program] that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Court additionally emphasized the requirement that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” 


For Q & A released on this case by the US Department of Education Dec 7, 2017, see: Endrewcase2017.pdf



Your Voice Needs to be Heard!

While Massachusetts has a great reputation in education, it's based on the percentage of students at the proficient level for each given grade. This system has no requirements for addressing the needs of advanced or gifted children. Educators do not need to acknowledge that many of our students sit in classrooms day after day repeating material they already knew before stepping into that grade.

Our state needs to understand that the "one-size-fits-all" model of education is not serving the need of our children! To this end we are endorsing House Bills 2050 and 2051.


Highlights of these bills are included in the postcards shown below.

Support these bills!

Find your legislators at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Write a letter (or have your child write a letter). OR

Request postcards to send to your legislator from katharina.elbert@yahoo.com

Be sure to include your address and signature!


H2050 postcard 9-11-17.pdf


H2051 postcard 9-11-17.pdf



Legislation


We currently have two House Bills pending in the Committee on Education; these were presented by Harold P. Naughton of Clinton:

  • H. 2050 An Act providing public school students opportunities to reach their full potential This bill calls for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to:
    • report on the  students capable of achieving above grade level,
    • provide a full time staff member within the DESE with responsibility for advanced learners,
    • establish a professional development program for educators across the state to provide knowledge about the recognition, needs and strategies of advanced and gifted students.
    • include in the requirements for educator certification, training in strategies for effective education of beyond-grade-level and gifted and talented students
    • request plans for accommodation and intervention for these students
          The full text of this bill can be found at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2050


  • H.2051 An Act to document learning readiness, achievement and growth of public school students This bill calls for an effective mechanism for monitoring the actual progress of individual students' mastery.

         The full text of this bill can be found at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2051


         The intent of H.2051 is for assessments to capture the level and progress of students who are one or more levels above or below their grade. This would ensure continuous progress through the standards and would identify the actual learning needs of students in public school classrooms. The use of adaptive tests in other states has shown that 10-30% of students are capable of work beyond grade level. In addition, students more than one grade level below may make substantial progress in a year, yet their learning is not measured with MCAS tests.


         These bills are especially important for students in our under-served populations, whose giftedness and talents often go unnoticed.

____________________________________________________________


How many students are we advocating for?

 

An estimate of 17.4% is based on 2 facts:

1. The Mass. Dept. of Ed website states that 17.4% of students in MA are identified as Students with Disabilities. 

2. The normal curve is symmetrical.

3. Therefore, statistically, there should be 17.4% of MA students who would fall into the various categories of Gifted Education as well. With 953,748 students, that's more than 150,000.

 

If you go to http://www.nagc.org/theoretical-frameworks-giftedness, you will see that Francoys Gagne from 1985 suggested that 10% of humans were gifted. That would be 100,000

You can read more about his work at http://www.gigers.com/matthias/gifted/gagne_dmgt.html it's not very long.

 

Linda Silverman, who specializes in the "profoundly gifted” says that they are 2.5 to 3% of the population. See item 1(a) here https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/09/28/443193523/who-are-the-gifted-and-talented-and-what-do-they-need. That's

25,000 to 30,000 that are “profoundly gifted”.

 

Even if the state will not acknowledge that the normal curve is symmetrical, if at least 5% of the population is gifted, that would be nearly 50,000 children. If any other group of 50,000 children in the state were not getting the education they needed, there would be an uproar.


Whether students are labelled gifted or not, there is evidence that many students are capable of performing above grade level. In a 2016 Johns Hopkins study, the authors estimate that 20-40% of elementary and middle school students perform at least one grade level above their current grade in reading, with 11-30% scoring at least one grade level above in math. The article, How Can so many Students Be Invisible? Large Percentages of American Students Perform Above Grade Level, can be found at http://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/StudentsinvisiblemastheadFINAL.pdf  With policies that promote programs to challenge our above-grade-level students, the impact could reach as many as one-third of our PK-12 school children.


If you are interested, this is a good website for the history of the study of human intelligence. http://www.intelltheory.com/map.shtml 

 

Although this is written in "legal-eze" you may find it interesting. It's from the U.S. Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg72.html

 

____________________________________


MAGE Educators and Parents meet with leaders in the

MA Department of Education's Center for Educational Options


Two separate meetings at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden were held in early October. These discussions with three staff members highlighted several topics: (1) Professional development and how important it is for teachers to understand the needs of gifted children, (2) Social emotional issues, (3) Personalized learning and differentiation, and (4) No-cost policies, such as acceleration. Although there are limitations, some steps can be taken in conjunction with ongoing initiatives of DESE. This collaborative work will continue, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with the the Center for Educational Options.



MAGE parents presented at the MA Board of Education meeting in Malden on March 28 and April 18, 2017

By telling their personal stories, MAGE parents informed DESE board members about the unmet educational needs of our Gifted and Talented children in Massachusetts. 

The Boston Herald followed up with a story, which was added to the NAGC NewsSource. Many thanks to those who spoke at the Board meeting.

Our voices need to be heard!

For the full story go to: http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/nagc/NAGC040517.php

and scroll down to Massachusetts Parents...



Advocacy

Myths about Gifted Students

Defining Giftedness

Educational Strategies


Gifted Organizations in other States



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