Academically talented seventh graders from throughout Kentucky were honored by the Duke Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) May 19 at Western Kentucky University.
Duke TIP’s 7th Grade Talent Search identifies students across a 16-state region who have scored at or above the 95th percentile on a grade-level achievement test as a 6th grader. As part of the program, these academically talented students take above-level college-entrance exams to learn more about their abilities. Duke TIP then holds recognition ceremonies to honor the seventh graders who scored the highest on these ACT or SAT exams.
Nearly 54,000 students took above grade level college entrance exams through Duke TIP in late 2016 and early 2017. In Kentucky, 2,818 students were tested and 1,021 qualified for the state recognition ceremony. Nearly 250 of those students attended the ceremony at WKU.
The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU has hosted the annual Kentucky Recognition Ceremony since 1982. Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies Julia Roberts, sees the program as an important way to identify potential in academically gifted students.
“The Kentucky Recognition Ceremony for the Duke Talent Identification Program provides the opportunity for parents and other family members, friends, and educators to celebrate with seventh graders who scored at the average or above for college-bound seniors on the SAT or ACT,” she said. “These young people have exceptional academic potential that must be nurtured.”
Keynote speaker Ron Skillern, the 2017 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, told students that their participation in the talent identification program would open up many more opportunities, such as eligibility to attend the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) or apply for college scholarships.
“The fact that you’re sitting in these seats right now is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said to the students. “It’s an accomplishment that will springboard you into some really fantastic things.”
Skillern has taught Nazi Germany and the Holocaust during VAMPY since 1992. He also teaches history and government at Bowling Green High School.
In addition to Skillern and Roberts, other speakers included Kentucky State Representative Jody Richards, Dean of WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Sam Evans, Kentucky Department of Education Gifted Education Academic Program Consultant Kathie Anderson, and Duke TIP Education Research Specialist Richard Courtright.
Courtright also encouraged the seventh graders to aim high in their future academic endeavors.
“We hope this honor will encourage you to advance even farther as you look to the future,” he said.