A Proposal to Implement a
Gifted Arts Education Program
Indian River Central School District
Becca Ireland, Art Department Coordinator
Indian River Central School District
Philadelphia, NY 13673
1. What does the term “Giftedness” mean?
Gagne defines Giftedness as having “the possession and use of untrained and
spontaneously expressed natural abilities, in at least one ability domain, to
a degree that places an individual at least among the top 10% of age peers
The Gifted Development Center distributes information which indicates that
there are many more people with 160+ IQ’s in the general population than most
people (including educators) realize. Giftedness usually runs in families.
Students identified as gifted often have gifted siblings, parents and
grandparents. Most cases of underachievement by students later identified as
gifted can be attributed to chronic ear infections (before age 3). Many
gifted children are also found to have dual exceptionalities (LD, ADD, speech
impairment, etc...) which places them under the auspices of CSE. In
addition, they believe that many highly gifted children are visual-spatial
learners who require different teaching methods than most teachers employ
within the regular classroom setting.
2. What legal rights do the Gifted have in public schools?
We, as educational leaders, must place the Gifted student in the least
restrictive environment according to PL 94-142. This “means that the
learning environment should never ‘restrict’ a student’s learning potential
Harris states that:
All exceptional children fall outside of the norm, whether above or
below. Many provisions
have been made for those children whose learning needs place them below
the norm. The IEP,
or Instructional Education Plan, is an effective tool for this purpose.
But those on the other
end of the learning curve, gifted children, also have special learning
He argues that: “The IEP takes the lid off learning. The child can’t go
through the ceiling because there is no ceiling (1998).”
The literature also suggests that with so many of our school districts
publishing Mission and Vision Statements such as: “All students can learn”
and/or “All students will be encouraged to reach their full potential”,
parents have the legal right to challenge any curriculum (gifted or regular)
which does not offer a separate, full time gifted curriculum to it’s gifted
McDaniel states that:
Students who are gifted all day, every day receive instruction which
accommodates their abilities
only a few minutes or hours each week. If students are benefiting this
much from a resource class
that meets four hours a week, wouldn’t they benefit much more if they
were in a pullout class for
eight hours, or even better, all the time (1990)?
3. What are the benefits of implementing a Gifted and Talented Program?
There are many descriptions of the benefits of Gifted Education described in
the literature. Most often Gifted advocates site that the research proves
that the Gifted child will receive a better education by being placed in a
full time, gifted classroom with his/her peers rather than placing him/her in
a pull out resource room for a brief period of time. The argument goes:
“Since gifted youngsters are often advanced two or three years beyond their
age peers, too often the regular curriculum cannot provide necessary
challenge (Winebrenner, 1998).”
4. What programming models are already in place at Indian River?
Within Indian River, we currently have Academic Gifted programming for
students in grade 3-7. Grades 3 and 4 meet for half a day, one day every six
day cycle. Students in grades 5-7 meet for a full day, one day per six day
cycle. Our district uses test scores (90% or above on two out of three of
the following: the NYS ELA, Math and Terra Nova tests) to identify students,
along with Otis Lennox IQ testing in grades 2, 5 and 7. Teacher
recommendations are also considered when evaluating a potential student for
the program. Our existing program is therefore pullout.
One of the goals of the 1999-2000 Foresee Program is to to review Gifted
content and curriculum in consultation with grade level classroom teachers
throughout the district. We are moving toward increased alignment with grade
level curriculum and NYS Standards. A sample of Indian River’s 1999-2000
Identification Packet is attached.
5. Why offer an arts education gifted program in addition to the current
academic based gifted and talented program?
“Gifted students generally can find rich intellectual experiences studying
the arts through aesthetics, philosophy, history and all of the humanities.”
It is important to note that “...we need arts for all children, but that
there are unique intellectual experiences especially for the gifted and
talented (Swahili, 1991).”
Learning through the Arts has serious implications for critical thinking
skills. All children progress from scribbling, to drawing simple stick
figures, to making letters, to writing words. Drawing is the beginning of
writing. Recent research indicates that visual-spatial and auditory learning
styles can be incorporated to improve writing skills (a key component of the
NYS Standards and ELA tests). These types of skills are often not addressed
within the constraints of regular classrooms.
For the gifted learner, drawing can serve as a visual learning process to
improve creativity and accomplishments .Having learners keep a
sketchbook is an easy way to record the flow of ideas.
The sketchbook allows the learner to record sketches when the ideas begin
to flow; thus, no
idea is lost. Idea sketches can be a personal tool in any subject. By
drawing in notes, the learner
is often better able to “see knowledge”, which assists the ability to
recall and remember (1991).
Ellis believes that the Gifted pullout programs provide:
...an opportunity to study the visual arts in some detail and depth.
