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GT Students Seek Educational Equality

Ms. Val Cleveland, a gifted and talented teacher, works with N.J.S.D. students.

Ms. Val Cleveland, a gifted and talented teacher, works with N.J.S.D. students.

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Living life on pause, students who are advanced struggle with this on a daily basis.

“It’s hard for kids to stop learning, while other kids catch up. They just don’t know what to do with themselves.” Ms. Val Cleveland a gifted and talented teacher said.

Originally the Gifted and Talented Program was created to help those who are advanced find the appropriate classes for their rigor and speed of learning.

More than anything gifted and talented (GT) programs were created to avoid the problem of students having to put their learning on pause. Offering students a chance to learn new things at their own depth and speed.

At first, the program had multiple teachers within the school district to help accelerated and advanced students. Although as time went on, the funding toward the program shifted to more pressing needs, so as teachers retired or left, new GT positions were not filled. As a result, only Ms. Val Cleveland, the district’s Gifted & Talented Facilitator is left to aide the 352 district-wide gifted and talented students.

Some believe that it is unfair that GT students get a special teacher to help them when needed when regular students do not have extra help. Should all students should be treated the same?

According to Cleveland, it is a misunderstanding.
“It is unfair to constantly ask gifted students to wait to learn while we as educators address the learning needs of the struggling students. Gifted students need an education that fits their intellectual level and talents,” Cleveland said.

One of the main problems is that it is thought of as special treatment and that the program itself is not that important.

Students should take classes that are the right speed and rigor for them, that way it will not cause them to stunt their learning by being placed on hold or falling behind. The GT program arranges proper classes, content and individual learning plans to adjust to students learning needs so they can continue to grow and learn new things just like the rest of the students.

Not to mention, GT students have to take tests to even get into the program itself to make sure they are ready for advanced classes. It is important for a teacher to address all students learning regardless of their instructional level.

Helping students learn is the utmost important purpose of schools.

Although it may seem that being stuck in a class where the student already knows everything would be an easy A. Sometimes those who are advanced and want to learn also grow frustrated sometimes even act out.

“Often times those who are gifted and are regular classes and if their learning needs are not met will either act out by misbehaving or will check out mentally. GT students just want to learn and reach their full potential. When they are not able to move forward it upsets and frustrates them. Conversely, when GT student’s learning needs are being addressed everyone is engaged in learning and this helps the whole classroom,” Cleveland said.  

Behavioral issues are common for those students in gifted and talented placed in regular classes because they get too frustrated to the point they become exasperated. They know they can be learning new things, but instead, they are forced to relearn something they know already, which was why the program was created.

“I think it’s important because kids who are accelerated may get bored and frustrated,” Olivia Swanson a student  says supporting Cleveland’s claim.

The most important thing to understand is that gifted and talented program has no intention of giving students special treatment. Their overall goal is to provide the proper learning opportunities for to those who are advanced. All kids should have the right to learn new things.

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1 Comment

One Response to “GT Students Seek Educational Equality”

  1. Kristi Branchford on January 9th, 2017 8:07 PM

    Excellent article. I believe NJSD did a huge disservice to the students and community when they cut the GT program to shreds. I am amazed at how much Val Cleveland is expected to do as one person. She does an outstanding job!!

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The student news site of Neenah High School
GT Students Seek Educational Equality