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An Electronic Journal of the AERA SIG Research on Giftedness and Talent.

Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008

Contents Hello from the Editor

Dona Matthews .................... 1 Wherever you are, I hope this finds you well, and enjoying a welcome change of season.
We have one longer article in this edition of the AERA Research on Giftedness and
Letter from Chair Talent SIG’s e-journal, Gifted Children: an article by David Lohman and Maureen
Karen Rogers ........................ 2 Marron at the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration at the Belin-Blank Center
for Gifted Education and Talent Development, The University of Iowa. Their article,
entitled “Studying acceleration with national datasets and surveys: Some suggestions,
David F. Lohman and
some results, and our experiences,” gives us an update of the pioneering investigations
Maureen A. Marron ............ 3
of acceleration that they and their colleagues are doing at the Belin-Blank Center. In
Book Review addition to the research that they are conducting on this vitally important topic, it is
The Cambridge Handbook of worth noting that the experts at the Belin-Blank Center are providing consulting services
Expertise and Expertise to state departments of education and school districts that are considering writing or
Performance revising their policies on acceleration. If my professional experience is anything to go by,
Reviewer: that includes—or soon will include—practically every jurisdiction in North America, and
Renate Otterbach ..................... 9 many internationally too.

Elegy to Michael Pyryt Expertise is another of the fascinating frontiers of research for those of us interested in
Jane Piirto ............................ 11 giftedness and talent development. I’m delighted that Renate Otterbach (who wrote a
review for Roeper Review of the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance)
Request for Articles for has agreed to write a short article for us about the impact and implications of expertise
SIG Newsletter ....................... 12 studies on our work. This could make an interesting topic for a symposium or
roundtable discussion at AERA next year; if you are interested in participating, get in
AERA Research on Giftedness touch with Renate (see contact info with her article).
and Talent
The original name of this publication – Gifted Children – was decided on quickly as a
Officers .................................... 13 placeholder because we had to settle on a name just to get it going. But based on
comments I have received, I think that it may not be as descriptive as it might be of our
Working Committees ........... 13 collective efforts at understanding the processes and practices related to gifted
development and education. It would be great if we could find something more dynamic
and less categorical. All suggestions are welcome! I look forward to hearing from you
with your thoughts on a name change, and also with submissions for upcoming issues.
This semi-annual e-journal is a quick and timely forum for sharing short (or longer)
articles on what’s interesting, engaging, and controversial in your work with high-ability
learners, and what you’re learning or reading or thinking about investigating in your
own research.
(continued on page 12)

Undernourished, intelligence becomes like the bloated belly of a starving child: swollen, filled
with nothing the body can use.
Andrea Dworkin

AERA Special Interest Groups Web Site:

From the Chair

Karen Rogers

It is difficult to believe that more than two months have We were happy to find several of his Calgary colleagues
passed since we all gathered for the AERA meeting in New present and only wish they had freely spoken of their own
York. What an eventful conference that was for our SIG. perspectives on Michael’s greatness at his home university.
Professor Abraham Tannenbaum provided us with such a As it was, many thanks are accorded to the great number of
good send-off at our Monday evening business meeting and people who did speak about their relationship with Michael
the rest was only up from that very high point. Professor and who shared many stories of his very unique and
Tannenbaum spoke to a packed room, many of whom were wonderful ways. His sister was particularly eloquent about
former students or acolytes, but many who were new to our the Michael she knew best. It helped us all to know Michael
field and anxious to hear from one of our history makers. His just a little bit better, even when we thought we did know him
retrospective survey of the past 50 years in gifted education pretty well. He will be missed. As it was, we had the
was enlightening. I suspect everyone present learned opportunity to speak our piece (or peace?) about Michael at
something they hadn’t known before that evening. What a this conference while his demise was still fresh in our minds.
pleasure and privilege it was to listen to one of the true I believe next year’s conference will be even more difficult for
scholars of our field. It makes one proud to be in it. us when his true presence will have been missed at two of the
conferences he (and we) loved best.
Dr. Michael Pyryt’s loss was greatly felt by all who were
present. His wonderful sister read the paper he had had the In the meantime, our SIG goes on, with potential changes in
foresight to prepare before he had left for Australia and all the the structure of the organization to come. We will keep you
events that followed. It was of his usual high quality – a meta- informed in the issues to come. In the meantime, my
analysis of research. We will share this paper with you in invitation still stands. I would love to hear from you about
future editions of our SIG’s publications. initiatives you think we should undertake, projects we should
begin, and new directions we should follow. Please contact
The SIG held a celebration of Michael’s life and a tribute to me with your ideas via email at
him on Tuesday of AERA week in the mid-afternoon. Again,
the room was packed with friends, colleagues, and family. Until we see each other again! ™


We are proud and delighted to congratulate Miraca Gross on her being awarded the Order of Australia.
The Director of the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre at the University of New South
Wales, Miraca was acknowledged for her service to education as an academic, researcher and author,
from the design and delivery of programs and policies for gifted students and their teachers,
to professional development and educational practice.

