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Using the National Gifted Education Standards for Pre-K–Grade 12 Professional Development

reviewed by Stephanie Hathcock — June 01, 2017

coverTitle: Using the National Gifted Education Standards for Pre-K–Grade 12 Professional Development
Author(s): Susan K. Johnsen & Jane Clarenbach (Eds.) with Joyce VanTassel-Baska
Publisher: Prufrock Press, Austin
ISBN: 1618215841, Pages: 304, Year: 2016
Search for book at Amazon.com

Millions of dollars are spent every year on professional development (PD) opportunities for teachers. Districts are faced with the task of translating research into practice to keep their teachers current. As a result, district leaders often look for advice on the best way to accomplish this goal. For those working on PD offerings for gifted professionals and regular classroom teachers with gifted students in them, Using the National Gifted Education Standards for Pre-K–Grade 12 Professional Development is exactly what they have been hoping for to assist them in their efforts.

The book opens with a chapter from the second edition editors, namely Susan K. Johnsen and Jane Clarenbach with Joyce VanTassel-Baska. They detail the history and current form of the National Gifted Education Standards for initial teacher preparation, updated in 2013. They provide a detailed description of each of the seven standards with an overview of the three other gifted education standards that are also interrelated with the initial teacher preparation standards. These include (a) advanced gifted education teacher preparation standards, (b) knowledge and skills standards in gifted education for all teachers, and (c) gifted education programming standards. This leads to the authors making the case for using these standards to develop and assess PD.

Chapter Two presents information on schools establishing partnerships with teacher preparation programs within universities and with local communities. The authors provide examples of partnership goals, how these correspond with the gifted education standards, and what these partnerships might entail. It is nice to see the authors encourage districts to make these types of connections and remember the adage that it takes a village to raise a child.

Chapter Three details the common purposes of various standards. For example, when teachers have 25 students in their classrooms with various educational needs, gifted learners are often left behind. The authors showcase how the goals of gifted education are situated to collaborate with the goals of other programs rather than compete against them. They point out similarities among standards and focus on establishing collaboration networks to best meet the needs of students.

I found Chapter Four to be particularly helpful as it outlined how to go about identifying PD outcomes based on various standards. The authors include a table aligning the professional standards from the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education, Knowledge and Skill Standards in Gifted Education for All Teachers, and Pre-K–Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards. They also include tables showcasing how these aligned standards could be used to plan PD that focuses on student outcomes and utilizes various educators to support the achievement of these outcomes. I could see PD providers using these tools as they plan, deliver, and evaluate their PD options.

Chapter Five provides an overview of professional learning standards from Learning Forward. These seven standards are grounded in research on best practices for PD development and delivery. The author details how these standards connect with the gifted teacher preparation standards to enhance teacher effectiveness and student achievement. The second part of the chapter showcases five delivery models for professional learning and provides examples of each type. As a PD provider and grant writer, I found this portion of the chapter to be especially helpful in thinking about future planning efforts.

Chapter Six delves into the meat of planning successful PD by first providing an overview of research based guidelines for effective PD. These efforts are focused on three characteristics of successful PD based on the literature. Teacher change takes time and effective PD requires a number of characteristics. These include that the PD is (a) being sustained over time, (b) facilitating a transfer of PD learning into practice, and (c) providing opportunities for reflection and collaboration. Each of these characteristics is covered in detail and the authors provide research from PD for gifted educators that would help readers envision what each of the characteristics might look like in practice.

Chapter Seven was personally my favorite of the book because it addresses a frequently overlooked question: once we plan and implement our PD, how do we know if it is effective? The authors provide an overview of assessing PD and this includes guidelines from PD evaluation studies. They use the idea of backward design to showcase how best to plan PD experiences from start to finish. I was particularly struck by their adaptation of a logic model into a PD planning matrix. This matrix would be especially helpful to PD planners as it helps them consider, organize, and evaluate their potential content and delivery methods. To use the matrix, these planners would begin by identifying the gifted education standards that they are trying to meet. Next, they would consider their target population and then conduct a needs assessment. They would also consider the resources they have available and use each of these pieces to determine PD activities. This would lead to planning PD outputs and outcomes. Finally, the matrix asks the PD planner to consider the impact of their content. After introducing each of these elements in more detail, the authors provide a hypothetical PD scenario and a corresponding matrix as a guide.

Chapter Eight focuses on change, which I would argue is the goal of any PD effort. Let’s face it, change is hard and teachers are not inclined to modify their professional practice unless they can see that their needs have a direct correlation to their benefit. The authors provide a description of research based principles that are important to change. They follow this by discussing the leadership characteristics necessary to facilitate change. Next, they make the case for a “dynamic” (p. 163) view of PD that modernizes our thinking about teachers’ learning. PD should be concentrated on the needs of the learners who teachers work with. They should also focus on progress, learning, and application. Finally, the authors discuss evaluating systems change and providing readers with models or tools that have been used to measure any resulting change.

The final chapter of the book delves into both the challenges and prospects facing PD for gifted learners. Foremost among these difficulties is the fact that only 19 states require gifted education teachers to have a specialized credential. I live in a state that does not require this type of certification, so I definitely understand this challenge. However, the authors also showcase how the gifted education standards can assist with prospects such as partnering with universities and providing leadership in the field.

Overall, I think Using the National Gifted Education Standards for Pre-K–Grade 12 Professional Development would be immensely helpful to district leaders, university gifted education professionals, and any other people who plan, implement, or assess PD efforts for gifted educators. The book’s materials consist of many layers and I suspect that it would be widely applicable to those with only a little, up to those with a great deal, of experience in PD implementation or anywhere in between.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 01, 2017
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22006, Date Accessed: 6/27/2017 1:10:59 AM

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About the Author
  • Stephanie Hathcock
    Oklahoma State University
    E-mail Author
    STEPHANIE HATHCOCK, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of science education and coordinator of gifted and talented educational programs at Oklahoma State University. Her research interests include science teaching and learning, especially as they pertain to gifted learners, and teacher professional identity.
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