VAIL VALLEY, Colorado - Eagle County schools' gifted education program is always changing, but are the Vail Valley's gifted kids learning? This is the question that has been asked since 2004 by the Gifted Education Team of Eagle County, a nonprofit, grassroots group of parents and educators.According to the Eagle County Schools State Accreditation Report of 2006-2007, all subgroups of students showed academic "growth" from 2002 to 2007, except gifted and talented students and free- and reduced-lunch students. This growth is called "adequate yearly progress" and is required under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. "There are many possible reasons for this lack of growth in our gifted and talented students, including inaccurate identification, inconsistent gifted programming and inadequate gifted education training for classroom teachers, counselors and principals," says Anne Dunlevie, president of the Gifted Education Team."National Excellence: A Case for Developing America's Talent," says "3 percent to 5 percent of the nation's population is gifted with high intellectual ability or other exceptional abilities, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status."Currently, our district has identified nearly 500 - or about 8.4 percent - of its students as gifted, though they are likely more Hispanic students who are gifted and talent. Accurate identification remains a challenge for Eagle County schools and this discrepancy between national and local statistics is something that needs to be explored.In a positive step forward this past fall, Eagle County schools hired noted gifted education expert Dr. Jim Delisle, a retired professor of education at Kent State University, to do an audit of its gifted programs. In his report - submitted to the district in November - Delisle detailed the strengths as well as the gaps of gifted services provided by Eagle County schools. The audit report recommends "some concrete directions for enhancement of the services offered to gifted students" as no-cost and or low=cost improvements that could be established over the next three years. The audit report is available to the public from Eagle County schools gifted coordinator Teresa Bandel-Schott at firstname.lastname@example.org.On Wednesday, the Eagle County School Board will receive recommendations from the District Accountability and Advisory Committee regarding improvements to the gifted education program for the upcoming school year. "We have an opportunity to create a meaningful and relevant gifted education program in Eagle County schools if we speak up now," says Susan Mackin Dolan, a founding Gifted Education Team board member. "We are encouraging everyone who lives and works with gifted kids to attend this meeting to advocate for these unique and deserving students."For more information or to contact Gifted Education Team board members, visit www.giftedteam.org.*http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20071211/MOUNTAIN02/71210031&parentprofile=search
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