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Why Earn a Master's Degree in Gifted Education?

The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana public schools are among schools with the lowest numbers of students in the U.S. identified as gifted and talented, with an average of fewer than 5 percent. Interestingly, the bulk of GT students are concentrated in 30 public schools in Louisiana.

Furthermore, Louisiana gifted law recognizes the limitation of testing for giftedness among minorities and low-income students. "Can schools create gifted students?" from The Hechinger Report quotes the law: "few, if any, standardized tests 'adequately control for the effect of such factors as environmental impoverishment, cultural differences, or the lack of opportunities.'"

Identifying Students at a Disadvantage

To qualify for the GT program, a student must score at least two standard deviations above the mean on selected tests. The Hechinger Report says the state allows an exception: The parish can look at academic history when a student's scores fall between one-and-a-half and two deviations above the mean.

Some make the argument that identifying a gifted student requires more than a test-only approach. The National Association for Gifted Children supports the idea that IQ tests are just one indicator.

It is possible that these schools and parishes may not have the resources to identify GT students. And there may be many GT students who remain unidentified. Educators who earn a master's degree in gifted education can identify these students and help them reach their highest potential.

Teacher Preparation Programs for Gifted Education

NAGC research shows that educators who received gifted training are more likely to challenge students and provide them with the needed diversity of learning experiences. But this expertise requires more than one-off, standalone training sessions. It demands high-quality professional development and support.

That said, NAGC highlights seven standards to prepare educators to work in gifted education. Educators interested in pursuing a master's degree in gifted education can use the standards when researching graduate programs. A good starting point is to search for programs offering a Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction in Gifted Education.

Also, check your state education department's requirements. They may require certification and endorsements. To qualify as a gifted teacher in Louisiana, educators must complete the following requirements:

  • Applicable grade level teaching certificate.
  • Master's degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Fifteen hours of prescribed graduate-level coursework.
  • Gifted education practicum or internship.

An M.Ed. program may have these components built in. For instance, the University of Louisiana Monroe has incorporated Louisiana's add-on endorsement requirements into its M.Ed. C&I concentration in Special Education in Gifted Education program.

Other Benefits of an M.Ed. in Gifted Education

Enrolling in a graduate program expands your network as you interact with professors, seminar presenters, guest experts and other students. These connections can put you a step closer to the organizations, jobs and schools that interest you. Once you graduate, you can join a university's alumni organization.

An educator who enrolls in an M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction program specializing in gifted education gains knowledge that transfers to other parts of a student's educational experience. Not all required courses revolve around gifted education. Some cover a variety of topics, including technology integration, educational research, leadership, assessment and accountability, creativity, and research-based instruction.

These courses can lead to job opportunities in administration, curriculum development, educational technology and assessment. An educator with this degree who works in the general education classroom will be in a better position to identify potential GT students.

Learn more about ULM's online M.Ed. C&I Special Ed in Gifted Education program.


Sources:

The Hechinger Report: Can Schools Create Gifted Students?

Louisiana Department of Education: Gifted Teacher Certification Requirements

National Association for Gifted Children: Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education

National Association for Gifted Children: Frequently Asked Questions About Gifted Education

The Times Picayune: Here's Where Louisiana's Gifted and Talented Students Are

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