Gifted Issues

Some schools in our district have a huge percentage of the kids labeled as Gifted. They get more money from the district that way.

In our district there were two tiers of gifted ed - IQ 130-145 (pull out) or IQ 145+ (full time). There wasn’t a separate category for profoundly gifted (160+) And in my estimation, very few kids that I know who qualified for the upper level were PG. One exception was admitted to MIT at age 16. The majority were smart, high-achieving “quirky” kids with VERY pushy parents. The whirring helicopter blades were quite audible. However, as Lindagaf decribes, the G/T classification generally translated into a placement with more-motivated, higher-effort, and generally smarter peers and helped to keep boredom at bay. Gifted content in the curriculum will vary across teachers and districts.

@WorryHurry411 Don’t know what grade your friend’s kid is in, but if he’s not yet hit the 7th grade, check into the Caroline D. Bradley scholarship program - it’s highly competitive but recipients get private HS tuition covered anywhere they can gain admittance, and that includes boarding schools. Kids apply as 7th graders. If your friend can afford boarding school, that might be one avenue. Another would be to enrich curriculum with on-line courses offered by CTY, Duke TIP, Stanford, etc. Dual enrollment at a local college might work - but that might merely mean that the students are older, not necessarily smarter.

ETA: there was a thread in the boarding school section of the forum authored by a NY city based parent who was seeking boarding schools for his/her PG daughter. Might be worth a look over there.

One of the differences I have noticed in the homeschooling community in recent yrs is the number of people homeschooling because their children are gifted and the school system would not allow their kids to progress at their natural rate of ability. Policies like no alg before grade X, even if the student is perfectly capable. Other large increases are in the 2E and LD groups.

From one of the comments to the article. I find this so depressing and have heard these stories before. Luckily that didn’t ever happen to my kids. I have one who is probably one of those top 1 percenters. I don’t know his IQ score as in elementary school everyone always recognized that he was precocious. In first grade they tested his math skills and had him at 5th grade for concepts and third grade for actually knowing how to do the math, and allowed him a double skip in math. The second was more vanilla gifted - in the top 3% - but with some deficits in how he processed material.

The gifted program (just for math and English, just 4th and 5th grade) was a pretty good fit for kid number two. The older one was still bored. The older one got into computer programming, is in his dream job and is not particularly ambitious to go further. He is unlikely to change the world. (Though he’s making your searches at Google faster and more accurate.) The younger one, with more social graces, I think might end up accomplishing more.

Our school district basically resisted having G&T programs in primary and middle schools. Working assumption: gifted kids would succeed one way or the other, it was the kids with academic problems or disabilities who needed special attention.

High school was a different matter, largely because there were always AP courses, and students who were especially gifted in math and had exhausted their options in the HS could enroll in a course or two at the nearby university.

So how did we handle this? Our oldest had hobbies, ones that deeply involved him. Fantasy baseball, statistics. But he was good enough in math that in 7th grade he finished 2nd in statewide math competition – and never prepped for it or had any special courses.

Even in HS he was not very stimulated by his courses, but he found satisfaction in his hobbies, in particular (again) fantasy sports, but also in some EC’s: debate and journalism. When he ran out of math courses at the high school he did not want to take additional coursework at the university. So we didn’t push this.

When he got to college, there was no college debate team but he did write for the school newspaper, and he graduated with honors in a mathy subject (economics). In life after college, after deciding he didn’t want to pursue an advanced degree, and after working for a few years for a consulting firm, he has had great career success as a very mathy journalist. I think in retrospect our school district’s working philosophy wasn’t wrong. Gifted kids will succeed.

"In our district there were two tiers of gifted ed - IQ 130-145 (pull out) or IQ 145+ (full time). There wasn’t a separate category for profoundly gifted (160+) " Wow, that is amazing. I haven’t heard of anything like tiered programs or full time programs.

Our schools don’t really have a gifted program other than a few hours of pull out in the elementary schools, which was politically unsustainable, so it became push-in so that all kids are now included in the gifted program. My kids were in classes with kids who flunked the grade or the kids who arrived in class with their own special teacher who according to my kid, spent most of her energy trying to keep them from disrupting the class. Usually unsuccessfully.

The obstacles for GT students include mind-numbingly slow classes, probably weaker social skills on average, maybe weaker social interest (unclear about this), but also not being surrounded by peers playing in the same intellectual league. My father was a brilliant theoretical physicist who started reading the NY Times when he was three. His peer physics group included a number of brilliant guys (quite a few Nobels). Almost all of them would probably be classified as Asperger’s in today’s environment. He went to one of the NYC high schools that you test into so had a lot of bright kids in class with him. In my experience, finding an environment in which one has peers makes a big difference. I didn’t find a peer group until college and my son until grad school. If GT programs don’t do this per @WorryHurry411’s and @Lindagaf’s comments, they probably won’t be particularly valuable.

