ESSA and High Ability Education

What You Need to Know!

The Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) And High Ability Education

Q: What is the ESSA?

ESSA/ESEA is the source of most federal K-12 education initiatives, such as Title I schools, accountability for student achievement, programs for English language learners, math-science partnerships, and Title II professional development. Approximately $21 billion in federal funds under ESEA is distributed to the states and school districts each year through complex formulas based on student population and poverty and through individual grant programs.


Top Ten Things You Need to Know About the ESSA

1. ESSA is the 2015 reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

2. ESSA replaces No Child Left Behind. (NCLB Waiver provisions end on July 31, 2016.)

3. ESSA states that Title I funding may be used to identify and serve gifted and talented students.

4. ESSA requires that student data be reported on the state and local report cards by achievement level, thus offering data on gifted students’ growth.

5. ESSA Title II requires that state plans address gifted students.

6. Districts receiving Title II funds must provide training to address the learning of gifted and talented students.

7. Districts may provide training to support the identification of GT students, including high ability students who have not been formally identified as GT.

8. ESSA reauthorizes $12 million for underrepresented populations under the Javits Gifted & Talented Students Education Act (the ONLY federal funding for gifted education).

9. Most Title II provisions go into effect in the 2016-2017 school year.

10. Title I accountability provisions, including the new report card format, go into effect in the 2017-18 school year.


Q: Is anything required of states related to gifted and talented (high ability) students?

Yes. There are two new requirements:

· On the state report cards: States must include student achievement data at each achievement level that is disaggregated by student subgroup. Previously, states provided detailed information for students performing at the proficient level and below. Now, states also will have to include information on students achieving at the advanced level.

· Note: The previous bullet means that Indiana is now required to report the percentage of each student demographic subgroups that scored at a Pass Plus level on our state test. This is not the same as the Indiana Code requirement that the Indiana Department of Education must disaggregate, by district and by school, the percentage of identified high ability students that scored at the Pass Plus level on state assessments. In this requirement, the disaggregation is not by demographic subgroup, but by the high ability designation.

· In applying for Title II professional development funds, states must include information about how they plan to improve the skills of teachers and other school leaders that will enable them to identify gifted and talented (high ability) students and provide instruction based on the students’ needs.


Q: Is anything required of districts related to gifted and talented (high ability) students?

Yes. There are two new requirements:

· Districts must collect, disaggregate, and report their student achievement data at each achievement level, as the states are required to do.

· Districts that receive Title II professional development funds must use the money to address the learning needs of all students. ESSA specifically says that “all students” includes gifted and talented (high ability) students.


Q: What about funding for High Ability Education at the federal level?

The Javits program, which has been operating since 1988, was retained in ESSA. The program focuses grant funds on research projects related to identifying and serving students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly minority, economically disadvantaged, English language learners, and children with disabilities in order to help reduce gaps in achievement and to encourage the establishment of equal educational opportunities for all students. In addition, the Javits program funds a national research center on gifted education and when funding permits, also funds grants to states to improve the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special educational needs of gifted and talented students. As with other grant programs, Congress must provide funding for the Javits program each year.


Q: What should those responsible for implementing High Ability Education be doing?

Professional Development (Title II)

· State education agency staff responsible for Title II of ESEA/ESSA will need to review/modify state Title II Plans to effectively implement the new requirement to ensure that teachers and others in the schools are able to identify and serve high ability students.

· Local administrators and coordinators will need to determine if their local school district receives Title II professional development funds. Those districts that receive Title II money are now required to use the funds, in part, to address the learning needs of gifted and talented students.

Using Title I Funds to Support Gifted Students

· State Title I officials will need to become familiar with the new provision that allows districts to use Title I funds to identify and serve low-income gifted and talented students.

· Districts should be made aware of their new ability to use Title I funds to identify and serve low-income gifted and talented students and share strategies teacher may employ to provide appropriately challenging instruction.

Use New Data on Advanced Achievement

· States must report student achievement on the state assessment, disaggregated by student subgroup, at each achievement level.

· State education agency’s assessment experts will need to consider the value of computer adaptive assessments that can measure student mastery of above-grade level standards.

· Districts must report student achievement data, disaggregated by subgroup, at each achievement level on their local report cards.


Q: When do the new provisions go into effect?

The 2016-2017 school year is a big transition year. Applications for Title I and other formula grants will begin July 1, 2016; other federal grant programs will go into effect in October 2016. State accountability plans will go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year.

Information contained here was adapted and condensed from the National Association for Gifted Children. The original information can be found at:


Q: What exactly is the language included in the ESSA related to Gifted Education?

(page #s refer to “FINAL conference report” dated Nov 30, 2015)

TITLE I – Improving Academic Achievement of Disadvantaged Students

Disaggregation of student achievement data at each achievement level on state & local report cards

Sec. 1111. State Plans (p 38)
(h)(1)(C) minimum requirements for state report cards (p 115)

(ii) For all students and disaggregated by each subgroup of students described in subsection (b)(2)(B)(xi), homeless status, status as a child in foster care, and status as a student with a parent who is a member of the Armed Forces (as defined in section 101(a)(4) of title 10, United States Code) on active duty (as defined in section 101(d)(5) of such title), information on student achievement on the academic assessments described in subsection (b)(2) at each level of achievement, as determined by the State under subsection (b)(1). (pp 117-118)

(h)(2)(C) Local Education Agency Report Cards Minimum requirements (same as required for state report cards) (p 125)

Local Education Agency Plans may include information specifically about identifying and

serving gifted and talented students

Sec. 1112. Local Education Agency Plans (p 131) (b) Plan Provisions (p 134)

(13) any other information on how the local educational agency proposes to use funds to meet the purposes of this part, and that the local educational agency determines appropriate to provide, which may include how the local educational agency will—

(A) assist schools in identifying and serving gifted and talented students; (p138)

States using computer adaptive assessments

Sec. 1111(b) Challenging academic standards and academic assessments (p 47) (b)(2) Academic assessments (p 52)
(b)(2)(J) Adaptive Assessments (pp 73-76)

(J) ADAPTIVE ASSESSMENTS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—Subject to clause (ii), a State retains the right to develop and administer computer adaptive assessments as the assessments described in this paragraph, provided the computer adaptive assessments meet the requirements of this paragraph, except that—

(I) subparagraph (B)(i) shall not be interpreted to require that all students taking the computer adaptive assessment be administered the same assessment items; and
(II) such assessment—

(aa) shall measure, at a minimum, each student’s academic proficiency based on the challenging State academic standards for the student’s grade level and growth toward such standards; and

(bb) may measure the student’s level of academic proficiency and growth using items above or below the student’s grade level, including for use as part of a State’s accountability system under subsection (c).

Sec. 1201(a) State Assessment Grants authorized (p 206)

(L) Evaluating student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments (such as performance and technology-based academic assessments, computer adaptive assessments, projects, or extended performance task assessments) that emphasize the mastery of standards and aligned competencies in a competency-based education model.
(p 209)

Title II – Professional Development

Including needs of gifted learners required in state Title II plans

Sec. 2101 Formula Grants to States (p 308)
(d)(2) (p 326)) State Application Contents: Each application described under paragraph (1) shall include the following:

(J) A description of how the State educational agency will improve the skills of teachers, principals, or other school leaders in order to enable them to identify students with specific learning needs, particularly children with disabilities, English learners, students who are gifted and talented, and students with low literacy levels, and provide instruction based on the needs of such students.
(p 328)

Local education agencies including needs of gifted learners with Title II funds

Sec. 2103. Local Uses of Funds (p 335) (b)(2) Types of required activities (p 336)

(b) TYPES OF ACTIVITIES.—The programs and activities described in this subsection—
(2) shall address the learning needs of all students, including children with disabilities,

English learners, and gifted and talented students; and (b)(3)Types of permissible activities (p 336)

(3) may include, among other programs and activities—
(J) providing training to support the identification of students who are gifted and talented,

including high-ability students who have not been formally identified for gifted education services, and implementing instructional practices that support the education of such students, such as—

(i) early entrance to kindergarten;
(ii) enrichment, acceleration, and curriculum compacting activities; and (iii) dual or concurrent enrollment programs in secondary school and postsecondary education;

(p 343)

Title IV: 21Century Schools

Subpart 4 – Academic Enrichment (p 625)
Sec. 4644 Supporting High-Ability Learners and Learning.

Javits Gifted & Talented Students Education Act (pp 636 – 642)

The above information was compiled from the website of The National Association for Gifted Children.

www.nagc.org