Anti-discrimination Letter

At our last board meeting we discussed the issue of convening the 2017 national convention in North Carolina, which has legislated a ban on policies of anti-discrimination against diverse sexual orientation and identity that we in our organization support.

Anti-discrimination laws protect persons of diverse sexual orientation and identity.

In consideration of this conflict, NMAG’s board advises the National Association of Gifted Children to relocate the 64th National Convention. NMAG Secretary Kathrine Kelton wrote this letter from NMAG to Dr. George Betts, President of NAGC. Please read it and join us in this request with a comment, either here on nmgifted.org, or on linked social media.

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Report: NAGC State Affiliates Conference

At the beginning of March this year, Dr. PJ Sedillo (NMAG President-Elect) and I attended the annual State Affiliates Conference in Washington, DC. Attendees (teachers, administrators and gifted specialists) from across the country met to talk about issues related to children identified as gifted, both in our respective states, as well as nationally. Our report focuses on the new ESSA.

President’s Report on the Every Student Succeeds Act

Photo report: Senator Heinric Christy Jewell-Roth Dr. PJ Sedillo

Christy Jewell-Roth, Senator Martin Heinrich, and Dr. PJ Sedillo in Washington DC during the NAGC State Affiliates Conference.

One topic, in particular, was of great interest to those of us in gifted education, that of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In December 2015, President Obama signed this federal legislation into law. As you likely already know, this is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and will replace No Child Left Behind, beginning in the 2016-17 school year. There are some great provisions in the law that relate to gifted students, which have not been there previously. Continue reading

Spring 2016 Newsletter

Spring is Here!

Spring 2016 NewsletterGreat ideas and information are blooming with all of the spring daffodils, forsythia blooms, and plum blossoms. You’ll find some of them right here in our newsletter, compiled by Jessica Carlisle, our Newsletter Chair. We’re looking for contributors, so join us! Email Publicity Chair Steve Heil to write for NMAG.

 

PARCC and Gifted Education

The PARCC, who publish the eponymous test used to measure educational progress toward college and career readiness in New Mexico, has released version 4 of its Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual.  Accommodations for PARCC are specifically targeted at English language learning students and those with 504 or IDEA disabilities. Gifted students who are not ELLs or twice exceptional are not part of that group.

PARCC Homepage Screen ShotI have met many educators who have written testing accommodations into individual plans for gifted students.  I have myself.  For those smart students who have the slow, deliberative processing style of a creative person, it can be tempting to extend testing time.  Students who express anxiety around testing or who are affected by high levels of perfectionism may present a need for a customized testing experience as well.

Fortunately, the PARCC provides two sets of features that may be applied to any student: “administrative considerations,” and “accessibility features.”  Administrative considerations include small group settings, special timing allowances, or frequent breaks.  The PARCC’s accessibility features include spell checking, highlighting, selective text-to-speech, glossaries, and noise buffers.  But which features should you consider for your gifted students?  The answer is dependent on the purpose of and way we interpret standardized tests.

The Purpose of Standardized Tests

Ask any random group people why we give standardized tests, and you’re likely to get as many answers as you have conversations.  Policy makers and school administrators use tests to evaluate the efficacy of programs and teachers.  Colleges and special programs employ them to determine the likely success of candidates and select participants.  Teachers may see tests as diagnostic tools for best planning educational opportunities. In the era of Value Added Modeling, tests become opportunities for greater pay and accolades on one hand and liabilities weighing against their evaluations on the other.  Parents might view tests as a measure of whether their students are doing well in school or which school to select.  Students may see tests as measures of their success or failure or simply trials to get past, depending on their experience.

While some purposes of testing may have more merit than others, any meaningful use of a test requires that it be reliable and valid.  Reliable tests produce consistent scores.  Valid scores measure what they purport to measure. And both reliability and validity require that test administration be controlled.

If validity and reliability are dependent on standardization, why do we give some students accommodations, changing those usually controlled conditions?  Because for some students, accommodations produce a significantly more valid and reliable result.  In my humble opinion, this should be the test of when to allow a change to the standardized administration of a test, through accommodations, administrative considerations, or accessibility features. Continue reading

NMHU Offers Gifted Endorsement Courses

Only 3% of colleges and universities across the country offer courses in gifted education and the need for courses are high. (VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh, 2006)  According to the National Association for Gifted Children  (NAGC), 61% of classroom teachers in the U.S. have no training in gifted and talented, yet gifted and talented students spend over 80% of their time in their regular classroom. Further, with so few opportunities for graduate courses in gifted education, we cannot expect teachers to effectively address the needs of gifted learners. (Ford, Grantham, & Whiting, 2008)

Gifted Programs at NMHU Student Centre

NMHU Student Centre

According to the report, National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent  (October, 1993), “Teachers must receive better training in how to teach highlevel curricula. They need support for providing instruction that challenges all students sufficiently. This will benefit not only students with outstanding talent but children at every academic level.”  For these reasons State of New Mexico educators who instruct gifted individuals must have an endorsement in Gifted Education.