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 2

Studying Acceleration with National Datasets and Surveys: Some Suggestions,
Some Results, and Our Experiences

David F. Lohman and Maureen A. Marron

Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration
Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
The University of Iowa

The Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) resource because they provide information on representative
was established in 2006 at The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. national samples of students, some of whom have been
Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent academically accelerated and many who have not been
Development at The University of Iowa through the support accelerated. Many of the existing studies of acceleration (and
of the John Templeton Foundation. IRPA is unique in that its giftedness, generally) fail to include an appropriate
sole focus is the study of curricular acceleration for comparison group such as non-accelerated students of similar
academically talented children. Academic acceleration is an ability or achievement. Consequently, it is difficult to attribute
educational intervention that moves high-ability students the positive outcomes to acceleration per se rather than to
through an educational program at a rate faster or at an age other characteristics of the students (such as general ability).
younger than typical (Pressey, 1949). Acceleration helps The relatively large number of accelerated and similar-ability
match the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum with unaccelerated students in the NCES datasets helps resolve
students’ intellectual abilities. this situation. Furthermore, the cross-sectional design used in
many studies fails to provide information on how accelerated
The founding of IRPA is a direct outcome of the success of the
students perform over time. Students in the NCES datasets
2004 two-volume report by Nicholas Colangelo, Susan
are followed for many years, and so the long-term
Assouline, and Miraca Gross. The report, entitled A Nation
consequences of accelerative decisions made in grade school
Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students
can be assessed at high school and beyond. (Regional talent
(2004), synthesizes the 50 years of robust and consistent
searches also gather longitudinal data, often with much larger
research on academic acceleration. The recurring refrain from
samples which allow greater confidence in the statistical
this research is that both grade-based (e.g., grade skipping)
analyses that are performed. However, one cannot easily
and content-based (e.g., Advanced Placement classes)
make inferences about the population of students beyond
acceleration are effective, though underused, interventions in
those who participated in the talent search.)
academic and social-emotional domains for high-ability
students. Although grade-accelerated students generally out-
perform their chronologically older classmates academically, Others also have recognized the potential in using large
both groups show approximately equal levels of social and datasets in studies of high-ability students. Konstantopoulos,
emotional adjustment (see Assouline et al., 2003; Colangelo, Modi, and Hedges (2001) used NELS:88 to describe the
Assouline, & Gross, 2004; Kulik & Kulik, 1992, 2004; characteristics of gifted students; Renzulli and Park (2002)
Lipscomb, 2003; Sayler & Brookshire, 1993; Southern & Jones, studied gifted high school dropouts with NELS:88; Wyner,
1991). Longer term, accelerants attain advanced degrees, Bridgeland, and Diiulio (2007) used NELS:88 and ECLS-K to
produce scholarly works, and contribute professionally at identify the achievement trap in which high-achieving, lower-
rates well above societal baselines (Lubinski et al., 2001, 2006). income students lose ground to high-achieving, higher-
income students; and Robinson, Lanzi, Weinberg, Ramey, and
It is fair to say that extant research has answered many basic Ramey (2002) have looked at longitudinal achievement data
questions about acceleration. At the most fundamental level, from high-achieving students enrolled in Head Start. Sayler
we know that acceleration is an effective intervention for and Brookshire (1993; Sayler, 1996) have used NELS:88 to
high-ability students, particularly when the decision is examine the social and emotional outcomes of acceleration for
carefully considered and supported by the school. At the 8th graders.
same time, there are nuances to the research and unanswered
questions about the factors that moderate success with the
Methodological and Analytical Issues in Conducting
different forms of acceleration. Additionally, with the increase
Acceleration Research with National Datasets
in public awareness of acceleration, changes in attitudes and
policies need to be monitored. We report on two lines of NCES used a two-stage sample selection process to obtain a
research—secondary analyses of existing national datasets nationally representative sample of students. First, a stratified
and nationally distributed surveys—that we hope will add to random sample of schools was drawn, and then a stratified
the existing knowledge of acceleration. random sample of students from within each school. This
two-stage method requires that analyses account for the
Secondary Analyses of Existing Datasets complex survey design and multilevel nature of the data.
We recently have begun using datasets from the National
Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to investigate
questions about the predictors and outcomes of acceleration.
These datasets, specifically NELS and ELS, are a valuable (continued on next page)

