The CORE Challenge:

Building Options and Breaking Barriers

2015 ITAG Conference

October 18-20, 2015

Airport Holiday Inn, Des Moines


Pre-conference information and registration ~ Conference registration ~ Parent Night presentation and registrationKeynote speakers ~ Conference schedule ~ Graduate credit ~ Speaker handouts ~ Information for exhibitors/vendors


conference picConference registration. Conference registration is open at  Register for the full two-day conference or select options for attendance on only Monday (Dr. Plucker, keynote speaker) or only Tuesday (Dr. Stambaugh, keynote speaker).  Lunch is included in registration.

Parent Night presentation. Parents and the public are invited to attend the Parent Night presentation (details below) with Dr. Debra Mishak. RSVP requested through this registration link; the event is free.  The public and regular conference attendees are welcome to attend.

 Sunday evening pre-conference sessions on best practices in gifted education.  New this year! ITAG is presenting two special Sunday evening pre-conference sessions on best practices.  Register to attend the 90-minute in-depth presentations on MTSS…It Works for Gifted, Right? (with Mary Schmidt, Dr. Sally Beisser, Dr. Deb Mishak, and Rosanne Malek) OR Developing K-12 Scope and Sequence Using NAGC Standards (with the Muscatine Community School District administration and staff).  More details below.

Lodging.  Lodging is offered at the Airport Holiday Inn, 6111 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa, 50321, for $92 plus taxes per night. Call the hotel directly at 1-515-287-2400 or 1-800-248-4013 to make reservations. Be sure to book your room in the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association room block by October 5, 2015.  


2015 ITAG Conference Pre-Conference Sessions

Sunday, October 18, 2015

7:00-8:30 PM

Airport Holiday Inn

Plan to arrive in Des Moines on Sunday evening  in time to attend a pre-conference special session on best practices in gifted education.  Attending one of the two pre-conference sessions gives you the chance to spend 90 minutes digging deep into one specific topic. The sessions are structured to include content that is best practice and to provide proven “how to” strategies. All sessions will include time for Q & A.

Please register for one of the two sessions at the pre-conference at this link so we have appropriate seating and materials: You cannot register for the pre-conference sessions through the regular conference registration.  SPACE IS LIMITED!

MTSS…It Works for Gifted, Right?                                                        

Presenters: Mary Schmidt, Dr. Sally Beisser, Dr. Debra Mishak, Rosanne Malek

This session will present a general overview of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), identify ways it can be implemented for gifted students (so when we say “all” we mean ALL), and allow for questions from participants. Each and every school can make a place in its MTSS framework for advanced and gifted learners – regardless of how those students are or aren’t labeled

Developing K-12 Scope and Sequence Using NAGC Standards

Presenters: Muscatine Community School District administration and staff

In a system of common core standards, “I can” statements, common formative assessments, and curriculum alignment —- where does the gifted program fit? The NAGC standards are designed to meet the unique needs of gifted learners, but how do we make that work when they aren’t aligned by grade level?

Join us for a round table discussion as Muscatine School District shares the journey they are on to develop K-12 Scope & Sequence using NAGC standards. Time will be given to brainstorm how to improve gifted education using curriculum design processes for alignment. Explore sample units that are being developed to meet the social-emotional standards. The key focus will be on how to develop a system for the gifted learner going through a K-12 program that evidences growth and ultimately prepares them for success as a gifted adult.

2015 ITAG Conference Keynote Presenters

 Dr. Jonathan Plucker, University of Connecticut

Plucker2012Keynote presenter on Monday, October 19, 2015

Dr. Plucker’s keynote and breakout sessions on Monday are likely to include:

*Where Does Gifted Fit in the Common Core?
*Gifted Curriculum and the Iowa Core
*Creativity and Open-Ended Learning
*Mind the (Other) Gap: the National Excellence Gap and its Relationship to Iowa Students

Jonathan Plucker is the Neag Endowed Professor of Education at the University of Connecticut. His work focuses on education policy and talent development and has been supported by over $30 million in external grants and contracts. He has published over 200 articles, chapters, and reports, and his most recent books include Critical Issues and Practices in Gifted Education (2nd ed.) with Carolyn Callahan and Intelligence 101 with Amber Esping. He recently became editor for the Research-Based Decision Making for Gifted Education and Talent Development book series at Palgrave-Macmillan and the Psychological Perspectives on Contemporary Educational Issues series at IAP. His work defining and studying excellence gaps ( is part of a larger effort to reorient policymakers’ and educators’ thinking about how best to promote success and high achievement for all children.

Prof. Plucker has received a number of honors for his work. For his creativity work, he has received the Daniel E. Berlyne Award for outstanding research by a junior scholar (2001) and the Rudolf Arnheim Award for outstanding research by a senior scholar (2012) from Division 10 of the American Psychological Association, and the 2007 E. Paul Torrance Award for creativity research from the National Association of Gifted Children. For his gifted education research, he has received the NAGC Early Scholar Award (1998) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2013) and two awards from the Mensa Education & Research Foundation Award for Excellence in Research (1997 & 2000). For his education policy work, he has been ranked one of the Top 100 most influential academics working in education in 2011, 2013, and 2014.

