​Education prof. wins grant to study ways to improve talented and gifted education

Researchers to look at both rural and urban schools

carolyn_callahanvirginiaedu

Education Prof. Carolyn Callahan, along with her colleagues at the University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech, was recently awarded two federal grants to investigate and improve the education of under-represented gifted students in urban and rural areas. The two grants total nearly $4 million.

The two grants will allow Callahan and her colleagues to study schools in Colorado, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia that successfully identify and educate their gifted students. Students of color, students of low-income backgrounds and rural students are all more likely to be overlooked for gifted programs than their peers.

According to Callahan, there are many reasons for this trend.

“[These reasons] range from the issue with bias in teacher nominations which occur when teachers do not perceive these students as capable, to bias in assessment tools, to inequitable opportunities to learn the skills that are considered reflective of gifted behaviors because of the relatively poor quality of curriculum and instruction in their schools,” she said.

Callahan said her interest in improving education for gifted students began early in her career.

“My first teaching assignment was to teach a class of seniors in high school who had completed calculus,” she said. “I became very serious about finding out how to develop curriculum for them and to determine why I only had one female student in a class of 12.”

Callahan attributes part of her interest in improving rural education to her own background. Both she and her colleague, Virginia Tech Associate Prof. Amy Azano, were raised in rural areas.

“Much of the work that has been done on underrepresented groups in gifted education has focused on the urban poor and diverse populations, but we see rural communities also under-identifying and under-serving gifted students because of the lack of resources in those schools,” Callahan said.

Callahan and her colleagues competed with other proposals in order to win the grants. Funding for both grants began October 1.

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