By Sam Oldenburg
Nearly 400 academically talented seventh graders from throughout Kentucky were honored by the Duke Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) May 22 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.
In the 2015 talent search, a total of 22,236 students from Duke TIP’s region scored well enough to be invited to a state recognition ceremony. In Kentucky, 2,625 students were tested and 1,293 qualified for the state recognition ceremony. Of those students, 153 also qualified for the grand recognition ceremony at Duke University by scoring among the top tier of all students in the 16-state region. Of the students invited, 382 attended the Kentucky Recognition Ceremony.
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 Rep. Derrick Graham, chairman of the House Education Committee, encouraged the students to look at the recognition as a stepping-stone toward success.
“I hope you enjoy today because you earned this recognition, but don’t think of it as a reward for past efforts,” he told the students. “Think of it as a ticket to do even more.”
In addition to Graham and Roberts, other speakers included WKU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Gordon Emslie, Manager of the Diverse Learners Branch of the Kentucky Department of Education Kathie Anderson, and Duke TIP Talent Search Manager Judy Elsey.
Several fourth through sixth grade students were also recognized during the ceremony through the fourth through sixth grade talent search. These students scored exceptionally well on the 8th grade level Explore test.
The Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust sponsored the ceremony.