Dr. Tamra Stambaugh, Vanderbilt University’s Programs for Talented Youth

Keynote presenter on Tuesday, October 20, 2015TamraStambaugh

Dr. Stambaugh’s keynote and breakout sessions are likely to include:

*CCSS and the Gifted Child: Considerations and Modifications?
*Features of Differentiation: Applications and Practice
*Understanding and Working with Gifted Students Who Are Low Income
*Rural Gifted Learners: Are They Really That Different?

Tamra Stambaugh is an assistant research professor in special education and executive director of Programs for Talented Youth at Vanderbilt University. Stambaugh conducts research primarily in gifted education with a focus on students of poverty and key curriculum and instructional interventions that support gifted learners. She is the co-author/editor of several books including Comprehensive Curriculum for Gifted Learners (2007); Overlooked Gems: A National Perspective on Low-Income Promising Students (2007), Leading Change in Gifted Education (2009), the Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program Series (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), & Practical Solutions for Under-represented Gifted Students: Effective Curriculum (2012). Her most recent publication is Best Practices for Serving Gifted Students who are Rural (2015, co-edited with S. Wood). Stambaugh has written numerous articles and book chapters and frequently presents to school districts or at refereed research conferences. She serves on the publication committee for the National Association for Gifted Children and is a reviewer for several journals in the field.

Parent Night Presentation

Monday, October 18, 6:45-8:30 PM

Reception immediately following the presentation

Guest presenter: Dr. Debra Mishak, Private Practitioner and ITAG Board Member

Deb MishakBright Futures: Mindful Planning for the School Years

What’s a parent to do? You want the best for your gifted child, but you also want to be involved in his/her life in the right ways, at the right times, for the right reasons– while keeping your own work-life-home balance. During this informative and interactive presentation, we will explore together the intellectual and developmental transitions of gifted and talented children, and how those transitions impact your parenting and your family dynamics from pre-school through high school. Wherever you are on the “GT parent-go-round,” insights and tips will be shared to help you plan more intentionally for your gifted child’s PK-12 schooling. Come learn with and from each other – bring your questions, stories, an open mind and a sense of humor!

Dr. Mishak’s presentation is free and open to the public. Although this session is directed toward parents, regular conference attendees are welcome to attend.

Debra Mishak received her B.A. in Music Performance and Pedagogy, her M.A. in Counselor Education, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Supervision from The University of Iowa. She holds endorsements in educational administration, gifted education, school counseling, and music. During her thirty – year career, Debra has served as the Supervisor of Gifted and Talented Education for the Des Moines Public Schools, clinical professor of school counseling at The University of Iowa, counseling consultant and administrator with the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, PK-12 school counselor, gifted education coordinator, grant writer, choral director, and AmeriCorps volunteer. Dr. Mishak has presented nationally and internationally on the social and emotional challenges of gifted and talent students, post-secondary planning for gifted secondary students and young adults, and on educator and administrator mental and emotional health. Debra is currently in private practice in the Des Moines metro area.

Graduate Credit

Drake University

Click here for the Drake University Graduate Credit Flyer
Click here for the Drake University One Credit Syllabus
Click here for the Drake University Two Credit Syllabus

University of Iowa, Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education

The Belin-Blank Center, in partnership with the University of Iowa College of Education, will provide TWO choices for academic credit for those attending ITAG. For those who are new to gifted education, the Center offers TAG: You’re It (RCE:5237:0EXA), a two-semester-hour extension class that builds on the ITAG conference and continues with readings and discussions to help teachers through their first year in this new position. For those who have more experience in the field, we offer the choice of either one or two semester hours of credit (PSQF:5194:0WKB Continuing Education Individual Study: Leadership in Gifted Education ITAG 2015). Building on the ITAG Conference, the credit features a review of national standards in gifted education and completion of one or two projects inspired by the conference.

Anyone wishing to enroll for credit must be registered as a Continuing Education student. Students may register for either graduate-level credit or undergraduate-level credit to save on the cost of tuition (your district might not approve undergraduate-level credit for benefits that might typically be associated with taking additional coursework). Graduate-level tuition is currently $468, but the Belin-Blank Center will provide a 50% tuition scholarship for either credit option. One hour of credit will be $234; two hours of credit will be $468. Undergraduate-level tuition is $280; tuition for the ITAG credit will be the same as for graduate students, providing a smaller scholarship to those enrolled at the undergraduate level.

Click here for the Continuing Education Individual Study: Leadership in Gifted Education Syllabus
Click here for the TAG, You’re It Syllabus.

Viterbo University

Click here for the Viterbo University Graduate Credit Flyer and Syllabus


2015 Registration Information for Exhibitor/Vendor Registration