Blog for Parents

House of Representatives Water Down Senate Bill for Serving Gifted Children


ESEA Bill Recognition of Need for Teacher Training to Support High-Ability Students; Lack of Focus on Accountability Remains a Concern

According to the NAGC:

The House of Representatives passed its overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in the past decade. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) encouraged that the legislation recognize our nation’s teachers be well-trained to meet the needs of high-ability students. The House of Representatives approved H.R. 5, The Student Success Act.

NAGC applauded lawmakers for including language that allowed federal teacher training funding to be used specifically to train and prepare teachers to work with high-ability students. However, the organization was concerned that the bill lacked measures included in the Senate version of the legislation that sought to bolster accountability. Moreover, the bill neglected to support the development and dissemination of teaching strategies to serve gifted students, particularly those living in disadvantaged settings.

NAGC stated, “Effective services and supports for our high-ability and high-potential students is not possible absent well-prepared and well-trained teachers. Recognizing this reality and including language that allows federal teacher-training dollars to be used for this purpose is a small step forward,” said Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, president of the National Association for Gifted Children and a professor of Education at Northwestern University in Chicago. “However, much more must be done to foster a climate of accountability to move the needle when it comes to developing our talent and helping all students maximize their potential,” she added.

Next, a key Senate committee advanced that chamber’s version of the legislation that included NAGC-supported provisions to address the achievement gap at the top of the performance spectrum and to revive federal research efforts in this area. Specifically, the Senate provisions require states to focus on identifying and serving gifted and high-ability students in Title I schools and would restore and enhance federal research initiatives to support gifted students in rural and other communities who have been underrepresented in gifted education programs.

“NAGC is pleased that after decades of near-total neglect in federal education policy, both chambers are taking steps to reverse this slight and support systems to identify and develop our high-potential and high-ability students. A half-century ago, our nation made such a commitment to talent development, and it paid major dividends. Now is the time for Congress to make a similar commitment for the future well-being of our nation,” Olszewski-Kubilius said.

Over the weeks and months ahead, NAGC will continue to work with champions and supporters in Congress to advocate for the inclusion of the accountability, teacher training, and applied research provisions within any final version of the ESEA reauthorization.