Through a link from "The 'More' Child" blog, I discovered an interesting new blog on the EdWeek site by Tamara Fisher called "Unwrapping the Gifted". Ms. Fisher is a Gifted Education Specialist for a school district located on a Native American reservation in Montana and is the President-Elect of the Montana Association of Gifted and Talented.
In a recent post, Ms. Fisher notes that there are now eighty-one colleges and universities that offer coursework on gifted & talented education as part of their teacher preparation programs. You can find the complete list here.
I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that out of the eighty-four state-approved teacher preparation programs in California, only ONE offers any coursework on the educational needs of intellectually gifted students. That is Cal State-Sacramento; it offers a grand total of two courses, both of which are electives. What that means is that extremely few of the teachers in California's government-run schools will have ever received any meaningful amount of preparation for teaching gifted children before setting foot in a classroom. Some may get a bit of in-service training in GATE; a few especially conscientious ones may voluntarily seek out resources to learn about the subject on their own.
A recent report from the Fordham Foundation found that of 3rd-12th grade teachers surveyed nationwide, roughly 2/3 reported that their teacher preparation programs provided little (46%) or no (18%) training on teaching academically advanced students. 58% reported that they have had no professional development over the past few years focusing specifically on teaching advanced students.
This situation is absolutely unacceptable. All of the UC and CSU schools of education should be required to offer coursework on teaching gifted kids. More than 60% of California's newly credentialed teachers completed their preparation programs in the state's public colleges and universities. They should have the opportunity to receive formal training on meeting the special educational needs of gifted children before they start teaching.