Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where every child is labeled "gifted"

Well, not every child. But it was just reported to me that about 70% of 22nd [typo: 2nd] graders in Montgomery County, Maryland are labeled "gifted," though only about 30% can read at grade level. Since gifted labeling is largely a function of parental initiative, this phenomenon begs the question of why so many of today's parents are clamoring for it. True, Montgomery County's parents may be especially ambitious, but my sense from the many, many parents of gifted children that I've come across is that they are part of a larger trend.

Might this trend have something to do with current grading practices, where top grades aren't the special distinction they once were? If grades no longer distinguish my child from others, there's always giftedness.

Or might it have something to do with how watered down the curriculum is compared to what it once was--especially in math, literature, history, and analytical writing? Gifted labeling may seem like the only way to secure for our children those things that more kids used to have access to whether or not they were "gifted."

Either way, the proliferation of giftedness may be less a happy realization of the Lake Wobegon Effect, and more an indication that something is rotten in the state of education.


Joanne Jacobs said...

They can't be all that bright if they're in 22nd grade.

The story I saw said 40% in the county are "gifted" and 72 percent at one school. Which means "gifted" has been dumbed down considerably.

Anonymous said...

Where did you see the story? I live in Montgomery County. I've heard the DC suburbs have the highest concentration of PhDs in the country, so I definitely think the ambitious parents have something to do with it.

Katharine Beals said...

Woops--thanks for the correction(s), Joanne! My informant is someone active in the gifted community. Do you have a link to the story you read?

GPC said...

It isn't just parent initiative. I know a couple of kids who are in gifted programs who were placed by the schools. The parents never requested that they be placed in gifted programs. Both of these kids are below grade level in Math. I don't know about reading. So, it seems that schools have some desire to place poorly performing students in these programs. I'm not sure why.

I knew a mother who went through months of school visits to get her son into an honors Math program at his elementary school. They were very reluctant to put him into the program even though he got all A's in Math. That was in the mid 90s. Things have obviously changed a lot since then.