Meeting the Needs of the Gifted and Talented in a Mainstream Classroom Setting Data Analysis Chapter

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Meeting the Needs of the Gifted and Talented in a Mainstream Classroom Setting

Qualitative research

Does teacher instruction challenge the needs of the gifted and talented in a mainstream classroom?

Special needs instruction for low-performing students has become an increasingly important aspect of the modern national conversation on education, given the growing, evident need for additional support for students with autism, attention-deficit disorder, and ESL students. However, the presence of gifted and talented students at the other end of the differential learning spectrum is often forgotten. Because these students are not evidently being 'left behind' in the debate regarding standardized assessment and testing, their needs are often ignored. Teachers may assign some students more challenging work for 'extra credit' but the specific needs of the gifted and talented, it was hypothesized in this research study, are not fully addressed.

To understand how gifted and talented education is perceived and implemented, a qualitative study of teachers at a middle school (School 'A') with a population consisting of 282 students was embarked upon, to better assess the current state of gifted and talented educational instruction and current needs of the population

School demographics

The middle school population consisted of 178 females and 104 males. The gifted and talented population numbered 72: 38 females and 34 males. Teachers are officially encouraged to identify gifted and talented students, according to the school's stated policy.

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Data Analysis Chapter on Meeting the Needs of the Gifted and Talented in a Mainstream Classroom Setting Assignment

A combination of discussion 'focus groups' with teachers and observations of classroom interactions were used for the study. This approach was specifically deployed to assess any discrepancies between teachers' self-perceptions of their pedagogical styles and their actual interactions with students in the classroom. Participant observations were not deployed, so as not to influence the teacher's regular interactions with the students. Additionally, the regular classroom day might have been disrupted by a participatory approach, given that the classrooms often encompassed special needs students, gifted and talented students, and 'regular' students, and sometimes an aide to assist with students who had special needs.

For the focus groups, eleven teachers were selected: 3 in mathematics; 3 science and social studies instructors; 2 language arts / literacy teachers; and 3 bilingual teachers who taught all subjects to ESL students. All teachers were ranked by the school, based upon student test scores and other measures of excellence, as highly qualified.

Three focus groups were conducted: one in late September, on in mid-October, and the third in early November. The two observations conducted by the researcher took place in mid-October and mid-November

Focus group findings

All staff members agreed with the idea of classifying certain students as gifted and talented, or students who were said to demonstrate exceptional natural talent, intellect, and maturity. This emphasis on student maturity in the agreed-upon definition of giftedness suggests that gifted children have an additional perspective and intellectual orientation that requires nurturing. All teachers were aware that they were required to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the gifted and talented, just as they were for special needs students. However, none of the staff members was aware of any specific district policy regarding students who were gifted and talented. None of the staff members knew that the district had a gifted and talented supervisor or a program for such students. When asked how they identified a student as gifted and talented, they stated that the only way they knew of to do so was using standardized testing results on the NJASK. Those students who scored Advanced Proficient on the test were classified officially as gifted and talented.

The reasons for teacher's lack of awareness should not be surprising, given that none of teachers had ever been offered additional instruction or professional development specific to the gifted and talented.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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