Gifted and Talented
On January 13, 2020, Governor Murphy signed the “Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act” codifying school district responsibilities in educating gifted and talented students as referenced in N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1. The law went into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.
Student Learning Standards for Gifted and Talented Students
The law states that school districts must establish a process to identify students as gifted and talented using multiple measures. These students require modification to their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) Office of Standards refers to standards developed by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to assist school districts in examining the quality of their programs and services for gifted learners in grades Pre-K to 12.
Funding for Gifted and Talented Students
According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), districts may use Title I funds to identify and serve gifted and talented students. In addition, districts may use Title II professional development funds to provide training on gifted education-specific instructional practices, such as enrichment, acceleration, and curriculum compacting.
Gifted and talented student: The “Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act” defines a gifted and talented student as a “student who possesses or demonstrates a high level of ability in one or more content areas when compared to their chronological peers in the school district and who require modifications of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities. ”
Twice-exceptional (2E) students: A twice-exceptional (2E) student is defined as “a student who is both gifted and a student with a disability. These students may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being gifted with learning disabilities (GT/LD). This also applies to students who are gifted with ADHD or gifted with autism” (New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, www.nagc.org).
Multiple measures: “Multiple measures" refers to the use of multiple indicators and sources of evidence of student assessment, of varying kinds, gathered at multiple points in time. Some examples might include but are not limited to: achievement test scores; ability assessments; intelligence testing, student performance or products, talent portfolios, and parent, student, and/or teacher observations and recommendations.
Instructional adaptation: An adjustment or modification to instruction enabling a student who is gifted and talented to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in one or more content areas at the instructional level of the student, not just the student’s grade level.
Identifying gifted and talented students: The focus of identification is to provide programming and services in which students' specific learning needs and potential are appropriately addressed and met. In every New Jersey school district, there are students who require modifications to the general education curriculum if they are to achieve in accordance with their abilities. By identifying a student’s general intellectual ability, creativity, or specific academic area aptitudes, we are acknowledging that they need programming and services outside of the general education/grade level curriculum to advance their learning.
Filing a complaint: The law states, "an individual who believes that a school district has not complied with the provisions of this Act may file a complaint with the district board of education. The right to file a complaint shall be set forth in the board’s policy on gifted and talented education. The policy shall be linked to the homepage of the board’s website. The board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter.
The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the board’s written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations [N.J.A.C. 6A:3-1.3 and 1.4]."
Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC)
In November 2019, the NJDOE partnered with the NJ Association for Gifted Children and convened its first Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC). As a result, sub-committees were established in the following areas: 1) Strengthening Gifted Education Law Implementation; 2) Professional Development for Administrators, Teachers, Preservice Teachers; 3) Identification; 4) Programming Options and Services; and 5) Intersectionality of Cognitive and Affective Needs. Sub-committee members include GT teachers, administrators, principals, superintendents, and other experts throughout the State. The purpose of SGTEAC is to:
- Assist the department in developing and disseminating resources that will guide local efforts with implementing fair and balanced selection processes for the identification of gifted and talented students;
- Understand the intersection between Social and Emotional Learning and the needs of gifted students;
- Build awareness around programmatic options for gifted and twice-exceptional students;
- Identify equity issues pertaining to gifted education;
- Integrate professional development and certification; and
- Provide input to the NJDOE regarding the implementation of other provisions in the Act.
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). (2021). https://www.nagc.org/
New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC). (2021). https://www.njagc.org/
Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act. (2020). (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-34 through N.J.S.A. 18A:35-39)