Message from the Dean: Fall 2021

January 10, 2022

Dr. Shanna Hagan-Burke
Dean, School of Education

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Baylor has a rich history of educating students with extraordinary academic and creative talents, and the School of Education has been serving K-12 students identified with exceptional potential for 38 years — students classified as “gifted and talented.” This year our Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development is launching a new initiative to identify students with high academic potential — the Baylor Talent Identification Program (TIP). Baylor TIP will offer above-grade-level testing for precollegiate students, along with transformational learning opportunities to develop their talents and motivation to achieve at exceptional levels. You can read more about Baylor TIP HERE.

I’m particularly excited about Baylor TIP because of its intentional focus on the identification and recruitment of children from diverse backgrounds. One of the criticisms of traditional gifted and talented (GT) education programs has been that they often rely upon assessments that narrowly measure the results of educational opportunity but fail to detect exceptional achievement potential that remains underdeveloped in the absence of opportunity. Narrowly focused assessment approaches may overlook students hampered by barriers resulting from economic disadvantage, lack of English proficiency, or learning disabilities.

That leaves a lot of talent undeveloped. With our nation’s schools more diverse than ever before, the need to better identify and serve gifted and talented students from all populations has never been greater.

Baylor TIP will utilize customized assessments for precollegiate students, as researchers in the Department of Educational Psychology study and refine those instruments to ensure they are detecting academic and creative achievement potential across diverse populations of learners.

Participating students will receive educational guidance with recommendations for both in-school strategies and beyond-the-classroom enrichment programs designed to provide transformative learning experiences and opportunities to explore career fields and areas of study aligned with students’ interests and abilities. Opportunities like these are essential; while it’s tempting to assume that GT students have an easy educational journey, they have unique educational needs and may struggle in school because of disengagement — and subsequent misbehavior — or due to undetected learning disabilities that can be masked by their exceptional academic capacity.

Through Baylor TIP, SOE faculty are poised to re-examine and redefine how giftedness and talent are identified and to better serve children who have been under-identified and under-served in the past. This is the Baylor mission in action — academic excellence and Christian commitment lived out in a caring community.