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    #121004 - 01/25/12 06:23 PM New member, advocacy question
    AudioMommy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/25/12
    Posts: 11
    Loc: NEO
    Hi. First sorry for the long post. I have lurked here for awhile, but wanted some opinions re: how hard to push at this time.

    My first grade DD age 6 is a wonderful reader, very advanced. She does really well in spelling and writing as well. Math too, but our school doesn't focus on math as much in the earlier grades.

    Our district doesn't test kids for gifted until second/third grade, with no specific services until 4th grade. I believe she is gifted, not sure how much so. She has shown some signs of giftedness since she was very young.

    They break into ELA groups for about 2 1/2 hours per school day. There they work on reading, writing, spelling in groups and social studies. Their homeroom teacher works on math, science and they have specials in that time as well.

    At conferences in the fall (November), DD was at guided reading level "z"- was told Fountas and Pinnell but not really sure. Which translates to 5th-7th grade level, depending on scale. I am really not sure how they are pushing her to excel. I asked at conferences where was there to go to measure her and she said there was lots of room to grow.

    They very recently changed her ELA teacher so the originial teacher could focus on lower level reading groups and when I questioned where she was I was told level "wxyz". When I ask her what she does in "reading class" it is I read this or that book, or we are talking about this topic, reading aloud in groups etc. Very vague but she is 6 LOL. I am hesitant to push with the schools for some reason. I was also told that she will be working with the lower level groups and flashcards on their sight words. They are hoping she will be a good influence. I have some problems with that, but she loves all her classmates and is a helper.

    My DD loves school! She is very social, loves all her classmates and teachers. The only problem we have is with homework..kind of redundant and uninspiring...but overall she loves school, teachers, and friends. No behavior problems at school at this time.

    Based on family history (me and her dad), I am concerned that if she isn't pushed, she will learn that "learning" isn't fun, school is easy and that she can float. At the same time, she is 6 years old, loves school and since she is reading so well, is it really important that she improves from a 5-6th grade level to whatever by the end of first grade?

    I am not sure how much to push that she be challenged at this age and with her doing so well already. I would love to have her tested, but cannot afford to at this time and would prefer to work with the school if possible.

    Thanks for reading this long post and forgive me my spelling errors. I appreciate any thoughts or advice you can give.

    #121090 - 01/26/12 09:31 PM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    Coll Offline

    Registered: 08/30/10
    Posts: 114
    I have lots of thoughts, but it's late, so I'll focus on one. You sound frustrated with the school for not providing your DD more challenge, and I'd encourage you to think about what you want for your DD, do some research, and advocate for some specific changes. Would you like her to accelerate to a higher grade level for reading? Would you like her to do independent reading or online work during part of reading time? If you are uncomfortable with her being a helper, communicate that to the teacher and request that she not be placed in that role again. Hopefully others on this site will have some good questions or thoughts that will help you shape what things you'd like changed for your daughter. Given the questions you've already asked the teachers, and their vague answers, it sounds like you need to go in with specific requests, and specific information about her skills to back those requests up. Some teachers have the desire and energy to listen to your general concerns and work with you to develop a plan of action; others need parents to make very specific requests before they will act. Yours sounds like perhaps the latter.

    One other item, regarding testing. You know she's gifted, regardless of testing. Many school districts don't accept outside testing. If that's the case with yours, spending that money even if you had it may not bring any different results for you. Both of my DD7's teachers (K and 1st) have seen his IQ testing, which we paid for privately, and I don't think they even know what those scores mean. What they understand is the parent explaining the child's skills and abilities and requests for specific accommodations that meet those abilities.

    #121116 - 01/27/12 07:00 AM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    momtofour Offline

    Registered: 03/27/10
    Posts: 228
    I think that it's important that you speak to the school again. A lot depends on where you are and what gifted services are offered/required. Don't focus on "the gifted program." Focus on what is the school district's policy on gifted children. Spend some time on their website, and perhaps talk to the gifted coordinator for the district (could be under another title- director of curriculum, or student services, but just ask who handles gifted services). Our school district also starts later (3rd grade) but they have a stated policy saying what they'll do for students in the top 1%, 5%, etc... If your dd is in guided level Z in FP, she is a great reader. Our school actually stops at U, and this may be what the other teacher meant by "wxyz" (some schools consider anything above U or V to be about the same, and as high as they'll need in elementary school). Talk to them about different assessment like the Gates Macginitie or others for reading, so that you can track your dd's progress. I don't think it's necessarily important that she is always reading at her level or constantly progressing, but I do think that having her work with lower-level groups on flashcards is RIDICULOUS. I know not every parent feels that way, but my child should be learning at school, not being a teacher. Sometimes explaining a concept to other kids can cement it for a child, but really, your child will get NOTHING out of doing the Dolch sight words flashcard list.... If her reading is so high, can she work on writing, research, doing PPT presentations for the class on a subject, doing book reports, etc... anything that would actually be helping her learn and grow??
    Are there any other kids with whom she can work? I realize that no one is probably at her level, but there is work at lower levels that would likely be appropriate (I always think of when I taught Junior Great Books and we used nursery rhymes... easy passages can still be used for deeper thinking).
    Think about doing the EXPLORE as soon as she hits 3rd grade, because it is likely that even the gifted program won't be enough for her and you'll want some support/evidence when you talk to the school. The EXPLORE is a lot cheaper than outside full-spectrum testing and schools seem to respond better to achievement testing (like EXPLORE) than ability testing (like an IQ test).
    Only you know if she would be a good candidate for acceleration. I have two dds who graduated HS at a younger age- one was somewhat difficult (but not sure if there was a better option) and one I can't even imagine her being in the younger grade (and she's now on track to graduate college early as well). However, my boys were not grade-accelerated and even though we've had to work on subject acceleration and enrichment, I'm very happy with our decision to keep them with their same-age peers.
    It's a hard decision, but I'd read up about it and look at the Iowa Acceleration Scale and think about how that might work for your dd. Try to work with the principal or school district if at all possible instead of the classroom teacher, or you'll face the same issues next year. What changed things for us was making that move- so that each year they (principal and district) facilitated accommodations for the next year, instead of us wasting three months at the beginning of each year with a new teacher.

