A distinguished group of North Carolina educators and experts on giftedness worked together in 2011 to update this White Paper, whose first edition was published in 2006. As in the 2006 version, we identify and discuss six critical areas challenging state and federal policymakers:
- Business and Industry
- Social Class and Economic Status
- Homeland Security
North Carolina will need innovative, well educated, and competitive citizens to maintain our state’s competitiveness for the remainder of the 21st century. After discussing the inter-related challenges we face in each of these six areas, we propose five recommendations related to our academically or intellectually gifted (AIG) students and others who show academic promise:
- Accountability. School systems across North Carolina should conduct yearly performance growth assessments of students with gifts and talents to ensure that they are making progress each year toward the realization of their potential. Testing and data collection systems should be restructured to accommodate this goal. Additionally, schools should collect data that would allow them to examine the relative effectiveness of both AIG-trained teachers and those without such training in helping students with gifts and talents to demonstrate appropriate growth over time.
- Training of Teachers. The state should provide the resources to train all teachers and administrators to meet the needs of academically/intellectually gifted learners. Additional training for pre-service and in-service teachers will allow them to provide appropriately differentiated instruction that is accelerated in content and that provides high-end learners with greater depth and complexity in all instructional settings. Highly-trained teachers and administrators will be knowledgeable about the learning needs AND social and emotional needs of academically/intellectually gifted learners from all populations.
- Fostering academic rigor and customization of learning for K-12 learners. Lawmakers should construct policies that support flexibility of program delivery, including online coursework, and that allow for academic acceleration in which mastery of content is emphasized over seat time requirements.
- Support for early education. Early nurturing programs should be supported and developed statewide to cultivate and enhance the potential of all young children, thereby ensuring that the educational needs of our youngest learners are supported, regardless of their socioeconomic status, social class, race, gender, or ethnicity.
- Collaboration with community stakeholders. North Carolina’s business, industry, and military sectors should increase their support of and forge stronger partnerships with school systems to ensure our most innovate minds are equipped for the jobs of the future.
North Carolina has a history to be proud of in its many outstanding innovations in education, but we cannot rest on these laurels of past accomplishment. We must continue to be innovative and lead the way in educational excellence, and we should not allow our short-term fiscal challenges to destroy the long-term well-being of our citizens. Our future leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers must be appropriately nurtured and stimulated, so that our state continues to prosper in the decades ahead.