The Illusion of the ‘Gifted’ Child

Why our policies for good students really aren't that smart

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When news broke late last week that behemoth education company Pearson had bungled the scoring of standardized tests used for admissions to gifted education programs in New York City, it united Gotham’s quarreling education community — everyone was outraged. Parents, teachers and city officials all had good reason to be, as the scoring errors would have denied admission to 2,700 students who qualified. But the incident also highlighted the arbitrary nature of how we decide which students are so superior academically that they are essentially funneled into an elite group of schools with a specialized, advanced curriculum.

For starters, what exactly makes a child “gifted”? In New York City, like many school districts, giftedness is decided by a standardized test that measures verbal and nonverbal facility. Score at the 90th percentile and you make the cut for some programs, but at the 97th percentile students become eligible for the highly competitive citywide options for gifted students. The problem isn’t the test, per se, it’s the false precision that comes with it. There is no consistent standard — some experts say the top 10%, some say the top few percent (in which case, most of the children whose parents think they are gifted are merely talented). In the case of New York City, does anyone seriously think that a student at the 96th percentile (or the 89th for that matter) might not benefit from gifted education programs, as well? Of course not. It’s the scarcity of seats, rather than any rigorous definition of merit that is driving these distinctions.

(MORE: Why Kids Should Learn Cursive)

Then there are the limits of standardized testing. We certainly should support students with high academic potential, but it’s hardly the only measure of human potential. Some school districts identify students with talents in the visual and performing arts, for instance, for various gifted programs. But in general, the measure for defining giftedness is narrow — and can be manipulated by access to test-prep programs.

Which is one example of why class and race also matter. Affluent parents have resources to help their children do better on tests. Low-income and minority students are substantially underrepresented in gifted programs. The more general problems of low school quality for poor and minority students likewise matter. A 2007 report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that 3.4 million high-performing low-income students are being overlooked by today’s policies. Not as exciting as occupying a park, but these are the real drivers of America’s lack of social mobility.

(MORE: Why Parenting Is More Important Than Schools)

So what can policymakers and school districts do to create better policies for gifted students? Here are three ideas:

1. Increase the options. In New York City and elsewhere, gifted programs often function as a school-choice strategy for making public schools more attractive. But demand clearly overwhelms supply. Students with different kinds of giftedness should be able to find schools that work for them, and giving parents more options does a lot more to get them invested in public education than an annual fight over a limited number of seats in coveted programs.

2. Level the playing field. Providing extra support for students from diverse backgrounds is essential. Programs aimed at students by race or income are suspect in today’s politics, but a high bar is only meaningful if all students have the chance to meet it.

3. Just make our schools better. Efforts to improve the quality of curriculum and instruction are good for everyone. So is expanding access to pre-K education. It’s no secret that too many American students aren’t challenged in school. While programs for truly exceptional students have a place, all kids would benefit from more enriching and rigorous educational experiences and more would be seen as “gifted” with a better educational experience at their back.

MORE: Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques

165 comments
Anooshka
Anooshka

When living in Queens, my son scored 97% on the G&T Test, and was placed into a Gifted & Talented Program in a Public School closest to where we resided. He was given three schools to choose from, and our first choice was reserved for people living in that area. We moved to Roslyn, NY and he started 3rd Grade in an elementary school, that did not offer a Gifted Program. He is bored out of his mind. He was getting a really good education in the G&T Program, and is so disenchanted with school. I thought we were moving to the suburbs for better education, but I was wrong. Now he attends a supplemental gifted program at Hoftsra University, which he was accepted to based on his IQ Test Scores, but it meets on Saturday mornings and he has religious school on Sunday morning, so attending classes 7 days a week is proving too much. It is a complete mess. My alternatives are:


1. Go to the School Board and ask that he takes a test to skip out of 5th Grade


2. Meet with the principal of his current elementary school, and ask to meet with his teacher, in the beginning of the next school year, and ask for more hw, including weekend hw and projects.


Getting him to do workbooks, on his own, is painful. 


He needs more work. Also, in his new school, they dont learn too much in Science. I remember in 2nd Grade, he frequently had Science Tests. 


Anooshka
Anooshka

When living in Queens, my son scored 97% on the G&T Test, and was placed into a Gifted & Talented Program in a Public School closest to where we resided. He was given three schools to choose from, and our first choice was reserved for people living in that area. We moved to Roslyn, NY and he started 3rd Grade in an elementary school, that did not offer a Gifted Program. He is bored out of his mind. He was getting a really good education in the G&T Program, and is so disenchanted with school. I thought we were moving to the suburbs for better education, but I was wrong. Now he attends a supplemental gifted program at Hoftsra University, which he was accepted to based on his IQ Test Scores, but it meets on Saturday mornings and he has religious school on Sunday morning, so attending classes 7 days a week is proving too much. It is a complete mess. My alternatives are:


1. Go to the School Board and ask that he takes a test to skip out of 5th Grade


2. Meet with the principal of his current elementary school, and ask to meet with his teacher, in the beginning of the next school year, and ask for more hw, including weekend hw and projects.


