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March 03, 2009

Gifted students need support

As an educator and parent of gifted children, I would like to recognize Missouri’s Gifted Education Week, March 1-7, by sharing some of the challenges our brightest students and their families face, and by dispelling the myth that smart kids don’t need support. It is harmful and incorrect to assume gifted students can make it on their own. Unfortunately, this assumption has led to an inadequate investment in gifted programs and teacher training, which often results in an inferior education for this student population.

Gifted students throughout the nation are, as a whole, underserved and overlooked, with high-achieving students from high-poverty communities hit the hardest. While low-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds have made encouraging academic progress in recent years, the learning progress of their classmates who were initially high performers has stagnated. Recently, we’ve learned that U.S. student performance has remained flat in science and is only middle-of-the-pack compared with students around the world.

To regain our position as a world leader in education, lawmakers must focus now on getting these students what they need and deserve — an opportunity to do their best.

Sue Winter
Past president, Gifted Association of Missouri
Columbia, Mo.

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