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 3

(Lohman and Marron, cont.) upper and lower weights at some less extreme value can be
Identification of accelerated students. Following Sayler and We conducted two sets of analyses on these data. The first
Brookshire (1993), we indicated that students had been examined which students were most likely to be accelerated
accelerated if their parents reported (on the parent and the second examined some of the outcomes of
questionnaire) that their child had been grade skipped and if acceleration. For the first set of analyses, we compared 275
they were at least two years younger than the normal age for accelerants in the NELS:88 data with 275 students who
students in that grade, or if they were one year younger than showed similar levels of achievement in reading and
normal but were born on or after January 1st of the mathematics on 55 variables. We divided the variables into
appropriate year. We did not include students who were one seven categories: descriptive characteristics (e.g., sex and
year younger than normal at the beginning of the school year ethnicity), psychosocial characteristics (e.g., self-confidence,
and who had a birthday between September and December of self-reliance), socioeconomic status (e.g., family income above
that year because the district might have had a late cut-off median, father is a professional), home environment (e.g.,
birth date for admission. These students would be young for parents check homework and limit TV watching), school
their grade but still within the district-recommended ages. characteristics (e.g., public, large, percent minority),
The NELS and ELS data sets used in this study contain 23,341 community characteristics (e.g., urban, rural, south, west),
and 11,344 students, respectively, from the public and and academic activities at school (e.g., taking advanced math,
restricted-use data who were systematically sampled to be warning about a grade).
representative of the nation. However, even with samples of Table 1 shows selected results. Asian-American and Black
this size, only 336 students (1.4%) were accelerated in the students were more likely to be accelerated and White
NELS data and 100 students (0.6%) in the ELS data. students less likely to be accelerated than non-accelerated
So that we could compare accelerated students with similar- students with similar levels of achievement. Accelerated
ability students who were not accelerated, we used a students reported less self-reliance, were more likely to expect
composite of students’ mathematics and reading test scores at to finish college and get a graduate education, were much less
the time of the first data collection (8th grade in NELS and 10th likely to cut class, and less likely to participate in religious
grade in ELS) as a control for achievement, Note that this is activities. Mothers of accelerants were more likely to have
not a measure of student ability at the time of the skip. graduated from college and fathers more likely to have
Accelerated students in these analyses are compared to their professional occupations.
post-skip classmates who have achievement scores with a In terms of home environment, accelerants were more likely
similar mean and variance in 8th or 10th grade. to have a study room, access to a computer, and to have
Analysis issues. A common procedure in this type of research parents who limited their TV watching and checked their
is to compare the means of accelerated and non-accelerated homework. However, the largest effect of the home
cohorts (e.g., Sayler & Brookshire, 1993). Though informative, environment variables was for immigrant status. Children of
these comparisons typically use only a fraction of the data and immigrants were more than twice as likely as children of non-
provide too little control for confounding variables. Logistic immigrant parents to have been accelerated.
regression is also preferable to a means comparison when the Among school characteristics, children in Catholic and other
assumption of normality is violated (Press & Wilson, 1978). private religious schools were more likely to have been
Therefore, in addition to a means comparison using a cohort accelerated while those in public schools less likely to have
of similar-achievement students, we used logistic regression been accelerated than similar-achieving peers.
so that the entire sample of students was included in the
analyses. The binary dependent variable (whether a student Region of the country and community characteristics also
was accelerated or not) is then regressed on all of the mattered. Children in the Northeast and those who attended
independent variables simultaneously. We included a suburban schools were more likely to have been accelerated.
variable for academic achievement as a key control. Accelerated students were more likely to report being in the
A rule of thumb in logistic regression is that the number of highest math group, to have participated in a gifted and
positive outcomes (i.e., accelerated students) must be larger talented program, and were less likely to have received a
than the number of independent variables. Our design met warning about grades. All other indices of problem behaviors
this criterion. However, results can be biased when the were also less frequent among accelerants although not
percentage of the sample that experiences a positive outcome statistically significant.
(in our case, grade-acceleration) is very small. Thus, we used We next controlled for other variables that might be expected
recommended procedures in Stata (King & Zeng, 2001) to to moderate some of these effects. For example, might the
account for rare events data in logistic regression. Our results effects due to ethnicity be explained by SES? Might effects for
did not differ substantively from the results using traditional region of the country be explained by urbanicity? We did this
logistic regression, likely due in part to the large overall first by introducing a second control variable using the data
sample sizes (N=23,341 for NELS, and N=11,344 for ELS). set with 275 accelerants and 275 students of similar
Although our results from traditional (i.e., non-rare events) achievement. We then used the entire NELS data set and
logistic regression do not differ from rare-event regression, controlled for multiple variables simultaneously. Introducing
we caution that the rarity of acceleration needs to be a the second control variable (recall that achievement was
consideration for those using national datasets. The issue is already controlled) produced only modest changes in the
particularly vexed when samples are small and the weights observed odds ratios. Controlling for several variables
for some cases are very large. When this happens, fixing the simultaneously using the full data set sometimes resulted in