Getting him to do workbooks, on his own, is painful. 


He needs more work. Also, in his new school, they dont learn too much in Science. I remember in 2nd Grade, he frequently had Science Tests. 



TrevorAGreen
TrevorAGreen

Segmenting people into classes is a huge part of the problem. Remember aspergers with is now a autism spectrum disorder? The human need to simplify and segment people in order to deal with them is a limitation. And it leads to stereotyping and the same abusive segmentation of people that other civil rights violating practices, such as racial segregation, cause. It is not a problem to help a student determine where they are on a map of their education so that you can instruct them on how to get where they want to be. It is a problem when you determine access to opportunity based upon where you think they are.

So what is the solution. I believe the solution is in both the democratization of education and the empowerment of students through technology. By allowing everyone to participate in educating everyone else without institutional boundaries, you break down the false legitimacy of failing public education (see Khan Academy). By using digital tools you allows students to learn what is most appropriate for them at the time and move forward at a pace that doesn't require aggressive segmentation.

Unfortunately the adoption of modern tools at an appropriate pace doesn't satisfy the governments need for control. Our best thinkers are creating modern solutions that provide for the education of students in a modern way. Lesser minds occupy the bureaucracy and move at a snails pace to approve the work of their betters for consumption. This upside down thinking is a clear sign that our socialist education system is at its core, at failed model, that props up ancient process instead of putting children first.

Look at the red flags, if you school says "We can't afford enough books" Instead of "We can't afford enough ChromeBooks" you know that they are hopelessly mired in the past and are engaged primarily in protecting their own jobs and fading relevance. 

Children should come first, not teachers.

LucyMerriman
LucyMerriman

First of all, schools shouldn't be measuring giftedness with a standardized grade-level test. The WISC-IV or the Binet test are *clinical* tests that measure for intelligence--that is, capacity to learn; it is high intelligence, not high achievement, that causes boredom in gifted students. An example often given is, a gifted student may understand a mathematical concept intuitively or with one explanation, whereas a typical student may need to hear the concept multiple times to remember and understand it.

 These tests emphasize verbal, logical-mathematical, and spatial intelligence, which, admittedly, leaves out kids with amazing kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, existential, and musical intelligence levels. Be that as it may, helping some highly intelligent kids is better than helping none.

I agree that the playing field needs to be fair. Students like Carissa Yip, Adora Svitak, Gabrielle Turnquist, Thessalonika Arzu Embry and Carson Huey-You underscore what scientists have already shown: there is no genetic link between race and intelligence, and black and Asian students are just as likely to be gifted as white students. If the admissions test don't reflect this truth, there is either a problem with your test or your culture. 

Of note: I myself was identified as Gifted and was in the 99th percentile. I participated in Mensa, but beyond that, wasn't given much in the was of extra attention at school. In high school, I had the option to take AP Classes, which I did. Now, in college, I don't think my life is all that different from typical Honors students, except perhaps that I skip classes more often.

 I think it's interesting that of the headline-makers I just mentioned, ALL of them were homeschooled. What this tells me is that for gifted students to truly flourish, it is unlikely they will be able to have the space they need in public schools. 

CaLi
CaLi

The research I did on this in grad school -- back in the late 1990s, showed that the needs of the top 10% indeed could be addressed in a well-run classroom...but that the top 2-3% really needed separate enrichment programs to meet their potential. These students are not just advanced, they are operating on a whole other level. While they may benefit from age-peer relationships, they are at risk for negative behaviors if their academic needs aren't met.

TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

The problem with what are often labeled as "gifted programs" often are not interesting nor are they challenging. Too often the curriculum for gifted children is simply more of the same kind of work the rest of the kids are doing. And if you are simply in that level below gifted, sometimes called "talent pool" level, you are paired in your general ed classes with the worst students wherein you get to be a miniteacher for the kid who is disabled, destructive or disturbed. This is the stark reality of many gifted kids. My two oldest kids were a year apart. My daughter tested into the gifted program but was dropped for daring to reveal that the teacher's pet was cheating. She remained in AP programs throughout school and did well in college. Her brother tested out at the same level but absolutely refused to be in gifted or AP classes. It wasn't that he was lazy, it was that he saw how teacher far too often used those kids as surrogates. He simply wasn't interested. Until we make gifted programs truly elite without the imposition of false outside demographic expectations, we will end up with programs that do not truly serve those kids who should be our leaders and our innovators for the future.