Time devoted to art lessons
in the [Gifted Program provide] more than double that allocated to
students taking the general
art program. This allows for a more intensive course of study and
exposure to a greater range of experiences, media and skills (1996).
I would propose curriculum activities which involve exploratory projects,
research, creative and reflective writing in response to art works or pieces
of music, museum and performance trips, arts careers education, etc...all
tied into what’s going on within the regular classroom.
What steps are necessary to implement an Arts Education Gifted Program?
I have collected the following information regarding entry into various
•Raven: tests non verbal cognitive abilities (verbal or language skills,
nonverbal or visual skills and quantitative or math skills); tests visual
recognition of patterns on 5 themes
•Matrix Analogy Test: visual and spatial acuity; qualify at 97% or
above; Nationally normed (used by Oklahoma as an alternative “IQ” test)
•Torrence Test of Creativity: relies heavily on drawing, divergent
thinking, fluency and labeling of drawing; takes about a 1/2 hour to
•Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition
•Otis Lennox School Abilities Test: (we currently use this method of
testing in IR at end, 10th and 7th Grades)
•Cognitive Abilities Test
•Sketchbook Tryouts: with specific assignment to prove they do art at
home too (Ellyn Wenk, ArtsEdNet)
•Teacher, art teacher, self, peer and parent nominations
•Identified by an art specialist
Additional research into testing methods is necessary before implementing a
selection plan for the proposed Arts Education Gifted Program.
2. Curriculum and Instruction/Alignment with NYS Standards...
All content would be directly aligned with the four ARTS Standards in Visual
Art and Music (with some activities touching upon Theater and Dance due to
their performance nature), including grade level appropriate goals,
performance tasks, assessments, etc...
3. Programming Costs (salaried staff, class time impact, resources)...
I would recommend that the program begin with grades 3 and 4, adding grade
levels at the beginning of each new school year. Certified Art and Music
Teachers would initially offer the 4 hour, half day pullout model. Both
positions would be part time, unless a teacher held certification in both
areas. Increased hours of content time and additional staff could be added
if program assessments (completed by teachers, students, parents,
administrators, etc...) indicated that they were necessary.
Supplies and equipment costs related to the Arts Education Gifted Program
could be taken from an allowance within the regular Gifted and Talented
Budget, or monies could be provided by combining portions of the G&T and the
Art or Music department’s budget.
Implementing the program would require that certain students be pulled out of
their regular classrooms. Based upon the research, however, I do not
perceive that the same students would necessarily test Gifted in both Arts
and Academics (although, obviously a few might).
Due to the part time nature of the initial program, the Arts Education Gifted
Program could take place at Antwerp or Theresa Primary Buildings. Since both
school’s Art and Music programs are currently part time, space would be
available for instruction when regularly scheduled art and music classes are
not taking place. The rooms would have the added benefit of already being
“devoted” to art and music. This would save the district money in initial
start up costs of supplies and equipment.
5. Schedule for Implementation...
September 1999...present Proposal to Director of Gifted and Talented, IRCSD
October - December 1999...meet with Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum
and Instruction and schedule Board of Education presentation
January - June 2000...discuss scheduling, program implementation, develop
curriculum in coordination with representatives from Art and Music
departments, consult with classroom teachers in grades 3/4 to gain additional
insight on classroom content, hire staff, purchase supplies, etc...
September 2000...implementation of Arts Education Gifted Program at grades 3
and 4 for duration of 2000-2001 school year
September 2001...add grade 5 to the Arts Education Gifted Program for the
2001-2002 school year/Program would move into the new “Indian River
Intermediate Building (grades 4-5). Third grade students would have to be
bused to the new building to receive services.
September 2002, etc...add another grade level each year
Summary of Findings
1. The Legal Issues
It is important to note that several articles advocated for the legal rights
of gifted students in general. They imply that while there has been no court
challenge to date (that I am aware of), it is only a matter of time before a
dissatisfied and disgruntled parent files a lawsuit. Gifted students do have
rights under PL 94-142.
I began my research predisposed to thinking that there were lots of high
quality gifted programs (with very different styles of curriculum,
scheduling, placement, etc...) already in place throughout the United States.
I was unable to find evidence to support that belief. Based on my research
to date, I must come to the conclusion that the reality of it is that many,
many districts do very little, if anything to educate gifted students in ways
that are educationally sound and/or research based. It may take a lawsuit to
make gifted education universal.
Within my own district, where there is an existing gifted program in place,
we offer a pullout approach. Based upon my research, I would initially
recommend the pullout style instructional setting for our proposed Arts
Education Gifted Program. However, I believe McDaniel sums it up best with
the following information:
By concentrating provision of services to the gifted, it facilitates
program supervision and
quality control. A supervisor can easily visit a resource class which
provides instruction to
the gifted at set, and therefore predictable, times to observe what is
happening, and gather
information about the kind and quality of differentiated instruction the
students are receiving.
