Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity"

Posted by: Bostonian

Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/09/22 06:54 AM

Discussed extensively at Hacker News.

Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs and Calling It ‘Equity’: The case for expanding opportunities for brilliant Black and brown children.
September 9, 2021
by Colin Seale
Teach for America

I often get the side-eye when I mention gifted education and equity in the same sentence. After all, gifted programs have a well-deserved reputation for concentrating resources on already-privileged students, and students of color are significantly underrepresented.

So before I dive into my case for expanding—rather than eliminating—gifted education programs, I want to lay a brief foundation for how to think through this issue. Here is a simple, three-part premise to frame this conversation:

1. All students have gifts and talents.
2. Some, but not all, students are academically gifted and talented.
3. The current population of students we identify as academically gifted and talented is unacceptably whiter and wealthier than the actual student population of academically gifted and talented students should be.

I do not anticipate much disagreement with my first point about all students having unique gifts and talents. Classroom teachers would not dispute my second point about the existence of out-of-this-world brilliant students who are rarely challenged by the content and instruction delivered in the standard classroom environment. Whether we choose to meet or even acknowledge these students’ needs, however, often depends on our comfort level with labeling children based on their advanced academic needs—an inconsistent objection given all the ways public education sorts and labels children in just about every other context.

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Posted by: aquinas

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/09/22 12:25 PM

Eliminating gifted programming in the public education system is anti-egalitarian.

It reduces opportunity for lower income households to provide their children with ability-appropriate education.

If public educators are truly intent on a policy of gifted inclusion, rigorous gifted programming should be offered from the earliest stages of school entry. Pathways into the gifted program should be built into the learning plans of students who are close to the cutoff to ensure that access is never a barrier to participation.

Of course, cross-grade grouping in core subjects would be another egalitarian way to meet the needs of the most advanced students and, indeed, all students.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/09/22 01:25 PM

Thanks, Bostonian, for posting. That is a very interesting article and some very thoughtful discussion, as well.

About the article: I did see a bit of fancy footwork, dancing around the topic, leading us all around with a spin: not clearly stating up front that not all schools offer gifted programming, and that the quality of gifted programs in meeting student needs varies greatly.
Originally Posted By: article
Black students are 66% less likely to be identified as gifted compared to white students with similar test scores. Black, Latinx, and Native American students are far less likely to attend a school that even offers a gifted program.
It is not about being "identified" or "in a program," it is about meeting student needs by teaching the student(s) in their zone of proximal development.

I'm a fan of grouping students by readiness and ability, not primarily by chronological age.

I'm not a fan of requiring students who grasp the material to be responsible for teaching that material to other students (rather than remaining in the student role and learning something new themselves).

That said, I am impressed with what I read online in the preview of the author's book on teaching critical thinking skills, Thinking Like a Lawyer (2020, Prufrock Press)
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/12/22 02:36 AM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
Eliminating gifted programming in the public education system is anti-egalitarian.

It reduces opportunity for lower income households to provide their children with ability-appropriate education.


I agree with all of your comments in your post and would particularly like to highlight your first two statements and speak to the hypocrisy of, if not deliberate sabotage by, those who hold the power to enact these changes to the public education system, whilst their own children continue to gain the benefits of the private school sector which is free to ignore these policies.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/13/22 10:05 AM

Thanks, Eagle_Mum. I, too, wonder where on the spectrum of hypocrisy to deliberate sabotage the underlying motivation for these program changes sits.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/13/22 10:07 AM

Well said, Eagle Mum!

A bright spot: New York City's gifted & talented program is being restored and expanded.
(related post on another thread - http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post249813 )
smile
Posted by: raphael

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/17/22 03:30 PM

An interesting case of intersectionality I hadn't thought about before.

Originally Posted By: indigo
the quality of gifted programs in meeting student needs varies greatly.


... one will also want to keep an eye on inequities faced by gifted students from minority populations depending on the location of the school & prevailing political opinions. e.g. a school director with more negative attitudes towards minorities might care less about making sure that pupils from all backgrounds have equal chances of accessing gifted programs. Not counting occurrences of pupils internalizing experiences of discrimination at an early age and thus possibly experiencing more trouble at expressing their giftedness in the first place.

In general - if the implementation of gifted programs exposes societal issues such as racial discrimination, it is a good reason to try and find solutions that accomodate students from all backgrounds. Simply ditching programs for gifted pupils feels to me like not properly dealing with the intersecting problem of prejudice. Or even worse, this reaction might actually stem from prejudice itself, as Eagle Mum has been putting very well.

