Advocating for Your Gifted Child

Administrators of Gifted Programs: Paying Attention to the “Man Behind the Curtain, by Rick Courtright, explores best ways to interact with your administrator of gifted programs. The administrator of the gifted program (AGP) could hold any one of several professional roles in a school system:

  • the designated coordinator of gifted education at the central office
  • the superintendent or a principal
  • a "lead teacher"
  • the gifted resource specialist in a school 

Courtright’s article is divided into two different types of advocacy. Click on each of the links below for each section of the two-part article.
Microadvocacy—seeking to alter attitudes, beliefs, and practices of those who work with one child.
Macroadvocacy—bringing changes that affect many students—attitudes, practices, policies, and resources at the district, state, or national level.

You might be concerned with microadvocacy when a teacher does not recognize your child’s high abilities and is not providing enough challenge. For a variety of reasons, it is always the best political strategy to begin with your child’s teacher. Courtright lists things to remember when working with teachers.

  • Be sensitive to the fact that the teacher must share her time and attention with all students in the classroom, including those with disabilities and English language learners.
  • Offer compliments about the positive aspects of your child’s relationship with the teacher and the classroom environment.
  • Include what you are willing to do as a parent to be supportive.
  • If your student is in the upper grades, consider including him in the conversation.
  • Offer some specific strategies that you would like to see implemented, such as alternative assignments, compacted, lessons, or a referral for screening/evaluation for advanced learning opportunities.
  • Do your homework ahead of the meeting to understand what is allowed by district policy and what is not.
  • Confine the discussion to your child only. Do not discuss other children.
  • Treat the teacher as a professional.

Macroadvocacy comes into play when there are no or too few services in place to meet the needs of highly able students. In that type of situation, it becomes necessary to seek change in policy through the political process. The author details how to approach this process through the following steps:

  • Organize the stakeholders
  • Articulate the desired outcome
  • Acquire the requisite knowledge, including the local history, what works, the process of working within this group, your rights, understanding who in the group has the necessary power to create change, how to best craft your message, best ways to deliver your message, and best ways to approach decision makers.
  • Have an evaluation plan that will inform future planning efforts. 

Be sure to read both parts of this article for excellent information about both micro and macroadvocacy for gifted programs.

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