Having served as a teacher and administrator in public schools in three states, I have found that the students most neglected are those that are highly capable or gifted. While students with special needs are protected by federal legislation, those at the other end of the spectrum are largely ignored. In Connecticut, for instance, the only requirement for school districts with regard to this population is to identify them and report the number to the state board. Schools need not address their needs, so most talented and gifted programs have disppeared due to lack of funding or fears of being “elitist.”
In fact, the classroom setting most conducive to encouraging these capable students-homogeneous grouping, is a largely absent from elementary and middle schools. Not until high school do students have the opportunity to mingle with those like themselves in leveled courses like honors or AP courses. Those in lower grades languish in classrooms catering to those less capable than they are. So by middle school some have already become bored and disenfranchised. Capturing their interest need not require more funds–just some creativity.