Gifted education: How are children selected and is it uniform across Georgia school districts?

Let’s start off this week with a subject that has a lot of interest: Gifted education.

I received a note from a local educator about the question of how students are selected and whether the process is biased. She asked  that we discuss it here on the blog. (Here is a longer blog posting that I wrote on gifted education. )

One of  the reader’s observations is that students can qualify for gifted in one county and not in another. I had a new gifted teacher tell me once that there were many students in my local system who would have been in the gifted program in her former county of Fulton. This teacher was surprised that my system did not admit more kids to the gifted program.

I had assumed that the criteria was uniform across counties, but that apparently is not the case as this poster notes:

The sub-level representation of ”gifted” minority students in my county  is an issue that has bothered me for years.  A coworker and good friend of mine completed her Gifted endorsement class and has shared with me the biased discrepancies in the testing and eligibility requirements of students.  She shared with me that the testing and screening items lead in favor toward one group of students, and are counteractive toward other groups of students — specifically Hispanic, ELL,  and African-American students.

One of the main criteria of being eligible for Gifted participation is having high grades. But is the child whose parents are providing them with private tutors and are pressuring them to excel in school truly “gifted”?

School systems receive a lot of funds for testing and qualifying students in the gifted program. Many people are oblivious to this fact and I think they need to be educated on it. They also need to know that counties in Georgia have different criteria for a student being eligible and qualifying as a gifted student.

A gifted student in one system, is not necessarily gifted in another.  I once had a student who qualified for Gifted participation in Fulton, but was not eligible in Cobb.  This is another issue that perplexes me, if the Gifted classes are federally funded, then there should be universal requirements across the board.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

127 comments Add your comment

mystery poster

June 25th, 2012
9:52 am

My children’s county had 4 criteria, and you had to meet 3. Of course, I can’t remember what they all were. Grades and IQ were 2 of them. I asked to have my daughter tested after we moved here, and one test they gave her was a test of creativity (how do you measure that?). She said one section had differently spaced sets of parallel lines and you had to make a drawing out of each. She did test into the program and got a lot out of it.

Georgia teacher

June 25th, 2012
9:53 am

I think the gifted kids are labelled too early. Kids who were last tested in middle school are labelled gifted in high school. Yet the high school kids often make failing grades for the first time in 9th grade. But these kids are gifted! Are they truly gifted, or are they suddenly not applying themselves or is the work no longer easy?

AlreadySheared

June 25th, 2012
10:01 am

A reader

June 25th, 2012
10:03 am

At my daughter’s elementary school the “gifted” children were labeled as such in kindergarten and that group was set throughout the k-5 grade. The one thing all of the kids had in common was that their mothers were very active in the PTA. Many of these “gifted” kids did not fare well in middle school and are no longer in the gifted program or even in honors classes in high school. Meanwhile, many of the kids who were not in the gifted program in elementary school excelled in middle and high school and are mainly taking honors and AP classes.

This leads me to believe the gifted program is a joke and the selection process is very biased.

Martina

June 25th, 2012
10:06 am

The 4 criteria are mental ability, achievement, creativity, and motivation. Mental ability tests (the Otis-Lennon) is given in grades 2 and 4. The scores are good for 2 years so they can be used to qualify children who are referred in a non-testing year. Achievement used to be the ITBS test given in September but since that was done away with, I’m not sure what is used now. (I used to teach gifted about 8 years ago but chose to go back into the classroom.) You can’t use the CRCT – it has to be a norm-referenced test, meaning one that compares the student to those all over the US. Creativity and motivation used to be checklists that we gave to multiple teachers of the child to complete. When I taught gifted, if they came from another county in the state they were accepted into the gifted program as soon as we received their records, so I was not aware that had changed. If they came from out of state, the child had to be retested because state qualifications do differ. We definitely see a lot of children in elementary who test into the program, but maybe are not truly qualified. A lot of qualifying in elementary is the exposure the children have (from parents) to lots of reading, vocabulary, and experiences such as taking trips, visiting museums, and other things.

Gifted Girl

June 25th, 2012
10:08 am

Gifted education requirement are not only different from county to county but also from state to state. Both of my children have tested into the gifted program in my county however, I know that at least one of my children would not be considered “gifted” if we were to move to the next county. I think that the state is doing a real disservice to the gifted community. There has to be uniform requirements across the state for one and across the country for another. If a student is really gifted, should they be “punished” for moving across counties or across the country. It just doesn’t make sense.

