In Missouri, school districts and charter schools may establish programs to meet the needs of students whose needs are not met in existing school programs because of their precocious capacity and learning potential. Gifted and talented students require a unique academic environment to meet their learning needs so they can make continuous progress. They need
- curriculum that will challenge them in all classroom settings;
- accelerated learning opportunities; and
- appropriate social and emotional support.
Gifted learners need services provided by well-trained teachers, who challenge and support them, in order to fully develop their gifts and talents.
The maps below show which Missouri school systems provided gifted education services from the 2015-2016 school year to the 2019-2020 school year and the percent of students participating in gifted education.
Below the map is important information regarding gifted education in Missouri. Please contact Christine Nobbe, Director of Gifted Education, for support and guidance.
Gifted Education Contacts
|Christine Nobbe||Director, Gifted Education||(573)-751-7754|
- Gifted Education Program Guidelines
By law and tradition, Missouri school districts are expected to provide programs of instruction suitable for the full range of student ability, including learners 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 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."
A learner who; exhibits precocious capacity and learning potential, is identified by competent professionals, and needs an academic environment beyond standard grade level curriculum.
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.
Learn more about gifted learners in this document.
- Equitably Identifying Gifted Learners
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 school systems 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. School systems may develop alternative identification plans. Any alternative pathway a school system chooses to use must be approved by DESE’s Director of Gifted Education prior to implementation.
These documents provide additional guidance:Identifying and Serving Underrepresented Gifted Students and Using Local Norms for Equitable Identification
- Covid-19 Resources
It is important to identify and support gifted learners during the COVID-19 pandemic so they make continuous academic progress and to develop their talents.
- Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children
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 Council’s website provides further information, including upcoming meetings, a list of members, and guidance documents prepared by the Council.
- Compliance Monitoring
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
Emailed communications will be sent to the Gifted Contact (identified on Screen 3 of Core Date) indicating any discrepancies discovered in the data that need to be corrected. The Director of Gifted Education will work with districts to ensure compliance and accurate reporting.
Beginning 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 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.”
Further information can be found in the Gifted Education Program Guidelines.
The DESE MCDS Portal provides reports about gifted education and gifted students. The State Gifted Education Report provides information on gifted students, gifted programs, and teachers with gifted certification in Missouri and by geographic regions. The District/Charter Gifted Education Report provides information on student selection, fall enrollment of gifted students with demographic data and MAP performance, and number of gifted teachers.
Students Category Link: This link goes directly to the “Students” category; navigate to the “Gifted” section by scrolling to the bottom of the page. https://apps.dese.mo.gov/MCDS/home.aspx?categoryid=2&view=2
Please note that this report has three pages/screens and there are right/left arrow buttons to navigate the screens. Also, the second page has two charts; scroll down to see the second chart. Choose to view 2015-2020. Remember that 2020 is the 2019-2020 school year.
On the left side choose the year and the school system and on the right side click on View Report. This report has four screens. The second screen stacks the Missouri report above the district/charter report.
Map Link: The DESE Gifted Education website includes two maps: Scroll up to see the map showing the districts with a gifted program in 2019-2020. Look back in time to 2016 and toggle to the Student Participation map.
Historical Data: Prior to the MCDS Reports, data was provided by DESE and is summarized in this document.
Historical Funding can be found in this document.
- Programming for Gifted Learners
The term programming refers to a continuum of services that address the interests, strengths, and needs of gifted students. Educators use a variety of programming options such as acceleration and enrichment (depth and complexity) in varied grouping arrangements (cluster grouping, resource rooms, special classes) and within individualized learning options (independent study, mentorships, online courses, internships) to enhance students’ performance in academic and social-emotional areas and to assist them in identifying college and career goals and talent development pathways.
- Social Emotional Learning
Gifted learners have unique and diverse developmental needs. Research shows that gifted students are, on average, as well-adjusted as their peers. However, literature also suggests that students who are identified as gifted are disproportionally prone to social or emotional concerns. Therefore, we need to consider each student’s needs, while at the same time, studying the population as a whole. Missouri gifted education specialists developed social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons for gifted students. For more information on the social-emotional needs of gifted children please read this handout and to access the online SEL lessons repository please read this handout.
- Gifted K-12 Certification
Gifted Education Specialists must hold appropriate certification for the gifted services they are providing.
