April 12, 2024

Replace Gifted & Talented with Inclusive Programs

Author: Lisa Nielsen
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In places like New York City students as young as four-years-old can take high stakes entrance exams for gifted and talented programs. To help their children get in to the gifted and talented programs, parents may pay for expensive test prep to give their child an edge. While this is one approach, there is a more inclusive approach that provides opportunities for all students including those with disabilities, those for whom English may not be their first language, and those of all socioeconomic levels.  

Schoolwide Enrichment Model

Book cover for: The Schoolwide Enrichment Model by Joseph S. Renzulli, EdD, and Sally M. Reis, Ph.D.

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) is a program based on the idea that we should apply the pedagogy of gifted education to enrichment opportunities for all students. The broadened conception of giftedness, allows children to explore an area of interest, talent, or passion in depth, while in a small multi-age group with other students and a facilitator who also shares this interest. Enrichment Clusters are a delivery vehicle for disseminating enrichment pedagogy to every student and is founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to demonstrate gifted behavior. 

A Model for Everyone

This is a model for everyone. It is a model that recognizes any and all talents a student might have or want to explore.

In fact, it was a model that had gained popularity in New York City and flourished in places like The Island School. Using this model, staff at The Island School nurtured the Multiple Intelligences of all students through a rigorous program for talent development. Staff systematically identified student’s strengths, nurtured skills, and created authentic opportunities for students to utilize these skills. These skills were used not just as students, but also as practicing professionals providing experiences and opportunities to work and learn with others in the fields in which they are interested. These opportunities create pathways for future study, employment and lifelong pursuits. This is one of those schools where the world inside the school walls mirrors that which students will experience out in the real world.

Inclusive Gifted & Talented Programs

In New York City a diversity panel made the recommendation to end gifted and talented programs for the elite. This was met with some criticism, however, the recommendation was misunderstood by some. It was not a call to end gifted and talented programs. Instead, the recommendation is to find the gifts, talents, passions, interests and abilities that can be found in all of our students. 

The creators of this model, Sally Reis and Joseph Renzulli recently explained in a New York Daily News article how their model can be extended to all students. 

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