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 4

larger changes. For example, using the full data set and school counselors, parents). We also collected information on
multiple logistic regression, we found that girls were more the acceleration decision-making process. These results are
likely than boys to be accelerated. This effect, though in the used to write policy templates and to develop materials (e.g.,
same direction, was not significant in the analyses of the how-to guides for acceleration) for use by parents, teachers,
smaller data set. and administrators.
The second set of analyses examined the outcomes of Our Acceleration Survey reveals several key findings
acceleration. When comparing students who had been grade- regarding attitudes and practices of acceleration. First,
accelerated to older, similar-achievement, non-accelerated although survey respondents self-reported a positive attitude
students in 1992 (the NELS:88 sample), grade-accelerated about acceleration, the respondents felt that others’ attitudes
students were more likely to have been in a gifted and were not as favorable. This belief could affect the respondent’s
talented program during high school and have improved willingness to discuss or propose acceleration with others (for
their achievement test scores more between 8 th and 12 th example, a parent may be unwilling to propose acceleration if
grade. Grade-accelerated students were also more likely to she feels that the teacher will not welcome the discussion).
score higher on 12 th grade exams than non-accelerated peers, Second, approximately one-third of schools did not have a
even without controlling for 8 th grade achievement. The written acceleration policy, a complementary result to the
smaller ELS data set gave only marginally significant results. Nation Deceived survey result indicating that some states
have recently developed policies. Unfortunately, absence of a
We have also investigated the effects of the timing of
formal policy might invite practices that discourage
acceleration in elementary school, both the characteristics of
acceleration. Third, most schools did not include a school
students most likely to be accelerated earlier or later in
counselor as part of the acceleration decision-making process.
elementary school, and the academic performance of early
A school counselor can have an instrumental role in helping
versus late accelerants in high school. However, sample sizes
an accelerated student learn, if necessary, study skills,
in these analyses become perilously small and so
strategies for organizing school work, approaches for
generalization is difficult. Small samples can also exacerbate
handling academically challenging work, and methods for
the effects of applying the customary case weights. Up-
adjusting into a new social climate with older students.
weighting particular cases by a factor of 10 or more has little
effect when the full data set is used but can distort results The primary limitation of this survey research is that
when cell sizes are small. respondents voluntarily chose to complete the surveys. Most
of the respondents had a vested interest in acceleration:
Survey Research from IRPA
parents of gifted children, teachers of the gifted, and gifted
In addition to secondary analyses of the NCES datasets, IRPA education researchers and advocates. Therefore, it is not
has been engaged in survey research over the past year. The surprising that their attitudes toward acceleration were
importance of survey research is that it is an efficient way to generally positive. A randomly selected set of respondents
assess changes in attitudes, practices, and policies. Our Nation would support more dependable generalizations about
Deceived survey, conducted in fall 2007, examined the impact attitudes toward academic acceleration. Nonetheless, our
of the report three years after its publication. We found that survey research indicates that much work remains to be done
99 percent of the 3,868 U.S. respondents who completed the in assessing and changing attitudes, policies, and procedures
survey believed the report will have a positive influence on about acceleration.
gifted education in the long-run, 85 percent indicated the
report has had a positive impact on their attitudes toward Grant Support for Acceleration Research
acceleration, and 77 percent said that the report has had a
A Nation Deceived was successful in making acceleration a
positive impact on the field of gifted education. Fifty-one
topic of national conversation. IRPA is working to make sure
percent of those responding believe that the report has had a
that acceleration remains part of these discussions by
positive impact on the field of education in general, and 25
encouraging new research and assisting in the dissemination
percent believe that the report has had a positive impact on
of existing research on acceleration. In 2007, IRPA awarded
training provided in colleges of education. Fourteen percent
nine research grants on acceleration. The topics of the funded
of respondents said they believe that acceleration policies
work (and the lead researchers) include selection of high
have been written or revised as a result of A Nation Deceived
school students for Advanced Placement (AP) classes (Phil
(cf., recent policies from Ohio, Minnesota, and Georgia)
Ackerman), recruitment and retention of minority students
Acceleration policies and personal attitudes are perennial
into AP classes (Holly Hertberg-Davis), acceleration of
roadblocks in the implementation of acceleration practices.
minority students (Seon-Young Lee), reasons for attrition
Whittling away at some of the resistance is a large step
(Elizabeth Connell) and success (Michael Sayler) in early
forward in bringing acceleration into the general education
entrance programs, acceleration practices in Canada (Lannie
Kanevsky), teacher and administrator attitudes toward
The purpose of a second IRPA survey, our Acceleration acceleration and the creation of professional development
Survey, also conducted in fall 2007, was to provide recent module on acceleration (Del Siegle), reflections of profoundly
descriptive information on attitudes and practices of gifted students 20 years later from participants in the Study
acceleration from various constituencies (i.e., administrators, for Mathematically Precocious Youth (Rose Mary Webb), and
classroom teachers, and gifted and talented a meta-analytic update on the research published since A
teachers/coordinators, parents, gifted education researchers). Nation Deceived (Karen Rogers). Abstracts from the 2007
We were interested in the attitudes these groups hold and the
beliefs they ascribe to others with whom they interact when
making decisions about acceleration (e.g., other teachers, (continued on next page)

