Newswise — Three years after the University of Iowa's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development published "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students," an online research survey shows that the report has had a major impact on the state of gifted education in the United States.
Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, endorsed by the National Association for Gifted Children, and published in 2004, the two-volume report was made available at no charge to schools, parents and the media across the country. A Web site dedicated to the report's findings can also be viewed at http://www.nationdeceived.org, where a PDF version of the report may be downloaded.
Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center director and the report's lead author, said that 99 percent of those surveyed believed the report will have a positive influence on gifted education in the long-run. He added that 85 percent of those surveyed indicated the report has had a positive impact on their attitudes toward acceleration, and 77 percent said that the report has had a positive impact on the field of gifted education. Fifty-one percent of those responding believe that the report has had a positive impact on the field of education in general, and 25 percent believe that the report has had a positive impact on training provided in colleges of education.
Fourteen percent of respondents said they believe that acceleration policies have been written or revised as a result of "A Nation Deceived."
"We thought that with the Internet and the speed of communications, that three years was a reasonable amount of time to assess the impact," Colangelo said. "We've been very pleased at how this report has moved the subjects of gifted education and acceleration into the mainstream and helped change, not only attitudes, but policies in some cases. People realize that acceleration has to be seen as a legitimate and researched intervention and can no longer dismiss it based on their own biases."
The online survey, designed to assess the impact of the report three years later, was released internationally Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2007. The research survey included 19 questions, one open-ended field for comments, and 14 categories for respondents. Over 2,400 people made comments.
Colangelo said he was pleased with the results, noting that 3,868 respondents from the United States completed the survey, including people from all 50 states, as well as 401 international respondents, for a total of 4,269. Most of the people who completed the survey were parents of gifted children and educators, Colangelo said.
Colangelo said this was not a random, scientific survey. Rather, it was sent to gifted education listservs, to general education listservs, to colleges, and it was also open to the general public.
"It's a large sample of people who were willing to share their thoughts about gifted education and acceleration," Colangelo said.
To assess the impact of the study, Colangelo said the following questions were asked:
--How well known is the report?
--Has it increased knowledge about acceleration?
--Has it changed attitudes about acceleration?
--Has it changed practices in schools?
--Has it influenced policies at district and state levels?
The report received coverage in national media outlets, including TIME magazine, Education Weekly, New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe and hundreds of other venues.
"This received considerable media exposure," Colangelo said. "It was the first time, to my knowledge, that gifted education came into the popular press. That was a big breakthrough for the field of gifted education because it's been very difficult for the topic of gifted education to get to the mainstream."
The Nation Deceived Web site has also received more than 2.2 million unique hits, 88,600 downloads of the report, 49,800 print copies have been distributed; and 42 keynote presentations have been given about this specific report.
To provide perspective, Colangelo said, initially only 5,000 copies of the report were printed, and this has increased to 55,000 copies printed. The report was co-authored by Belin-Blank Center Associate Director Susan Assouline, and Miraca Gross, a professor of gifted education at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
A gifted teacher/coordinator in Ohio shared the following sentiment in the open-ended response section of the online survey: "This report directly influenced the state of Ohio in mandating every public school district to adopt an acceleration policy ... . The state's Model Acceleration Policy included exact language from the report ... ."
In the open-ended response section, a parent from Minnesota said: "I inhaled both volumes and was excited by what I read. 'A Nation Deceived' provided my husband and me with the tools and information to advocate for grade acceleration."
Colangelo said that even beyond the survey results, the Belin-Blank Center has received "hundreds and hundreds" of phone calls, e-mails and testimonials.
"People are saying this report has altered the lives of their children. Acceleration has given their children a new and realistic possibility to succeed," Colangelo said.
Because of the ongoing outpouring of interest from parents, educators and administrators, one major impact was the creation of the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) at the UI Belin-Blank Center, Colangelo said. David Lohman serves as the IRPA research director.
"The report unleashed considerable attention," Colangelo said. "And so we felt that people needed a place that they could look to for advice and consultation."
IRPA's mission is to provide research on acceleration, act as a clearinghouse for information, serve as a resource for K-12 schools and administer research awards so that other scholars can pursue research on gifted education and acceleration. The Web site is http://www.accelerationinstitute.org.
"Three years ago, it would not have been possible," Colangelo said. "But now we have an institute that is dedicated solely to furthering research and providing information and consultation. This is an important offshoot from the original report that will continue to benefit countless parents, educators and gifted students."
The Belin-Blank Center is part of the UI College of Education. Founded in 1872, the University of Iowa College of Education was the nation's first permanent college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as Rehabilitation Counseling, Statistics and Measurement, Counseling Psychology, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education, Higher Education, and Educational Administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. For more information, visit http://www.education.uiowa.edu.