Smart Spaces Kids

Smart Spaces builds on the assets of students, families, schools, districts, communities, and the University of Wisconsin to create a space where academically advanced students from lower-income settings have increased opportunities to develop their talents in challenging and innovative ways.




at a glance




course list



Smart Spaces girl with a Leader sign

''Two issues illustrate the opportunity gap in gifted education: (a) the persistent underidentification of gifted students from ... historically underrepresented groups... and, (b) a lack of resources available at both the school and district level...''

(Castellano et al, 2003; Diaz, 2002; Grantham et al., 2011; Peters et al., 2013; Plucker et al., 2010; and Resnick & Goodman, 1997)

The opportunity gap for underrepresented gifted students threatens to widen in a context where many schools have decreasing resources with which to meet the needs of their student population. This can leave schools and communities with decreased capacity to provide consistent opportunities for academic rigor to their brightest students.This is the need Smart Spaces is designed to address.


At a Glance: The Smart Spaces Challenge

* Ramps Up Challenge Over the Span of Three Courses, a Semester of Language Arts

* All learners begin with a self advocacy course, Me| Advocating for My Talents (4 weeks)

* They Then Choose A Project A Mission (5 weeks) & An Academy Challenge (9 weeks)

* Challenges Blended with 4-5 F2f Meetings and 3-5 School Visits

* Students Attend 2nd Semester 6th Grade Year and 1st Semester 7th Grade Year

* Content Moves from Student Focused, To Project Focused, To Theory Focused

* Student Choice, Reflection, And Project Management Skills Developed Throughout

* Multiple Visits from WCATY Staff to Build School Capacity

* A Community Night Helps Students Build Their Learning Support Network

* Currently Grant Supported


Evaluation Structure

A rigorous evaluation of program implementation and impact is an ongoing and central part of this project. Ultimately, we are interested in learning not only whether Smart Spaces has an impact, but how and when it becomes a sustainable model for increased opportunities on the school and student level. The Value Added Research Center at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research will conduct a mixed-method evaluation of the impact of WCATY RtI modules on student achievement and engagement, as well as the nature of program implementation. The evaluation of impact in Milwaukee schools will include a random assignment design at the school site level.

Annalee Good (PI, Project Director) Wisconsin Center for Education Research
Beth Giles (Co-PI, Programming) Education Outreach and Partnerships
Bradley Carl (Co-PI, Evaluation) Wisconsin Center for Education Research
Rebecca Vonesh (Key Personnel, WCATY) Education Outreach and Partnerships

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jacob J. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program
$2.1 million from August 2015-June 2020