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 5

(Lohman and Marron, cont.) Conclusions
Through its research, policy, and advocacy efforts, IRPA
hopes to maintain interest in academic acceleration, to
recipients are available at support research on acceleration, and to become a resource for
Recipients of the 2008 IRPA grants will be announced in anyone (parents, teachers, administrators, researchers, etc.)
April. who has questions about acceleration. Also, IRPA will act as a
consultant to state departments of education and school
districts that are considering writing (or revising) policy on


Assouline, S.G., Colangelo, N., Ihrig, D., Forstadt, L., Lipscomb, J., & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A.E. (2003, November). The Iowa
Acceleration Scale: Two validation studies. Paper presented at the National Association for Gifted Children Convention,
Indianapolis, IN.
Colangelo, N., Assouline, S., & Gross, M. U. M. (2004). A nation deceived: How schools hold back America’s brightest students, Volume I
(The Templeton National Report on Acceleration). Iowa City, IA: The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center
for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
King, G., & Zeng, L. (2001). Logistic regression in rare events data. Political Analysis, 9(2), 137-163.
Konstantopoulous, S., Modi, M., & Hedges, L. V. (2001). Who are America’s gifted? American Journal of Education, 109(3), 344-382.
Kulik, J.A., & Kulik, C.C. (1992). Meta-analytic findings on grouping programs. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36, 73-77.
Kulik, J.A., & Kulik, C.C. (2004). Meta-analytic studies of acceleration. In N. Colangelo, S. Assouline, & M. U. M. Gross (Eds.), A nation
deceived: How schools hold back America’s brightest students, Volume II (pp. 13-22). Iowa City, IA: The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N.
Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
Lipscomb, J. M. (2003). A validity study of the Iowa Acceleration Scale. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa.
Lubinski, D., Benbow, C. P., Webb, R. M., & Bleske-Rechek, A. (2006). Tracking exceptional human capital over two decades.
Psychological Science, 17(3), 194-199.
Lubinski, D., Webb, R. M., Morelock, M. J., & Benbow, C. P. (2001). Top 1 in 10,000: A 10-year follow-up of the profoundly gifted.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(4), 718-729.
Press, J., & Wilson, S. (1978). Choosing between logistic regression and discriminant analysis. Journal of the American Statistical
Association, 73, 669-705.
Pressey, S. L. (1949). Educational acceleration: Appraisals and basic problems. Bureau of Educational Research Monographs, No. 31.
Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Renzulli, J. S., & Park, S. (2002). Giftedness and high school dropouts: Personal, family, and school-related factors (RM02168). Storrs, CT: The
National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.
Robinson, N., Lanzi, R. G., Weinberg, R. A., Ramey, S. L., & Ramey, C. T. (2002). Family factors associated with high academic
competence in former Head Start children at third grade. Gifted Child Quarterly, 46(4), 278-290.
Sayler, M. F. (1996). Differences in the psychological adjustment of accelerated eighth grade students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting
of the American Educational Research Association. New York.
Sayler, M. F., & Brookshire, W. K. (1993). Social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment of accelerated students, students in gifted
classes, and regular students in eighth grade. Gifted Child Quarterly, 37(4), 150-154.
Southern, W. T., & Jones, E. D. (Eds.) (1991). The academic acceleration of gifted children. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Wyner, J. S., Bridgeland, J. M., & Diiulio, J. J. (2007). Achievement trap: How America is failing millions of high-achieving students from
lower-income families. Report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and Civic Enterprises. Lansdowne, Virginia.