- Professional Learning
Though not required by state statute or code, it is recommended for school systems to provide teachers ongoing professional learning addressing the nature and needs of gifted students and designing curriculum and instruction to meet those needs. The Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children provided recommendations in their paper, The Need for Ongoing and Sustained Professional Development for General Education Teachers and Gifted Education Specialists on Meeting the Needs of Gifted Learners. Ongoing and sustained professional development for gifted certified teachers on educating gifted learners is essential. Gifted programs should include defined efforts to build their teachers’ understanding of
- equitably identifying students for gifted education;
- students’ social and emotional needs;
- how to offer content and instruction that is challenging, complex, differentiated, and personalized; and
- developing and evaluating levels of services provided for gifted learners.
In addition, it is important for education professionals who oversee gifted programs remain up-to-date on policies and procedures.
The Director of Gifted Education provides professional learning through Gifted and Talented Tuesdays and summer workshops.
According to Section 162.722 RSMo, “each school district shall establish a policy, approved by the board of education of that district, that allows acceleration for students who demonstrate: (1) advanced performance or potential for advanced performance and (2) the social and emotional readiness for acceleration. The policy shall allow, for students described in this section, at least the following types of acceleration (1) subject acceleration; and (2) whole grade acceleration.
Acceleration contributes to a comprehensive gifted and talented program. Acceleration is not a replacement for gifted education services or programs, but is one tool in meeting the needs of gifted learners. It is possible that students might not qualify for a school’s gifted program but is suited for content acceleration in their area(s) of strength.
Please note that this state statute refers to all school districts, even if the district does not have a gifted program.
For further information on acceleration please refer to these resources:
Academic Acceleration Guidelines & Procedures (Francis Howell School District)
Regulation 2535 - Student Academic Acceleration (Rockwood School District)
Personalized Acceleration Plan
(as required for federal accountability for any student who is anticipated to complete Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II prior to 9th grade)
- Scholars Academies
Missouri Scholars Academy
Founded in 1985, the Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA) is a three-week residential program for 330 of Missouri’s academically gifted students who are ready to begin their junior year of high school. The Academy is held each June on the campus of the University of Missouri – Columbia and administered by the University of Missouri Honors College.
The Academy reflects Missouri’s desire to strive for excellence in education at all levels. The program is based on the premise that Missouri’s gifted youth must be provided with special opportunities for learning and personal development in order for them to realize their full potential.
With a carefully selected faculty and staff, a specially-designed curriculum with interdisciplinary courses, and a variety of stimulating extracurricular activities, the Academy enables students to be part of a unique learning community. The Academy provides a model that all schools can use in building or expanding their own programs for gifted students. Educators who have served as faculty members have used this experience to benefit students in their local schools.
Funding for the Academy comes from the University of Missouri, the Missouri Legislature, a scholar activity fee for those attending, and through tax-deductible contributions made by alumni and parents of MSA participants. MSA also acknowledges philanthropic support given by various Missouri businesses and corporations.
For further information about MSA, please visit their website.
Missouri Fine Arts Academy
The Missouri Fine Arts Academy (MFAA) is a two-week summer residential program for highly motivated student artists in visual arts, theatre, dance, creative writing, and music. The Academy offers an intensive schedule of classes in interdisciplinary and discipline-specific arts, and a wide range of co-curricular activities. MFAA is conducted with the support and cooperation of Missouri State University, and is funded through the Missouri Legislature, program fees, grants, endowments, scholarships, and private donations.
The purpose of the Academy is to motivate and challenge students to explore, create, and present new artworks; to think creatively in posing and solving problems; to participate in an exchange where concept, process, and product are balanced; and to invite artistic risk-taking behavior in an environment in which the powers of thought are respected and critiqued.
The concept of MFAA grew out of an interest in providing an opportunity and level of support necessary to challenge, motivate, and empower Missouri's most talented arts students to become future state arts leaders. In 1994, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requested that the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education convene and fund an Arts Academy Advisory Committee to visit and assess governor's schools for the arts in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Following the onsite visits, a plan was developed that proposed a residential, state-affiliated academy designed to provide in-depth study in a chosen arts discipline. During the 1995 legislative session, the arts academy concept was accepted and its funding approved. During the summer of 1995, DESE mailed requests for proposals to manage the academy to all colleges and universities in Missouri. Later, six sites were visited by a review team, and Southwest Missouri State University was selected as the location for the first fine arts academy, which took place in June and July, 1996.
For further information about MFAA, please visit their website.
- Records Retention
A frequently asked question is: How long do we keep gifted education records? This FAQ provides information.