TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama college has launched a program to strengthen the state's efforts to educate gifted students.

The Tuscaloosa News reports the University of Alabama launched the program and will be working with the Gifted Education and Talent Development Office. The office wants to identify students who show potential to develop beyond traditional benchmarks set for children at their age level, but this method varies from state to state.

The office will consolidate the university's College of Education research. It will also offer more professional development for educators and outreach to parents.

Jennifer Jolly will serve as the office's director. She is currently the associate professor of gifted education at UA and wants to begin by identifying research partners in schools throughout the state.

"We'll also begin learning more about schools' early childhood programs to understand how this fits into our research agenda," Jolly said. "Identifying children for gifted education at an early age is extremely important, especially for low-income kids."

Research made by Jolly has focused primarily on parents of gifted children and homeschooling of them. She's also written about the history of gifted education and recently published "A History of American Gifted Education."

"I want them to engage with us because they are so important in the education and success of their children," Jolly said. "And definitely reach out to parents who may not naturally come to us."

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com