Since gifted- and creative education programs are often under threat during uncertain budgetary times, it is important that these programs have strong systems of evaluation in place to allow teachers and administrators to build the case for continued funding. The best practical work for implementing a system of evaluation is one of the oldest, Carolyn Callahan and Michael Caldwell’s A Practitioner’s Guide to Evaluating Programs for the Gifted, which succinctly yet thoroughly explains how to set up and execute an evaluation system. Other valuable guidance on evaluation can be found in Designing and Utilizing Evaluation for Gifted Program Improvement, edited by Joyce VanTassel-Baska and Annie Xuemei Feng, and Kristie Neumeister and Virginia Burney’s Gifted Program Evaluation: A Handbook for Administrators and Coordinators. Both of these books offer practical advice for those interested in evaluating their own gifted- and creative education programs.
Those interested in the theoretical underpinnings that support evaluation should turn to Program Evaluation in Gifted Education, edited by Carolyn Callahan. This collection brings together articles published originally in Gifted Child Quarterly, and it has a broader focus than that offered by some of the previously mentioned books. Drawing on a broad definition of evaluation, this book includes seminal articles on such topics as formative assessments, using exemplars with students, assessing children’s creative endeavors, and establishing benchmarks for student academic performance. Though less useful to the novice, this collection is a treasure trove for the experienced evaluator or gifted program coordinator. Policy mavens will find that Beyond Gifted Education: Designing and Implementing Advanced Programs, by Scott Peters et al., and Allison Roda’s Inequality in Gifted and Talented Programs: Parental Choices about Status, School Opportunity, and Second-Generation Segregation offer useful critiques of the field, advocating that gifted education be abolished or greatly changed because of perceived inequalities that result from certain programs. Jeannie Oakes’s Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality also offers a critical examination of gifted and creative education, looking not at the craft of teaching or the reality of many schools but instead addressing criticism frequently made of gifted- and creative education programs.