HearTheirScreams
HearTheirScreams

Interestingly enough, most of these comments include something along the lines of "I was in gifted in high school." That was a long time ago, schools have changed. I'm currently in high school (yes, yes, yes, we all know children aren't allowed to have opinions or comment on grown-up articles) and it's boring as hell. Where I live, there's gifted programs all over, even the IB program, not technically gifted but still presenting an advanced curriculum. When will the school system learn that free time is more important than arts? Yes, the arts are great. Yes, I appreciate them. No, they don't really allow for creativity at my school. It's "memorize this composer" or "play this piece" or "act this skit" with no room for creativity. What we need most is just a room for tinkering. I've been labeled as gifted since second grade. I certainly don't feel gifted. I didn't read till the age of four, I've never screamed at a teacher that we were being denied education, and I've certainly never cried from boredom in a class. I'm not a high achiever either: I simply cannot be bothered to complete the work or study. It's boring and all memorization. Besides, you can simply BS a multiple choice test and do rather well without trying. I get A's and B's. Yet somehow, I've always gotten the top score on standardized testing and I've always been at the top of the class for understanding. If parents would stop yelling about grades, it would help so many more kids. I've been told all my life that "School doesn't care how smart you are, just how well you produce" and that's the most accurate way to describe our system. Leave us alone and let us think without sapping the will to bother.

lechatelierite
lechatelierite

As a former "gifted" child, in my experience the value wasn't so much that we learned new or particularly advanced material - most of what we learned were enrichment topics like archeology, which are exactly the sorts of things  that nerdy elementary school kids like we were will happily read on their own. Rather, the purpose was really to keep us from disrupting regular classes out of frustration and boredom. Having an outlet where you can learn at your own pace (meaning, in most cases, quickly) but that's still officially a part of "school" breaks up some of the tedium, and missing class regularly means you always have a bit of catching up to do, instead of getting further and further ahead.

I don't think this arrangement is ideal, but countries that use truly homogeneous grouping for primary and early secondary education also have radically different pedagogical systems and methods that would be problematic to introduce here.

ricosu
ricosu

Well, for me, the word "gifted" means exceptional and I don't see how top ten percent yields exceptional. One thing I learned being a parent is a category that never occurred to me in referencing a student's academic prowess for a college. That category right there with the rankings of average, above average, and superior is "once in a lifetime". I'm also not certain that genius needs three squares a day and a plush Serta mattress. I do think that the most irritating thing is hearing from parents of the "potential" of their child who has a very high IQ. I've come to believe potential is like "common sense". They don't mean much and are very egocentric(i.e.what is common sense to me should be to you). Giftedness entails so many behaviors that have to magically come together to yield results. If the IQ isn't getting a child to the next level what can you do with that? It really has no meaning without follow through in behaviors that advance the IQ.

Someone mentioned how amusing it is to hear from parents speak of their gifted child's experiences. I totally understand that and believe many of these parents actually have a high academic performer, not a "gifted" child. But it is a tough spot to come from. Some of these kids are "gifted" and it's almost always going to sound like an overdone parent bringing it up. I'll add this: I don't know that a child who reads like a 5th grader at the K level is any more gifted than another child in the top IQ levels. I still get down to what is/was that child doing at the college level. Did it have carry through? Did the child go on to a top academic experience in college and excel or did the child go on to a so so academic education and perform just OK? 

sictransit5
sictransit5

As a couple of posters note, truly Gifted children are not just high achievers. Though they get 99%ile every time, they process information and generate ideas differently and uniquely as well. In my experience (as a psychologist) public schools are almost never equipped to teach these kids. Also, a couple of the very minor points in this article may be it's most important. At least where I live, financial constraints limit the "gifted" program to being pulled out of regular class in grammar school for one afternoon a week. My first grader, who reads at 6th grade level and does square roots and algebraic equations, gets direction and challenge from a teacher outside the normal school work, but she can't do that for everyone. In a school system where fewer than half the 9th graders ever graduate, 70% qualify for free lunches,  and school funding has been cut every year for seven years straight, just trying to insure a literate populous is about all one can ask. The suggestions at the end of the article are pie-in-the-sky for too many school systems.

Firebrand
Firebrand

What makes me angry is the fact this author wants us to "level the playing field"!  Hell no, I do NOT want the playing field level.  If a child is not up to the level of the other kids, move him to a class that IS at his level, do NOT dumb down the curriculum so he won't feel singled out.  Same goes for a child ABOVE the level of the other kids - move him to his academic-appropriate level.  I am so freaking sick of this goody-goody feel-good kerrap where "everyone's a winner". NO, they are NOT.  There are always going to be some kids who are more apt at some things than other kids.  That is why in professional sports, there is a winning team and a LOSING team! They don't give everyone "participation" trophies just for showing up to play the game.  LIFE IS NOT FAIR SO STOP TRYING TO SUGARCOAT THINGS!!!!  Life sucks!  Some people will win, others will lose.  Get used to it and get over it.  Same goes for school: some kids are smarter than others.  That's just a fact of life.  When these kids get out in the adult world, life isn't going to bend over and kiss their snot-nosed faces and tell them that everything is peachy-keen.  GET FREAKING REAL and prepare these kids the same way we (age 40+) were prepared.  

