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Joyce VanTassel-Baska

Connection to CTD

Dr. VanTassel-Baska was the founder of the Midwest Talent Search and then the director of that project and the Center for Talent Development from its founding in 1982 until 1987 when she left to become an endowed chair in gifted education at the College of William and Mary.  She shares, "My desire to see highly gifted students identified and served was a high priority for my founding of the program.  I was also interested in using the data to find more low-income students who were promising, deliberately lowering the cutoff score to 95% for eligibility.  Moreover, the project allowed me to bring together eight states in the Midwest to collaborate on related issues in gifted education and to involve institutions of higher education in the efforts.

Active Years

1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s-present


Dr. VanTassel-Baska is the Jody and Layton Smith Professor Emerita of Education and founding director of the Center for Gifted Education at William and Mary, where she created a graduate program and a research and development center in gifted education. From 1982 until 1987, she was at Northwestern University, where she established the Center for Talent Development, served as Director, and held the positions of Professor and Associate Dean for Outreach Services in the School of Education and Social Policy. Dr. VanTassel-Baska is a past president of the National Association for Gifted Children and The Association for Gifted (TAG) of the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Northwestern Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa. She has also served on a number of advisory boards and task forces, including the Virginia Advisory Board on the Gifted and Talented and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Policy Board. She has published widely, including curriculum materials (most recently Affective Jacob's Ladder with Tamra Stambaugh), more than 30 books and over 650 refereed journal articles, book chapters, and scholarly reports. 

Advice to Your Younger Self or Someone Considering CTD

Advanced students who are in their early teens, whether in middle or early high school should take seriously their future direction in school planning and career interests. Steps that are important to consider include 1) getting feedback on their ability and interest profiles with their families in order to develop a plan for academic course-taking, 2) taking advanced courses in areas of strength either online or in person at universities that offer fast-paced classes. Not all programs offer appropriate level or type of courses, 3) take as many advanced science and math classes you can through your own school system. You will limit your future options by not doing so. It is possible that your level of math and science knowledge will not exceed the level you attain in high school, and 4) develop a philosophy of life that begins to put together the puzzle of who you are and who you will become. Write out your ideas in a creative form you enjoy. Life is its own art form. Develop it well.