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North Carolina's Department of Education Moves to Eliminate Gifted and Talented Programs

Updated: May 31, 2021

The Department of Instruction (DPI) is calling for "intentional and flexible grouping" based on race to replace the achievement requirements in its Gifted programming.

By Savannah Hulsey Pointer

NC Department of Instruction Seeks to Destroy Academically Gifted Programs

North Carolina's Department of Education is taking steps to erase the gap between well-performing students and their less able peers by transforming the state's Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) programs. This week, the DPI will recommend that the State's public schools aggressively recruit students based on skin color rather than student aptitude, demonstrated mastery, or other performance measures.

The North Carolina Board of Education clearly states that the AIG program was created for "intellectually gifted students perform or show the potential to perform at substantially high levels of accomplishment" and should offer resources to children who "exhibit high-performance capability" and "require differentiated educational services beyond those ordinarily provided by the regular educational program."

Now the DPI recommends schools remove the "performance component" in place of using "racial, ethnic, economic or other demographic" criteria for placement in AIG programs.

Proposed Change to NC AIG Program Standards

An even broader and potentially more damaging change comes in the form of a new policy that "provides focused professional learning opportunities to realize equity and excellence in gifted education, including changing midsets, policies and practices."

DPI's proposed standards revisions must have a clear purpose, right? Wrong. The DPI's proposal stated reason for new standards is to incorporate "language of equity and excellence strategic initiative for emphasis and support."

DPI is requesting that schools be granted the broadest latitude to make changes without any commitment as to what those changes will be.

Proposed Addition to NC AIG Program Standards
Proposed Addition to NC Advanced Placement Standards

Because DPI's proposed changes defy the North Carolina legislature's intended passage of the plan will effectively end the State's AIG program.

The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) passed legislation (N.C.G.S. § 115C-150.5) in 1996 that protected the rights of "students with gifts and talents" saying that the measure was put into place because "academically or intellectually gifted students require differentiated education services beyond those ordinarily provided by the regular educational program." That measure is cited in the AIG 2021 standards.

Ensuring that opportunity be offered to students who display exceptional gifts and talents wasn't just a nice idea, it was called a "right" by the NCGA, which again, begs the question, why is the DPI "removing the performance component" to any part of the AIG program?

Additionally, since AIG is a specialized program, it is presumed that the classes have a finite amount of resources. Parents or children who believe they could benefit from the special attention that AIG could provide need a standard to work toward, but if that standard is shrouded in talk of "equity," students could find themselves pondering how they train to be a minority.

A lack of transparency on the part of administrators also leaves the program open for corruption. If the standard for admission is anything other than academic achievement how can taxpayers be sure that there isn't special treatment going toward someone who offers money or favors to get their child into an advanced program? If the hallmark of fairness is consistency, transparency is the key to making sure that all kids have the same shot at specialized educational benefits.

While the public education officials bemoan the loss of some of their best and brightest to private education, they also appear to be watering down the type of education that the best and brightest need for success. Programs like AIG have proven helpful when applying to universities that these students

North Carolina ranks 37th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia with a C- average on their national report card on public education for the 2019-2020 school year according to the News and Observer. That means that the state with arguably some of the best-educated people in the nation still ranks in the bottom half of the nation for its public education system.

While 37th isn't good, the state's trajectory is even worse showing a serious downward spiral among other states in the union. The outlet reported that in 2011 North Carolina ranked 19th and it was 34th in 2015.

If North Carolina adopts the amended standard for their AIG program they will be essentially selling their educational birthright for proverbial a bowl of soup, and putting quality education out of reach of those who can't pay for it.

The NCDPI is once again telling parents that they can have a great education, or they can have a free education, they just can't have both.



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