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 6

Table 1. Percentages of background factors between accelerators and
non-accelerators with similar achievement test scores in Grade 8 (N=550)

Percent non-
Percent accelerated
accelerated comparison
group groupa
Explanatory Variables (N=275) (N=275) Odds ratio

Descriptive characteristics:
Female 55.64 51.27 1.19
Asian 17.45 6.18 3.21**
Hispanic 13.09 13.45 0.97
Black 15.27 5.82 2.92**
White 54.18 74.55 0.40**
Psychosocial characteristics:
Self-esteem 92.00 91.27 1.10
Self-reliance 72.73 80.00 0.67*
Plan to finish college 81.82 72.73 1.69*
Plan to continue education past college 45.09 32.36 1.72**
Expecting a professional job at age 30 53.09 45.45 1.36†
Cuts class less than once a week 3.27 8.36 0.37*
Participates in sports outside school 34.55 31.64 1.14
Participates in religious activities 28.73 38.91 0.63*
Socioeconomic status:
Family income above median 49.82 47.27 1.12
Mother graduated from college 38.55 28.00 1.61**
Father graduated from college 43.27 38.18 1.24
Father is a professional 23.64 15.64 1.67*
Mother employed outside of home 92.00 90.91 1.15
Home environment:
Study room 47.27 38.91 1.41*
Owning computer 59.64 47.27 1.65**
Limiting TV watching 53.82 40.36 1.72**
Checking homework 76.00 68.36 1.47*
Mother’s expectation on going to college 77.45 72.73 1.29
Immigrant (From a main home language) 38.18 22.18 2.17**
Student is only child 12.36 8.36 1.55
School characteristics:
Public school 58.91 73.09 0.53**
Private school 10.18 12.36 0.80
Catholic school 17.45 9.45 2.03**
Private, other religious school 13.45 5.09 2.90**
Large school (1,000 and above students) 17.09 12.36 1.46
Percent minority (20% and below) 53.09 59.64 0.77
Percent free lunch (10% and below) 49.45 44.36 1.23
Community characteristics:
Urban 34.55 32.73 1.08
Suburban 54.55 37.82 1.97**
Rural 10.91 29.45 0.29**
Northeast 35.64 22.91 1.86**
Central 16.73 22.91 0.68†
South 24.73 37.09 0.56**
West 22.91 17.09 1.44†

(Table continued on next page)

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 7

(Table 1 – cont.)
Percent non-
Percent accelerated
accelerated comparison
group group
Explanatory Variables (N=275) (N=275) Odds ratio
Academic activities at school:
The highest ability group for math 50.55 40.00 1.53*
The highest ability group for science 30.18 24.00 1.37
The highest ability group for English 34.18 30.91 1.16
Taking advanced/accelerated math 54.18 46.91 1.34†
Taking advanced/accelerated science 34.55 28.73 1.31
Taking advanced/accelerated English 41.45 37.09 1.20
Taking regular math 45.82 53.09 0.75†
Taking algebra 57.09 48.73 1.40*
Enrolling talented/gifted program 32.36 24.73 1.46*
Sent to the office by misbehaving 21.45 26.91 0.74
Sent to the office by bad school work 6.18 9.45 0.63
Warning about attendance 7.64 8.36 0.91
Warning about a grade 19.64 33.82 0.48**
Warning about behavior 15.64 19.27 0.78
Warning about a physical fight 16.36 22.18 0.69†
Felt bored at school 40.00 46.18 0.78

p <.10; * p < .05; ** p < .01
group controlling for academic achievement (reading and math)

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 8

Book Review

The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expertise Performance.

By Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R. R.
(2006). New York: Cambridge Press (899 pp., pb. $65 ISNB 0-521-60081-2)