JoannaShepherd
JoannaShepherd

Having a truly gifted child can be described as both a blessing and a challenge.  I had started teaching my daughter the three R's at home because her brain was like a sponge.  She learned the alphabet and how to walk at the same time.  She would read to me while I changed her diaper.  She was placed in the city's gifted and talented program as soon as she started kindergarten, at four years of age.  She was born just a couple of days after the cut off for the school year, but she was allowed to start anyway.  My daughter was that she was the only accelerated child in kindergarten and there wasn't really a program.  The one resource teacher they had was so busy trying to help children who were struggling that there wasn't much time for her to spend with my child to challenge her.  At five years old, she was on a fifth grade reading level and her written and verbal skills were off the chart.   She was crying from boredom in second grade so I asked the  resource teacher if she would have time for my child if I helped her with the struggling kids.  She said yes and I volunteered.  I tutored kids who were behind because of handicaps and kids who had parents that didn't care if their kid did their homework or not.  It was heartbreaking.  The resource teacher still didn't have time for our girl.  My husband and I enrolled her in a private school the next year to give her the challenges she needed instead of buying the bigger house that we needed.  Her Dad and I are not geniuses and she had quickly passed my ability to teach her.  The public school situation was a disaster for my child.  Private school presented another challenge.  Our daughter always felt a little out of place there because she didn't come from a wealthy family, and a lot of the other kids did.  But it was what she needed and she loved it.  We have dumbed down our schools.  What was mediocre years ago now gets an A.  All children, from the gifted to the disabled and the in-betweens, deserve to get the best education we can provide.   I would do it all again, as expensive as it was.   I don't think very highly of the public school system.  We're failing our kids.

Mr_Derp
Mr_Derp

As a former "Gifted and Talented" student myself, I can tell you from personal experience that this article rings true for me. It's totally arbitrary how "giftedness" is determined with these silly standardized tests, when so much of my performance on those tests came down to practice and motivation. I never felt particularly gifted. I think I just tested well, and sometimes I wonder who wouldn't, so long as you payed attention and regurgitated what they wanted from you. For 13 years, you sit through some pretty repetitive crap. Some of it's bound to stick. You just have to remember the right crap and spit it out faster and with greater accuracy than the next guy. What students don't get from scantron sheets are a sense of purpose and passion that, in my view, are far more important when inculcating the future citizenry. What's funny is that I feel like I learned all of that stuff so well, and then you know how many jobs there were waiting for me when I popped out the other side to put all of that learnin' to use? Virtually none. My university's job placement office was like tits on a boar. Now, as I continue to wallow in unemployment, how much of that hard fought-for knowledge is just leaking out the back side of my brain, while other more pressing concerns take over. Standardized tests are, for all practical purposes, a means to separate out the intersection of various race and class distinctions, because what kid can perform well for a test when he's got other problems on his mind, like "Where is my next meal coming from?" It's called Maslow's Hierarcy, and it's not particularly complicated. But once you tell a kid (over and over no less) that they're not gifted, they're not special, they're not worth the time and attention that the "talented" kids get, they start to believe it. It's called the Golem effect, or as Einstein put it "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

But if you think "giftedness" tests are ridiculous, take the LSAT. You want to talk about statistically insignificant differences producing wildly disparate results? Look into the law school admissions process. Now THAT is insanity.

extramailbirdie
extramailbirdie

It seems to boil down to the fact that there is a difference of "intelligence", "skill", and ""knowledge". Even those who have difficulty learning are able to obtain knowledge. It also becomes obvious when one becomes educated past their intelligence and capability - that individual often does not make sense when expressing their opinion with their knwoledge. As many philosophers have argued, there is a difference between truth and what may sound nice. Everyone is different. There are individuals who are going to be the future Feynmans and Teslas, and the individuals who will equally contribute in different ways. Not everyone needs to be an intellectual. There also has to be an acknowledgement that one of the capitalist factors of production is human resources. We need prepared citizens and workers, and forcing all to be intellectuals does not achieve this end. 

Also, as Orwell warned, we need to watch out for misinformation. Einstein was not a bad student. He excelled in mathematics and science and struggled in other fields. He was always gifted in the areas that would later make him a household name. Please see link:

http://gizmodo.com/5884050/einstein-actually-had-excellent-

I enjoy being part of this discussion.

tme
tme

It seems to me that these "gifted" programs are a complete farce. I met several glowing parents displaying their "gifted" children and I found them rather average at best. What's amazing is that these parents signed their kids up for tutoring to pass the test which would magically transform them into "gifted" children. Is "gifted" something you can learn? I think not. It appears the schools only encourage the fad to get more funding. Commercialized "gifting". Sadly, there are real gifted kids out there and some of them may not even pass the "gifted" tests to get into the club. Being a gifted child is extremely difficult because of their little quirks and brilliance in particular areas, but that is what makes them exceptional. My son who attends a rather normal school in another country is surprisingly 2 years ahead of florida's "gifted" math program for his age group. His school doesn't have a "gifted" program because that level of math is the norm. I think with a solid program from the very beginning most kids would be able to do the same, so it makes me question the huge emphasis florida teachers are putting on testing rather than just getting on with the teaching.

jimmy6p
jimmy6p

When a child exhibits little interest in what they're being taught, all the so-called experts, the teachers, and even the parents, consider the child to be incapable of learning. That can be disastrous for the child. Years ago, those children were often kept at home to work on the farm. A lot of bright kids were milking cows and mucking out stalls when they should have been doing advanced sciences or math.