    Anyway, I've babbled on long enough... good luck!

    #121118 - 01/27/12 07:15 AM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: momtofour]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Originally Posted By: momtofour
    If her reading is so high, can she work on writing, research, doing PPT presentations for the class on a subject, doing book reports, etc... anything that would actually be helping her learn and grow??
    Are there any other kids with whom she can work?

    I think it's great (for your DD)that her reading group is also the base for social studies and writing. So it's worth it to push to have her actually in a group that is actually at her level. If she has to be placed with older kids to get a group who are at level z, that's shouldn't be a problem in a school where the kids are expecting to move around for part of the day.

    Since that is so reasonable, I'd start there.
    I agree that having her be helper is morally repugnant, and would put in writing you feeling on the matter.

    If they offer to do an IQ test, I'd agree. Once the first accomidation comes, and they see how she does, others may follow more easily.

    My main concern is that without a testing system that goes 'beyond Z' (why is this reminding me of a Dr.Suess book?)
    that she is already well beyond Z and they have no way to track that. According to this chart, Z is all there is -

    So if they balk at the idea at placing her with older kids who have tested into 'Z' level, I would ask for actual specifics about how they will track her progress. If they say that they don't need 'all that' for her, then why do they do it for the other kids? If it has value for them, then it has value for her.

    I wouldn't settle for a 'wxyz' group because most likely your daughter is already beyond 'z'

    Is partial homeschooling an option?

    Love and More Love,
    Coaching available, at

    #121327 - 01/29/12 05:05 PM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    Catalana Offline

    Registered: 12/10/09
    Posts: 393
    Hi there. Just to give you a little perspective, my DD6 (also 1st grade) is also an amazing reader. However our district won't test more than one full year ahead of the grade. Thus, they stop testing a 1st grader when they hit level N, a 2nd grader at Q, etc. So on the plus side, I am impressed that they are open to the fact that a 1st grader can actually read at Z!

    I agree with Coll that you may need to decide exactly what your daughter needs and then ask for it (and will likely have to do some education along the way). They probably are not very used to seeing a child reading as well as your daughter, and you may want to think over the possible interventions and talk to them about what they can do to meet her needs.

    Good luck,


    #121335 - 01/29/12 07:29 PM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    Kathie_K Offline

    Registered: 11/28/11
    Posts: 52
    If your daughter is reading at Z, both word identification and comprehension, it could actually be detrimental to her reading progress to be focusing on reading subskills (sight words in isolation, phonics, etc.) I saw this a bit with DS (aged 3) when his preschool teachers told him to "sound out" words letter by letter, when he already was capable of looking at word "chunks" to identify a word he doesn't know.

    I agree with others that having your DD act as a "peer tutor" could be difficult for both your DD and the children with whom she works. She "gets" things so quickly that it will be difficult for her to explain things to other children, and they will get frustrated as well. Research shows that the best peer tutoring relationships are often when the children are at slightly different levels!

    One specific suggestion, if grade acceleration isn't something you want to pursue, or if the school isn't willing, is to ask the teacher to consider the specific comprehension skills she is teaching. Your DD could then demonstrate those skills using books at an appropriate level. You might also encourage them to complete a reading inventory that gives you a better sense of a level...many go up through 12th grade.

    Best of luck!


    P.S. I'd love to hear what you do to find books that are appropriate (content-wise) for DD. I worry what we're going to do with DS as his reading ability grows.

    #121337 - 01/29/12 07:52 PM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: Catalana]
    DeHe Offline

    Registered: 08/07/10
    Posts: 735
    Originally Posted By: Catalana
    Hi there. Just to give you a little perspective, my DD6 (also 1st grade) is also an amazing reader. However our district won't test more than one full year ahead of the grade. Thus, they stop testing a 1st grader when they hit level N, a 2nd grader at Q, etc. So on the plus side, I am impressed that they are open to the fact that a 1st grader can actually read at Z!


