Friday, July 20, 2007

To Be, or Not to Be, Gifted

It's been a while since I posted, and this is mostly what's been keeping me preoccupied.

I've been focusing in large part this week on getting my kids signed up in their new school district, as we settle even further in to our new surroundings. Ran into a snag, which will sound trite and elitist perhaps at first, but it's a problem.

Turns out that "gifted" means very different things in different states and that, in fact, only 30 or so states mandate gifted education in the public schools. Turns out, also, that I moved to one of the 20 states that does NOT mandate gifted education. My district does offer a gifted program, but would not accept the rigorous testing and evaluation my son had already gone through in Florida, and instead based his "giftedness" on a 30-minute test on patterns, given in the middle of the summer in a place he'd never been before, administered by the superintendent's secretary. She says he doesn't qualify. Can you see the steam coming out of my ears? Is it really possible for blood to boil?

I'm so irritated that I can only think in time-worn cliches ...

It's not that it's so important for him to be gifted -- if he hadn't qualified through all of the observations, IQ tests, checklists, etc. initially, that would be completely cool -- but how can you tell a child he's gifted, then, based on one little test administered in a vacuum, tell him he's not?

So I'm doing what I do, and that's write a letter to the superintendent. My initial reaction was to let it go, but sleep didn't come easy last night, and I realized that as a parent and a former teacher (I taught learning disabled and gifted) I'm doing both my child and other students a disservice by not speaking up. When something's not right, you say so. I've never been very good at that. I'm getting better.

I'm planning to substitute teach in this district, so I'm hoping that this issue will not sour that opportunity. But in the end, there are lots of other school districts; I've only got one silly, funny, extraordinarily difficult and extremely bright and shining son. And he deserves a voice.

2 comments:

Angie said...

How did this all work out for you and your son? It is interesting to me as I taught in a school in Louisiana when a student from Florida moved in. Of course, the district had to administer new tests which found that the boy did not qualify for the gifted program in Louisiana. Years earlier, my own son was tested in Texas and found 'not gifted' but when he went to Louisiana, he was. Makes no sense to me either....

Angie Shultis said...

Well, it hasn't worked out just yet, at least not completely. I wrote a letter to the superintendent, mostly just to let them know that their assessment seems less-than-thorough. I'm not going to kick and scream, I'm just interested in fair and equitable. Previous testing gave my son an IQ of 130 on the WISC IV, which I know is not super-high on the gifted range, but I just found it hard to accept their "pattern" test criteria as the most valid measure.
Anyway, we'll make the best of it, and he'll be fine wherever he's at. It's off to middle school after this year anyway, so things will change again. We'll just see what happens next ...
Thanks for your interest, by the way. Visited your blog as well -- really interesting -- teaching gifted is very rewarding, I'm sure!