Two schools in Maryland have maintained their assessment practices and their acceleration programs, but have stopped the practice of formally identifying kids as “gifted.”
Is this a good thing? Focusing on appropriate academic adjustments for individuals rather than focusing on classifying groups of students sounds like a good thing.
Are there dubious motives?
Within the school system, the gifted label is increasingly viewed as a liability, chiefly because it is seen as inequitable. White and Asian American students are twice as likely to be labeled gifted as Hispanic and black students. The share of students identified as gifted varies — widely and largely inexplicably — among schools with similar demographics and test scores. In 2005, an alliance of groups called the Equity in Education Coalition began lobbying school officials to abolish the label, saying it bestowed unfair advantages upon designated students.
Are we to understand that the policy exists to make those not designated as gifted (or, more likely, their parents) feel better? If so, I would have some concerns about its implementation. In any case, it would seem that the problem is with more with the schools’ IDing practices, and not with the terminology. If officials are biased in doling out the gifted label, are they going to be more reasonable when assessing who gets particular services (“unfair advantages” like appropriate curricula) under an informal/secret gifted label?
I appreciate the efforts of gifted advocates — teachers and parents — who are in there trying to work this out, but I am happy not to have my kids’ education jerked around as advocates and districts tussle over what they can do without pissing off some other faction. BDTD, Fool Me Once, etc. Even after a lackluster week, I’m happy to be homeschooling.