Minority High Achievement
Nationally known experts to speak at Johns Hopkins conference focused on America's brightest 2nd to 12th grade students from low-and modest income families.
Gifted education programs offered outside traditional school walls, long popular with suburban middle class families, are now playing a greater role in the academic success for minority low- and modest-income students.
Details will be presented at Helping Talent Soar: Identifying and Serving Gifted Students from all of America's Neighborhoods, a summit on minority high achievement to be held Thursday and Friday, May 13 and 14, at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Nationally known experts will present to an expected audience of 250 educators, and public policy, foundation, and business leaders.
Dr. Ben Carson, the renowned Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon whose own life story perhaps embodies the hope for all gifted children from humble beginnings, delivers the conference keynote at the kickoff session the evening of Thursday, May 13.
More broadly, the conference, cosponsored by CTY and The Goldman Sachs Foundation, will spotlight the abundance of youthful academic talent found in students of all backgrounds. Invited guests will also survey the American public education landscape and describe successful programs and practices.
According to Lea Ybarra, CTY's executive director, "Helping Talent Soar will take on a key question: Do the estimated 3 million U.S. gifted students, out of an annual enrolled U.S. school-age population of 53 million children, receive the proper accelerated, enriched, and tailored instruction necessary to make the most of their abilities?"
The conference takes place as many gifted and talented programs are being reduced or eliminated around the country. Some national examples: Baltimore has discontinued all gifted programs for its 103,000 student district. The Illinois state legislature in late 2003 axed all state gifted programs. A state funding holdback imperils funding for gifted programs in the 350,000-student Miami-Dade County, Fla., district.
While education cuts are being driven by state budget shortfalls, consequences for gifted programs have been deeper and more widespread, experts say, due to the effects of the comprehensive No Child Left Behind Law, enacted in 2001. The law, though rightfully praised for its goals to raise struggling children to proficient levels, virtually omits mention of gifted education. Left vulnerable for that reason, gifted programs across the nation are ending.
Although all gifted students are hit by such cuts, experts believe the brunt is borne by minority and low-income students clustered in urban schools.
Unlike students from suburban, middle class families, low- and modest-income households can lack the knowledge base and expendable family dollars to seek special gifted education programs outside school to replace discontinued public gifted programs.
"Such students are caught by their circumstances," Ybarra said. "We at CTY believe that it's a critical part of our mission to find such promising students."
While gifted programs in schools are declining, special programs, such as Johns Hopkins' CTY, increasingly are serving students beyond their former homogenous student population. CTY and three other university-based talent searches together enroll more than 240,000 2nd through 8th graders to take special tests (7th graders take the college SAT) that more precisely pinpoint a child's math and verbal strengths. This year, CTY marks its 25th anniversary.
Financial support from philanthropies, such as conference cosponsor The Goldman Sachs Foundation, is giving energetic life to this new influx of students. In 2003, aid from the foundation and others helped 998 of CTY's 10,600 enrolled students trade schoolyards literally surrounded by concertina wire for the green quadrangles of America's top colleges in three-week live-in academic summer programs.
The foundation also has encouraged CTY to pursue innovative new programs. In one, CTY students learn formal business methodologies from MBA students and Goldman Sachs executives, then appear before a juried panel of senior Goldman Sachs executives and present detailed plans of their "dream businesses."
A key goal of the foundation is to place into the national pipeline increased numbers of students from historically underserved groups, and prepare those students for high-impact careers and lives.
Says Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of The Goldman Sachs Foundation, "There are huge practical consequences for our nation and our future generations if we fail to cultivate the minds of our nation's brightest students from every background. Lose them, and we lose a precious natural resource: the ingenuity, creativity, and perseverance that have been hallmarks of the American spirit."
More information on the conference may be found at www.cty.jhu.edu/soar.
About the Cosponsors
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Marking 25 years, CTY identifies America's top academic students in grades two through eight and provides challenging educational programs through their 12th grade year. Students who score at or above the 97th percentile on standardized tests normally taken in school are invited to participate in CTY's Talent Search, during which they take an additional set of standardized tests used to measure mathematical and verbal reasoning. Qualifying students may choose to enroll in CTY programs including summer residential programs, online courses, and one-day conferences on special topics. CTY also publishes Imagine, a five-issue-per-year periodical that is full of opportunities and resources for gifted students.
The Goldman Sachs Foundation is a global philanthropic organization funded by The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The Foundation's mission is to promote excellence and innovation in education and to improve the academic performance and lifelong productivity of young people worldwide. It achieves this through a combination of strategic partnerships, grants, loans, private sector investments, and the deployment of professional talent from Goldman Sachs. Since its foundation in 1999, the foundation has awarded over $40 million in grants, providing opportunities for young people in over 20 countries.
The Johns Hopkins Council on K-12 Education, a consortium of Johns Hopkins divisions active in K-12 education, advises President William Brody and university leadership on the urgent regional and national challenges of school reform, and on Johns Hopkins' role in addressing that challenge.
Thursday evening, May 13
Reception, Welcome and Keynote Address
Lea Ybarra, Ph.D.
Friday, May 14
Stephanie Bell-Rose, J.D.
Howard Everson, Ph.D.
Ralph Fessler, Ph.D.
Robert Jackson, M.A.
Shirley Malcom, Ph.D.
Steven Mariotti, M.B.A.
Raymond Paredes, Ph.D.
Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D.
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