Remember, Albert Einstein was considered "slow" by his family, and teachers. Seems they were the slow ones.

I was considered "slow" as a student in Primary school. I learned to read and write, and teachers who thought I was lazy and not paying attention had me do "times tables" after school, as a punishment. I know them all by heart now.

When it came time for higher education, I was sent to a "technical" high school. That's where kids who weren't too bright could learn a trade. Like that was a 'bad' way to make a living! I never had a mark below 85%. Not one!

There was someone in America's past, I don't remember who, but an achiever like Henry Ford or Edison who when asked about how he would educate a child said (I'm paraphrasing) "find out what they like doing, and then let them do it". That's always seemed like good advice.

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

Number one there is no illusion of gifted. Anyone who makes this comment obviously has never raised a truly gifted child.

Gifted children are MUCH different than the typical child in rate of speed, grasping of materials, and the absolute innate NEED of learning as much as they can as quick as they can. 

Where the typical child is sitting happy, challenged and earning brownie buttons with the speed and level of the typical curriculum, the gifted child is tapping pencils, wondering (out loud) when he gets to learn something, rolling on the floor in boredom and getting sent to the principal's office where he will no doubt argue about the current failures of the educational system. And be completely right in his arguments.

I would argue that the typical child has a much better opportunity to meet their full potential in regular classes and that we are completely crippling  and failing the gifted.   

And this argument about leveling the playing field? How do you level up a child that is completely stressed out on their best day with completing  3 pages of math per hour, to one that will happily pump out 16 pages and ask for more?

Level the playing field.  Here's the big picture downfall.  Observation #1 the adults who had their hands held, and didn't have the scores or abilities, are now at jobs where they are with people who didn't need their hands held and are completely stressed out trying to keep up to the accomplishments that are completely natural as breathing to the gifted. So they have the title, but where's the quality of life in being that now grown kid that struggles to get three pages done competing with the grown child that pumps out 16 and wants more? 

And where is all this extra support for the gifted that this article claims at school??? I haven't seen it. They are always the last in line, even though the are very much an "at risk" population.   


rcbjr
rcbjr

We need to provide the same school resources for gifted and talented kids as we do for special education. The admissions programs for G&T kids in public schools need to be achievement based. The affluent kids are at private schools, so lets stop pretending there is some miracle test prep program that is qualifying unqualified kids.  We also don't need a "level playing field" for G&T to provide for diversity. What we need is a more varied test that picks up a greater variety of exceptional skills than math and reading.  Whoever does well gets in. Raising the scores of kids by race or income or gender to meet some arbitrary standard of inclusion is just a lie built upon another lie.  If we are going  to bother to do the G&T thing at all, it should be designed to help kids move ahead at their own accelerated pace in their field of endeavor. 

Sagar Singh
Sagar Singh

girls is the better future save girl child

LondonMom12
LondonMom12

Or you could provide lower income students with the advantages of students with higher incomes. What if kids from lower incomes were provided the same tutoring and test prep as those from more well off families? The issue is less the schooling and more the opportunities that exist in the home.  

TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

@HearTheirScreams No offense, but the main place where creativity is still encouraged is within the AP Studio Art programs. Too many of those classes are categorized as second rate because they don't involve science or math, but they make avid use of higher order thinking skills, creativity and innovation. These are skills our world needs to create and invent the next technological wave, but some parents and even some educators will put their kids in AP classes that they won't pass rather than "risk" an AP Art class. If you've read any Daniel Pink you know that creativity is a skill in which Americans excel. Yet we're still trying to compete with kids who are human calculators. I'm just not sure that being able to apply a formula or translate an excerpt in another language is a demonstration of creativity. This is largely because administrators don't understand art and they really don't understand creativity. Multiple choice tests are easy for them to defend.

DakBroadbent
DakBroadbent

@DebbieDacute considering the fact that kids already spend too much time indoors on computers dropping "those bats and balls" doesn't seem like a very good idea. 

tudorguy1588
tudorguy1588

@sictransit5 You are correct: literacy is all one can ask from a school system.

  The word is "populace" and you meant to write its, not "it's."  Thanks for playing

TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

@Firebrand One of my daughter's most frustrating classes in high school was an AP English class. Too many of the students were in there because some parent pressured the administration to let them in. When asked to illustrate conflicts in Beowulf, one of these stars drew a picture on her test. She didn't do it to be clever. Until we allow some sort of limits that keep elite programs truly for the elite, we will continue to have students with great potential who have to settle for mediocrity.

ptera.firma
ptera.firma

@Firebrand You seem to not understand what a level playing field means.  It's actually a fairly simple analogy, and does not mean "everyone's a winner", any more than a level football field with equidistant goal lines would mean "everyone wins the Superbowl".  A level playing field would simply mean that everyone enters the game with the same opportunity, which is NOT the case when one student grows up with a family that values education and has the means to send him to a good school and help him with homework, whereas another student grows up  having to help raise his younger siblings instead of doing schoolwork, with parents who are either in jail or working 18 hours daily to make ends meet, , a dysfunctional school full of wannabe gangsters and teachers who function more as crowd control, etc.  As long as the biggest predictor of educational opportunity is the size house a kid grows up in, the field ain't level.  Make opportunity actually equal, and THEN let the students compete and prove themselves.  The present system is precisely the OPPOSITE of a meritocracy, because it tilts the field in favor of those already born fortunate, but then burdens everyone with poorly-written standardized testing predicated upon the ignorant notion of pushing every child down the same college-preparatory path. 

