IMPLEMENTING FULL-TIME GIFTED AND TALENTED PROGRAMS IN TITLE 1 SCHOOLS: REASONS, BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITY COSTS
Tempel-Milner, Megan Elizabeth
Croninger, Robert G
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This collective-case study examined the implementation of community-based, full-time gifted and talented programs in three Title 1 schools within a large school system. It investigated the reasons for, perceived benefits of, challenges of, and opportunity costs of implementing full-time gifted programs in Title 1 schools. The findings from the study reveal that the community-based, full-time gifted program directly contrasts the pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices associated with Martin Haberman's pedagogy of poverty, which was the theoretical framework for this study. The program goes against the belief that students from low-income families need basic, low-level styles of teaching, and moves to a belief that students from low-income families need access to rigorous educational opportunities, similar to their more affluent peers (Haberman, 2010). The community-based program started as a way to retain students in local schools, which lessened accountability pressures at the school, as well as, provided access to gifted services for students who qualified without having to leave the community school. However, the community-based, full-time gifted program became more than a targeted program for high-ability students, as it became a culture shift across the three high-poverty schools. The full-time gifted program became an avenue to access needed rigorous, enriched, and accelerated learning opportunities which are not prevalent in many Title 1 schools in the country. The program changed instructional practices to that of high-level, hands-on, student-centered, problem-solving activities, instead of remediation and reliance on basic skills for not only the students in the full-time gifted class but across the whole school. It opened access for students who live in poverty, where typically low-income students are underserved for gifted services, which has long-term effects on their academic achievement. The schools relied on strong principal leadership and vision to guide the program, and the program was supplemented by Title 1 funds to finance staff positions that support gifted beliefs and practices, professional development, investment in curriculum resources. Across all unique cases, the budgetary and philosophy-shift challenges associated with implementing the program were outweighed by the benefits of the program.