Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom: A Guide to Alternative Programs and Services
VanTassel-Baska, J.
ISBN: 978-1-59363-211-3
Prufrock Press Inc.

BOOK REVIEW (Davidson Institute) - This book, Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom: A Guide to Alternative Programs and Services, by Dr. Joyce VanTassel-Baska is a "thoughtful resource for parents, educators, researchers and community leaders."

Reviewed by the Davidson Institute Talent Development.

As part of The Critical Issues in Equity and Excellence in Gifted Education Series, Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom successfully brings together professionals with a wide range of gifted experience to create an anthology of research based chapters.

“The authors explore a selected number of services and programs that have gained reputation and credibility in the field as appropriate and beneficial opportunities for gifted students and their families for investment of time and resources.” (Page 1)

With over twenty years in the field of gifted education, Dr. Joyce L. VanTassel-Baska edits this service publication of the National Association of Gifted Children. She also contributes a thoughtful, detailed introduction and conclusion which includes a model for a system of talent development in the United States.

Summer programs for talent development and out-of-school services for gifted students from diverse backgrounds are the first two issues addressed in Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom. Each area is described in depth and presented with numerous research citations. The University for Young People at Baylor University is referenced in the chapter about the retention of low-income gifted students in college programs. The book continues with an informative chapter on three different models of publicly funded residential schools for gifted students, followed by an ethnographic study conducted by Laurence J. Coleman. This chapter emphasizes eleven insights into the culture of a residential high school, including that they are not for everyone. Chapter seven advises the importance of counseling highly gifted students to utilize alternative educational opportunities. The Study for Exceptional Talent at John Hopkins, The Davidson Institute Young Scholars Program, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for Young Scholars are highlighted as programs that offer students and parents individual guidance. Although it is mentioned that notes on competitions are more speculative than research based, Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom contains a thorough chapter on competitions for gifted students, followed by sections on distance learning, mentorship and service learning.

Each chapter is self contained, yet can also be perused in the context of the entire book. The sections are well referenced as the authors of the individual chapters do a superb job of presenting each program and service as well as recognizing potential positives and possible pitfalls for individual gifted students. The text of Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom is also strongly supported by the relevant tables and figures throughout the book.

Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom was created as a thoughtful resource for parents, educators, researchers, and community leaders. The authors’ collective expertise and consideration of the subject of giftedness is noteworthy and makes this book well worth reading for anyone interested in gifted education and programming.

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