For the past few days, everyone from reporters to think-tank staff to arm-chair analysts have pored over the new report card data released by the Ohio Department of Education. OAGC has been no exception, though our focus is limited to the gifted performance and other gifted related data. So how did things go for gifted students this past school year½ As usual the data point to mixed success. And, unsurprisingly, the wealthier the district, the better gifted student performance was. What continues to surprise (and disappoint) is that value-added growth also tends to be higher in wealthier districts for gifted students.
While OAGC does not have all the data needed for a complete analysis, the data currently available show troubling trends continuing and some signs of hope. Here’s the preliminary breakdown:
Gifted Performance Indicator
Only twelve districts met the gifted performance indicator this year. That contrasts with 49 that met the indicator last year and 13 who met the indicator in 2013-2104. Why so few½ One reason is that 2016-2017 was the first year that the gifted performance indicator was fully phased-in. The gifted performance is composed of three elements: a gifted performance index, gifted value-added, and gifted input points. The gifted performance index was set at 117 this year. Gifted value-added continue to be a grade of C or above, and finally, gifted input points were set at 80. (Gifted input points are a combination of identification and service numbers across different grade levels, types of service, and student demographics.) This year, 85 districts met the gifted performance index; 408 districts met gifted value-added, and 62 districts met the gifted input points goal. But as previously stated only twelve districts met all three elements of the gifted indicator. As the indicator goals are now set and assessments are stable, it is likely that the number of districts meet the gifted performance indicator will increase from this year forward. For more details, please click here.
It is important to note here that gifted services are not mandated in Ohio, and even with the huge increase in reported services (both real and fictitious), Ohio’s districts provide services to only a little over half of Ohio’s gifted student population. In addition, gifted education is under-funded in Ohio – especially in smaller, rural districts. So, really, is it any wonder that very few districts meet the gifted performance indicator½ The gifted cost study that was included in the most recent state budget bill is a hopeful sign that state policymakers might revisit the gifted funding mechanism to address some of the inadequacies.
Gifted identification increased by 2.5% from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017 (243,495 to 249,741), reversing a years-long trend of declining gifted identification. This increase in identification is likely responsible for the decline in the number of districts who were able to receive a gifted performance indicator rating. In 2015-2016, 58 districts were unable to receive a rating due to low identification numbers. This number declined to 51 districts in 2016-2017. Of those districts, 31 were above 600 ADM threshold set for “not rated” districts on the gifted indicator to count against the district, which is an improvement over last year.
Why the increase in identification after years of decline½ One simple answer may be found in the new gifted operating standards which require whole-grade testing, which is seen as a powerful tool to ensure that under-represented students are more likely to be identified. While the operating standards did not go into effect until this school year, it is likely that many districts began to implement some level of whole grade screening when the standards passed last spring.
Districts increased services to gifted students from 60,725 in 2013-2014 to 89,476 in 2014-2015 and again in 2015-2016 to 107,072. There was another big jump in “services” provided in 2016-2017 to 129,218 though the level of true, new services is highly questionable. The big question is how real are these services½ The number of gifted intervention specialists has steadily declined for many years, so fewer services are being provided with trained gifted professionals. We know that many of the new services reported over the past few years were those provided in the regular classroom. Because the old gifted standards had no criteria for levels of professional development in gifted education for classroom teachers providing these services, it was apparent that many services reported were in name only. The new gifted operating standards should help with this issue beginning this year. Even with the loose definition of service, approximately 52% of the gifted student population was served in the past year. Ohio clearly still has a long way to go.
For more information about the latest gifted report card data, including information about the gifted performance index and gifted value-added broken down by typology, please download the brief at the link posted above. OAGC continues to receive and analyze new data, we will post updates on this page.