@WorryHurry411 - the CoGAT is not an IQ test so you shouldn’t try to compare. I believe the cap for CoGAT is 150, but I could be wrong.

It measures reasoning skills like inference, classification, and deduction skills.

Our district tests using the CoGAT in kindergarten and then again in 2nd grade. After successfully scoring in the top 2% on the CoGAT, kids are given the SOI. If they score high enough on that as well, they are invited to a pull out program in k-2.

Kids have to test again in 2nd grade. If their scores aren’t at a qualifying level, they are not invited back. So if you had a 98% in K and then a 96% in 2nd, you don’t qualify for 3-5 gifted instruction. The gifted instructor said that is the worst conversation to have with parents. Also, if too many kids qualify, they end up just taking the tippy top qualifiers. It means having to tell parents their kid who was identified as gifted in kindergarten is no longer identified as such in 2nd. Not fair and not a conversation I’d like to be a part of on either end.

The kids who score in the top 99th %ile are invited to participate in a full time gifted program within the district from 3-5th grade. They usually end up starting middle school in Algebra or higher.

The kids who score at 98% are invited to do the pull out program from 3-5.

Everyone has the option when choosing classes for 6th grade to accelerate or not (even if they were not in any gifted program). Our choices are Common Core 6th grade, CC 7/8, or CC 8 as 6th graders. They can also choose accelerated science and Language Arts.

They also have the option for kids to push ahead after 6th if they want.

I’d say we have about 70% of the kids follow grade level math standards in middle school, and start Geometry in 9th grade (that is our basic track here). About 25% finish Geometry up in 8th grade and do Algebra 2 as freshmen, and about 5% (15-20 kids a year?) finish Algebra 2 as 8th graders and start high school in Pre-Calculus.

Wow, I wish our school administrators would spend some time on this thread. They like to crow about how wonderful our schools are but offer almost nothing compared to what I am seeing here. Our “gifted” identification involves an extensive battery of tests, recommendations, parent questionnaires and student work samples. About the top 10% of students are identified. And after that long process, they are given a label and almost nothing in services or enrichment. I would not be surprised if the majority of the time and energy of the one or 1/2 gifted teacher per school is spent processing all this testing and paperwork to qualify the kids for…nothing. Once they get that label however, no one will take it away. Why would they? There aren’t even any services or programs for them after grades 3-5, the only grades in which the program operates, and now the paltry “gifted education” dollars are being spent on delivering gifted education a few hours a week to all children.

Our schools have in fact been backing away from serving gifted kids over the past 2 decades. I could understand if this were due to budget constraints, but it seems to be more a willful denial that gifted kids can accomplish much more than what they are teaching at grade level or at least putting their needs behind priorities that I can’t even guess what they might be. For instance, it used to be that our local elementary school would make sure to schedule at least some of the math classes at the same time. So kids who were well ahead could join a higher grade math class and get the instruction they needed. There was the occasional 4th or 5th grader who would go over to the middle school after completing the elementary school math sequence. At some point, and certainly by 5th grade, there were also 4 levels of math offered. Today, there are only 2 levels of math offered, I think only in 5th grade, and I have heard complaints of boredom from many kids as they have to sit through much repetitive explanation that they didn’t need. Today, it’s somehow much too difficult to construct elementary school schedules so that some math classes are taught at the same time. A kid in 3rd grade can’t attend 4th grade math anymore because it meets during English or not even on the same bell schedule–starts halfway through PE. There is also no attempt to coordinate with the middle school and that opportunity has pretty much closed off.

The school my kids went to found that at the end of high school, class rank was pretty evenly divided between those who were identified at gifted and those who weren’t. I think only around 10% were identified as gifted in elementary school and put into a one day a week pull out program.

When the school needed at make cut backs, they wanted to end the one day pull out. The parents of those “gifted” were outraged. How could they?

Where was your friend looking? We had a kid who was musically talented. We were fortunate that our schools had awesome music programs, but we also looked ourselves outside of school. We had no difficulty finding quality programs for our kid.

There are tons of resources to tap into…community colleges, continuing education programs. The key is to find an area of interest for the kid. There has to be at least one…and then look for opportunities that mesh with that.

One of my kids was asked to play in the middle school ensembles as a 5th grader (our MS was grades 7 and 8). We declined the offer. After all…even though put kid was a fine musician, the kid was 11, not 13.

