As we all know, trying to understand how gifted education in SPS is presented is a losing proposition. The District has this three-tier system that, on paper, looks somewhat orderly. But, brush off the cobwebs on this old plan, and you find that:
- Gifted ed is not available at all schools as it should be. Every school that is not Spectrum or HC is supposed to be able to tell parents how they can meet the needs of gifted students or students who are bright and want to go faster/deeper. I think many parents feel this frustration that their principals are not following-thru on ALOs and the District doesn't seem to care one way or the other.
- Except for HC (APP), Spectrum and ALOs are pretty much what the principal at each school say they are. Again, no continuity and so how the district truly know what is working? This is especially true for Spectrum. I think this death by a thousand paper cuts to Spectrum is particular distasteful. If the District wants to change it, why not just change it districtwide? At least parents would understand what they are getting.
- Following up on those two issues above, I've heard that (1) some teachers don't like Spectrum and yet (2) don't really want to have to differentiate for bright students. So you don't want Spectrum at your school for inclusion reasons but you also don't want to do the thing to support those students academic needs. It's a puzzler.
Every year I cross my fingers that the District will see fit to have a more coherent plan that reaches more students. Still hasn't happened. Again, I think because Advanced Learning is very low on District priorities and that it has no champion in senior leadership.
Here are a couple of recent articles about gifted education.
One is from the more conservative ed blog, Education Next, about Common Core and gifted education.
Previous research by Fordham and others has made clear that the pre-Common Core era has not done well by high achievers in the United States. Almost all the policy attention has been on low achievers, and, in fact, they’ve made faster gains on measures such as NAEP than have their high-achieving classmates. Gifted children, in our view, have generally been short-changed in recent years by American public education, even as the country has awakened to their potential contributions to our economic competitiveness and technological edge. It would therefore be a terrible mistake for the new Common Core standards, praiseworthy as we believe they are, to become a justification for even greater neglect.There are four key points (as presented by Jonathan Plucker of the U. of Connecticut):
- Common Core is no excuse to ditch gifted services
- State and local officials should get rid of policies that hurt gifted students and strengthen practices that help them.
- Schools must work harder to make differentiation “real.”
- Schools should make use of existing high-quality materials that help teachers adapt the Common Core for gifted students.
Here's the problem: If bright kids do not perform below grade expected levels, they are not seen as having a problem, don't receive intervention, and don't get referred for comprehensive assessment for special education eligibility.
As a result, 2e students have been missed, misunderstood, and marginalized. The consequences are significant - underachievement, depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, low self-esteem, and school drop out.
It is now 2015 and it is time for educators to stop looking the other way, to stop saying "she is fine enough" "he is meeting grade expected levels," and "your child is doing much better than other kids with problems" and for students with real and legitimate diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, auditory processing disorder, sensory processing disorder, or autistic spectrum disorder to receive the evaluations and ultimately the educational help they qualify for.