New -- NAGC Book of the Year Award
To showcase excellence in books about gifted and talented children and their education.
Last week, several of my Fordham colleagues published a fantastic fifty-state review of accountability systems and how they impact high achievers. Lamentably, they found that most states do almost nothing to hold schools accountable for the progress of their most able pupils. There are several reasons for this neglect, as the report’s foreword discusses; but with states now revamping their school report cards under the new federal education law, they have a great chance to bolster accountability for their high-achieving students.
How did Ohio fare? We’re pleased to report that the Buckeye State is a national leader in accounting for the outcomes of high-achieving students. As the Fordham study points out, Ohio accomplishes this in three important ways. First, to rate schools, the state relies heavily on the performance index. This measure gives schools additional credit when students reach advanced levels on state exams, encouraging them to teach to all learners and not just those on the cusp of proficiency. Second, Ohio utilizes a robust value-added measure that expects schools to contribute to all students’ academic growth, including high achievers (and regardless of whether they come from low- or higher-income backgrounds). Third, state report cards include results for gifted students—a feature that only four other states have worked into their accountability systems. In sum, Ohio earns three out of three stars on accountability for high flyers, a feat matched by only two other states, Arkansas and Oregon. (They both earned three out of four stars, having been eligible for four stars because they award “summative” school ratings, a policy that Ohio does not currently feature.)
Three cheers to Ohio policy makers for shining much-needed light on the outcomes of its top students. As the state transitions to post-NCLB accountability, it should stay the course on the policies discussed above. Naturally, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels; Ohio can and should do more. Here are a few starter ideas.
Ohio is a national leader in incorporating high achievers into school report cards. We should take pride in that because accountability for results is a key way to drive improvement. As they should, state policy makers will continue to debate policy around gifted and talented education—the gifted operating standards, for example, have become a hot topic in the past year. While the details of these standards are important to iron out, students and their outcomes should stay at the center. When it comes to lifting up high achievers, Ohio has made a great start. Now it’s time to push the envelope even further.
Aaron Churchill is the Ohio Research Director of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
The High Flyer is a unique collaboration between the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Our two organizations unite around common goals: to expand the public’s understanding of the needs of gifted and talented children, to increase public urgency to serve them, and to dispel common myths. The High Flyer and our other combined efforts are meant to lead the conversation and signal that all gifted and talented students matter.