An International Quality Standard for Gifted and Talented Education?

When people ask me which innovation I’m most proud of, I always cite the development and introduction of our national quality standards for G&T education.

The concept emerged in discussions I had with Ceri Morgan HMI, then employed by the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth. It was influenced in part by the US NAGC standards for school districts.

We began with institutional standards (for schools, colleges and other settings), followed by classroom and local authority standards. The basic approach was the same:

  • A broad, concise framework with universal application, regardless of context;
  • Three tiers – entry, improving and exemplary – the former setting out what every institution, classroom or authority should aim for; the latter providing challenge for the very best performers;
  • An audit, evaluation and improvement planning tool which could also be used to secure ‘intelligent accountability’;
  • A mechanism for accrediting outstanding providers and, if necessary, for targeting resources; and
  • A basis for organising relevant guidance material – the internal structure of single pieces of government guidance and the sorting of all supporting resources into a comprehensive database.

Three standards is quite sufficient for any national service. But in 2007 or thereabouts, I began to think about the potential value of an international quality standard.

I had become frustrated at the limited influence of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the European Council for High Ability as advocates for national and international reform.

I proposed a new organisation built around the development, maintenance and implementation of standards for G&T education at national level and state level in federal countries.

I argued that the development process, requiring the negotiation of worldwide consensus, would help to stimulate a shared understanding of the essential components of effective practice. There would be a clear progression route from a universal minimum standard towards national best practice. The standard would provide a sharp focus for discussion about how effective practice changes over time – and for capturing such change through a regular review and updating process.

An international framework would provide a lingua franca for comparative analysis of national and state systems, for international consultancy and for collaborative activity between two or more countries.

The new organisation might choose to accredit the best national and state providers as centre of excellence for others to emulate. National G&T communities could use the standards as a basis for defining their own legislation or guidance – and for advocacy.

Three years on, I continue to believe in the potential power of an international quality standard and would give much to have the opportunity to realise this vision.

Maybe something similar has already happened inside the US, as part of the work of NAGC and the Davidson Institute on analysing comparative provision across the different states? If so, I would welcome the details;  if not, maybe this should be on the agenda of one of those organisations?

What do you, the global G&T education community, think of the idea? And, more interestingly, what elements would you look for in the standards? How would you scale up from the district and local authority standards to create something with real currency at state and national levels?

May 2010

3 thoughts on “An International Quality Standard for Gifted and Talented Education?

  1. I’m thrilled that you’re blogging about these critical issues! I’m going to pull insight from your previous post about the polarity among GT advocates for this week’s #gtchat Twtpoll. Well done!

  2. I agree 100% with you that international standards would go a long way in aiding gifted advocacy. Atleast on paper, it appears that the ECHA has ‘helped’ to amalgamate how countries within the EU approach gifted education. From the American POV, it seems like a long way off for U.S. states to come to an agreement on standards. Our views are as divergent as those of the European community. That being said, I think that this is an important goal that we all must strive towards – international standards. I firmly believe that those countries who fail to realize the necessity of meeting the needs of their gifted will one day pay a heavy price on the world stage regarding technological advances, national defense, and economic recovery.

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