Sigh...Okay Let's Talk about Gifted Students
"No matter how many feel good articles there are, Garfield is segregated because of the APP program. The testing to qualify still reflects the qualitifies (verbal acuity) that come from parental influence and a higher econoimic status. Seattle's APP program does not reflect true intellectual giftedness, although some in the program are truly gifted. A true gifted program should be a place for those students that can not operate socially, because of their intellect, to receive help. The SPS program is a place/pathway for high acheiving but generally not gifted students to jump ahead. The SPS program reflects the power of parents to influence the system."
So Charlie answered later (again edited for length):
"Anonymous is incorrect about the purpose of a "true gifted program". It is not for students who cannot operate socially. That very idea is absurd. The bulk of the students in APP, like the bulk of all SPS students, are as socially adept as is developmentally appropriate. That's not why they cannot be well served in general education classes. They cannot be reliably well-served in general education classrooms because the teachers in those classrooms cannot adequately differentiate instruction to include material and assignments that would be challenging for the APP students while also meeting the academic needs of students working at and below grade level."
My proposal for this thread is that we just talk about gifted students (versus bright or regular ed or low achievers). We can have another thread about SPS programs. Clear? We're not going to talk about APP or Spectrum or Advanced Learning but what gifted means and why high achieving kids have their own special needs. See Charlie's post for talking about APP, Spectrum, etc.
First, characteristics of gifted children. Here's a list I've seen frequently. We could debate, a lot, about severely gifted (yes, that is an actual term), highly gifted, gifted, bright, etc. I know that many people roll their eyes because they perceive that either those parents think their child is "precious" and has to be handled carefully or deserves more or those parents are trying to push their child to prop up their own egos. I've met a few of those parents in my years here but only a few. Mostly, they are parents, like all parents, who want their child's academic needs met.
So bright versus gifted? Gifted is NOT about making good grades. It helps but any student who can read and do math and has the discipline, support and determination to succeed can make good grades. Bright kids cannot pass most gifted testing easily. Bright kids can be a spark in the classroom and a role model to other students precisely because they don't exhibit some of the characteristics that gifted kids have that seem to turn off or confuse other students.
Second, resources. One is the National Center for the Gifted and Talented. I'm providing a link to their research page. It has a plethora of articles on all sorts of issues on this topic. Another is KidsSource. Here's a great FAQ page from the National Center for Gifted Children that covers many legal topics. Also from the NCGC is a glossary page of frequently used terms in gifted education. Also from NCGC is a page about Washington State gifted education policies.
From Brainy Child.com about giftedness:
"Q: What are the causes of mentally gifted child?
A: Although this only a one line question, a whole essay can be written just on this question alone! This is a "nature" vs "nurture" question.
As a matter of fact, it has been widely agreed that both genetics and environment play a role in determining giftedness, but their relative importance is still being debated. Some believe that giftedness may be due to some innate process independent which is independent from the environmental effects. This means that regardless of where the child is raised, a gifted child will demonstrate the gifts at some point. For example, there are accounts of children with extraordinary gifts that could have an innate basis, such as the musically gifted. No particular environment appears to have stimulated the gift.
This is linked to the biological claim such as the brain or a chromosome that people believe scientists have yet to find. Psychologically, giftedness is believed to be an gift that has a genetic origin and is at least partly innate which may not be clear at an early stage but rather an inclination that the child may possess the gift.
Studies have indicated that individuals with extremely high mathematical abilities have frontal lobes of the brain which are more differentiated compared to average students. Neuropsychological studies claim that in information processing, gifted individuals have enhanced brain activity localized in the right hemisphere. This does show to a certain extent that the physical characteristics of the brain may be associated to an innate process in which certain people obtain high levels of gifts and capabilities in different areas.
Many studies have proved that demonstrated giftedness is subjected to biological (nature) and sociological (nurture) factors. These are again all linked to several other external factors outside of the child's physiological makeup. In short, to be considered gifted, a child need to have the right biological make up (genes, brain structure) and environment (education, exposure, diet, emotional security, etc.) to enhance and bring out the gifts."
"Gifted preschool, elementary, and secondary school children have very limited protections under state and federal laws. By contrast, children and adults with disabilities have, under federal statute and in turn under state law accepting federal provisions, comprehensive protections in the following areas not yet applicable to the gifted: identification for screening and program admission or eligibility purposes, educational or other institutional and related services, employment policies and practices, architectural barriers in and about public buildings and transportation facilities, and other civil rights protections.
