Guest Q&A – Dr. Susan G. Assouline
Susan G. Assouline is the director of the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, a professor of school psychology, and the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Chair in Gifted Education. She is especially interested in the identification of academic talent in elementary students and is co-author of both editions of Developing Math Talent: A Comprehensive Guide to Math Education for Gifted Students in Elementary and Middle School. As well, she is co-developer of the Iowa Acceleration Scale, a tool designed to guide educators and parents through decisions about grade-skipping students; she has consulted on hundreds of decisions concerning acceleration. She is a leading expert on the decision-making process for acceleration and has consulted on several hundred acceleration cases. She has conducted numerous workshops for parents and teachers on acceleration, development of mathematical talent and twice-exceptional students. Dr. Assouline is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. In 2015, she co-authored, with Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce Van Tassel-Baska and Ann Shoplik, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students.
How has the educational landscape changed since the 2004 publication of A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students?
A Nation Deceived is still relevant! However, the educational landscape has changed tremendously since the 2004 publication. One major change is the creation and implementation of the Davidson Academy! As well, there are more STEM residential schools, an expanded new research agenda regarding twice-exceptionality, and more exhaustive research on the impact of acceleration. There are also new educational issues including the widespread use of the Common Core Curriculum and better research on the excellence gap that exists for bright students who are economically vulnerable and/or attend under-resourced schools. These changes are reflected in the fact that Volume 2 of A Nation Empowered includes new chapters and reflect the advances in the educational landscape. Davidson Young Scholars Research shows that acceleration works, so why isn’t it used more often? Although we know that the impact of acceleration is universally positive both academically and socially-emotionally, there are still barriers to implementation. One barrier, which is slowly being eliminated, relates to the pre-service training of teachers and counselors. In fact, professional development for teachers and counselors is another new chapter in A Nation Empowered. Also, many people think that there is only one form of acceleration; however, there are 20 types and they vary in degree depending upon the needs of the students.
Can acceleration have long-term social benefits for gifted students, in addition to academic benefits?
The long-term benefits of acceleration are unequivocal. Volume 2 has an updated chapter on the long-term benefits as well as a new chapter explaining the effects of academic acceleration on occupational prestige, earnings and satisfaction.
Can parents and educators use A Nation Empowered to advocate for their students?
Parents and educators can – and should – use either or both volumes of A Nation Empowered to advocate for their students. In 2004 when we were publishing A Nation Deceived, we received excellent advice from Jan and Bob Davidson, which led us to develop one volume for parents, administrators and policymakers, and a second, edited volume for educators and researchers. A Nation Empowered has the same two-volume format. Of course, we think it’s best to use both volumes in tandem regardless of the individual’s primary role. A Nation Deceived was widely distributed at no cost because we had a very generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. A Nation Empowered was developed with a small private grant from different philanthropists; however there was no funding for distribution. That is why we did everything we could to make it accessible to both professionals and parents.
How does one access a copy of A Nation Empowered?
Anyone can obtain free digital PDF versions of A Nation Empowered, Vols. I and II. Visit the “Products” page of Belin-Blank’s IDEAL Solutions website and place the PDF items in your shopping cart. You will need to create a login, then the download(s) will be made available once you click on “Checkout.”
The print and bound volumes are beautiful, extensive and the cost is relatively minimal. We are offering a 10 percent discount by using the following coupon code: EMPOWER1516. There is also an ePublication available at a nominal cost. Orders may be placed from the Acceleration Institute website which also hosts a wealth of information.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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