PS

June 25th, 2012
10:16 am

I was in the gifted program in my school distric as a child (in the early to mid-1990’s). The way it worked back then was the teacher had to recommend you be tested, and even then, it was a simple IQ test. If you scored above a certain level, you were in. However, I’m sure that now that parents seem to lose their minds if you insinuate their precious petal is not gifted, there are more “alternate” measures.

J. Douglas

June 25th, 2012
10:16 am

I’ve been teaching gifted ed. for 15 years. In an effort to be more inclusive to minority students and post bigger numbers, the ability for students to “qualify” as gifted has become easier. Subsequently, the program has been watered down. There are some schools in my system in which more than 20% of the student population is labeled gifted. Statistically, the number should be closer to 10%. Further, once a student enters the program, most schools are reluctant to remove students who are not successful. Instead, the teachers must remediate “gifted” students.

RCB

June 25th, 2012
10:18 am

I definitely think that there should be state standards, but please don’t do away with the program. There truly are gifted children whose needs are just as important as the needs of slower learners. Of my 2 (now adult) children, one was pulled into a gifted program twice a week starting in 1st grade. The old pull-out program that is not in favor today. She continued through her schooling taking all the expected honors, AP, etc. classes. My son was a very good student; he was just not truly gifted. They both received excellent public educations (in Colorado) and are both successful adults today. The gifted program provided my child the educational stimulation she needed and we even supplemented that at home. Different kids, different needs.

Teaching Vet

June 25th, 2012
10:22 am

In Georgia students must meet three of four criteria to be placed in the gifted program. The four criteria are creativity, motivation, mental abilities, and achievement. Creativity is often tested using the Torrance Test (score of 90% and above). Motivation is analyzed in lower grades by motivation check list and in upper grades by GPA (90% and above). Mental abilities scores must be from a nationally normed test such as the Cogat or OLSAT (96% minimum). Achievement scores must be from a nationally normed test such as the ITBS or (90 % or above on total battery OR 90 % Reading or Math).
In Georgia gifted placement IS reciprocal between counties (it is not for out of state students). If a child is gifted in Cobb, they are gifted in Hall.There may have been other factors, such as probationary status, which led to the a fore mentioned student not being placed in the gifted program. Georgia does have statewide criteria for testing and placement, but individual LEAs have autonomy in the continuation policy for a student to REMAIN in the program. These policies often deal with attendance and grades of those in the gifted program.

Eleanor Eisenberg

June 25th, 2012
10:28 am

The real bottom line…no matter what contortions a school system has to go through in order to get there…is that all “gifted” designations begin with test scores. (And despite what some well-intended educators want to pretend, any discrepancies in test scores between various groups is rarely due to test bias. With all the accusations of “testing bias” in recent years, don’t you think the testing services go over every single question looking for any POSSIBLE “bias”? Any discrepancy between groups is usually due to cultural background…but that can’t be changed. So we tell ourselves that something must be wrong with the tests.)
And after that, you have to search for other ways to define “gifted-ness” so that your gifted classes meet the proper makeup requirements. Usually that requires some type of lottery among the caucasian and asian kids, so a lot of gifted kids just don’t get in to their county’s gifted programs…luck of the draw.

Maureen Downey

June 25th, 2012
10:30 am

@Teaching Vet, How much subjectivity is brought to bear on assessing the creativity and motivation tests?
Maureen

Bernie

June 25th, 2012
10:35 am

For those who are not aware, This is How the edcational system has always worked in Georgia. Think BACKASSWARDS and you will just about get all the protocols right. You may ask why is this so? what many will speak about openly but will hint around the edge of it, goes primairly back to the issue of RACE. The little insignificant issue that is spoken in “QUIET ROOMS’ but looms largely over
its presence in the daily life of many in the South. Many have strong opinions that to have little TIMMY & SUZY to share the same classroom with DESHON and TAMEKA, no matter their gifts,grade level or IQ is not a good thing and goes against the Southern Way of Life.

Somehow with Deshon’s and Tameka’s enrollment will spoil the chance of a good education based solely on their mere presence in the classroom. We all remember the issue of “SEPERATE But EQUAL”, however the reality was and continues to be more like SEPERATE & UNEQUAL. This is not only limited to education, you can see a simlilar scernerio play out in real time before your eyes in many of the waiting rooms in Hospitals and Doctor’s offices, and restaurants anywhere you go in the South, Atlanta is no exception.

Despite the grown and changes of the populace, there still remains some core issues that many communities and education school boards still try to uphold. Until we are ready to deal with this issue and speak about it openly and honestly and discuss these issues, these fears will always remain. Just as the same Desparity is with us today!.

