Helping students in rigorous high school classes proved to be difficult for an Advanced Placement teacher who was teaching a college level English class in high school.
Gifted students are often taken for granted when it comes to needing academic help. Teacher Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick from Southern Mississippi found that academic research on helping students focused on those who were underachieving.
“I didn’t know what I could do at that time to really help them, other than be supportive and be a listener and be an encourager,” Shaunessy-Dedrick said. “I only had intuition and the will to try to understand, but I didn’t have enough tools.”
Now a University of South Florida College of Education professor, she and her colleage professor Shannon Suldo researched how to support gifted students academically for 13 years. They analyzed 2400 students in International Baccalaureate programs and Advanced Placement classes across the state of Florida, and developed a curriculum. They also developed must needed research on the topic of high achievers who need academic assistance.
They are testing their work in 16 high schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties. The program is called the Advancing Coping and Engagement (ACE) program.
50 freshmen in each school will have weekly lessons that will teach them how to connect with teachers when they need help and develop skilss in time management, stress management, and organization.