Response to today’s conversation

Commenters to the AJC Get Schooled blog debated the recent AJC investigation into gifted programs in Georgia schools. Despite efforts to erase the gap between the races, the AJC found white students are about three times more likely than black peers to be enrolled in gifted programs. Here is a sampling of responses:

Lurker: Are the selection criteria fair or unfair? Are there racial biases and even flat-out discrimination? I don't really know the answer to those questions. I do think that no matter how fair, and no matter how racially blind the criteria are, there will be parents who believe that their child should have gotten in. Those parents will blame unfair tests, discrimination, or affirmative action as reasons that their "well-deserving" child was excluded. Maybe the better solution would be to allow any student who requests to be included into the programs, but if those students cannot keep up with the work, they get the failing grades they deserve.

Crankee: My own observations lead me to believe that many elementary kids get a gifted classification because they are good readers. When the students hit middle school, the good readers who were really not gifted start to struggle since they no longer can rely on reading ability alone to get them through the gifted curriculum.

Noticer: Entrance to a gifted program should not be based on motivation or creativity checklists. What does motivation have to do with giftedness anyway? Most teachers are not qualified to judge creativity. Going back to IQ and achievement scores would be so much easier.

Edumacate: Two of my three children were identified as gifted. I believe the county school system actually got it right. As their mother, it is easy for me to see the difference, and it is good to know that the multitude of tests the county put all three through bore out those results. That said, all three of my children were also advanced a grade and are doing well. My husband and I pursued this course of action, since Georgia's curriculum is not challenging on so many levels.

Teachermom: In my system, standardized instruments are used first. However, if a child does not do well on the creativity or motivation components, the teacher then does a checklist. A product of creativity may also be assessed by several teachers (without being told who the student is) to qualify the student. I feel we bend over backwards to get kids into the program. I was at a majority African-American school for eight years, and my experience was that we were testing kids whose ITBS and CogATs were in the high 80s just to give them a chance. The school I'm at now is much more diverse, but they are much less likely to test unless a child has scores in the mid to high 90s. The program does, however, reflect the student make-up accurately, so I don't feel that it caters to one demographic. I had several white students in my class last year (whose parents were highly involved) who were not tested, in spite of parent protest. I think it depends on the school. There are state guidelines, but how they are interpreted seems to be fairly local.