There are plenty of services for students falling behind in school, but advanced students, known as "gifted," face their own barriers to success.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of what it means to be a gifted student, there is agreement that it refers to students with intelligence above the level of their same-age peers. These "gifted" students need more challenges than average students to develop themselves. It's a need that school districts in Kentucky try to meet, despite very little state money to support gifted students.
"We have to be sure that we are meeting their needs every day so that we don’t we don’t lose them," said Lorie Richey, who runs Warren County Public Schools' gifted services.
Gifted students, Richey said, can slip through the cracks if they aren't identified before middle school.
In Kentucky, gifted students can be identified based on five areas: general intellectual, aptitude in a specific academic area, creativity, visual and performing arts and leadership skills.
Most gifted students aren't identified until fourth grade, when the state allows them to be formally identified. However, they can be tracked through a watch list of students with traits that indicate potential giftedness.
When demonstrating a certain academic aptitude, a student might be widely read, ask a lot of probing questions or may be seen as answering a teacher's questions too often.
But gifted students can face different barriers depending on their situation – students known as English learners, for example.
Instead of an English-based gifted test, Richey said, those students are given a test with pictures they can point to. Of the district's 1,500 English learner students, 65 are in its gifted program.
Gifted funding can also be a challenge for districts. There is no federal money for gifted education, and despite having more than 4,000 gifted students, Warren County Public Schools receives only $70,000 from the state.
Jennifer Davis, who coordinates gifted programming for the Bowling Green Independent School District, said her district has roughly 800 gifted students but receives $40,000 in state money to help gifted students develop.
"They have to be challenged just like any other student," she said. "They deserve it.”
Julia Roberts is the executive director of The Center of Gifted Studies at WKU and the Mahurin professor of gifted education. She said the level of funding for gifted education in Kentucky has remained the same since 1990, which she put in the range of $6 million.
"I am grateful that there is funding," she said. "But that is not enough to support the services that are needed for gifted children.”
— Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @aaron_muddbgdn or visit bgdailynews.com.