Date of Award
Education Specialist (EdS)
Robert V. Shuff
This field work experience for the Specialist degree in Educational Administration at Eastern Illinois University involved a study of the gifted program in Charleston, Illinois, seen from two aspects: the state reimbursed gifted program as well as the local school's independent effort for its top students. The writer's method of inquiry combined library research and 40 interviews with teachers, administrators, and authorities on gifted students.
At first the term "giftedness" had to be defined. The word has grown from the original meaning of "intellectual or academic aptitude," based on intelligence tests, to a meaning so broad as to be scarcely comprehensible. In recent times the U.S. Office of Education, and the State of Illinois too, defined giftedness as the upper 5 per cent of the student body including: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative thinking and production, leadership ability, visual and performing arts, and psycho-motor ability. In the writer's opinion, that definition for the schools is too broadly defined to be workable. The schools would do well to focus on creativity and intellectual ability.
Next, the state's special program for the gifted, as realized locally with funds of $4000 in 1977-78, was examined in terms of: the means of identification, the types of grouping, and the types of giftedness covered.
The local program was then seen in its overall relationship to the regional and state organization. The writer was critical of the regions for their lack of focus, partly due to the distracting six definitions of giftedness, partly due to the harried annual competition among agencies vying to be one of the nine regional centers. The state office has greater depth in approach because it is not annually fighting for its life. It plans to emphasize in the next 5 years "academic aptitude" of the six definitions, a more complete identification process of gifted children, and a more systematic linkage system over the state.
Other than the state's program, manifested regionally and locally, the writer looked at programs in the district which benefit gifted students directly or indirectly, either through acceleration, enrichment or special groupings, using Kough's criteria in Practical Programs for the Gifted. Special high ability groupings, believed to be most fruitful for the gifted, are available mainly for grades 5 through 8 in Charleston. Otherwise, special groupings are hard to find either in the heterogeneous classrooms for kindergarten through 4th grade or in the limited offerings at the high school where recent budget cuts have forced a reduction in courses from 133 to 93.
The writer makes two general suggestions: 1) to improve articulation at all levels so that the brightest students are not held back in any subject area 2) to train more teachers as to the special needs of gifted students. Specifically, for elementary programs, mini-courses and enrichment "contracts" are recommended as a way of giving special challenge in heterogeneous classes. At the secondary level, students should be encouraged to take advanced courses, unavailable at the high school, at Eastern Illinois University. Also, Eastern should reach out to all school age gifted children (K-12) by offering them stimulating summer courses.
Swartzbaugh, Dorothy L., "Programs Benefitting Gifted Students in Charleston, Illinois" (1978). Masters Theses. 3214.
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