Clarkston Calling

June 25th, 2012
10:43 am

I am a product of Cobb’s “Target” and later “Advanced Learning Program (ALP). From first grade through high school graduation I was continuously enrolled in the gifted program. When I was little I remember being taken to a small room at school and given a test but I could not tell you what it was about. My parents later told me it had something to do with IQ and thinking ability, not grades. This made more sense to me in high school as many of us in ALP were not in the top GPA ranks. Many of us were frankly bored with school. It was not uncommon for several of us to have near 100% test averages in our normal classes while carrying single digit homework averages. I was pretty much a B-student who never had to study, which drove my other teachers nuts.

I credit Target and later ALP with my success in life. I was taught to think, a rare thing in today’s schools. Intelligence cannot be judged by grades alone. I often wondered if my non-gifted program classmates could have benefited from the education I was receiving only a few classrooms away. There was great responsibility given to us at an early age to take charge of our learning potential. We were encouraged, challenged, and reinforced in ways I did not see in my normal classes.

I do not think that the gifted program is for everyone, but maybe if we can apply some its of the teaching principles to our children’s normal studies all students can reap the benefits.

I do believe they should continue to keep the program separate for those children who can benefit the most from it. In some ways having the gifted class was a safe place for us, as we were mainly the outcasts of the school, the geeks and social “losers” who found solace in a good intellectual conversation.

J. Douglas

June 25th, 2012
10:45 am

Mrs. Downey,
The creativity and motivation segments are incredibly subjective. In fact, it is the use of these two areas that have enabled well-meaning teachers or those that kow-tow to pushy parents to place otherwise non-deserving students in the program. Whenever I have a poorly performing student (especially if their parent is a teacher in our system), I usually find that the child was given mulitiple or easy checklist-style assessments to “qualify”.

Solutions

June 25th, 2012
10:51 am

One thing we should all keep in mind is that there is not much of a future in America for the average student, let along the below average student. Parents and teachers try to tip the scales in favor of their own or related children, but in the end only IQ matters. Motivation and hard work will only carry a child (or adult) so far, then the brick wall. If you have a high IQ, then motivation and hard work will push you toward you limits, otherwise you will not succeed. Put another way, a high IQ is a necessary but not sufficient component of academic, economic, and scientific success. Being in a gifted program will not significantly raise one’s IQ. I prefer a system where any student can waive their way into more difficult and advanced classes, but where they must perform at the level of that class or fall back. That removes the biased influence of influence by either the parent or the teacher. The gifted or advanced class should not be slowed down for anyone, no remedial help, full speed ahead.

Solutions

June 25th, 2012
10:53 am

I really need to slow down and proof read, especially in the mornings!

Unfortunately...

June 25th, 2012
10:54 am

…where I teach, if a child is not doing his work, trying hard, failing, or acting out, the parents say “it’s because he’s/she’s bored. He/she is gifted, and your are stifling that.”

Maureen Downey

June 25th, 2012
11:06 am

@Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how many friends tell me their children are not doing well in school, public and private, because they are bored and not challenged. An art teacher had his own son tell him he was “bored” in school. He told his son, “If you are bored, it’s because you are boring. Take some responsibility for your own learning and get excited about something.” I have quoted him often to my kids when they tell me they are bored.
I find that students often call research-driven projects “boring.” They are not willing to put the time into the detail-gathering and compilation that some projects demand.
My other advice to my kids is that life is full of tedious tasks but that is no excuse for doing them poorly. I emphasize that scientific discoveries often require thousands of boring steps before that “eureka” moment occurs.
Maureen

Lakeisha Jackson

June 25th, 2012
11:06 am

At the school in which I teach, and…I suspect…in MOST schools, the “creativity” and “motivation” scores are the ones that are most often used to create the right “diversity” mix in gifted classes. Both these tests are highly subjective in their scoring, and that gives a school the most flexibility to meet government standards.

Mom of Boy Geniuses

June 25th, 2012
11:10 am

My sons both qualified for the gifted program in Coweta County. They gave them standardized, rigorous tests to check and only too the scoring top 3%. And I believe they had to be in the top 3% on at least three of the tests OR in the top 1% on the one that was a standardized IQ test. My boys qualified at every level. As I understood it, the way they were tested was a state standard.

I was told by the excellent gifted teachers at my boys’ school that the qualification that they had done through our elementary school would work for ANY school in the state of Georgia, and that we would automatically transfer into any school district gifted program we might move to. I think there must be some confusion and misconception. Gifted is not 20% of the class, it’s the top 3% nationally, which at some schools might look like 10% of the kids.

