Response today’s conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog reacted to today’s guest column on the new attention to the progress of gifted students. Here is a sampling:

Real World: Truly gifted students have been neglected in our schools for a number of years. Add to that the dumbing down of gifted programs; too many students are classified now as gifted for doing somewhat above-average work. We first need to refine the requirements for entering gifted programs and focus on those students who are truly gifted. We have expanded the term to make the program too inclusive to define students as gifted who test well, but are basically above-average students who worked hard to achieve. And that is not gifted

Lee: Ignoring the gifted is akin to ignoring the thoroughbred while trying to train a Shetland pony to win the Kentucky Derby.

Michelle: For years, before my retirement in June this past year, I taught gifted students in middle school. I was stymied in many of my efforts because of the lack of respect for the abilities of my gifted students. Not only were their abilities questioned, but they were also required to complete mundane tests that in no way tested their true abilities. It seemed all the money in the system was going to students who were not meeting standards, totally neglecting the exceptionality of gifted and high-achieving students.

Private: Too many k-12 educators secretly resent gifted children and even more so the teachers who educate them. Hoping for change benefiting the gifted is therefore a bit like hoping liberals will lose their zeal for income redistribution.

Jeremy: Intelligence is not innate. So-called "gifted" students have a host of advantages that have been given to them since their earliest days in school. Or do we honestly believe that there is no correlation between wealth and "gifted" status? There is so much untapped talent in the minds of those students who haven't been given the opportunities of the more privileged among us; they have not been able to see the pathway. Imagine if we funded all children equally. Imagine if we challenged and supported them all with enrichment programs, SAT prep, after-school tutoring and clean, safe schools. What would happen then? There would be many more "gifted" students.

Yea Right: When the state did away with class-size requirements for gifted instruction, it completely changed the model in the system in which I teach. I have two separate roles, one gifted, one non-gifted, but they are in the same room. This was done to allow 32 students to be placed in a class. The curriculum is the same for both.

Fruga: Some kids are gifted — less than 5 percent. Some kids are advanced. Let's not nitpick. Both groups need to be challenged appropriately. We should not be afraid to advance kids multiple grade levels (only for relevant subjects), just as we should not be afraid to retain kids.

Finally: Finally, there's some focus on gifted. For too long, they have been lumped into classes with supposedly gifted-certified teachers and told, "You're getting a gifted education." We all know that's ridiculous. How can you go at the speed these kids need when you have a kid who can't speak the language? You can't. It doesn't work.

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