The Davidson Institute graciously sends me a round-up of gifted headlines from around the world every week. This past week, two articles caught my eye because they seem to show an interesting trend in gifted programs. This trend is to do away with a full-time stand-alone gifted classroom, and to substitute a roving teacher.
This is largely budget neutral. Kids still have to be transported, whether to a gifted classroom/school or another school. Teachers still have to be paid whatever the wage is for their tenure and expertise, whether they are in one classroom 5 days a week, or in one 3 days a week and roving for two, or roving for the whole time. But both a Johnson County, NC school district, and a district in British Columbia, have elected to do this sort switch in order to, as an NC official said, be "using these teachers better, more efficiently." A roving teacher can bring gifted services to more students.
It is hard to know what to think about this. If a district has 100 gifted students, but only 20 are in a stand alone classroom available at one school, then this doesn't seem like a good set-up. On the other hand, serving 100 students 1 day a week is not equivalent to serving 20 students 5 days a week. Ideally, there would be full-time services for all 100 kids. That could also be budget neutral, as long as the class size for gifted students is no smaller than for other classes. But for a variety of reasons, this full-scale readiness grouping does not seem to happen many places (possibly because of the attitudes discussed in our previous post on the "stupid class").
I'm curious about Gifted Exchange readers' experiences with roving teachers. Is it better than nothing? Quite good? Or not really worth it? Is it a stealth way to get rid of gifted education?