Ball State University's Teachers College has
been awarded a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE)
to develop and implement an inclusive approach to identifying and supporting
gifted students with disabilities.
The five-year award is part of the Office of Elementary
& Secondary Education's Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education
Program. Since 1988, the federal initiative has funded projects
that support evidence-based research, demonstration projects, innovative
strategies, and similar activities that enhance elementary and secondary
schools’ capacity to identify gifted and talented students and meet their
unique educational needs.
"Appropriate identification of both giftedness and
disabilities is imperative to ensure students receive appropriate support
services in school. However, traditional identification systems have not
resulted in equitable identification or service provision for gifted students
with disabilities," said Dr. Lisa Rubenstein
professor of Educational Psychology at
Ball State and project director/co-principal investigator for the grant. “We
are grateful to have the support of the U.S. Department of Education as we work
to shift the current educational narrative for gifted students with
disabilities, promote equity in gifted programming, and develop methods to meet
the needs of educators, school psychologists, school counselors, and, most
importantly, our brilliant students."
For this project, titled "Project Brilliance," Ball
State's Teachers College will partner with teams from the University of
Florida, led by co-principal investigator Dr. Kathrin Maki, assistant professor
of School Psychology, and the University of San Diego, led by co-principal
investigator Dr. Lisa Ridgley, associate director of research. The group will
partner with several large school districts that serve significant proportions
of students from traditionally under-identified, underserved, and/or
The project will focus on third-grade students, as many
schools identify students as gifted in second grade—positioning Project
Brilliance to identify gifted students who have been initially overlooked by
their schools—and because students’ end-of-third-grade reading skills are
highly predictive of future educational outcomes.
Project Brilliance will have four primary goals, each of
which has its own set of objectives:
- Goal 1:
Identify and monitor giftedness/talent development within multiple areas
(i.e., creativity, leadership, and learning abilities) within all students,
especially students with disabilities and those from marginalized backgrounds.
- Goal 2: Develop and implement a strengths-based, after-school program, “Brilliant Storytellers,”
to increase identification and development of students’ creativity, leadership,
and learning abilities.
- Goal 3: Implement intensive targeted reading interventions to identify and support students with
reading needs and disabilities who may be gifted.
- Goal 4: Build
capacity among school personnel to identify/serve gifted students with
The project will also include the use of doctorate and
undergraduate students to serve as data collectors, primary leaders, and
instructors of the Brilliant Storytellers curriculum.
"I am proud of Dr.
Rubenstein and the Project Brilliance team for embracing this meaningful educational
endeavor,” said Dr. Anand R. Marri
, Ball State Teachers
College dean. “We know that gifted students come from all walks of life. Through
the use of assessment suites, after-school programming, in-school reading
interventions, and professional learning opportunities, I am confident that
this project will be a game-changer in helping schools across the country ensure
all gifted students receive appropriate support services."