Parents, educators, and other concerned adults involved with gifted children should know the legal framework in which the education and related services are set forth. The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Act of 1994 was not established by Congress to protect the legal rights of gifted children, but rather to provide for model programs and projects. In contrast, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 does give extensive legal rights to persons with disabilities.
Without a federal law to protect the legal rights of gifted children, the responsibility for such mandates rests with the states. Approximately 30 states have a mandate to serve gifted children, while the remaining ones have permissive legislation (Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, 1994). The National Association for Gifted Children has written a position paper supporting the concept that each state should mandate by law educational opportunities for gifted children.
For quick and authentic references, advocates for these students must have on hand the appropriate state and local statutes and regulations. State law usually defines the types of gifted children who must or may be served with state funds, and the educational provisions allowable. In a few states, the state boards of education enacted a state definition and the kinds and types of services to be provided with state revenues. Usually, the function of this body is to approve the rules and regulations or standards written by the state department of education based on the implementation of the law passed by the legislature.
In addition, the local, county, or parish school board may have passed specific implementations within its jurisdiction. To assure services to all eligible students and to maximize the probability that a dispute will be resolved productively, there are channels to follow: negotiation, mediation, due process, and court cases (Karnes & Marquardt, 1993). Parents of gifted children have, in personal success stories, documented these processes with a variety of educational issues (Karnes & Marquardt, 1991)."What do these kids look like to teachers?
"When asked this question, most teachers will respond by citing three observations. First, gifted youngsters tend to get their work done quickly and may seek further assignments or direction. Second, they ask probing questions that tend to differ from their classmates in depth of understanding and frequency. Finally, they have interests in areas that are unusual or more like the interests of older students. In fact, these observations define the characteristics that challenge regular classroom teachers the most as they attempt to bring full instructional service to gifted and talented students. These students potentially differ from their classmates on three key dimensions (Maker, 1982): (1) the pace at which they learn; (2) the depth of their understanding; and (3) the interests that they hold. In order to develop instructional programs that will meet the needs of gifted students in regular classroom settings, it is necessary to address and accommodate these defining characteristics."Okay, both my kids, according to SPS are gifted. A lot of their abilities, I believe, came because my husband and I invested huge amounts of time with them when they were little, reading and trying to stimulate their brains. Something connected. Are they profoundly gifted? No but their abilities go beyond being bright. Just like many areas of child development, there is a spectrum to giftedness.
However, if you read the literature on giftedness you'll learn of a couple of sidebars to gifted kids. One is that many gifted kids have some sort of disability (learning or other). Check on that for me. Another is lack of motivation despite ability. Check again on the other one for me. Everyone, even parents of bright children, has challenges with their children as students.
I have heard from teachers that bright kids should help "tutor" the class. No one's child is there to be a teacher. One of my son's friends, when he heard me talking about bright kids, rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, I'm always the one picked to "start the conversation" when we have discussions in class even if I don't raise my hand. I'm tired of it. There are other kids in class besides me." But teachers have said if you take the bright kids out, there goes the spark for the class and their job is harder. I appreciate that but no child is in the classroom to help the teacher. Not sit on their hands and wait. Not do an extra worksheet.
The key to this is differentiation both in curriculum and teaching. I am not convinced that this district has done anywhere near the training to help teachers do that and I would not be willing to give up Spectrum until it was true. And, if you are talking of classes 26+, it doesn't matter what training the teacher has, it is almost impossible (or a near feat of teaching).
The feds (if you read one of the links above) allot a modest $9M per year for gifted students in all 50 states (I believe the last figure I read for gifted kids was 3 million although many are missed/overlooked). That's not a huge pot of money by anyone's measure.
The irony is that we have a president who talks about education but has done little to better it in this country. Who makes jokes about his own mediocre performance. Who sneers at "university elites" when he graduated from Princeston. Other districts and other states do not seem to have this problem with gifted programming. Our district seems embarrassed by these kids. You can dislike parents who want gifted programming. But I ask you - who is going to win the next Nobel prize that may lead to a cure for any number of diseases? Who is going to get us to Mars? Who is going to engineer bridges - secure ones - for the 21st century? If you ignore these kids now, they will not be successful later and it could cost us all.
Every single kid in every single class deserves to be challenged and have their educational needs met.