Magazine article District Administration

Defying National Trend, Minnesota Increases Gifted Programs

Magazine article District Administration

Defying National Trend, Minnesota Increases Gifted Programs

Article excerpt

The number of full-time academic programs for gifted students has grown substantially in Minnesota over the past 10 years--a rare case amid a lack of federal funding and recent cuts to similar programs nationwide. The programs are benefitting districts financially thanks to Minnesota's open enrollment policy that allows students to attend the school system of their choice.

In 2004, only two districts in Minnesota had fulltime gifted programs. Today, 15 districts offer these services statewide, and more are on the way, says Wendy Behrens, gifted and talented education specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education. The growth originated with legislation in 2005 that provided new funding for gifted programs. In 2012-13, the state allocated $11.4 million for these programs.

Minnesota is one of 21 states that allow students to transfer to schools outside their district through open enrollment, according to the Education Commission of the States. Many Minnesotan parents move their children to schools that have better gifted services--and the state's per-pupil funding follows, Behrens says.

"The years of pull-out programs being the primary vehicle for gifted services are over," Behrens says. "District leaders realize if they don't offer programming to meet student needs, but surrounding districts do, parents will follow the services."

This fall, Bloomington Public Schools, a large urban district, will launch the state's first full-time high school gifted program, which will focus on STEM subjects. Beginning in ninth grade, students can take two courses per semester at a local community college, and can graduate from high school with an associate degree in engineering. …

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