Responding to the Challenges of Gifted Education in Rural Communities
There are both achievement and opportunity gaps for low-income students when compared to their economically advantaged peers; and, for rural students, these gaps may be even more pronounced. In this manuscript we draw from our ongoing work in a five-year federally-funded, Jacob K. Javits grant focusing on promoting gifted education in rural schools. To address issues of under-identification of gifted students in these settings, and to investigate ways to maximize achievement, we established an alternative process for identifying gifted students in rural schools; and we created units integrating place-based pedagogy within an evidence-based curriculum model as an intervention. Finally, we discuss preliminary findings from the pilot year and first half of the second year of the study documenting success in augmenting the pool of identified students and engaging teachers in implementing the curriculum. Perhaps more importantly, we document lessons learned and more global takeaways for the field. Specifically, we discuss the influence of deficit thinking with regard to rural schooling (and subsequent recognition of gifts and talents), the risk of generalizing rural to all rural places, and the nuances of rural poverty not captured in commonly used metrics, such as Free and Reduced Lunch.