It is much more difficult for the supervisor to determine what
adaptations a teacher may actually
be making in a heterogeneous classroom setting since no such
modifications may be evident
at the specific times he supervisor visits (1990).
I would venture to project that in a few years time, with additional teaching
and support staff, the Gifted Program at Indian River could grow, and move
forward toward McDaniel’s ideal. We might hire teachers to provide learning
experiences for gifted students “every day, all day” or create a Magnet
School for gifted students.
Obviously, the degree of success we achieve within our district Gifted
Program will depend on program content and delivery, classroom teacher buy
in, student enthusiasm, parent support, and public relations. The Board of
Education must also support our ideas and goals. I believe the most
important impetus for growth, however, will lie within the Administrative
philosophy and procedure. The questions now is, how will the Gifted Program
fit into the long range plan for Indian River district? What are our
expectations of it for the future?
2. Curriculum and Instruction for the Arts Education Gifted Program
Based on my research so far, I would recommend that we develop Art and Music
Gifted curriculum which relies upon classroom, grade level content NOT
Academic Gifted curriculum content. Some activities may naturally crossover.
However, I strongly believe that while a few students may test high in all
three Gifted areas (Academic, Art and Music) most identification and testing
will reveal different population groups for the Academic Gifted Program vs.
the Arts Education Gifted Program. How closely the groups resemble each
other may be determined by what test or methods we choose for identification
in Arts Giftedness. More research is definitely needed in this area.
It is also important to remember that any military dependent child who tests
into the Arts Education Gifted Program may not stay in the program for grades
3-7, due to his/her parent’s PCS (permanent change of station) move to
another military base. We must also be prepared to continuously identify new
students for the Program for this very reason. It may simplify the
identification process to allow entry to these students mid year based upon
entry information gained from their previous districts.
Finally, I believe that the backwards curriculum design (see attached)
represented in Understanding by Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998) would work
well within the framework of this Program. Potential teachers could reflect
upon the needs of regular classroom teachers, thereby assessing the outcomes
prior to designing activities, lessons and units of curriculum for the Arts
Education Gifted Program.
Delisle, James “Kaleidoscope: Portrait of a Non-Artist”, Understanding
Our Gifted, May-June 1991, p. 3.
Ellis, Neville John “The Picture of Success: The the Talented in the
Visual Arts in Singapore”, Gifted Child Today, November/December 1996, p.
Flack, Jerry “Creative Ventures...When Artists Speak”, Understanding Our
Gifted, Winter 1997, p.26-30.
Flack, Jerry “Creativity As Passionate Commitment”, Understanding Our
Gifted, May/June 1995, p. 1, 9-10.
Flack, Jerry “Underachiever or Misunderstood?”, Understanding Our Gifted,
January 1991, p. 13.
Frender, Gloria “Learning to Learn: Why Study Skills for Gifted
Students?”Understanding Our Gifted, September/October 1994, p. 7.
Gagne, Francoys “The Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent”, Gems
of Agate: The Combined Newsletters of AGATE and AEGUS, Winter 1997-8, p.
Garrotes, Jeanie “Drawing: A Visual Approach to Learning”, Understanding
Our Gifted, May-June 1991, p. 1, 11-13.
Goree, Krystal Advocating for the Gifted: Rewarding, but Challenging,
Gifted Child Today, November/December 1996, p. 26-28
Harris, Carole Ruth “Curricular Intervention for Gifted: Keys to
Design”, Understanding Our Gifted, Summer 1998, p. 3-8.
Hultgren, Holly M. “The Principal’s Role in Gifted Education”,
Understanding Our Gifted, November/December 1990, p. 11, 7-9.
Hurwitz, Al, The Gifted and Talented in Art: A Guide To Program
Planning, Davis Publications, 1983.
Karnes, Frances A., Marquardt, Ronald G., & Troxclair, Debra A. “The
Evolving Legal Framework in Gifted Education”, Understanding Our Gifted,
Winter 1997, p. 3-5.
Knopper, Dorothy “Current Developments in Gifted Education”,
Understanding Our Gifted, November/December 1990, p. 18.
Maker, J.C., and Nelson, A. B. (1996) Curriculum Development and Teaching
Strategies for Gifted Learners, Austin, TX: Pro-ed.
Maker, J.C. (1982) Curriculum Development for Gifted Learners, Austin,
McDaniel, Suzanne H. “The Pullout: Still a Useful Program Model?”
Understanding Our Gifted, November/December 1990, p. 1, 9-11.
