House bill would establish gifted programs in Missouri schools that lack them

March 10, 2022


Missouri News Network

JEFFERSON CITY — According to Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, fewer than 40% of schools in Missouri offer a gifted program, “leaving thousands of students without the opportunity to unlock their potential and grow academically.”

HB 2366, sponsored by Shields, would establish gifted programs in school districts without them and require program teachers to earn special certificates. It was given first-round approval Wednesday by the Missouri House of Representatives.

Shields said gifted programs would help students “develop critical and creative thinking skills, which will benefit them the rest of their lives,” and that these kids “go on to become the entrepreneurs, the doctors, and the musicians and everything else in our state that makes our state a better place.”

Beginning July 1, 2024, if 3% or more of the students within a school district are identified as gifted, that district must establish a gifted program if it doesn’t already have one. Currently, 239 of 528 districts have established programs.

Gifted program teachers at schools with an average daily attendance of 350 students or more would also be required to obtain a special certificate to teach gifted students. At schools with fewer than 350 students, gifted program teachers would be required to participate in six hours of professional development about gifted services per year.

The expenses of the training would be paid for by the school district. The bill was expected to cost local governments up to $6,888,675, according to an analysis.

The Missouri Association of School Administrators testified that this mandate could cause school districts to replace preexisting programs that already benefit students. Under the bill, some schools may require the removal of programs due to financial constraints in order to implement a gifted program, the association said.

However, Shields said the benefits of a gifted program would outweigh the costs.

“I feel very fortunate that our school district had a very robust gifted program, and I saw it benefit my children,” Shields said. “I want to make sure that people don’t have to think about that as they raise their children — to have the opportunity to have gifted education in schools.”