    Gosh Cat that's horrible! Makes me feel better about DS' situation, he might not be getting books at his level but they do know (approximately) where he is. How have you handled it, what does DD do?

    Kathy K
    You figure out ways around the reading levels issue - especially when they are little, they get so much out of reading picture books even when they can read beyond it. They just plow through it quickly but it's still enjoyable. DS 5 almost 6 as he is now saying, doesn't want me to get him picture books anymore. But he doesn't really like books with no pictures yet. But he is also a huge nonfiction reader so it balances out. It's tough when things he liked had non age appropriate material so i started having to figure out what i didnt want him to read about yet. We let him read stuff which and bullying in it and even Arthur books had girl-boy issues in them. Also DS is a bit of a fraidy cat, so no HP yet.
    His science interests are actually more difficult becasue they just don't make a lot of high quality science with pictures with new info, it's been hard to find space stuff he hasn't already learned. However, we did the unthinkable - we cut pages out of David McCauley's book, the way we work, it's fabulous for DS with high level science and great pictures. He is so into it but the reproductive section was so graphic we just couldn't leave it in, DS has never even asked the how did mommy and daddy combine, even though he knows the genetics at a deep level. He hasn't noticed the torn pages and I feel guilty for violating the book, but it is one way to deal with it!!!


    #121364 - 01/30/12 06:43 AM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    epoh Offline

    Registered: 10/31/11
    Posts: 954
    Loc: N. Texas
    My DS8 has gravitated to graphic novels. At home he's reading The Hatchet by Gary Paulson, but at school he's reading something called 'Bad Island'. He enjoys both.

    I personally don't worry at this point about pushing his reading level. One thing I keep in mind is that most things (newspapers, magazines, novels) are written at about an 8th grade reading level for the general public. Our children are already at that level. I am more focused on him learning how to analyze what he's reading. To me that's what's going to help him, long-term, in school.

    As for the homework, if it's boring, talk to the teacher about doing something different. DS has these worksheets, on Monday he reads a chapter then has to summarize it in about 2-3 sentances. Tuesday he has to read another chapter then write, in one sentence what happens at the beginning, the middle and the end. Wednesday is a Venn Diagram where he has to compare himself to a character. Thursday is a one-sentence summary, and then describe an event and how it reminded him of something he's seen/experienced/etc. I personally LOVE this homework as it's reading level independent. Plus, it's teaching him how to really look at what he's reading.

    Anyway, I got off-topic, but I'd start with the teacher. In K my son's teacher went to the 1st grade teacher to get stuff for him. In 1st he was given 2nd grade stuff. Of course, the down-side to this method is that if you get a teacher who isn't into doing that extra work, you end up with a Very Bad Year(tm). Which is where we are at. He did 2nd grade work all last year, and is now being made to do it again. smirk

    #123701 - 02/21/12 06:11 PM Re: New member, advocacy question [Re: AudioMommy]
    AudioMommy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/25/12
    Posts: 11
    Loc: NEO
    Thanks to everyone. Our schedule has been nuts and I couldn't get back. I met with her new reading teacher and she was a previous reading teacher to 4-5th graders. I feel better. Plus she has a very good friend in her class who is actually at her level or there is is one peer. I asked her new "ELA/reading" teacher and she honestly said she doesn't know how to assess these two and is working with the district and the principal to figure things out. But I felt better about the fact that they recognize the difference plus...

    They are going to make sure, absolutely sure, she is ok on comprehension, fluency, retelling etc. So that part I like. They are working on expanding her writing. She is a bit of an underachiever...I was she is not acting bored. I am more concerned with her learning how to learn and not take things easy.. That is why I push. I was a complete underachiever.

    We love her school for the social aspects (neighborhood school, many kids on our street go there) and we really value public education. Our school has a large % of lower SES and there is definitely a racial imbalance both because of the areas population and people moving about 3-4 grade. Our school system is unique in that it offers contained gifted classrooms in two elementary schools if the child qualifies as gifted in reading, math AND superior cognitive (that started this year). She is an awesome reader and probably gifted superior cognitive, but not sure she would score as gifted in math alone. This is actually a new thing, last year, and is causing all sorts of controversy in the district. The contained gifted class is not in our school.

    We have conferences in March. I will let you know what they decided about figuring out "these two". I appreciate all the advice and am going to look into some of the resources.

    Kathy K: My understanding is that she is at level "z" for reading fluency and comprehension, but since this is somewhat new to them, I am happy they are making sure her comprehension is there too. Clare is a young first grader..six until June....she is reading and comprehending Harry Potter (first) and the BFG and my childhood favorite Trixie Beldon books, but she is frightened by a lot of the little things that happen in them. She'll sit and read a Judy Moody, Magic Schoolbus, Magic Treehouse book in an hour. She loves non-fiction..National Geographic has great books...her new teacher suggested Ella the Enchanted (we just ordered). I also use the Book Wizard on Scholastic but they just changed it to make it more difficult. You can pick age interest separate from reading level...although I have to say most come back as non-fiction with the young kids.

    I'll keep you posted and try to get back more frequently. I appreciate all your thoughts!


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