Saturday, 26 October 2013

Has it made a difference? Evaluating our Gifted and Talented Programme

So it's that time of year where you look back on what you have achieved and wonder has it made a difference? If so, how and if not, why not?!

Having completely developed our withdrawal programme from scratch and by myself this year, for me this is a biggie.  I need to evaluate the programme effectively to be able to justify both to myself and management that it has been worthwhile and that we should continue in a similar way next year.  I know just by talking with the students that they have loved it (mostly) but I need some hard evidence.

First step was to look to the literature as to effective ways of evaluating such a programme.  I found a small amount of information and an even smaller amount that related to the New Zealand context.  The following references will be useful if you are embarking on a similar journey:

Maker (1993), Ministry of Education (2012), Riley et al (2004), Riley and Moltzen (2010) and VanTassel-Baska (2004).
Maker, C.J. (1993). Gifted students in the regular classroom: What practices are defensible and feasible? In C.J. Maker & D. Orzechowski-Harland (Eds.), Critical issues in gifted education, volume III (pp. 413-436). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Ministry of Education (2012). Gifted and talented students: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Reid, N. (2004). Evaluation of programmes. In D. McAlpine, & R. Moltzen (Eds.), Gifted and talented: New Zealand perspectives (pp. 377-390). Palmerston North: Kanuka Grove Press.
Riley, T., Bevan-Brown, J., Bicknell, B., Carroll-Lind, J., & Kearney, A. (2004). The extent, nature and effectiveness of planned approaches in New Zealand schools for providing for gifted and talented students: Report to the Ministry of Education. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.
Riley, T. & Moltzen, R. (2010). Enhancing and igniting talent development initiatives: Research to determine effectiveness. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

VanTassel-Baska, J. (2004c). The processes in gifted program evaluation. In J.VanTassel-Baska & A.X.Feng (Eds.), Designing and utilising evaluation for gifted program improvement (pp.1-22). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

The next step was to assimilate the information gathered from these resources into some kind of plan. I decided to use the nine common points raised in the resources above to evaluate the programme against through the gathering of anecdotal information, student, parent and teacher surveys and a focus group with a random selection of students who had been involved in the programme.

The nine indicators of an effective gifted and talented programme that I am using are:

  • Schools provide all learners with an education matched to their individual learning needs. 
  • Gifted and talented learners are found in every group within society; therefore students identified as gifted and talented are representative of the school demographic. 
  • Māori perspectives and values are embodied in all aspects of the education of gifted learners. 
  • The school environment is a powerful catalyst for the demonstration and development of talent. 
  • Programmes for gifted and talented students are based upon sound practice, taking into account research and literature in the field. 
  • Provision for gifted and talented students is supported by on-going high-quality teacher education. 
  • Gifted and talented students are provided with a curriculum rich in-depth and breadth, and at a pace commensurate with their abilities. 
  • Parents, caregivers, and whānau are given opportunities to be involved in decision-making regarding their children’s education. 
  • Schools meet the specific social and emotional needs of gifted and talented learners.

I'll get back to you soon with how it all went!

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