The Charter school my kids went/go to tried having a gifted program when it started but with funding coming from the Philadelphia School District there just isn’t money for it. I always tried to supplement my children’s education outside the school as best as possible and fortunately being in a larger city there are opportunities. The one school that kids can go to for accelerated learning is really just a high-achieving curriculum which I don’t find desirable though I’m sure there are plenty of gifted kids there and some of the profoundly gifted kids that really need a different kind of environment. In the PSD kids are given the WISC-IV to determine giftedness. I’m not sure how useful or accurate that test is but one child scored in the highly gifted and the other profoundly gifted. I think anyone that spent a little bit of time with both my children could easily deduce which one is which. My reading at the time said that kids that score in the gifted/highly gifted generally perform at the highest level in the basic public school curriculum even accelerated but the kids that score profoundly can sometimes have a much lower than expected performance in a normal curriculum. I worry sometimes that PG kid won’t meet potential. I know I met a number of these types when I went to my special admit high school junior year. There were kids there with 2.5-3.0 GPAs but scored 1560 on the SAT first setting - no prep in 10th grade. Fortunately the high school was a boon for them as they were finally able to get the kind of instruction they needed to excel.

Why the “” around gifted? Is it doubt that gifted kids exist and actually do have special academic needs?

The issue is not a simple one and “one day pull outs” cannot compensate for being bored the other 80% of the time (assuming that the 20% is actually mentally engaging, which is equally questionable.)

A possible reason for only 10% of the gifted by rank in high school:

Far more interesting than the article posted by the OP is the commentary section on that article with a long list of testimonials from those who were gifted children and pretty much unanimously agree that their school systems did not challenge them or address their needs.

It is also the case that the usual class ranking systems don’t favor the most gifted students. My kid’s rank dropped because she took some post-calculus level math classes. She could instead have joined her friends in the “easy” APs and boosted her rank.

One of my kids is PG. My kids went to a school that was solid academically, but did not offer acceleration for gifted kids. OP, we used a LOT of external resources to keep my kid happy intellectually. Your friend should have their kid test for the talent search in your part of the country (CTY, NUMATS, TIP, etc). That can open up some opportunities (did for my kid). Also, give them this link:

@Mom2aphysicsgeek, sorry for putting gifted in quotation marks. I deleted a bunch of what I had written. The school system through testing identified approximately 70% of the class as being gifted. (We lived in Lake Webegon :wink: )

I felt that many, not all for sure, were in the program through parent involvement and not true giftedness.

I do believe many of the things you said. There were kids who were bored and unengaged. i just felt the process to identify the gifted was very political.

I have a daughter who is gifted, and also cursed with a mood disorder, so maybe my POV is skewed, but I think her elementary education was mostly very suitable. She was identified as gifted in K, but we moved in the middle of the year back to our home state of Massachusetts, where there is little to no gifted education. We were in a district full of high-achieving,super pushy alpha parents with very bright kids, so our elementary school offered no formal gifted program. The principal explained to me that gifted programs in districts like this cause more problems than they solve, and I well believe it!

The lack of formal programming turned out to be a good thing, because the teachers felt free to give individualized instruction to the kids who required acceleration. It wasn’t perfect, and it depended on the teacher year to year, but in general, her educational experience was quite positive.

In middle and high school, it all fell apart because there was more of an emphasis on quantity, rather than content, of work in the top level classes. But in college, things have greatly improved. I don’t think the world will ever be an easy place for a sensitive, highly gifted person, but ease isn’t a very good goal for anyone.

I commented earlier on this thread about how our public schools made a minimal effort to accommodate gifted kids, especially before high school. They did have my son going across the street to the middle school to take a higher level math of when he was in the 5th grade. But they had no systematic way to allow for advanced math training prior to high school (9-12th grades). There was a leveling attitude: don’t make the gifted kids stand out, don’t make the other stand out either. In some ways our son was indifferent about this. He had his own agenda, his hobbies. He completed all his required work extremely fast, so had lots of time for his hobbies and (later) his EC’s. But the school’s curriculum was not demanding enough and a lot of the required work was boring to him.

Other school districts have a much more differentiated set of courses and curricula. When I was on sabbatical leave in Palo Alto one year, our son was starting the 7th grade. Our first task was persuading the middle school there that he belonged in the “high” 8th grade math class. He had just competed in the council of teachers of math competition and placed 3rd among 6th graders in our state. But when we went to enroll our son in the middle school in Palo Alto and I said that I thought he belonged in the high 8th grade math, they were initially skeptical. After a brief discussion, however, the registrar said, “Here kid, take this test.” He went into the next room and returned in 10-15 minutes; the registrar looked over his test sheet and quickly declared, “You were right!” He got into the high 8th grade math as a 7th grader. The teacher was the best math teacher he ever had.