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Project-based Learning with Kayaks

My middle school students are currently working in collaboration with the New Mexico Wildlife Center to learn the physics of kayaks through building their own personal, functional kayak.

Students are learning about buoyancy, resistance, kayak design, riparian ecosystems, and weather. We are spending the winter months building the kayaks so that we can explore water habitats in the spring.

Espanola Kayak Class

At the 2015 NMAG Fall Institute, Alicia Cotabish presented on both project-based and problem-based learning. She highlighted the differences as well as the way in which they are appropriate for high ability learners. There are numerous advantages to using project-based learning with gifted learners including:

  • It is interdisciplinary
  • It is aligned with curriculum and supported by NAGC Gifted Programming Standards
  • It allows for in depth inquiry and problem solving
  • It lends itself to differentiation and scaffolding
  • Student can take ownership of their learning
  • It allows for collaboration, critical and creative thinking
  • It can motivate and engage students
  • Students are addressing real world, authentic problems

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Growing New Mexico’s Gifted Visual Artists

As a New Mexico public school art teacher turned teacher of gifted students, I’ve long been interested in the overlap of artistic and academic talent. It was satisfying to learn of positive reviews from both professional fields of the recent ESEA reauthorization. The Every Student Succeeds Act has been praised for revisions that will benefit advanced and gifted learners in the public schools It has also been recognized for including the arts as essential, no longer peripheral, to a “well-rounded education.” This reorientation prompted me to consider again what I can do to help develop the talents of gifted visual artists on my caseload.

I’d like to know if anyone in New Mexico is currently providing artistic talent development for students with a demonstrated very superior ability in the domain of visual art. If so, what instruments are used to demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual arts and to show the need for services, and what services can be designed to meet these needs?

The Impact of Disadvantage on Potentially Eminent Visual Artists
Mona Shahid, Artist.

By Daesherri (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

I have no doubt there are students with high potential in the visual arts who, without support, will not be prepared to succeed in post-secondary visual arts training. Without such credentials, they are not likely achieve positions of leadership in the arts and influence the work of museums, galleries, and higher education institutions. They have great potential but may be poor, recent immigrants, or racially, culturally, or linguistically marginalized. Unlike the young artists of families with more resources and connections to invest in talent development through clubs, lessons, mentorships, and arts activities, these disadvantaged students may lack affirmation of their artistic talents while young. For college and careers in the arts, they might lack the preparedness of better resourced peers. Can New Mexico’s gifted education programs support young, high-ability visual artists who lack their own connections and resources?
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Cory Messenger: Javits-Scholar at NAGC Conference

This past year, Gifted Educator, Cory Messenger, was able to attend the NAGC Annual Convention as a recipient of the NAGC’s Javits-Frasier Scholarship. Below he discusses some of his experiences and thoughts on the convention and the scholarship program.

What would you like teachers and parents of gifted students in New Mexico to know about NAGC?

The NAGC community is much larger than I had anticipated. It is filled with some of the most dedicated and passionate people I’ve ever met. I think it would be extremely beneficial for the teachers and parents of gifted students to attend the conference as often as possible. There are many impressive speakers covering a vast range of topics related to gifted education and there’s something for everyone there to learn, no matter how experienced he/she may be. Unfortunately, since gifted education is not federally funded, it can become financially challenging for educators to attend. I was very fortunate to be awarded the scholarship, because it may have been my only chance to attend.

Cory Messenger

Cory Messenger

How were you inspired to apply for the Javits-Frasier grant that allowed you to attend the NAGC Annual Convention?

It was my wife’s idea actually. I had been lamenting the fact that I’d probably never be able to afford to go to the conference and she suggested I look for a scholarship. I had never heard of a scholarship of this nature, so while I was skeptical, I took her suggestion. I visited the NAGC website and saw a page dedicated to the Javits-Frasier Scholarship for Diverse Talent Development. As I read the requirements, I couldn’t help but think that I was a perfect applicant. Continue reading

NMAG On Demand

NMAG On Demand Free PD

Bringing professional development by nationally recognized experts in gifted education to every teacher in New Mexico is no longer a dream, it’s a reality.

Oh, and did I say it’s FREE!!! Continue reading

Conference Program 2015

“Empowering the Next Generation”

2015 Fall Gifted Institute Program

Preliminary conference program for 2015 Fall Gifted Institute, “Empowering the Next Generation”

NMAG offers the program for the upcoming conference, October 16 & 17, 2015 at NMHU Rio Rancho Campus, featuring keynote speakers, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik and Dr. Alicia Cotabish.

Download the program here.

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