One of the greatest concerns parents have is whether their child’s educational needs are being met. For parents of gifted students, the extent to which this happens is dictated by a combination of national, state, and local policies.
In 2002, under the legislation commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind, gifted students were defined as, “Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”
However, there is currently no federal mandate for identification or services for gifted students. In other words, schools can offer no identification of or services for gifted students and will still be in compliance of federal education law.
This is where state policy becomes an important consideration.
However, just as at the federal level, a key component is whether there is a mandate for identification and services. The Davidson Institute has created a website that summarizes the policies of each state:http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/state_policy_north_carolina_10028.aspx
According to the site, states can range from “gifted programming is not mandated: no gifted funding is available” all the way to “gifted programming is mandated: fully funded by state.”
Of course, even mandates and funding for services do not assure opportunities for appropriately challenging curricula for all students. Moreover, what is offered can vary greatly even within each state. For example, in North Carolina, a state that both mandates and funds gifted programming, each school district determines how its students are identified and served. This means that a student could be identified as gifted in one school district but not in another. However, the state also allows schools to tailor their programs to fit the needs of their students.
Because each state has its own policies, you may find that your child could be considered “gifted” in one state but not in another. Your child isn’t changing nor are her educational needs. But how giftedness is defined and served does change from state to state. If you are thinking of moving to a new state (or even a different part of the same state) examining the policies and procedures ahead of time can help you understand what type of services should be available to gifted students.