Review by: Renate Otterbach

Senior Research Analyst, University of San Francisco

The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expertise Performance These findings echo the mantra of mastery learning: all
provides a synthesis of expertise research from multiple students can learn provided they are given sufficient time to
theoretical perspectives and across multiple domains. One of learn. This may cause grave concern for parents, teachers, and
the recurring themes in this handbook is that deliberate researchers in the area of gifted and talented education,
practice is an essential component of the development of whose gifted children often have to endure endless repetitions
expertise. Whereas competence may be achieved through of familiar content in mastery learning classrooms, until
instruction, training, and experience, expertise can only be everyone learns the concept. While there is a potential danger
developed through deliberate practice, which differs that a misinterpretation of the findings of expertise studies
significantly from general practice both in its purpose and may lead to a similar situation, the essence of the findings can
design. The goal of general practice is to solidify a skill, but also be viewed as beneficial to gifted students. Expertise
the goal of deliberate practice is to systematically push studies can be used to enhance gifted and talented education,
beyond one’s current level of reliable performance. Deliberate or be detrimental to it, depending on how it is synthesized,
practice is comprised of a set of exercises designed by an presented, and integrated into the educational system. Based
expert that help the learner to move beyond current on the research, it appears that high aptitude is most
proficiency levels, thereby continuously decreasing the gap beneficial in the initial stages of learning, until the level of
between what a learner has already mastered and what he or competence is reached and its benefits level out. At the point
she still has to master in order to achieve expertise. where a plateau is reached, deliberate practice becomes
essential to break through to the next level, and continue on
Vygotsky demonstrated that the Zone of Proximal the path of expertise development.
Development – that area of knowledge just beyond what is
already mastered – is where maximum learning can take Expertise research acknowledges that talented students may
place. Thus, deliberate practice might be conceptualized as a reach the plateaus earlier than their peers. This implies that
systematic method for moving though the Zone of Proximal these students may need earlier opportunities to engage in
Development in incremental steps until one develops deliberate practice. These opportunities are essential to keep
sufficient expertise to design one’s own learning experience, gifted students from disengaging from the content. Continual
and thereby continuing one’s growth independently. engagement in deliberate practice can contribute to the mental
growth of gifted students, especially to the development of
Zimmerman summarizes the steps of deliberate practice as a specific areas of interest where expertise is desired.
process of “task analysis, goal setting, strategy choice, self-
monitoring, self-evaluation, and adaptation” (Zimmerman, There are however, some caveats to consider. First, deliberate
2006, p.705). Generally, deliberate practice opportunities are practice requires a high level of concentration, and generally
designed by a coach or expert until the student has developed can only be pursued for short periods of time even by experts,
sufficient skills to develop his or her own deliberate practice. generally no longer than 30 minutes per session. Thus, while
From the viewpoint of developing expertise, deliberate the discipline and the habit of deliberate practice may be
practice is a lifespan endeavor. essential to high performance in an area, it would be neither
realistic nor wise to encourage students along this path in
Deliberate practice has been shown to be such a crucial factor multiple areas. The time needed for deliberate practice
in expertise studies across multiple domains that some severely limits the time and energy available for other
expertise researchers minimize the role of aptitude. The activities, and an attempt to develop expertise in multiple
consensus in the expertise literature seems to be that long- disciplines simultaneously can lead to burnout, even for
term, sustained engagement in deliberate practice is the key to gifted students. Students should be encouraged to choose
the development of expertise. Thus, anyone who wants to their fields wisely, and parents should be discouraged from
develop expertise in a given area can do so, provided they are
willing to invest sufficient time in deliberate practice. (continued on next page)

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 9

(Otterbach, continued) development of high aptitude? Rephrasing the question this
way may further research agendas that provide us with a
thinking that more fields of concentration are better than deeper understanding of the interaction between innate
fewer. Furthermore, for some gifted students, expertise is not abilities and environmental factors.
their goal. Whether or not such students should be
encouraged to engage in deliberate practice to develop Finally, from a programmatic point of view, does an
disciplined habits of learning is a question for further understanding of the nature and importance of deliberate
research. practice provide a rationale for the necessary enrichment
activities for gifted students in regular classrooms? Can the
A second caveat that is especially salient for gifted students is concept of deliberate practice be integrated into gifted and
that during deliberate practice, an acquired skill often gets talented teaching models that focus on expertise development
worse before it improves, resulting in a temporary loss of such as Renzulli’s Triad Enrichment model? ™
competence. For students who have previously found that
learning comes easy, this can be especially disconcerting. The
relationship between giftedness and perceived loss of
competence, even if only temporary, is a promising focus for Editor’s Note: If you are planning to attend AERA in San Diego
research. Another area of further research is suggested by next year, and want to participate in a symposium on the role and
Robert Sternberg (2003), who argues that high aptitude may impact of expertise studies in gifted education, get in touch with
be in itself a form of expertise. If that is the case, what would Renate at (The proposal deadline is August 1,
be the components of deliberate practice that facilitate the 2008, so get in touch with her as soon as possible.)


Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 10

Conference Friends
An Elegy to Michael Pyryt

Jane Piirto
Director of Talent Development Education
Ashland University

We were conference friends. At Barcelona we sat in the back, Janneke,

We would see each other at her husband, Michael, and I,
NAGC, Wallace, ECHA, the World, had a banquet at the banquet,
at least two times a year. a long, delicious, talkative, funny
He also went to CEC-TAG but I don’t. dinner that lasted for hours, through all the
speeches and entertainment. We went
We met in 1979. on a train to Figueres, to the Dali home
my husband and I had just split. and museum, a long day trip,
NAGC was at that crummy sharing love of surrealism.
Holiday Inn in Baltimore.
I met Michael at the motel bar. In Adelaide, Australia, we took another day trip
I told him my sad story. to a vineyard owned by growers I’d met
It was the beginning of our long at the Kakadu National Park.
Conference friends friendship. Since I had driven so many kilometers
on the left hand side of the road
We never saw each other’s homes; in a rented Camry
we seldom communicated between times, all across the country, he
though I did do a profile on him, made me drive to the vineyard,
and we exchanged Christmas cards. where we sampled the Shiraz.
We had dinner, attended meetings, Which I only tasted, since, after all,
sat on committees, and had fun in the way I had to drive.
that conference friends do. In fact,
many professional people count their A few years later,
conference friends among their most dear; he asked me to come to Calgary
these are the people who understand, to be the external reviewer for Janneke’s Ph.D.
who know what the work is about. which used qualitative research and Dabrowski
who better than you? He said
I would ask him about research strategies over that He took me to lunch at Lake Louise near Banff.
delicious breakfast at the University of Iowa. And to dinner in a small town
I would tease him about being too quantitative Where I bought this scarf I always
over dinners in San Francisco, Louisville, Minneapolis, seem to choose to wear. See?
Denver, Indianapolis, and the like, It reminds me of him.
and he would say he doesn’t “get” qualitative. Green blending into orange.
“How can that be research, Jane?”
“And your postmodern buddies. Who gets them?” Rather than statistics, research design, or God, our last
private conversation was about Shakespeare.
When we didn’t volunteer to run for offices The Stratford version of Richard II last summer.
In the SIG in San Diego, We spent a whole breakfast debating it at Warwickshire.
the three of us--Rose, Michael, and I-- I had been bored, and thought it was one of
asked ourselves—What have we done? the worst plays Shakespeare ever wrote.
over dinner at a seafood house nearby. He had been enthralled; thought it was one of the best plays
Shakespeare ever wrote.
He and Rose appeared at the Cathedral of Seattle
while I was scrawling lines into my notebook; Little did we know it would be the last time we would meet.
“Oh, Jane. We thought you’d be here writing poems.” That our conferences friendship was over. ™
The three of us shared a spiritual seeking.
I particularly remember our talks in Rhodes, Greece,
sharing the vodka he’d found in Poland,
This poem was read at the memorial session for Michael Pyryt on
talking conference talk, with a little bit March 22, 2008, at the American Educational Research
about our kids, their spouses, and work. Association meeting in New York City ™

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 11

Request for Articles for SIG Newletter, SIGnificance

Jill Adelson
Editor, SIGnificance

Would you like to share a short abstract or article about recent newsletter, SIGnificance. We would like to start a tradition of a
research you have conducted on giftedness and talent? Do bi-annual newsletter, so please submit an article for
you have some insights and thoughts into methodological consideration by August 1 for inclusion in the first fall issue of
issues in researching giftedness and talent? The Research on SIGnificance. Submissions should not exceed 1,000 words. For
Giftedness and Talent SIG wants to hear from you! We now more information or submission, please contact Jill Adelson,
are accepting articles for our SIGnificant Research, SIGnificant newsletter editor, at You can access
Research Methodology, and SIGnificant Researcher sections, current and past issues at ™
and we are open to considering other pieces for the SIG

(“Hello from the Editor” – continued from page 1)

Finally, none of us is unaffected when a colleague dies, and this year in losing Michael Pyryt we lost someone who has made
important contributions to our field and touched many of our lives. Several people have written and delivered tributes to him,
and in this issue we include the poem that Jane Piirto wrote and read in New York at the memorial service at AERA on March
25. Michael is sadly missed, and I thank Jane for allowing us to include this poem.
Before closing, I also want to say thank you to our layout editor, Leigh Kupersmith at the University of Indiana. She continues
to be a wonderful partner in the efforts to bring this publication to life. I couldn’t ask for anyone more cooperative, creative, and
generous with her expertise. We all benefit from her attention to this project.

Looking forward to the ongoing dialogue with you all,

Dona Matthews, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

Gifted Children Volume 2 Number 2 Summer 2008 Page 12

Research on Giftedness and Talent Research on Giftedness and Talent
Officers Working Committees

Chair Constitutional Review Committee

Karen Rogers Tarek Grantham ( (June 2008 -June 2010) Tonya Moon (
Mary Rizza (
Chair Elect
Marcia Gentry
Membership Committee
Carol Tieso (
Secretary Betsy McCoach (
Cheryll Adams Bonnie Cramond ( Susannah Richards (
William Bart (
Treasurer Jean Gubbins (
Catherine Brighton Program Planning Committee
Carol Tieso (
Program Chair
Betsy McCoach Cheryll Adams ( Dona Matthews (

Assistant Program Chair Awards Committee

Dona Matthews (becomes program chair 2008-09) Catherine Brighton ( Cheryll Adams (
Frank Worrell (
Members-at-Large Michael Matthews (
Catherine Little (Term ends June 2010) Business Meeting Committee
David Lohman (Term ends June 2009) Betsy McCoach ( Marcia Gentry (
Jane Piirto (Term ends June 2009) Publication Committee
David Dai (Term ends June 2010) Del Siegle ( Jonathan Plucker (
Student Representative Dona Matthews (
Kristina Ayres Paul (Term ends June 2010)

Newsletter Editor
Jill Adelson (Term ends June 2009)


Past Chairs
Carolyn Callahan
Michael Pyryt

An Electronic Journal of the AERA SIG Research on Giftedness and Talent.

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