By law and tradition, Missouri school districts are expected to provide programs of instruction suitable for the full range of student ability, from handicapped and disadvantaged learners through those who are academically advanced. In 1973, the Missouri General Assembly recognized that there are a limited number of academically advanced students whose mental capacity and learning potential are so advanced that they need services beyond the level of those ordinarily provided. As a result, that same year, the General Assembly authorized the state program for gifted students. In so doing, the General Assembly did not intend to diminish in any way the regular program of instruction or to supplant existing programs for the academically advanced (superior) students. The intent was clearly to support special efforts to increase the educational opportunities available for students who are identified as gifted.
Section 162.675. RSMo defines gifted children as “those children who exhibit precocious development of mental capacity and learning potential as determined by competent professional evaluation to the extent that continued educational growth and stimulation could best be served by an academic environment beyond that offered through a standard grade level curriculum."
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School districts in Missouri may establish programs for gifted children when a sufficient number of children in the district are determined to be gifted and their development requires programs or services beyond the level of those ordinarily provided in regular public school programs. State statutes provide the guidelines for gifted programs and the State Board of Education determines the standards for these gifted programs. All districts with gifted programs must follow the rules and regulations set forth in the State Approved Gifted Education Program Guidelines.
There is no limit to the number of students who can be served in a state approved gifted program. It is the district's responsibility to use the foundation funding they receive to support their gifted program. The "application" for state approval is included in the Core Data and MOSIS information submitted annually by the school district. Instructions can be found in the Gifted Education Program Guidelines.
In 2013, the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children was established with Section 161.249, RSMo. The Council has seven members, and two alternates, appointed by the Commissioner of Education. Members serve for a term of four years and alternates serve for a term of one year. Members must be Missouri residents and are selected based on their knowledge and experience with the education of gifted and talented children. The Council provides advice to the Commissioner and State Board of Education regarding all rules and policies relating to the education of gifted and talented children.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Office of Quality Schools, Gifted Education, conducts desk audits. The annual review looks at the Core Data submitted by districts to ensure that districts have an approved identification process, have certified gifted education teachers, and are providing the appropriate services for the students. DESE studies key data points:
- Screen 25 outlining the district selection criteria
- Only state-approved gifted programs use the course code 990808 and program code of 08
- All appropriate courses meet for the required 150 contact minutes per week
- All teachers with a gifted course assignment are appropriately certified
- The total number of students served has not decreased by 20% or more from the immediate preceding year
An email will be sent to the Gifted Contact and Core Data Contact (identified on Screen 3 of Core Date) indicating that the district is in substantial compliance or that discrepancies were discovered in the data that need to be corrected. The Director of Gifted Education will work with districts to ensure compliance and accurate reporting.
In 2016, state law (Section 163.031.6 RSMo) requires a withholding for districts who experience a significant drop in identified and served gifted students so accurate reporting of is essential:
“In the 2017-18 school year and in each subsequent school year, if a district experiences a decrease in its gifted program enrollment of twenty percent or more from the previous school year, an amount equal to the product of the difference between the number of students enrolled in the gifted program in the current school year and the number of students enrolled in the gifted program in the previous school year multiplied by six hundred eighty dollars shall be subtracted from the district's current year payment amount. The provisions of this subdivision shall apply to districts entitled to receive state aid payments under both subsections 1 and 2 of this section but shall not apply to any school district with an average daily attendance of three hundred fifty or less.”
Identifying and Serving Traditionally Underrepresented Gifted Students: Guidance for Missouri School Districts
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in response to a recommendation made in the 2015 Annual Report of the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Students, has produced a document to provide guidance for school districts to more equitably identify and meet the needs of traditionally underrepresented students in state approved gifted education programs.
The document provides research based guidance on best practice. It does not mandate any specific policy or practice. All districts are encouraged to study this document and evaluate their existing gifted program to determine if it is providing equitable service to all gifted students and if it is not, to adopt policies and practices that will move the district forward in a positive way to reach that goal. Districts may develop alternative identification plans. Any alternative pathway a district chooses to use must be approved by DESE’s Director of Gifted Education prior to implementation.
Gifted Education Contacts