My boys got unbiased tests, and have gotten excellent programming that keeps them from getting bored with school. I want my boys to have a challenge now and then and the REACH program does that.

Here’s the thing–do we want to stimulate our best and brightest to use their brain power, think more creatively, solve better problems? Or are we willing to let that natural resource go to waste? My sons’ gifted teacher tells me that Georgia has one of the top ratings in the country for gifted programming, although we have lagged in every other educational way. If we’re getting gifted right, wouldn’t we want to continue that kind of excellence?

An 80's gifted student

June 25th, 2012
11:10 am

I was tested in first grade and started the gifted program in the 2nd grade. My sister also started in 2nd grade, when we moved from Cobb to Glynn county. My brother, who tested into the Cobb gifted program at Westside Elementary did not meet the requirements for the Glynn county program at St. Simons Elementary. My guess would be that at some point in the intervening decades, they may have started accepting students that qualified in another county. I know that for me, it was a great program that helped me immensely. I moved out of the state in the middle of my 7th grade year and there was no gifted program at the school in NY that I went to. I think the lack of that extra stimulation and motivation definitely had an impact on my decisions in high school about honors and AP programs. The comment quoted in the article about parents providing private tutors or pressuring their kids to excel didn’t apply to us. We were extremely poor, and our parents encouraged us, but did not pressure us. I don’t know anyone with kids in the program today, but it would be interesting to see the difference.

question

June 25th, 2012
11:11 am

One thing I always find amazing is that everyone will admit that african americans are better athletes and no one sees this as racist. However, mention that whites are better at education and it is racist. That the white man is holding them down.

LKS

June 25th, 2012
11:17 am

My oldest daughter, 10, is in the gifted program. She had always reached academic ‘milestones’ earlier than most of her classmates but she wasn’t tested until 3rd grade. The reason she was tested wasn’t because we (her parents) or teachers thought she should be, it was because of a new testing system that my county had implemented that year. It’s called ‘MAPS’ testing and it is designed to better guage where a child is academically. If a child scores above 90% in any of the 3 areas, he or she is automatically referred to the gifted program for testing.

My youngest daughter, 8, was tested in 1st grade. Students aren’t tested using MAPS in 1st grade so the reason was teacher referral. The teacher had to provide examples of my daughter’s work in various areas. I was told I could provide examples is I wanted. She passed 2 of the 4 areas and is being retested this school year. I truly think she was too young and immature for this testing at 6 years of age but I know other children who weren’t. Now that 2 years have passed, I feel she has a better chance of meeting the criteria.

[...] Gifted education: How are children selected and is it uniform across Georgia school districts? | Get… [...]

mumm

June 25th, 2012
11:24 am

Gifted is not equal in quality or application across the board in Georgia. From my experience, Gifted differs within counties from school to school. I’ve observed students just sat around talking amongst themselves, but no work every being produced, also seen schools where the teacher truly interacted with the students and impressive results from the students. That Gifted designation is very subjective.

Maureen Downey

June 25th, 2012
11:27 am

@question, You forgot the other stereotype that Asians and Indians are better at education than whites. All of these assumptions dismiss the role of not only family, but culture, history and access. If your family has been educated for five generations, it makes a difference. Compare the academic performance of the children of New England blue bloods with peers in Appalachia and you will see the role that family educational attainment plays.
Family history of literacy and educational attainment are large influences on how students fare in school.
But you have to have had access to education and it was not that long ago that it was illegal to teach African Americans to read.
In 1848, the Georgia law said: If any slave, Negro, or free person of color, or any white person, shall teach any other slave, Negro, or free person of color, to read or write either written or printed characters, the said free person of color or slave shall be punished by fine and whipping, or fine or whipping, at the discretion of the court.

NTLB

June 25th, 2012
11:28 am

The gifted criteria and selection process are biased both culturally and socioecomically— especially at the elementary and middle school level.

What about those parents that pay thousands of dollars for a private assessment in order to have their child qualify? And the parents that pressure teachers and administrators to have their child tested?

I have many of “gifted” high school students who perform average to below average compared to those that are “non gifted”. But as long as the schools receive their funds, I doubt they really care if the students are genuinely eligible.

say what?