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@JoannaShepherd 

We were also told resource room for our gifted  (which they never came out and admitted he was) and the principal had the nerve to recommend medication.  To admit that they didn't have a place to meet his needs would have meant they would have had to pay for a place to meet his needs.  It was my opinion that they protected the district $$ more than the child they were entrusted to educate.

ginacomo
ginacomo

@Mr_Derp i feel the terms "gifted and talented" have been hijacked to apply to a very small number of students - often not particularly gifted or talented, but good at doing those spatial reasoning tests, etc.  Gifted and talented can be applied to so much more.

i have been waiting for years to hear someone else mention the effects on the non-gifted students.  I think

it completely takes away the motivation to shoot for the stars, if in 2nd grade, as happened to my son a few days ago, you are told you are both not gifted or talented.   Your teachers are your mirror at that age.  If they are telling you what you are not, it is unlikely you can overcome that hurdle of negativity.


I thank you Mr. Derp for such an insightful and rational explanation about the tests used for giftedness, especially your explanation about the Golem effect and Maslow's Heirarcy.  I think you would be great in a school context because you really get the psychology behind all this - maybe you will do society a favor

and head in that direction.



TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

@Mr_Derp Giftedness is not always revealed in grades. My youngest son was dyslexic and struggled throughout school because of this limitations. While I would have never put him in an AP class in high school-because by that time he had already written off school as a bother-as an adult he's demonstrated some amazing people and sales skills outselling everyone in his company in just one year and creating three new programs that have made him one of the most well compensated employees. If the schools had not been so centered on test scores and instead focused on his abilities to connect ideas, I have no doubt he would have been considered gifted as well. What really amazing is that some truly gifted people shared this experience including Einstein, Edison and even Henry Ford. We must get away from thinking we can quantify intelligence via testing. Cream rises and quite often so does giftedness.

icecreamlicker
icecreamlicker

@DebbieDacute You have a very narrow view of intelligence. A child who is tremendously gifted could fall behind in classes due to learning disabilities such as autism and dyslexia. There are a whole host of reasons why someone could fail to achieve success in the classroom besides a simple lack of intellectual ability. 


DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

Maybe this article missed the point that there is a difference between high achieving students and  the truly gifted.  High achieving is much different than gifted.   High achieving students do well in a school setting with normal curriculum.  They work hard and get the grades.  They do well on grade level tests. They are usually the ones the teachers will wrongly pick for Gate testing.   Schools and parents can level the field with high achieving students.  Gifted is a whole new subject.   A gifted child will test high on content they haven't even been exposed to yet, grade levels ahead.  After all I've experienced with a gifted child, and the schools coming no where near meeting his academic, social or emotional needs, to not make that distinction clearly is very upsetting.  These programs are very much essential to optimal development and fulfillment of potential and need to be protected.


Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/25/the-illusion-of-the-gifted-child/#ixzz2SSSHyPDW

kate1song
kate1song

@rcbjr Amen. I think this is why the USA lags behind the world. We are a society that rewards mediocracy. 

TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

@LondonMom12 The problem we have with many of our low income or at risk students fall into the category of attendance. I have had students who were absent every other day and due to the laws of our state unexcused absences can fail as a result. At the same time we have parents of chronic truants trying to push a lawsuit locally because their kids have to go to court as a result of their truancy. Libraries are free. Public television is free. It's hard for me to reconcile that it's a matter of money over culture when the same kid who has a new smart phone and wears New Religion jeans at $100+ a pop tells me they can't afford outside help. If the parents want it to happen, they can make it happen. But it they wait until the kid is 17, it's way too late. Attitudes toward learning begin before a child is even in school.

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@LondonMom12 

Another thing these hot house parents are missing the point on is that while it's very important to find curriculum that can keep up with a gifted child, these programs are more for the social and emotional support gifted kids can find here. 

Something taken for granted by parents is that  the typical child generally can find many friends and have many peers he/she can relate to and have things in common with from the get go.   Not so for a gifted child, they often feel very misunderstood (by children and adults alike), extremely different and extremely alone. When a gifted child finally gets to be around his peers that share common interests  it's changes their lives and feelings about where they fit in this world.  It tells them there is a place in this world set up  for them as well.  Often life long friendships for these kids start here.

I think that the emotional support that is offered through a gifted program and  FINDING FRIENDS these kids share common interests with is the NUMBER ONE CONCERN  for a parent of a gifted child.  The learning part they can pretty much do on their own. It's not about saying oh yeah my child is gifted, he goes to the better school and look at my special little  title. 

These programs about filling a REAL NEED.



Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/25/the-illusion-of-the-gifted-child/#ixzz2V5dnhss0

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@LondonMom12

Gifted children DON"T have to have  test prep and tutors to pass these tests. 

These programs this article is talking about and everyone is getting up in arms over are not truly gifted programs from what I read.  Accelerated, yes. Accelerated I and Accelerated II would be better terms. In reality, from what I understand anyway,  the tests they are using to qualify these children for their "gifted" schools are in reality just a gateway and don't generally mean a child is truly gifted. If they are being hot housed to just do a well on a test to qualify, it doesn't mean they are "gifted" . Thus, the title the illusion of the "gifted" child as far as I can gather. 

This is how gifted programs really work:

These tests would tell a true gifted program that this child needs to be looked at further.  The kids that test within generally the top 5% and more than likely the top 3% would qualify to then take a reasoning test. or a test far above their grade level.  So, they take the top percentage of lets say a state test (even though they seem to only take nationally normed tests) and test these top percentages against each other in a timed reasoning test or a test way above the child's grade level  that the child would not have been exposed to (7th and 8th grade take the SCAT, SAT, ACT). This then creates a whole new bell curve in which a gifted child will STILL be scoring  in the top percentages. Not easy for a typical or a hot housed child to do.

As far as the schools mentioned in this article go, kudos to them  It's still a hell of a lot better and a step in the right direction far above anything being offered in the public schools around me.  It can't hurt and will be interesting to see if it helps as long as it doesn't slow down curriculum.



Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/25/the-illusion-of-the-gifted-child/#ixzz2V2lqGeKM

kate1song
kate1song

@LondonMom12 And of course the lower income parents won't pay a dime for it. Who will pay? Everyone else. 


DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@TexasTruBlu @HearTheirScreams 5pts just now

@TexasTruBlu @HearTheirScreams I really like your opinions Texas TruBlu and I agree with you both on creativity.  I also agree that the arts are extremely important.  Art and science go hand and hand.  And there are ways to be creative when solving math problems as well, especially when a child absolutely hates rote learning and finds new ways to solve an equation.  I watched a really interesting TED talk the other day given by Jacob Barnett on just how creativity can show through mathematically.  Absolutely fascinating child.  I think I read somewhere his IQ is higher than Einstein's (Einstein by the way HereTheirScreams didn't feel he was gifted either).  Search Jacob Barnett TED talks to see this remarkable presentation by this 13 year old. This child unbelievably (or not so much after experience)  was placed in special ed.  He talks about it in the video. Enjoy. :-D



Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/25/the-illusion-of-the-gifted-child/#ixzz2WWiWmbO1

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@icecreamlicker

Technology to help with learning differences, such as dysgraphia and dyslexia, is readily available.  There is NO EXCUSE to let a gifted child, or any child for that matter, with these particular differences "fall behind".  That is a system failure to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and provide the proper tools. 

There's an app for that. ; )

Keyboards etc, readily available.


DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@icecreamlicker

Actually no, icecreamlicker, I don't have a narrow view of what very high intelligence looks like and everything that comes with it.  In my opinion and real life experience the public schools have a very narrow view of what high intelligence looks like.  My child has dysgraphia.   I know what you are saying.  They didn't even know what dysgraphia was when I brought them the diagnoses. After all, a gifted child would be perfect in all ways right?  Ten years of research and experience under my belt in all things gifted trying to help my child, when the system they have set up now is all wrong. Read ALL my comments.

emiliameow
emiliameow

@DebbieDacute I completely agree. I have two children who were both placed in in the GATE program (I'm in California), but I believe that only one of them is truly gifted and the other one is a high achiever. Of course, it was my gifted child who had the inconsistent grades throughout most of his school years. Now that he is in college and can finally pursue his interests more freely his interest in school has once again been reignited. Sadly, despite being labelled "gifted", absolutely nothing was done for him by the district. There seems to be a lot more  attention given to kids with learning disabilities or those who need remediation, while nothing is done to help the kids at the other end of the spectrum. (I'm not suggesting it's one or the other, just that  truly gifted kids also need special services.) 

kate1song
kate1song

@DebbieDacute @LondonMom12 In regards to the lower income group, any child who qualifies for free and reduced lunch gets a 15 point advantage on the IQ test in our school district. 

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@JoannaShepherd 

My son is currently top 2% globally missing top 1% by 1 point in BOTH verbal and quantitative. That is according to a 12th grade college entrance exam.  Six years ahead of the curriculum he is supposed to be exposed to.  According to his Terra Nova scores he is top 1% nationwide, in fact the very top of the scale provided.

When I say this I am in no way trying to brag but need to make clear how important this subject is.

My son was nearly lost to this outdated system, which apparently now is a system who is purposefully, falsely prepping, picking and choosing  who gets to be reached and who doesn't by color of skin.  Gifted is not something you can create.  These kids either have it or they don't no matter what their skin color or nationality is.

Slow him down they told me in kindergarten, as if I could.  He needs a faster pace I countered at the meetings.  But his test scores are great, they countered.  As if, they were doing their job by him. Test scores are great! Who cares if he is completely bored out of his mind all day, six hours a day,  EVERYDAY for the entire school year.  All that matters is the scores he could have provided you at the BEGINNING of the school year are great!  API means NOTHING to me after what I've experienced in this system. 

