Be an advocate for gifted education

Legislative update: Funding for gifted education in the 2017-2018 school year
Requesting TAG budgets for your district
Every Student Succeeds Act
Finding your legislator
Advocacy pointers


Funding for gifted education in the 2017-2018 school year

Legislative updates

There were a number of changes to education funding in the 2017 legislative session. ITAG is sharing this handout to help answer questions about gifted funding.

This handout is an annotated version of DE Director Ryan Wise’s letter to the field that summarizes 2017 legislation impacting education. Specifically, ITAG is sharing Dr. Wise’s summary of HF 564 and HF 565, the flexibility funding bills, and HF 573, the limited home rule law.

Categorical funding for gifted and talented programs remains categorical. Gifted and talented funds are NOT among those that can be moved to the flexibility account established by HF 565. However, districts may choose to use funds from this account to add additional funding to support their district’s gifted and talented program.

Use of gifted and talented funds must be spent according to existing state code. Code and allowed uses of funding can be found at the Gifted and Talented page on the Iowa Department of Education website.

2017-2018 gifted and talented allocations

Allocated funding for 2017-2018 district gifted and talented programs is available on the DE website at https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/advanced-learning-opportunities/gifted-talented#Allocations

Carryover gifted and talented funds

Does your district have unspent gifted and talented funds from last year? Check your district balance here. Look at Column G for the gifted and talented carryover. The best advocacy is local advocacy. Visit with your local administrators to develop a plan for using the carryover funds as intended for gifted and talented programming and services.

For more information

For more information on gifted and talented funding, contact Tom Cooley, DE Bureau Chief of Finance, Facilities, Operation and Transportation Service, Tom.Cooley@iowa.gov, 515-725-1120. Questions about gifted and talented programming can be addressed to Rosanne Malek, DE Gifted and Talented Consultant, Rosanne.Malek@iowa.gov, 515-281-3199.

Questions about ITAG can be directed to Dr. Maureen Marron, Executive Director, info@iowatag.org.

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Requesting TAG budgets for your district

TAG budgets are public information. Those who wish to request their district’s budget can ask the person with the title of “board secretary.” This person is the legal custodian of all records of the district.  Usually, this person is also the School Business Official.

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Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the name of the 2015 legislation that revised and reauthorized the federal K-12 education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). ESEA was more commonly known as No Child Left Behind.

For the first time, gifted education is included in federal ESSA statute. The Iowa Department of Education is working on revisions to the second draft ESSA plan. Gifted advocates shared feedback on the first and second draft by speaking up at listening posts and sending in comments.

ITAG suggested the following comments on the state’s second ESSA draft:
Gifted education is included in federal ESSA statute. Iowa state code requires all districts to have a K-12 gifted and talented program. Despite this, Iowa’s second draft of the state ESSA plan fails to address the needs of gifted and talented students.

As an advocate for strong gifted services in Iowa, I ask that the following points be addressed in the next ESSA draft.

  • Include “gifted” as a subgroup for accountability. The Iowa DE does not include “gifted” as a subgroup in the second draft despite hearing this request from gifted advocates throughout the state after the first ESSA draft was released. Having “gifted and talented” as a subgroup allow for accountability and better planning for services. For example, having gifted as a subgroup in four-year graduation data would help identify which districts need more aid in serving gifted underachievers.
  • Ensure that the state’s assessment systems can adequately measure the academic achievement and academic growth of gifted students. Is there enough flexibility in above-level testing options so that a gifted student’s academic achievement and growth can be accurately measured?
  • Specify how gifted education will be included in the state’s MTSS plan.  In applying for Title II professional development funds, states must (by federal statute) include information about how they plan to improve the skills of teachers and other school leaders that will enable them to identify and students and provide instruction based on the students’ needs. How will be the needs of gifted students be addressed in the state’s proposal that relies heavily on MTSS?

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Finding Your Legislator

The Iowa Legislature makes it easy to find out who your state senator and state representative are. Go to https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find. You can search by your address, city name, Zip code, county, or school district.

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Advocacy Tips

What can you do to advocate for gifted education when the Iowa legislature is in recess? Continue to advocate! Advocacy is about building relationships. Meet your legislator over coffee to talk about the importance of gifted education. If school is in session, invite your legislator to visit your classroom to talk to the students or to observe what happens in a gifted classroom. Follow up your visit with a thank you note.

Local advocacy is a MUST. Advocate at your school, in your district, with your administrators (curriculum coordinators, principals, superintendents), at a school board meeting.

See the information on advocacy through the National Association for Gifted Children at http://nagc.org/get-involved/advocate-gifted-children.

Establish a parent group for support and advocacy in your area. Download the NAGC brochure, How to Start a Parent Group. For a more in-depth discussion, read and share the e-book, Starting & Sustaining a Parent Group to Support Gifted Children.

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