June 25th, 2012
11:34 am

Both children were ITBS tested in odd even years, and then recommended by their ES teachers for further testing. As far as subjective test, I concur that creativity is in the eye of the beholder. The SCORE teacher at the school when my son went through, stopped him in the hallway and asked him some questions. Well, he wasn’t suppose to talk in the hall, so he was limited in what he discussed with her. So of course, he was not gifted. Not gifted until I took him to another school where the gifted teacher did her job professionally.
When our daughter started private school, a teacher would constantly tell us she was bad and a rude little five year old. Our daughter would wait until 2pm to complete all of the days work, but play all day. We took her out, and placed her in public school. Her first week, her teacher sent her for testing and found that our daughter really was bored and needed to be challenged. She has done very well in gifted/SCORE or whatever the program is called.
But I tell my kids all the time, you are not special, you are doing what all children in GA should be doing. Education in GA has been dumbed down so much that I do not want my kids to think because they receive additional services that they are better than everyone else. It takes work and parent involvement to give our kids a quality education, wherever they may attend school.

Bess in Cobb

June 25th, 2012
11:36 am

J. Douglas’s 10:16 am comment exactly reflects my own eight years of experiences in gifted classrooms.

The intellectual differences between races documented in THE BELL CURVE naturally result in imbalances in gifted enrollment. And race-hustlers like “Bernie” above are always ready to politicize those imbalances until gifted education programs in some districts become a joke.

LKS

June 25th, 2012
11:38 am

I would also like to point out that my daughter’s gifted teacher tells the students that they’re not in the program because they’re ’smarter’, they’re in the program because they tend to view things differently than their peers. She keeps the students grounded, and for that I am grateful.

I don’t want my either of my children thinking they’re geniuses because they’re in a program labeled ‘gifted’. I want them to appreciate the opportunities the program has to offer and not act as if they’re entitled to special treatment.

Shel

June 25th, 2012
11:40 am

I have identical twins born at the same birth weight which means that they have less than a 1% chance of having different IQs, yet I have one in the gifted program and one who has never even been referred for testing. I have asked every year to have him tested and have been told no every year. I know it is because of standardized testing because both boys are straight A students and are highly motivated. The one who was tested for the gifted program just happened to test at 98% in the 3rd grade in the right subject on the ITBS and the other one missed it by a few points, but scored in the 95% in a subject that is not considered for automatic testing. We were fortunate enough to have a sympathetic administrator this year who placed my non-gifted twin into 3 gifted classes(middle school) and he out scored his gifted twin in all classes but one and even on the ITBS and the writing assessment. They have both been recommended to take the same honors classes in high school. This experience with the gifted program leads me to believe that placement is HIGHLY subjective.

redweather

June 25th, 2012
11:43 am

I have trouble with the designation “gifted.” It almost seems calculated to draw the wrong kind of attention. What’s wrong the word “advanced”?

@Maureen, as I noted recently in a post regarding cell phones, boredom is a choice and an attitude. Too many people, and not only the young, seem to think they can discredit something by claiming they’re bored.

mystery poster

June 25th, 2012
11:44 am

Thank you Martina and Teaching Vet for reminding me what the 4 criteria were.

CCMST

June 25th, 2012
11:46 am

CCMST

June 25th, 2012
11:47 am

And I quote (from the link above):

“Many gifted education decisions and procedures are left to the discretion of local school systems so that they may address the unique needs of their communities.”

LOL

What's Really Going On

June 25th, 2012
11:49 am

“But is the child whose parents are providing them with private tutors and are pressuring them to excel in school truly “gifted”?”

This is an interesting point and one where short of any other accommodations(particularly in the k-5) then yes, as a parent, please label my child as “gifted”. Frankly, however, i think that essentialy engaged parents who have their Kindergarten kids starting school reading on a 2nd and 3rd grade level are likely to be put in “gifted” ed depending upon how soon they are tested in their elementary years. It seems that the longer kids are in school many of them eventually line up on the same level as the majority of the students (around 3rd or 4th grade). I know there is research that speak to this phenomena and that there are many who simply feel that this happens because of the conformity and teaching to the middle that happens in schools.

Personally speaking what I think needs to happen is that there needs to be a means by which students who are already above grade level due to the parents going out of their way to educate or supplement their child’s learning at home can stay on the trajectory of learning that they come to the school with. Nowadays, any kid who has gone to a decent PreK, and most of the standard Christian school using Abekka, have their 2 and 3 yr olds essentially covering the standard kindergarten curriculum by GA standards. By the time those students finish PK4 they are well into 1st grade curriculum. And the schools i am thinking of are the sort that are in the $5-7k/yr price range. Basically about the same that most people pay for basic daycare where little learning takes place in many instances. And altho I do not have personal experience with it, I think that most kids entering Kindergarten after a few yrs of Montessori enter well above grade level as well.

Instead of gifted, why can’t an elementary school simply have flexibility as early as kindergarten where the kids are taught where they are?? Maybe just as simple as taking a 1st grade teacher and having them teach the more prepared (not necessarily gifted) kids the 1st grade curriculum, if that is where most of the kids are at? These kids would still be labeled Kindergarten for all practical purposes. And the same thing can happen in the subsequent grades of elementary as long as the kids who are “ahead” remain ahead of grade level and can handle the work.

In saying all of that, I realize someone is thinking.. what about all the other kids who did not come from learning environments where they start out ahead, honestly I have no answer to that other than to say that philosophically one-size fits all doesn’t work. Right now the schools do a disservice to kids who start out ahead, and ultimately who does that hurt? I think more kids could start “ahead” if more parents knew what they were paying for in the pre K grades. Given a choice between just a daycare where the kids color a few pages, and do arts and crafts, and song and dance all day with no curriculum to speak of, I will go with the school that can tell me what my kid will have learned by end of Pk2, pk3, pk4, all day long. Maybe more parents need to view those yrs as real learnnig years and not just daycare and then make their selection accordingly. Additionally maybe the centers that accept tax payer money to support prek can be held to a higher standard as well.

And the beat goes on...

June 25th, 2012
11:52 am

I can’t remember the exact year, but around 1996 or 1997, Georgia came up with a uniform definition of gifted, or, at least, came up with the criteria the State use to define gifted. One was, indeed, high grades. However, most gifted students do not have high grades for the reasons earlier bloggers have mentioned. The 2nd factor was scoring in the 96 percentile (I think that is the correct percentile) on a standardized test such as the CRCT. The 3rd factor was a set score (again, I forget the number) on an intelligence test such as the K-Bit. The 4th factor was creativity, usually measured by the Torrance Test of Creativity developed by Dr. Torrance from the University of Georgia. A student needed to score in the 90 percentile in creativity to meet the eligibility requirements. A student had to meet the requirements with any 3 of the 4 areas. I was the teacher of the gifted and talented during those years (notice I did not call myself the gifted teacher), and we screened every single child in the elementary school where I taught. There is only one elementary school in our county, and testing every child made sure we identified as many students as possible. It was an arduous task, and there were children who met 2 of the 4 criteria who, in my opinion, were truly gifted. As we met with each parent, I stressed that the child did not currently meet the criteria for Georgia’s definition of gifted, but that in no way suggested that the child was not gifted. Maturity often played a part in the child’s performance on the various measures we used, and many of these students later met the requirements. This is a far better system than what was originally in place. In the old system, a child had to be tested every 3-5 years. Therefore, a child could be identified as gifted in 2nd grade, but no longer be gifted in 5th or 6th grade – ludicrous! There will never be a way to account for all the variables in testing and identifying students, but Georgia, at that time, had taken a step in the right direction. The variability between the counties is due to people not wanting to test all students, and/or educators lacking proper training to administer the K-Bit or Torrance Test. And above all else, if a child did not obtain the needed score, but was within the margin of error for a particular instrument, we re-evaluated on another day. My school wanted to be as inclusive as possible; we did not nurture the “elitist mentality” that many schools have when working with gifted students. There is a difference between over-achieving students and gifted students, but I always thought there was room for both:)

catlady

June 25th, 2012
12:01 pm

Well, you have hit a sore point. I have been howling in my system for 10-12 years about having no-ZERO-nada gifted Latino kids. They are 15% or more of our students, and NONE of them are gifted? Some speak 4 languages, and NONE of them are gifted? Some graduate in the top 10 of their class and none of them are gifted? Last year the gifted teacher came to me and told me they were admitting a Latino child–like I should be thrilled about that? One?

In the 1980s I noticed a pattern. With one exception, every gifted kid in our school had a May-August birthday (in other words, they were the youngest in the class). I pointed this out–how could we have such a skewed group? It turns out what they were using to qualify had a much higher bar for the kids who were 6 months older, than those summer birthday kids! And no one saw this as a problem?

My elder daughter, under the “old rules” just missed getting in. My son, who was privately tested (we had waited a year after referral and still no test) qualified under those old rules. In Tallahassee he had a great program–service every day for an hour and twice a week they took special classes at one of the 3 colleges in the area for half a day. Coming back to Georgia…not so much. Even in Athens, with the Torrance Center right there.

My younger daughter, who was admitted under the new rules (3 of 4) basically harassed her way into the program. She personally kept after the gifted teacher to admit her. I had already seen by my son’s experience that the program wasn’t much. After a few months he checked her scores, did a creativity test (and she certainly was motivated) and she was admitted. Again…not so much in terms of great programming. But it frequently gets you away from the “lump-lump” classmates.

I’d like there to be a thorough investigation of the gifted program here in Georgia. Does anyone monitor it? I know in my system it is 99% the upper middle class kids who are in (we have no upper class that I know of), those with parents who have graduated college. Of course, as we know, these are the kids who tend to do well in school.

Realistic Educator

June 25th, 2012
12:03 pm

Gifted Education is the only way you can be challenged in APS. If a child says that they are bored in your classroom there is usually one of several things going on:
1. They can’t read at the level required or not at all.
2. They are addicted to electronic games (much like a gambler is addicted to gambling) and you don’t have your classroom set up so that they can learn in an electronic game format.
3. They’re sick of the teacher spending all of her time with the slower children, they want attention too and would rather be in a class that does not have 35 or more children learning at all levels.
4. They’re tired of teaching slower peers because your differentiation does not give them anything else to do.
IQ is important in identifying gifted children but it is too subjective. Your score improves with exposure. I got tested and the tester was angry because of my ethnicity. He wasn’t expecting me to have a 135+ score (it was 15 points higher than in elementary school.) It is all a sham to me. Place the kids by ability and let the faster ones move on.

ElemPrin

June 25th, 2012
12:05 pm

Maureen, I am not sure where your poster got the information shared, but much of it is inaccurate.

According to State Board rule – Georgia Board of Education Rule 160-4-2-.38 – Gifted Program – eligibility requirements should be the same in every county in Ga. Variances are allowed in the instruments used to determine eligibility, but the level of performance should be the same. For example, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, may be more appropriate for some populations than the O-LSAT for determining mental ability.

Subjectivity is a concern when using checklists to determine motivation and creativity. Many systems use the Torrance Test of Creativity – a highly reliable measure of creativity – in order to reduce the subjectivity in this area.

The motivation checklists are usually completed by teachers. An untrained teacher often does not recognize the child who does not make good grades, but is totally obsessed with learning about a particular subject, as motivated. Too often motivation is associated with good grades. For many highly gifted kids, grades are not a motivating factor.

Grades are only considered for upper grades referrals. AND…if the student meets the other three criteria, grades are not considered. However, many systems have continuation policies that require students in the gifted programs to maintain a certain GPS to stay in the program.

Many teachers of the gifted will agree that students who are labeled “gifted” in K-2 are often not successful in the advanced programs. High-achieving students with great life experiences are often identified early only to find out that their truly gifted classmates without the advantages of the experiences, witll catch up and pass them by third grade. Many systems identify “stars” in the primary grades and only take referrals and placements after the completion of second grade.

Being gifted does not always equate with being a great student. Many times they are using their abilities to find ways out of work they see as insignificant. Many of these students are highly creative (and misdiagnosed as ADHD) and use approaches to thinking that are unorthodox – and unappreciated – by the masses.

The students who are often assumed to be gifted are high-achieving, (or over-achieving) teacher pleasers who are wonderful to have in class. The gifted kid may be the one in the corner daring you to teach him something.

MissInformation

June 25th, 2012
12:10 pm

Wow. The amount of misinformation here is astounding and troubling.

(1) Gifted eligibility in GA is automatically reciprocal from county to county and district to district. If a school tells you otherwise, call them on it! See http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Curriculum-and-Instruction/Pages/Gifted-Education.aspx

(2) Parents can refer their children to be tested. They do not have to pressure teachers for referrals. In high school, students can refer themselves for testing. True: some tests (CogAT and Torrence) can only be administered every other year.

(3) The subjectivity of the measure depends on what assessment the district uses (this CAN vary from place to place, while the four areas assessed and the required scores cannot). In the district where I’ve taught for 20+ years, we have moved away from subjective teacher checklists (Renzulli Motivation and Creativity checklists that teachers are not adequately trained to use and often “fudge” to get parents off their backs) and are using all nationally recognized, norm-referenced, objective measures. Even the motivation scale is norm-referenced (look up Gifted Rating Scale at http://www.pearsonassessments.com/HAIWEB/Cultures/en-us/Productdetail.htm?Pid=015-8130-502&Mode=summary). The creativity measure we use is the Torrence Test of Creative Thinking – developed by Dr. E. Paul Torrence – and is highly regarded and reliable. It is professionally scored out of state. http://www.ststesting.com/ngifted.html

(4) Many of the comments posted about gifted children are so sadly incorrect. If you really want to understand the gifted child, please become better informed before making such sweeping generalizations. See http://www.nagc.org/ or http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/. A child that is 3 standard deviations BELOW the middle IQ receives special services. A child 3 SD ABOVE the middle often NEEDS special services as well in order to succeed in school. The program is about NEED, not privilege.

