Gifted students in rural areas

5 Aug

In Rural schools, moi said:

A significant number of children attend rural schools. According to The Rural Assistance Center, the definition of a rural school is:

Question: What is the definition of a rural and/or small school?

Answer: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the definition of rural schools was revised in 2006 after working with the Census Bureau to create a new locale classification system to capitalize on improved geocoding technology and the 2000 Office of Management and Budget definitions of metro areas that rely less on population size and county boundaries than proximity of an address to an urbanized area. Small schools do not necessarily mean rural, and rural does not mean small. A small school could be an urban school with a decreasing population. Rural schools can be large due to the center school concept where students are bused in to one school to save on costs. Some schools are considered small when compared to the mega-schools of several thousand that are common in some districts. A small school could be one designed to accommodate a specific population of students and their unique needs or a private school. Rural and/or small schools have similar needs and concerns.

According to The Condition of Education in Rural Schools (U.S. Department of Education, 1994), ‘few issues bedevil analysts and planners concerned with rural education more than the question of what actually constitutes “rural”.’ In the Federal Register published December 27, 2000, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas. These new standards replace and supersede the 1990 standards for defining Metropolitan Areas. OMB announced definitions of areas based on the new standards and Census 2000 data in June 2003. The lack of a clear, accepted definition of “rural” has impeded research in the field of rural education. When defining the term rural, population and remoteness are important considerations as these factors influence school organization, availability of resources, and economic and social conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the definition of “small rural schools” are those schools eligible to participate in the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program. SRSA includes districts with average daily attendance of fewer than 600 students, or districts in which all schools are located in counties with a population density of fewer than 10 persons per square mile, AND all schools served by the districts are located in a rural area with a school locale code of 7 or 8.

Rural schools face unique challenges.                                           

Donald L. Kordosky has written the School Administrator article, Attending to the Gifted in Rural Schools:

Rural school districts nationwide have a difficult time meeting the needs of their gifted students.

The evidence has become obvious during my career as a teacher, building administrator and superintendent of a 600-student district in the central Cascade Mountains of Oregon, an hour from the closest urban area.

The last point shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not just limited funding that hampers rural schools from serving gifted students; it’s also the distance to supplemental learning resources that educators in cities and suburbs can easily access.

Assuming 2.5 percent of our students in K-12 education qualify as talented and gifted, my calculations suggest 378,000 gifted students attend rural schools nationwide. Most do not receive an education aligned with their unique abilities and learning readiness, spending most or all of their time in traditional heterogeneous classrooms with nongifted peers. The gifted student often is simply provided with more of the same work as the average student or is expected to function as a “classroom helper” for students of lower ability.

Research by Marcia Gentry, Mary Rizza and Robert Gable, appearing in the spring 2001 issue of Gifted Child Quarterly, shows rural gifted students enjoy school more than their urban and suburban talented and gifted peers. This is partially due to the adult and peer relationships that are fostered in rural settings that are much less common in urban settings. Yet gifted students suffer greater rates of depression, discipline issues, suicide attempts, dropping out and self-destructive behavior, including alcoholism, drug abuse and sexual promiscuity.

The federal government spends almost nothing on gifted education. While most states mandate gifted education programs, they do not provide any additional funding for gifted education….

The federal government spends almost nothing on gifted education. While most states mandate gifted education programs, they do not provide any additional funding for gifted education.

Clarifying Procedures
There are strategies a district administrator can pursue that will result in improved services for gifted students without substantial cost increases.

Make gifted education programs a focus of improvement in your district….

Clarify identification and exiting procedures. Develop and implement clear ways for students to be identified for talented and gifted programming and to leave a program….

Attend to the heterogeneous classroom. Most services for gifted students in rural areas are going to occur in the heterogeneous classroom, so the most effective place to address this issue is there. The use of differentiated teaching strategies to provide instruction for all students is paramount. You can make this a priority for your teachers….

Create individualized education plans for gifted students. This could mirror the mandated individualized education plans for students in special education. Annual gifted team meetings include a building administrator, the school’s coordinator for talented and gifted, the student’s parents and teacher(s) and the student. These meetings serve as the cornerstone for constructing a strong districtwide gifted program. Every student identified as talented or gifted in Oakridge participates in two TAGEP (talented and gifted education plan) meetings each school year where individualized education plans are designed and performance outcomes are monitored.

There are things that parents of gifted children can do to help their child succeed.

Joan D. Lewis, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the Director of Gifted Education for the University of Nebraska campuses and Cherry Hafer, in her 27th year in rural schools have written The Challenges of Being Gifted in a Rural Community about what parents can do to help their children.

Specific Things Parents Can Do

Since schools have limited resources and educators wear so many hats, particularly in rural schools, support from well-informed parents is needed more than ever. Parents must be knowledgeable about gifted education and need to understand their community’s abilities to meet the educational needs of gifted students.
Parents in rural areas can use their individual skills and advocacy efforts to:

Potential mentors need to be screened carefully, and students should be supervised during mentoring sessions to ensure safety.

  • work with teachers to find resources and materials that are needed for accelerated and enriched learning experiences in class and outside of school. Look for materials on school subjects, vocational, and avocational interests via Internet search engines (,,, or the Web index site; books and media in public, college, and university libraries; and books for parents of gifted learners (see the resources listed in the sidebar).
  • access and share information about educational opportunities for gifted and talented students provided by university talent searches and other programs run by universities, colleges, and other organizations.

All children have a right to a good basic education


Rural schools and the digital divide            

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

2 Responses to “Gifted students in rural areas”


  1. drwilda - December 12, 2012

    […] Gifted students in rural areas                                     […]

  2. The struggle to educate students in rural America | drwilda - July 6, 2013

    […] Gifted students in rural areas STEM education in rural schools […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: