|Richardson Gifted Parent Support Group||
Richardson GIfted Board Statement
Gifted Education: Academic Excellence and Equity in Texas Schools
Joint letter, posted March 6, 2019
As the Texas Legislature examines school finance, Texas educators, parents, and business leaders should agree on the importance of public education for all students. Texas must protect what works and improve what isn’t working, and it cannot dismiss the needs of any students. Though not always recognized as an at-risk population, research shows that students identified as Gifted and Talented have unique instructional needs and require different instructional interventions in order to learn and achieve their potential. As the Legislature considers special populations in need of dedicated funding, this must include the Gifted and Talented (GT) population.
There are gifted children in all cultures and at all economic levels. In 2018, 7.9% of students in Texas public schools were participating in gifted education, the majority of those (62%) were students of color, and more than one in three of those gifted students are economically disadvantaged (37%). Gifted children learn more quickly than their age peers and they demonstrate a need for significantly more advanced curriculum and instruction. Contrary to myth, these students generally do not thrive in the general education curriculum without GT services and modifications. When any educational need is not identified and addressed with appropriate, evidence-based curriculum and services, a student is at risk for misdiagnosis, underachievement, or other negative outcomes. Gifted children are no different in this respect. Some gifted children have coexisting disabilities requiring additional interventions. Gifted services meet specific educational needs and allow these children to learn in public school.
Excellence in GT education has bipartisan support: gifted education makes economic sense and is critical for equity in opportunity. Texas universities and businesses need graduates prepared for challenge and innovation, and gifted services enable high-ability students to learn to cope with later challenges. Texas schools with strong GT programs provide better opportunities for all learners, and businesses look at school quality when choosing where to operate. Most importantly, GT programs serve children from low socioeconomic backgrounds who would not otherwise have support for advanced coursework and graduation. For gifted students in poverty, GT education is essential for equity in public education.
Although every district should prioritize GT education, not all will do so without dedicated funding. For this reason, Texas is one of 27 states that allocate funding for gifted education. In Texas, the Gifted and Talented (GT) Allotment provides a base amount that must be used for GT services, and it is essential for this funding to continue. Efforts are underway to improve identification of gifted needs in diverse populations, and any reduction in mandated GT funding would risk compromising these efforts. In addition, identifying GT needs does not help children unless GT educators have funds for specialists and services to meet those needs. For districts to comply with state requirements, follow best practices, and continue to improve GT identification and services, the GT mandate must be funded.
Every child deserves an appropriate education and the instruction needed to learn. This includes children with learning differences. Currently, Texas has one of the most diverse gifted education populations in the nation. Removing the GT Allotment would risk negative consequences that would potentially have a greater impact on students who are economically disadvantaged and who rely on schools to provide needed academic services. For stakeholders and lawmakers concerned about equity in education, student outcomes, and economic growth, support for gifted education should be a priority. For the future of students with learning differences and for the future of Texas, it is critical to continue dedicated state GT funding.
Emily Villamar-Robbins, Member of the Commissioner's Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted Students
Cherin Escher, President, Carrollton Farmers Branch Association for the Gifted & Talented
Becky Campbell, President, Richardson Gifted Parent Network
Ashley Carbone, President, Frisco Gifted Association
Vicki Miertschin, President, Gifted Eagle Mountain Saginaw Students
Bettina Flunker, Board Member, Gifted Eagle Mountain Saginaw Students
Sandra Colston, Plano Gifted Association
Amy Warren, President, Grapevine-Colleyville SAGE: Supporting and Advocating for Gifted Education
Melissa Allan, President, Park Cities Talented and Gifted (PC-TAG) Board
Joyce Blackson, McKinney Gifted and Talented Alliance
State Representative Angie Chen Button, House District 112
Ana-Maria Ramos, State Representative, House District 102