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Gifted and Talented Guide

Cover of Booklet featuring a photo of two boys excitedly looking at a robot. Title: U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, What Can You Expect to find In Overseas Schools for your Gifted Child? 2023

The Office of Overseas Schools’ Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth has released a new guide entitled, What Can You Expect to Find in Overseas Schools for Your Gifted Child?  The guide is designed to help U.S. Government families think through decisions in bidding for positions and contains links to useful Internet and publication resources for children needing accelerated challenges. Follow this link to download a digital copy of the guide What Can You Expect to Find in Overseas Schools for Your Gifted Child 2023For general questions about gifted education international schools, please reach out to OverseasSchools@state.gov or Regional Education Officer (REO), Andrew Hoover.  For questions about specific schools and programs, please reach out to the appropriate REO. Hard copies are available by e-mailing OverseasSchools@state.gov.

The booklet was developed by the Office of Overseas Schools and its Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth, whose support, guidance and wisdom has helped increase services to children with exceptional needs in international schools. It was developed in collaboration with the Office of Allowances and the Global Community Liaison Office.

 


What to Look for in Overseas Schools

In the United States there are no Federal requirements to fund Gifted and Talented programming, but most individual states do mandate identification and many fund programs for gifted and talented students. We encourages schools and families to find creative solutions to supplement strong educational excellence while families are posted overseas. However, similar to independent schools in the United States, very few overseas schools have special programs for gifted children.

In part, educators believe the curriculum is sufficiently demanding because:

  • International schools are often highly selective,
  • Independent schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and/or
  • Independent schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

We suggest that parents keep an open mind and remember to find schools that value curiosity, creativity, and enrichment to challenge all students.

Look for programs that offer a range of services that address the diverse learning and affective needs of these students. For example, some benefits have been found for grouping gifted students in advanced classes to increase their academic achievement. Gifted and talented students also respond well to a broad range of enrichment and acceleration opportunities. Advanced learners need opportunities for advanced content to continue to make progress in all content areas. They need availability of opportunities for individualized research, creative outlets, and the chance to pursue advanced interests. For students who are underachieving or who have gifts and talents, but also learning disabilities, counseling and other services may help address their social emotional needs. The needs of gifted and talented students are varied and students often thrive if teachers have specialized training in differentiating curriculum and instruction and extending gifted education strategies and pedagogy across content areas.


Programming Strategies

Curriculum Differentiation

Teachers may differentiate the curriculum experience of the students. Ideally, this will be accomplished by  curriculum compacting (Reis, Renzulli & Burns, 2016) by eliminating segments your child has already mastered, and shortening others that can be learned quickly. Then, with the time saved, extending and deepening assignments to match the level and pace of your child’s learning can support their growth. This can sometimes be accomplished by substituting assignments (e.g., reading a different text or novel, modifying a project), or by enabling the student to work ahead independently in the text or in the next  grade’s text, or in a more challenging unit of study not usually covered by the class. Often, curriculum  c compacting frees time for either enrichment or accelerated learning, described below.

Enrichment

Enrichment in gifted education usually include learning activities that are:

  • interest-based;
  • integrate advanced content, processes, and products;
  • include broad interdisciplinary themes;
  • foster effective independent and autonomous learning;
  • provide individualized and differentiated curriculum and instruction;
  • develop creative problem-solving abilities and creativity; and
  • integrate advanced tools and content in the development of products.

For information on various resources associated with enrichment, visit: gifted.uconn.edu/schoolwide-enrichment-model .

Acceleration

Acceleration is a well-researched educational programming option for academically talented students.  Research supports acceleration as an excellent learning strategy for many talented students, and the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa has identified over 20 forms of acceleration from which to choose. For example, gifted students who are reading several grade levels above their chronological grade can spend part of the day in a higher grade, read independently but at an appropriate level, have their curriculum compacted, develop their own projects and share them with the class, and even complete online courses to substitute for or supplement their regular activities. For additional information on academic acceleration, visit: belinblank.education.uiowa.edu/research/research-focus.aspx#acceleration .

Extracurricular Activities

In addition, participation in cross-age after school enrichment opportunities such as extracurricular activities can both stimulate and enhance your child’s education. These may include chess or Junior Great Books, coding camps, art lessons, science fairs, robotics, regional contests or debate leagues, after-school language instruction in the host-country language and culture, or career options in the community.


Resources within the Department of State

Office of Allowances, Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) on education. This site contains information on educational allowances available to civilian employees of the U.S. Government and their families.

Global Community Liaison Office, Education and Youth. This site contains a variety of information specifically related to educating the Foreign Service child, including gifted education, homeschooling, special educational needs, relocation, and third culture kids.


