[Paleopsych] Calif. Political Review: Gifted Student Deficit Disorder
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Mon Jun 20 18:43:06 UTC 2005
Gifted Student Deficit Disorder
Xiaochin Claire Yan, California Political Review, June 14
[Thanks to Laird for this.]
Gifted individuals, those with an IQ of 125 or higher, appear in only about
five percent of the population, according to the Davidson Institute for Talent
Development. In nearby Davis, school officials are attempting to boost that
percentage by dubious means.
Two years ago, the Davis school board, concerned that not enough black and
Hispanic children were testing into the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
program, lowered the score for GATE identification. That led to 35 percent of
third graders in Davis being identified as gifted. Trying to correct the absurd
result, the board again tinkered with the identification procedures. This still
yielded 26 percent of its students as gifted this year.
The board is due to take up the issue of identifying gifted students again this
week. They do so not because 26 percent is still more than three times the
state average, but because three of the five board members are concerned that
those identified as gifted are predominantly white and Asian. This is an
example of a misguided and feel-good insistence that all children are gifted
somehow, in their own way. It fails the needs of those brightest young minds
that the GATE program is designed to foster.
Laura Vanderkam, co-author of Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest
Young Minds, says, âIf only the top one percent of students are in the â
giftedâ group, then it actually means something. If the top 25 percent are in
it, then youâve made it so broad as to be meaningless, and not helpful to the
highly gifted in the group.â That seems to be exactly what several of the
Davis trustees have in mind.
Trustee Jim Provenza wants classes offered to GATE-identified students also
made available to any student whose parents request them. His colleague, Martha
West, would prefer to see the GATE program dismantled altogether and the money
The brightest minds could go eat cake or, as James Delisle, a Kent State
University professor of education and part-time teacher of gifted children in
Ohio public schools, more delicately states the obvious: a âschoolwide
enrichment plan generally fails to provide the sustenance necessary to fulfill
the complex lives of gifted children.â
Equally misguided is the attempt to engineer racial parity in the GATE program.
The Davis board may succeed in manipulating the racial breakdowns to look more
politically correct, but no amount of engineering or quotas will lead to real
gains for students. Real gains come only with true education reform. Where that
exists, minorities succeed, often in high numbers.
From the rough inner city of Oakland, each year students from the American
Indian Charter School qualify for the nationally noted talent search program
conducted by Johns Hopkins University. This is because principal Ben Chavis
maintains a tough curriculum with high expectations for his all-minority
Lowered standards and racial quotas cannot create gifted children. In fact,
these policies are a recipe for mediocrity. To boost minority achievement and
meet the needs of gifted children, school boards statewide would do better to
follow the example of Mr. Chavis.
(Posted on June 15, 2005)
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