RCT of a Teacher-Intervention for Academic Acceleration

The current study of acceleration is based on the following premise: Schools (and districts) would be more likely to promote whole grade acceleration of gifted students if: (i) there were a universal screening process to identify children for whom an IAS should be completed, and (ii) school personnel were trained to use the IAS to evaluate students for potential acceleration. Furthermore, universal screening and use of the IAS will result in more equitable identification of traditionally underserved students as candidates for acceleration, ultimately leading to higher acceleration rates of traditionally underserved students.

We propose to intervene to (a) provide professional development for teachers and other relevant school personnel to increase awareness of acceleration as a useful intervention for potentially gifted children, (b) establish a universal screening process to determine when and for whom the IAS should be administered and (c) train teachers and other relevant school personnel to interpret screening data relevant to the acceleration decision, including IAS data.

The combination of training on the benefits and appropriate uses of acceleration, universal screening for acceleration, and the process of gathering and evaluating data will increase awareness among educators of the potentially positive effects of acceleration. As a result, we expect school personnel to demonstrate greater confidence in their ability to make decisions about acceleration and to express more likelihood to recommend students for acceleration. Although schools are asked to universally screen for acceleration and implement the IAS with the group of students who “screen positive,” schools are under no obligation to abide by the recommendation of the IAS. It is our belief, however, that this process will make school personnel more likely to accelerate students who are recommended for acceleration by the IAS.

Research Design and Research Questions

We propose a randomized control trial to test our intervention package. We will use school-level randomization to determine which of our volunteer schools will implement the IAS and screening based intervention and which will serve as wait-list controls. Control schools will have the option of participating in the professional development and guidance regarding implementation of the IAS after the completion of the 2-year intervention period in treatment schools. This will help ensure the continued participation of schools randomized to control.

The study will answer the following primary and secondary research questions:

Primary Research Questions (Increasing Usage and Awareness of Acceleration):

  1. Does the intervention increase the number of students who are:
    1. whole grade accelerated?
    2. accelerated in reading/language arts?
  • accelerated in mathematics?
  1. Equivalent to research question 1 but for students from traditionally underserved
  2. Based on data collected from a researcher-developed survey instrument (described below) and completed by relevant school personnel, we will answer the following questions:
    1. Is acceleration regarded as an effective intervention for identified gifted students?
    2. Are teachers and schools likely to utilize acceleration in the future?
  • How confident are school personnel in their ability to correctly identify candidates for acceleration?

Secondary Research Questions (Efficacy of Acceleration)

In addition to examining the effect of the intervention on the frequency of whole grade and/or subject-specific acceleration, we will also evaluate the efficacy of acceleration as an intervention.

  1. Does academic acceleration lead to improved student performance? Specifically:
    1. Do accelerated students perform better on MAP mathematics achievement tests?
    2. Do accelerated students perform better on MAP reading achievement tests?
  2. Does academic acceleration lead to improved affective outcomes for students in the following areas: Academic self-perception, attitude towards classes, motivation for school, perceived level of academic challenge?

How Do Combination Rules Affect Proportional Identification of Students for Gifted Programs?

Identification systems typically involve conjunctive (“And”), disjunctive (“Or”), and compensatory (“Mean”) rules for combining multiple measures. As correlations among assessments decrease, conjunctive and compensatory systems identify fewer students (unless the cut-off for the mean score is adjusted for shrinkage), while disjunctive rules identify more students for programming. However, both researchers and practitioners in gifted education often assume that correlations among multiple identification measures are the same for students from different backgrounds. If correlations among measures are lower for one group than another, the group with lower correlations would be disadvantaged by conjunctive (AND) and compensatory (MEAN) rules (unless the compensatory rule computes shrinkage factors separately for each subgroup). Conversely, they would be advantaged by disjunctive (OR) rules. The key takeaways from this work are:

  • Different combination rules can be implemented to identify similar overall percentages of students.
  • Correlations among identification measures do appear to vary somewhat across demographic groups, and this has implications for how combination rules can be expected to perform.
  • No combination rule can create parity when mean score differences across subgroups are substantial.

D. Betsy McCoach

NCRGE researcher, D. Betsy McCoach is the recipient of the highest honor a researcher of gifted education can receive: the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children. The NAGC recently announced McCoach’s accomplishment, placing her among some of the most renowned researchers in the field. “This is a huge honor,” says McCoach, who is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Research Methods, Measurement, and Evaluation program, as well as the University’s new multidisciplinary master’s in data science program….read more

NCRGE Research Named GCQ Paper of the Year

A paper based on our analysis of state district plans, “Identifying and Serving Gifted and Talented Students: Are Identification and Services Connected?” (https://doi.org/10.1177/0016986220988308) has been named NAGC Gifted Child Quarterly Paper of the Year. Jean Gubbins, Del Siegle, Karen Ottone-Cross, D. Betsy McCoach, Susan Dulong Langley, Carolyn M. Callahan, Annalissa V. Brodersen, and Melanie Caughey authored the paper. This is the second NCRGE research publication that has receive paper of the year distinction.

Dr. E. Jean Gubbins Named 2021 NAGC Distinguished Scholar

Dr. E. Jean Gubbins will receive the 2021 NAGC Distinguished Scholar Award at NAGC’s November conference in Denver, Colorado. In addition to serving as associate director of the NCRGE and former NRC/GT, she has implemented research studies focusing on curricular strategies and practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) high schools, reading and mathematics education in elementary schools, professional development, and gifted education pedagogy for all students. She is the Principal Investigator of Thinking Like Mathematicians: Challenging All Grade 3 Students and co-Principal Investigator of Project BUMP UP: Building Up Mathematics Proficiency Utilizing Push-in.

NCRGE Director, Del Siegle, Recognized with NAGC Ann F. Isaacs Founder’s Memorial Award

Dr. Del Siegle will receive the 2021 NAGC Ann F. Isaacs Founder’s Memorial Award at NAGC’s November conference in Denver, Colorado for his distinguished service to NAGC and gifted education.  Dr. Siegle serves as the director for the National Center for Research on Gifted Education. He is the Lynn and Ray Neag Endowed Chair for Talent Development in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut and also director of the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development.

NCRGE Results, Reflections, and Recommendations March Conference

The National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE) will hold a free virtual conference on Friday, March 26, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. The conference (NCRGE’s First Five Years: Results, Reflections, and Recommendations) will include three short presentations by NCRGE researchers followed by reflections and recommendation for practice and future research from panelists. Click here to register.

Interactive App Available to Plot Student Growth

NCRGE is excited to share an interactive tool that allows users to interactively plot lines that predict reading or math achievement for three US states the NCRGE studied. The lines are generated from a linear growth curve model that includes student, school, and district-level variables. With this tool, users can compare up to five predicted lines in a single plot. This allows comparisons of reading and math achievement growth from third to fifth grade for identified gifted students achievement with their non-identified peers for different school populations (e.g., EL status, free or reduced lunch status, ethnicity).