After the first 4 years of public education with them unsuccessfully trying to squeeze him into their one size fits all box left him trying to take over teaching the classroom, correcting the textbooks provided, arguing that his classmates were being cheated out of a good education, and lastly just plain leaving the classroom SCREAMING he wanted to learn SOMETHING too he was to be allocated to the resource room and suggested to be medicated by his principal. 

MEDICATED FOR FIGHTING FOR HIS RIGHT TO LEARN SOMETHING. 

Medicated into submission, being taught to the lowest and collecting spider webs in the resource room where all of his ideas and future contributions to society would have been forever lost. 

It was my child's right as an American citizen, no matter race or color, and his right as a future productive member of society to be provided with an education that FIT HIS NEEDS. 

They completely failed and nearly tragically failed at this. He would have been lost. 

We AREN'T  given enough talent to squander any of it.  REGARDLESS of color.

All my child needed really was a change of environment where he would be valued and appreciated for the gifts he was given.  Where he also could be pushed just as the typical child is in a typical classroom,  to succeed to his fullest potential.  We found that at our Montessori.  My child is thriving and happy there where he is bringing home all E's behaviorally speaking. NO MEDICATION needed absolutely loving school.

What I found extremely interesting is that we pay the SAME amount of money per month to our Montessori as the public gets per student per month.

Our Montessori is able to hire  at least 4 professors that  I currently know of. 

They listened to and actually encouraged  my child's individual needs and allowed him to do both Algebra 1 AND Geometry simultaneously in 7th grade at his school with a professor who has a love of teaching  and phd in this field, not having to ride the bus to high school and missing out on other important curriculum offered during the day. He chose, for  himself, to go to school an hour early to do this, and he is loving every minute of it. 

A junior high student that LOVES to learn still, who in third grade was screaming he hated school and leaving the classroom.

 He's been reading Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Steinbeck, all types of mythology, in depth history of civilization.  He's participating in science fairs and math fairs. He's developing creative, critical, and abstract and analytical  thinking skills.  He is being exposed to every culture and history of religions from all lands and learning to appreciate difference. And they are doing the same with their ESL kids. In fact there is a child at his school who is an immigrant and now knows 6 languages and is keeping up with my son nose to nose.  

My child is fully being supported as a future high level thinking member of our society so much so he will be happily bouncing  around in college this summer.

For the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY the public school gets per child.

The same child the public school wanted to medicate, put in the resource center and educationally cripple for life.

Our public schools have now OFFICIALLY dropped offering Algebra from junior high. 

It's not the money that is the missing factor.  THEY RECIEVE THE SAME AMOUNT PER CHILD. It can be done successfully, because it is being done successfully and my son's school is proof.

I think a main problem here is that they feel they have absolute power of where the country sends it's money to educate children.  IF we do offer the choice to parents where to send their children, MAYBE they'll work a little harder to fit the needs of all children. So YES I am all for vouchers.  It will force them to change to compete.  It's the rigidity in a BROKEN industrial age system, not being able to think outside of the box and lack of treating these children like the individuals they are that is going to hit our nation in the butt as we enter the global technological age.   We don't NEED to mass produce factory workers anymore.

One size fits all, fits none.



Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/25/the-illusion-of-the-gifted-child/#ixzz2UYJLe7V0

DebbieDacute
DebbieDacute

@icecreamlicker


Having said that though, even with dysgraphia, he would have never been considered as "falling behind"  How can one fall behind when they are already miles ahead, unless the system in place is somehow crippling them???

TexasTruBlu
TexasTruBlu

@emiliameow @DebbieDacute Due to Federal mandates for Special Ed and ESL/ELL populations, many schools are eliminating GT programs. The American Experience dual class my daughter loved her freshman year-a combination of social studies and language arts for gifted kids-was gone by the time her younger brother was enrolled. But you will find no lack of programs for special needs students and you will discover that many parents actively seek a 504 status just so their kids can get some attention in class. When you add the new efforts to mainstream very challenged and challenging students into the regular ed classroom, it makes it almost impossible to address the needs of gifted students. I have already told my son I will homeschool his son.

rivival37
rivival37

@kate1song @JMOChicago @LondonMom12 Getting your kid to school is not free.  It takes time from someone until (and if) the kid does it by him/her self.  Some families are wealthy enough to have the time, others are working their tails off at multiple jobs just to get by.  I get the impression you have not only never been hungry, you have never even known anyone hungry.


kate1song
kate1song

@JMOChicago @LondonMom12 Moreover there are some basically free things that parents can do to help their kids succeed in school. Our school, which has an 80% poverty level.. have a large percentage of kids who are absent for a significant portion of the school year. Getting your kid to school is free.. and one of the necessities of success. 

kate1song
kate1song

@JMOChicago @kate1song @LondonMom12 believe it or not.. so do middle income people. We need to pay taxes and rent/mortgage and take care of our kids.  We are not asking anyone to foot our bill.