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The Value of Talent Search

By Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius In my years of working in gifted education, the questions I get most frequently from parents and educators are related to the Talent Search identification model.  What is it?  Why does above grade-level testing really matter?  What do the results tell us? What do we do with the information gained?  What is the ultimate benefit of Talent Search? I have conducted research, written numerous articles and designed programs based on Talent Search but I really came to appreciate fully the value when my daughters participated in the program. My younger daughter had an expansive imagination. She was a good student in core academic subjects, but her passion and greatest strengths seemed to be her creativity and artistic ability. When she took the ACT® in middle school, I was shocked to see that she had a high score in mathematics. I wondered how I, a trained professional in gifted education, had missed her exceptional mathematical reasoning ability. My daughter’s ACT scores opened up my eyes to her abilities, and I now had a much more complete and accurate picture of her academic strengths. Armed with the knowledge of her abilities, I no longer felt shy about advocating for her at her high school. According to my daughter, one of the most valuable aspects of the Talent Search Testing was the opportunity to take a “high stakes test under low-risk conditions.” I am a stronger advocate now because I have witnessed how Talent Search benefited my children and want to see that occur for many more academically gifted children. Recently, the National Association for Gifted Children (NACG) devoted a full online issue of its quarterly publication Parenting for High Potential to the topic of Talent Search.  Articles include an overview of Talent Search addressing many of the fundamental questions parents and educators have. The parent perspective is also presented and a third article looks at the educator’s view of Talent Search and how schools and Talent Development Centers partner to benefit gifted students. I believe all parents and teachers, regardless of their familiarity with Talent Search will find value in these articles and am happy to share the resource. The full publication is available at CTD Director Paula Olszewski-Kubilius is currently serving a two-year term as president of NAGC.  CTD is one of four regional Talent Search institutions.  Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) covers the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.  The NAGC publication provides information on the other three regional programs and additional institutions that conduct Talent Search. 

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