Mucha, Linda “Six Steps to Academic Damage Control: Beginning the Climb
Toward Higher Standards” Understanding Our Gifted, September/October 1994, p.
Nelson, Karen C. “Instructional Strategies: Self-Assessment for the
Gifted”, Understanding Our Gifted, March/April 1992, p. 6.
Nelson, Karen C. Instructional Strategies: “Higher Level Thinking Skills
for the Gifted...A Taxonomy of Thinking Skills”, Understanding Our Gifted,
November 1990, p. 5.
Reis, S.M., Burns, D.E., & Renzulli, J.S. (1992). Curriculum Compacting:
The Complete Guide to Modifying the Regular Curriculum for High Ability
Students. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.
Renzulli, Joseph “The Learner’s Triad”, Gems of Agate: The Combined
Newsletters of AGATE and AGEUS, Winter 1997-1998, p. 32.
Schecter, Jerry S. “Comparing Different Measures of Intelligence”,
Understanding Our Gifted, March/April 1992, p. 14-15.
Seeley, Kenneth R. “Arts, Talents and Gifts”, Understanding Our Gifted,
May-June 1991, p. 1, 9-10.
Stephens, Kristen R. “Product Development for Gifted Students: Formation
to Reflection”, Gifted Child Today, November/December 1996, p. 18-20.
Stock, Annette “”Music Instruction for the Gifted”, Understanding Our
Gifted, May-June 1991, p. 7-8.
Toll, Mary F. “Full-Time Gifted Programming: A Working Model”,
Understanding Our Gifted, November 1990, p. 12.
Troxclair, Debra A. “Civil Rights for Gifted: The Emerging Role of the
Office of Civil Rights”, Understanding Our Gifted, Winter 1997, p. 5-7.
VanTassel-Baska, Joyce “Instructional Strategies”, Understanding Our
Gifted, September 1988, p. 5.
Wiggins, Grant & McTighe, Jay (1998). Understanding by Design,
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Winebrenner, Susan “Above & Beyond: Advocating for the Curriculum Needs
of Gifted Students”, Understanding Our Gifted, Summer 1998, p. 29--30,
Winebrenner, Susan “Above & Beyond: The Legal Right To Be Educated”,
Understanding Our Gifted, Winter 1997, p. 14-15.
2. Gifted Information Received via the following Email Correspondents (all
ArtEdNet Listserv Art Teachers):
•Daniella, Gifted School Art Teacher
•Teri Brudnack, Magnet Arts HS Art Teacher
•Sandy Hildreth, Art Teacher, Madrid-Waddington High School, NY -teaches
gifted art/SS combo with a certified SS teacher
(shildret), also teaches Arts Methods course to Student Art
Teachers through SUNY-Potsdam
•Julie Richard, student @ University ofArizona
•Betti Longinotti, K-12 Lead Art Teacher, Winston-Salem/Forsythe County
Public School System, NC (blongino)
•Ellyn Wenk, Art Teacher preK - 5 and Gifted and Talented Coordinator for
K - 12, Elk Mound School District, Elk Mound, Wisconsin
•Marcia Thompson, Art Teacher grades 6-8, West Salem Middle School, West
•Judy Grochowski (jfgro), Greenfield HS, Greenfield, Wisconsin
•Christine Merriam (ktwnldy.az.us), Kayenta
•Linda White (lolide), G&T Teacher (former art teacher),
•Mary B (gregjuli), Art Teacher, Middle School
•Marvin Grossman, Art Teacher grades 3-5, Bay Haven Basics Plus,
•San D, Art Teacher, Arthur L. Johnson High School, Clark, New Jersey
•Sue Hinkel, Gifted and Talented Art Teacher, Mehlville School District,
St. Louis, Missouri
3. Programming Document:
“Welcome to Foresee, 1999-2000” - Referral Handbook for Indian River
District’s Gifted and Talented Program, Grades 3-7
Additional Resources (to use in the future...)
1. Arts Web Sites:
•New York State Art Teachers Association
•National Dance Association
•Music Educators National Conference
•National Art Education Association
•American Alliance for Theater and Education
•Educational Theatre Association
•Getty Center for Arts in Education (ArtsEdNet)
•Association for the Advancement of Arts Education
•Goals 2000 Arts Education Partnership
•Incredible Art Department
•School Administrators Association of NYS
•NYS School Boards Association
•NYS Education Department
•K-12 WWW Menu
•On-Line Reference Works
2. Gifted Web Sites:
•Prufrock Press (Gifted Child Today and The Journal for Secondary Gifted
•Is It A Cheetah? (a gifted site by Susan Tolens)
•Open Space Communications (Understanding Our Gifted)
•Eric Clearinghouses on the Internet (High Ability Learners)