Federal Support of State Reform Efforts

Recommendation SE.4: While the United States has a strong tradition of state control of education, the committee recommends that the federal government support widespread adoption of early screening and intervention in the states.

In particular:

  • Technical assistance and information dissemination should be coordinated at the federal level. This might be done through the Department of Education, the NICHD, a cooperative effort of the two, or through some other designated agent. Accumulation and dissemination of information and research findings has “public good” properties and economies of scale that make a federal effort more efficient than many state efforts.

  • The federal government can encourage the use of Title I funds to implement early screening and intervention in both reading and behavior for schools currently receiving those funds. Funds provided in the Reading Excellence Act might also support this effort under the existing mandate.

Gifted and Talented Eligibility

The research base justifying alternative approaches for the screening, identification, and placement of gifted children is neither as extensive nor as informative as that for special education. While limited programs of identification and services for gifted students have been carried out under the auspices of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, the collection of data in the framework of any systematic research paradigm has been limited. Yet the importance of early opportunity to learn is likely to be as important for the success of students at the upper end of the achievement distribution as it is for those at the lower end. And the problem of disentangling the children’s abilities from their previous opportunities to learn strikes a clear parallel. Nevertheless, the existing research base restricts our understanding and therefore our recommendations: rather than proposing a specific approach to screening or identification for gifted and talented students, we propose research that may allow for better informed decision making in the future.

Recommendation GT.1: The committee recommends a research program oriented toward the development of a broader knowledge base on early identification and intervention with children who exhibit advanced performance in the verbal or quantitative realm, or who exhibit other advanced abilities.

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