Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No Child Gets Ahead

Susan Goodkin and David G. Gold wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, The Gifted Children Left Behind. They assert that No Child Left Behind harms gifted children in that the schools devote nearly all their resources to getting kids that might pass the standards, but are not guaranteed to pass them without a great deal of drilling. The drilling bores the gifted and nearly gifted students to tears and kills their love of learning.

Nothing left to say except, I agree. That squares with my experience with our local public school, principal and superintendent. (The teachers have been great, despite getting no support from the district.)

The disturbing thing is, I think my local school district wants us to pull our daughter out of public school and put her back in private school. Why else would they stonewall us? Why else would they promise in October to buy appropriate curriculum materials for her, but deliver them the last week of April? Why would they repeatedly ask her why we put her in public school?

If we follow the growth model, she progressed about 2 months in her first academic year in a public school. We gave them a first-grader that loved school and learning and had mastered skills on average two grade levels ahead (based on their assessment the first week of school). At the end of the school year, they gave us a kid who begged to get out of going to school every morning, was about the same place in math, and had progressed slightly in reading and writing.

I disagree with Half Changed World about the merit of clustering gifted kids together. Some people think it is harmful to the self-image of both the kids identified as gifted (IQ>130) and the ones not. I am sympathetic to this argument. But research has also shown that kids tend to befriend kids within 30 IQ points of each other.

Putting an exceptionally or profoundly gifted (IQ>160) child in a regular classroom is an incredibly alienating and lonely experience for the child. My husband and I only felt normal and accepted when we were in segregated gifted classrooms. Only then, were we free to be ourselves and safe from bullying. We know the difference. Why is it elitist to want to give our daughter the same experience that was given to us?

(Don't bother trashing California schools. My husband and I are both proud graduates of CA public schools and the flagship state university.)

Our community can do better by our kids. We must. Don't the school officials know that there is a shortage of people with advanced degrees in science and technology?



  1. Anonymous13:38

    ...research has also shown that kids tend to befriend kids within 30 IQ points of each other.

    Research shows that if people are not within 30 IQ points of each other, they can't communicate.

    Being one of the bigger kids (size wise), I wasn't really bullied, just teased. At our school (military, overseas) they didn't know what to do with us so they put those of us into the classes on grade levels we tested into if the difference was inordinate (I was taking junior, then senior english as a seventh grader). Being bigger and looking several years older anyway, it worked out for me. Don't know how it went for others tho. It's not as tho I had any friends or talked to anyone.

    My friend Miracle (also in CA) makes no bones about it, she doesn't seem to suffer our egalitarian pangs. She has her three kids in private school. All of them are exceedingly bright.

    DH and I remain concerned tho. He is looking forward to another career as a math and science teacher. I omit my link in deference to his current career so keep mum on that.

    btw, I'm enjoying Fallows immensely. I have to get my own copy.

  2. I totally agree with you on this. In my day, skipping a grade was the method they used to solve the problem, at least in parochial schools. Two of my siblings skipped. I was the one who tutored my younger brother in math so he could skip 4th grade. With the current emphasis on fundamentals and drill work, this approach would not work. You are still bored even if you are one year or so younger than your classmates.

    You have made me realize another reason why I took to music. It is not taught in public schools (or at least not to any great extent) so you must take private lessons which are a one-on-one situation. You go at your own pace, whatever it is. And your creativity is not stifled.

    I have wondered why you don't just home school Iris. All of the very talented string players and pianists I have known recently have been home schooled. But if you insist on trying to get the public school to meet your child's needs, I wish you good luck. Hopefully, she still gets enough stimulation at home so that while she might hate school, she won't end up hating learning.


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