Gifted and Talented Resources Information

  • Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth 
  • Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development
  • Stanford University’s Educational Program for Gifted Youth 
  • Advanced Placement (AP) classes offered by Apex Learning
  • Enrichment in math
  • Khan Academy  also has enrichment and content enhancement materials for all grade levels.
  • Renzulli Learning  a profile of interests and talents, with related enrichment activities which could be incorporated into both differentiated learning and independent study period.
  • Primary and Elementary Advanced Math —
  • College of William and Mary  provides curriculum units available through Kendall Hunt Publishers in ELA, Social Studies and Science.
  • 2eNewsletter -2e stands for twice-exceptional. A newsletter dedicated to children who are gifted and have learning disabilities, learning disorders, attention difficulties, or just plain learning differences.
  • American Academy of Achievement  Great Resources for Discovering and Encouraging Interests.
  • Art of Problem Solving  Online courses take place weekly in interactive online classrooms. Expert instructors lead cohorts through engaging and rigorous challenges, and students work with peers to creatively problem solve together.
  • The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)  is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted.
  • The Davidson Institute for Talent Development  has extensive resources for highly gifted students (and their parents). You can access articles by selecting “Browse by Topic” or “Search GT-Cybersource” from the “Resources” header in the pull-down top bar menu bar.
  • Hoagies Gifted – Huge website providing resources for parents of twice exceptional children.
  • The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)  is an organization of parents, educators, other professionals and community leaders to address the unique needs of children and youth.
  • The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented  (NRC/GT) successfully competed for a series of federally funded grants (1990-2013) under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Act. The research that we have conducted for over 2 decades required the cooperation and collaboration of administrators, teachers, and students from all over the country and is free online.
  • Neurodiversity Podcast introduces you to brilliant, quirky, amazing people, and brings you thought-provoking conversations with leaders in psychology, education, and technology, as we work to broaden the definition of normal.
  • Smart but Scattered  school psychologist Peg Dawson and neuropsychologist Richard Guare have developed a program that parents and teachers can use to strengthen kids abilities to plan ahead, be efficient, follow through, and get things done.
  • The mission of Summer Institute for the Gifted  (SIG) has been a leader in gifted education since 1984. SIG provides summer academic enrichment programs for gifted, academically talented, creative, and high potential students in grades K-12.
  • Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted  (SENG) focuses primarily on the adults (parents, educators, etc) in the lives of gifted children. SENG provides information on identification,  g guidance, and effective ways to live and work with gifted individuals.
  • The Association for the Gifted (TAG) organized in 1958 by The Council for Exceptional Children, helps professionals and parents work with gifted children.
  • Renzulli, J. S. (1978). What Makes Giftedness? Reexamining a Definition. Phi Delta Kappan, 60, 180-184.
  • Reis, S.M.; Renzulli, S.J.; Renzulli, J.S. Enrichment and Gifted Education Pedagogy to Develop Talents, Gifts, and Creative Productivity. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 615. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11100615.
  • Reis, Sally & Baum, Susan & Burke, Edith. (2014). An Operational Definition of Twice-Exceptional Learners. Gifted Child Quarterly. 58. 217-230. 10.1177/0016986214534976.
  • Reis, Sally M.; Renzulli, Joseph S.; Burns, Deborah E. (2016) Curriculum Compacting: A Guide to Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction Through Enrichment and Acceleration, Second Edition.
  • Trail, B. A. (2011). Twice exceptional gifted children: Understanding, teaching, and counseling gifted students. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. This book is a very practical book for teachers and parents about how to help twice-exceptional children set goals and get the education they need in today’s schools.
  • Webb, Amend, et al. (2005). Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders. Scottsdale. Great Potential Press.  Too often our brightest kids are misunderstood because of their behavior.  It seems that some educators and clinicians are too quick to label these kids ADHD or Asperger’s or OCD.  Webb and his colleagues help us realize that, in fact, they could just be showing quite normal signs of their giftedness.
  • Weinfeld, R., Barnes-Robinson, L., Jeweler, S., & Shevita, B. R. (2006). Smart kids with learning difficulties: Overcoming obstacles and realizing potential. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. This book excels at suggesting teaching activities and parental strategies that help twice-exceptional children deal with their asynchronies.

Regional Education Officers (REOs) Contact

School situations can change quickly, particularly as schools face cutbacks to learning support programs due to the pandemic, unrest, and economic uncertainty. For the most current information, work with the REO and school. The website information is intended as a jumping off point for a conversation with the REO and school to understand the best fit for your child. Definitions may vary school to school.

Africa

Dr. Tim S. Stuart
StuartTS@state.gov

East Asia Pacific

Mr. Andrew A. Hoover
HooverAA2@state.gov

Eastern Europe, Central Asia

Ms. Mary E. Russman
RussmanME@state.gov

Near East, South Asia, Mediterranean, Canada

Mr. Mark E. Ulfers (Interim REO)
UlfersME@state.gov

Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America

Dr. Robin D. Heslip
HeslipRD@state.gov

Western Europe

Dr. Christine L. Brown
BrownCL2@state.gov

U.S. Department of State

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