Supporting Talented Youth: The Experience of Russia and Foreign States
The study explores the main methods that are used to identify gifted students at both foreign and Russian schools: academic competitions, earned grades, the administration of special tests, and teacher opinions about the individual academic performance of their students. The authors note that none of the criteria are universally used insofar as it is impossible to provide a perfect formal measure of student talent that can identify students who think outside the box and have unique skills but who do poorly on standardized tests during the educational process. It is argued that to more effectively identify talented youth, we should use all of the methods taken as a whole without preferring any single approach to another one. The article also analyzes the main tools that are used to support talented students: scholarships and grants, preferential admission at universities, enrollment at special schools for gifted children and K–11 schools associated with universities, special classes, extracurricular studies and summer schools, and special centers for gifted children. Particular attention is paid to how special educational programs and methods for working with gifted children should be implemented at schools and to how teachers should work with parents and teacher assistants. The article provides a retrospective analysis of the measures that the Government of the Russian Federation has used since 1999 to identify and support gifted students. The authors conclude that the current laws that regulate this area are fairly contradictory. They frequently fail to specify the mechanisms that should be used to implement the provisions of the program documents.