NTLB

June 25th, 2012
12:14 pm

@catlady—-my sentiments exactly! I have a friend whose son is Latino and has been in advanced math and science classes all through elementary and middle school. My friend is not college educated, and is not an “involved” parent due to the language barrier. This child has NEVER been referred to gifted testing by any of his teachers. The same child is now going to be a freshmen this school year and has been recommended to take Honors math and science courses. I am monitoring to see if they are going to refer him or not for testing this year.

If not, me and my friend are going to pay a visit to his school subsequently.

NTLB

June 25th, 2012
12:15 pm

@Elemprin, what system are you in? Have worked in Georgia several systems and compared the criteria for each respective system?

MissInformation

June 25th, 2012
12:21 pm

@ ElemPrin: BRAVO! You nailed it.

catlady

June 25th, 2012
12:23 pm

Ms. Downey, thank you, thank you, for your 11:06!

When I have had parents tell me their child is bored, I tell them when their child makes 100 on everything in record time, THEN we will talk about being bored.

My son, in first grade, was reading at 5th grade level. So his teachers gave him additional, more interesting things to read. He read about marine archeology (boats sunk), air disasters, extreme conditions (volcanoes, hurricanes, Death Valley). In second grade he was tutoring the other kids and reading independenty. In third grade he was in that excellent gifted program, and he was really challenged.

In fact, about a week after he was placed in that gifted program, he came home and told me he didn’t want to be in it anymore. Since I had paid for him to be tested ($250) and hand carried the papers around to see that there was no repeat of the year before, I was astonished! I asked why and he said, “BECAUSE THERE ARE OTHER KIDS WHO ARE SMARTER THAN I AM.” Bingo! And that was a most important lesson to learn!

Parent and Teacher

June 25th, 2012
12:35 pm

Certainly selection is not uniform across Georgia, but I am aware of many excellent gifted programs in Georgia that I hope do not get punished because of this. In counties where there are many low-achievers, it is much easier to qualify, otherwise they would have very few students. When these students transfer to higher-achieving areas their lack of ability is sadly apparent. Not sure how they qualified to begin with, but I would bet that is another cheating scandal that no one wants to touch. Maybe the schools are scamming the gifted program to get money for the school? I definitely smell something. And what is this “High-Potential” program in South Fulton? Kids who don’t qualify for gifted somehow get to be in the gifted program? Is that legal?

As for the checklists, I believe recent legislation limits counties to being able to use only one for the 3 out of 4 categories. Creativity does not have to be a checklist. Some counties use the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, which is a nationally normed creativity test. (Are you aware of the Creativity Crisis article in Time Magazine from a few years ago? Apparently, IQ scores are still going up each generation while creativity scores have begun to drop – perhaps related to the increase in standardized testing.) This test freaks kids out, not because they are not creative, but because there is no right answer. In trying to give the “right answer,” students often do not perform well on this test.

It seems that when Gifted Ed began (70’s?) it was more difficult to qualify. I think that Gifted Ed has become more contentious now that the use of many criteria and lower standards (to qualify more minorities, presumably). Over 10% of the population is gifted? Of course not, so we really need to tighten up on this designation in order to maintain any significance in its existence.

NTLB

June 25th, 2012
12:39 pm

The “Gifted is Local” and the “Identifying and Nurturing the Gifted Poor” articles on have some more revealing information on this issue:

http://www.nagc.org/GiftedByState.aspx
http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=656

A reader

June 25th, 2012
12:44 pm

@ MissInformation, “The program is about NEED, not privilege.”

The program should be about need not privilege. I think what many commenters here are stating is that in practice it IS about privilege, not need.

KMHSmom

June 25th, 2012
12:48 pm

MissInformation: Thank you for the clear description. This matches what I, a parent of 2 gifted kids, have learned through the years, educating myself on how to parent them.

There is a huge difference between “advanced” and “gifted”. Advanced just means further along than peers. This may just require an updated lesson plan. Gifted requires a different style of teaching. These kids “get it” so quickly and easily, that they never learn how to work hard and deal with the frustration of learning a difficult concept. One poster noted some gifted kids first received failing grades until high school (they said this showed gifted labeling was inaccurate). This is a classic example of a gifted kid that may have never learned how to learn. When the class work finally gets a little hard for them, they are not prepared. I have one kid who never got a “B” until sophomore year in college. Alternately, I have a kid who was the classic “behavior problem” in lower grades because he was bored. The standard school environment was not suited to him. He excelled in his “break-out” gifted class once a week.

Both my kids NEEDED special teaching styles and are the better for it.