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Thread: New York City panel recommends ending gifted programs for students

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    It would be interesting to see what the criteria are for a student being placed in a Gifted and Talented program.

    The more I'm in the schools volunteering and talking to teachers, parents, friends and family, there seems to be a skyrocketing amount of children considered gifted and talented, our eight-year-old granddaughter being one of them. As her grandparent, of course, I think she is amazingly gifted and talented. But that doesn't always correspond to her good grades with me. She's also a very vivacious, outgoing and socially sweet little girl with wonderful art and singing skills...that's why she has been in musical theatre since age five. I don't always think that putting her in three classes away from her regular classroom has made her a happier child. Her best friend is on the spectrum and she frets over how she's doing without her to help guide her when she needs it. When I ask how she likes her classes she does always says she likes them. But she was born to be a student. When I asked her if there was anything she didn't like when she went to kindergarten (thinking I could talk her to a positive if there was), she said she didn't like it when the kids didn't pay attention to the teacher. I guess I just don't want what her lovely, unique little spirit to take second place or get lost chasing grades and yes, I know she can do both. I just worry about the push in schools today to learn for the grade before anything else.
    I agree with you. I did not make the "Academically Talented" program when I was in elementary school. I know exactly why...the test was heavily weighted on the ability to look at building blocks with different portions colored and then you had to make a pattern out of them. It's really a test of spatial relations. To this day I can not do that. I honestly suck at that. My parents had a very "gentle" conversation with me about the fact that I wasn't accepted into it. I didn't care at all. I wasn't competitive in that way when it came to school. I was always in the top 1%, but I didn't try to be, if that makes sense. School was easy, I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel the need to be "the best". People thought I cared, but I didn't.

    I watched my niece, who is extremely bright, work really hard in school taking all those AP classes. I personally think they've become somewhat of a joke. Any bright kid I know comes out of high school with about 12 credits worth of "college" credit. I haven't seen where that translates into them taking one less semester in college to graduate early. I also haven't seen where it makes that big of a difference in terms of college applications to the "elite" schools. I think it's a lot of grade inflation and a lot of work and stress on the students that, at the end of the day, is pretty unnecessary.

    You're right, your granddaughter can do both, but unfortunately the A will be celebrated more than her kindness to her friend. It's unfortunate, because I think her kindness is more important. That one has been special since her first baby picture was taken. I can still remember the feeling of joy I got just looking at it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    I agree with you. I did not make the "Academically Talented" program when I was in elementary school. I know exactly why...the test was heavily weighted on the ability to look at building blocks with different portions colored and then you had to make a pattern out of them. It's really a test of spatial relations. To this day I can not do that. I honestly suck at that. My parents had a very "gentle" conversation with me about the fact that I wasn't accepted into it. I didn't care at all. I wasn't competitive in that way when it came to school. I was always in the top 1%, but I didn't try to be, if that makes sense. School was easy, I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel the need to be "the best". People thought I cared, but I didn't.

    I watched my niece, who is extremely bright, work really hard in school taking all those AP classes. I personally think they've become somewhat of a joke. Any bright kid I know comes out of high school with about 12 credits worth of "college" credit. I haven't seen where that translates into them taking one less semester in college to graduate early. I also haven't seen where it makes that big of a difference in terms of college applications to the "elite" schools. I think it's a lot of grade inflation and a lot of work and stress on the students that, at the end of the day, is pretty unnecessary.

    You're right, your granddaughter can do both, but unfortunately the A will be celebrated more than her kindness to her friend. It's unfortunate, because I think her kindness is more important. That one has been special since her first baby picture was taken. I can still remember the feeling of joy I got just looking at it.
    Thanks, Philly. She got braces yesterday. Time is moving so fast these days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    Thanks, Philly. She got braces yesterday. Time is moving so fast these days.
    Oh, gosh! They're doing braces so early these days! But she's also growing up so fast!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    It would be interesting to see what the criteria are for a student being placed in a Gifted and Talented program.

