The project started as an assignment in gifted and secondary education Associate Lecturer Gillian Eriksson’s Special Populations of Gifted Students course in Spring 2013. Student Jeanette Lukens worked with Eriksson to develop a dynamic assessment tool using multiple criteria called a Matrix. This coincided with Lukens’ appointment as a school psychologist in Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) and Eriksson encouraged her to submit the Matrix to SCPS. When approved, the Gifted Initiative was introduced into five Title I schools, later extending to additional Title I schools.
The goal of Project ELEVATE: English Learner Excellence Evolving through Advanced Teacher Education is to increase the number of English language learners (ELL) and economically disadvantaged (ED) students identified for gifted services, and infuse curriculum that develops “intercultural excellence” for diverse learners as well as schoolwide enrichment.
Since 2013, 4,000 students have been assessed, and 2,000 found eligible in the SCPS Gifted Initiative. There has been a 65 percent increase in the number of students eligible for gifted services, from all racial and ethnic subgroups, including underrepresented populations. In the first two years, Project ELEVATE schools showed an increase of over 37 percent in marginalized learners identified for Gifted Services.
Project ELEVATE also uses a simulated classroom called TeachLivE for Professional Development of Teacher Leaders and in-school teaching training, and uses avatars of five gifted learners based on real case studies from SCPS, including four children who are ELL and immigrants from four different countries. One new avatar was created based on the actual physical appearance of a gifted student in SCPS to overcome stereotyping and show different types and levels of giftedness.
The initial five schools are now designated Elementary Magnets in the school choice program, and this year Project ELEVATE will work with five new schools with greater ELL populations.
The UCF ADAGE Gifted Conference includes national experts and Florida specialists and will demonstrate best practices and present new research in the field, with a special research panel during the lunchtime session. The conference is on April 21, 2018 at the Morgridge International Reading Center. Learn more and register for free.
Project ELEVATE is Funded by USDOE Jacob K Javits Grant #5206A150014