Educational Talent Searches for Gifted Children: Benefits of Participation
Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Ph.D. has researched educational talent searches for gifted children. There are three different aspects to modern talent search: diagnosis and evaluation (identification), educational placement and guidance, and talent development opportunities. Her research shows that the talent search identification process leads to success of the students identified. This article deals with the benefits of participation in these educational talent searches.
Modern Talent Search
Historically, educational talent searches have relied heavily on standardized testing. That's still true, in terms of initial identification, but today's talent searches involve much more than testing.
Tests are not only used to identify gifted students, but also to match specific students within the gifted population to programs of appropriate pace, content, and level.
Talent searches identify students during the mid to late elementary school years when differentiation of abilities first emerges. This early assessment ensures gifted children will have access to the special services they need in order to thrive academically and intellectually. Information from various tests can be used to develop course sequences that are appropriate in scope and pace. It's important to note that while some students may benefit from grade acceleration, others may be advanced in certain areas. These students may do well in the regular classroom with the addition of some special curriculum or early access to high school or college classes. Few students may require early college entrance.
Unfortunately, accelerating gifted kids or providing specialized curriculum is not generally accepted by schools, where age and grade is used to determine students' readiness for certain subjects. This is where talent searches come in.
Benefits of Talent Searches
Children who participate talent search programs have access to all kind of academic opportunities outside of their regular school experience. Gifted children benefit from award ceremonies, summer programs, special weekend workshops and on-line programs. This can go far in creating a sense of belonging for these children, who may have difficulty finding common ground with peers of their own age. Gifted students and their parents also receive valuable information about more opportunities like contests and competitions, scholarships, and study abroad.
Getting involved with talent search is a great way to join a support network of experts and other families. Talent search students are notified about special opportunities throughout high school and even beyond high school, their history with a talent search can lead to many advantageous opportunities.
Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Ph.D. has detailed many of the scientifically proven benefits of talent search participation:
- Students who participate in talent search sponsored summer programs tend to pursue more rigorous courses of study, participate in extra-curricular educational opportunities more, and accelerate their education more than students who do not participate.
- The effects of such programs can be especially beneficial for mathematically talented females, helping them to match the achievement levels of males and maintain high educational aspirations.
- Talent search and subsequent summer programs can increase motivations, create academic challenge and provide social support that help girls, who for complex social reasons do not achieve at levels commensurate with their abilities.
Adapted from the full article by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Ph.D.