    The more I'm in the schools volunteering and talking to teachers, parents, friends and family, there seems to be a skyrocketing amount of children considered gifted and talented, our eight-year-old granddaughter being one of them. As her grandparent, of course, I think she is amazingly gifted and talented. But that doesn't always correspond to her good grades with me. She's also a very vivacious, outgoing and socially sweet little girl with wonderful art and singing skills...that's why she has been in musical theatre since age five. I don't always think that putting her in three classes away from her regular classroom has made her a happier child. Her best friend is on the spectrum and she frets over how she's doing without her to help guide her when she needs it. When I ask how she likes her classes she does always says she likes them. But she was born to be a student. When I asked her if there was anything she didn't like when she went to kindergarten (thinking I could talk her to a positive if there was), she said she didn't like it when the kids didn't pay attention to the teacher. I guess I just don't want what her lovely, unique little spirit to take second place or get lost chasing grades and yes, I know she can do both. I just worry about the push in schools today to learn for the grade before anything else.
    I totally understand that feeling, but there can be balance. Gifted programs don't have to be about chasing grades. We felt as if HRH's entire elementary school was a gifted program of sorts. What they had - and yes, it's a lot more work, in a way, for the teachers, but also a lot more rewarding - was grade fluidity. If there was a 3rd-grader with a gift for math s/he moved up through the grades in math quickly, possibly doing pre-algebra with the 5th-graders. HRH was already reading when she started kindergarten, while her friend Jessie was in her second year of kindergarten. But no one was labeled for life; Jessie caught up in middle school and is now in grad school for microbiology.
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    "Gifted programs" exist, theoretically, to maximize the potential of truly exceptional students, for the benefit of society. These programs have been hobbled, if not simply destroyed, by budget concerns, status-conscious parents, and dim-witted administrators and teachers.

    "Gifted" is a word intended, in these times, to insulate the program from charges of racism and disparate impact, as opposed to merely being the top track of a striated student body, with all the debris that notion lugs about.

    As long as we're embarrassed that culture and money produce significant differences in achievement among different groups, we won't be able to go all in for a "gifted" program.
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    As originally envisioned, these programs were more challenging and faster (in most schools, not all). They were often more flexible in terms of grade content so a technical third grader could do some work at the 6th grade level as Celeste mentioned.

    But as Newman remarked, things changed when being in one of these programs became aspirational for parents and administrators. The criteria and content changed in some programs to the point where placement became kind of a joke.

    The issue in NYC isn't really about the kind of gifted programs found in most schools. It's really a lot more similar to competitive entry for college (when we still had that). Kids take a standardized test to asses whether they can handle the content in those specific schools. The standards and content in those schools is more demanding than in general public schools. Kids scoring well may be gifted or they may just be extremely industrious and disciplined - the test can't evaluate that.

    Shoving unprepared kids into that environment will not make them better students but retaining those kids will necessarily make class standards drop. It will have to happen to meet all those diversity goals.

    So, what do you have then? Nobody will benefit. The unprepared students will struggle or just get social passes and the high scoring kids will get dumbed down content and both will get a devalued graduation.

    I mean, who would care if you graduated from Cal Tech when the Cal Tech admission and retention was identical to Bob's Community College and Hair Color Institute?
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    This has been an excellent thread. Very interesting reading.

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  11. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    I agree with you. I did not make the "Academically Talented" program when I was in elementary school. I know exactly why...the test was heavily weighted on the ability to look at building blocks with different portions colored and then you had to make a pattern out of them. It's really a test of spatial relations. To this day I can not do that. I honestly suck at that. My parents had a very "gentle" conversation with me about the fact that I wasn't accepted into it. I didn't care at all. I wasn't competitive in that way when it came to school. I was always in the top 1%, but I didn't try to be, if that makes sense. School was easy, I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel the need to be "the best". People thought I cared, but I didn't.