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum

the hypocrisy of, if not deliberate sabotage by, those who hold the power to enact these changes to the public education system, whilst their own children continue to gain the benefits of the private school sector which is free to ignore these policies.


In that sense, I completely agree with

Originally Posted By: Aquinas

Eliminating gifted programming in the public education system is anti-egalitarian.


If by trying to solve a certain problem, you stumble upon a second one, you should probably go all the way through and solve both instead of backpedaling. In that sense, I also enjoyed this sharp question being raised in the article: "Since when does equity mean everyone gets nothing?"

smile
Posted by: indigo

Re: Stop Eliminating Gifted Programs for "Equity" - 06/18/22 09:17 AM

Originally Posted By: raphael
An interesting case of intersectionality I hadn't thought about before.

Originally Posted By: indigo
the quality of gifted programs in meeting student needs varies greatly.
To clarify my statement, many/most gifted programs simply present curriculum which is one year advanced. This would not meet the needs of a pupil who is 2, 3, 4 or more years advanced. I advocate for placing pupils at their challenge level or zone of proximal development (ZPD) in each subject, rather than grouping pupils primarily by chronological age.

Originally Posted By: raphael
... one will also want to keep an eye on inequities faced by gifted students from minority populations depending on the location of the school & prevailing political opinions. e.g. a school director with more negative attitudes towards minorities might care less about making sure that pupils from all backgrounds have equal chances of accessing gifted programs.
Many/most schools are run based on a set of policies established by a board, the board also hires/oversees/evaluates the director, and the board must also adhere to local, State, and Federal laws. The board's policies typically specify that programs are run by the numbers, for example: test scores. The system is built for fairness and equal opportunity. Entities are held accountable for compliance to the policies and laws. Therefore the conjecture appears unwarranted.

Originally Posted By: raphael
Not counting occurrences of pupils internalizing experiences of discrimination at an early age and thus possibly experiencing more trouble at expressing their giftedness in the first place.
Unfortunately, many gifted pupils learn to hide their intelligence from early on, and this has been reported to be most pronounced in relation to girls and math ability.
Identification: Typically, students who demonstrate advanced knowledge/thinking are said to have a need for advanced academics (gifted programming).
1- The main demonstration of advanced knowledge/thinking would typically be a pupil obtaining a score above a pre-determined cut-score on an IQ test and/or "universal screener" at a school.
2- A secondary means of demonstrating advanced knowledge/thinking would be teacher observation/recommendation. Best practices indicate that teacher observation/recommendation be used to cast a wider net and ADD a child to advanced academics (gifted programming), when that child's score on an IQ test or "universal screening" was not above the cut-score and therefore did not indicate advanced knowledge/thinking. Having a secondary means of identification has been considered best practice because some students do NOT test well, for example a twice-exceptional student and/or a student dumbing themselves down in order to fit in socially. A few behavior "tells" which may be observed:
- https://www.davidsongifted.org/gifted-blog/types-of-problems-gifted-children-face/
- https://www.nagc.org/resources-publicati...ted-individuals

Originally Posted By: raphael
In general - if the implementation of gifted programs exposes societal issues...
A societal issue which has been well-documented is the difference in various families' approach to their child's language acquisition from infancy through toddlerhood to preschool and kindergarten. It is my understanding that the neural stimulation from conversing with and reading to young children has been found to impact a child's brain development. The solution can be implemented with no cost. See the work of Hart & Risley, and other studies which have challenged and/or built on the work of Hart & Risley, in the decades since the 1960s. A few links -
1- https://www.npr.org/2011/01/10/132740565/closing-the-achievement-gap-with-baby-talk
2- https://childrenofthecode.org/interviews/risley.htm
3- http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post188173

Originally Posted By: raphael
If by trying to solve a certain problem, you stumble upon a second one, you should probably go all the way through and solve both instead of backpedaling.
Unfortunately, very few entities may have a keen interest in championing a solution which does not present the entity with an opportunity to make money, gain power, and/or exert influence and control. Some have observed this to be the case with the solution proposed by the work of Hart & Risley. The solution consists of simple actions for parents and care-givers, such as:
- Read to children.
- Have 2-way conversation with children (don't just give directives).
- Talk with children about their day.
- Speak with children about what they observe, from moment to moment (like a sports announcer describes a game to the fans).