    I watched my niece, who is extremely bright, work really hard in school taking all those AP classes. I personally think they've become somewhat of a joke. Any bright kid I know comes out of high school with about 12 credits worth of "college" credit. I haven't seen where that translates into them taking one less semester in college to graduate early. I also haven't seen where it makes that big of a difference in terms of college applications to the "elite" schools. I think it's a lot of grade inflation and a lot of work and stress on the students that, at the end of the day, is pretty unnecessary.

    You're right, your granddaughter can do both, but unfortunately the A will be celebrated more than her kindness to her friend. It's unfortunate, because I think her kindness is more important. That one has been special since her first baby picture was taken. I can still remember the feeling of joy I got just looking at it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    I totally understand that feeling, but there can be balance. Gifted programs don't have to be about chasing grades. We felt as if HRH's entire elementary school was a gifted program of sorts. What they had - and yes, it's a lot more work, in a way, for the teachers, but also a lot more rewarding - was grade fluidity. If there was a 3rd-grader with a gift for math s/he moved up through the grades in math quickly, possibly doing pre-algebra with the 5th-graders. HRH was already reading when she started kindergarten, while her friend Jessie was in her second year of kindergarten. But no one was labeled for life; Jessie caught up in middle school and is now in grad school for microbiology.
    The gifted program I had didn't have grades. In elementary school it was 1-2 days per week of different activities. In junior high it was part of our history and civics classes, we went through the standard curriculum also and were graded on that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    The gifted program I had didn't have grades. In elementary school it was 1-2 days per week of different activities. In junior high it was part of our history and civics classes, we went through the standard curriculum also and were graded on that.
    Yeah, I think that's how ours worked. As long as we're talking about "fairness", another high school story.. I took 4 years of Spanish. In my senior year I had some extra time in my schedule (which was really pretty ridiculous and one of my complaints about being in public school) so I also took a French 1 class while taking the Spanish 4 class. Another friend did the same (although her "primary" second language was German). The teacher saw pretty quickly that, given our facility with foreign languages already, the regular French 1 curriculum was too easy for us, so she gave us what was probably French 2 or 3 work and tests to do. Kudos to her for pushing us, rather than letting us just sit back for an easy A. Of course, having never taken French before, now the advanced work wasn't an easy A and we were getting B's. She realized the unfairness of that at some point and graded us easier since we technically were only taking French 1 and we shouldn't be penalized grade wise simply because we were too advanced for that class. I did used to cheat, though. If I couldn't remember the French word I would throw the Spanish word in instead and the teacher always chalked it up to me just losing my train of thought. She wouldn't have done that if I threw in the English word, but using Spanish got me the credit!
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  14. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    The gifted program I had didn't have grades. In elementary school it was 1-2 days per week of different activities. In junior high it was part of our history and civics classes, we went through the standard curriculum also and were graded on that.
    That sounds like an "enhancement" program. I hope for you it was a good experience. The one teacher I knew well who worked in such a program (now maybe 20 years ago, and we have lost touch) was very skeptical about it.

    One factor that hasn't been mentioned, and should be, is "classroom management." Without diverting into the "active classroom" discussion, it's a truism that the teacher must be aware and in control of the classroom for learning to take place.

    One school I was very familiar with was seriously embarrassed to discover a few "goody two shoes," non disruptive girls were allowed to slip through into the third grade without learning squat. They had been non disruptive, and the teachers were finding relief from the stress where they could. The embarrassment came to light because third grade was a "testing grade," meaning standardized tests, and the 3rd grade teachers stood to take the heat. I do believe the problem was properly addressed.

    Teachers can also find such relief, or rather should I say, focus their energy on the problem areas, by letting the outstanding, gifted kids coast. They can often keep themselves occupied without disrupting the class, and are sometimes allowed to without genuine attention paid to the educational value of their preoccupation. I've even heard it said of those kids, literally, "they can teach themselves," which is a true and very self-deluding statement.

    Classroom management is the bear in the public school system.
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