Gifted Education

This is not a rant, I am looking for you opinion on what we can do for the rest of the school year (up to December).
If I go on too long with the history, please forgive me but it helps set the scene.

My little girl (10) is in grade 6 at a government primary school.
(In Australia, you do 7 years of primary school, including prep, then generally 6 years at a secondary school before going to a university).
When she was in Grade 1 her teacher diagnosed her as having ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

She was referred to a school phycologist who suggested she be tested to see where she was situated on the academic scale so they could ‘treat’ her.
Well, surprise to the grade teacher (but not to us), the test results came back showing she had an IQ of 130+ on the WISC (Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children) and something similar if not the same on the Stanford-Binet Test. Essentially she was academically gifted and her lack of attention is class was because she was bored shitless. we are only applying gifted to certain academic areas. Maths, Science and English. Other areas such as performing arts, physical ed, sport, etc, perfectly normal.

Teacher didn’t believe the test results, but the school principal did, so an ‘extension’ program was set up for the little girl and some other ‘bright’ kids in the same class. Extension, basically was around 1 hour per school week where they did additional but not really extending work, and then given more homework to keep them busy.
My SO and I differed in opinion to that of the school that additional work was a punishment and not an extension, and this argument basically took most of that 1st year.
In the little girls opinion, it was why should I have to do more work, just because I can get the ordinary work done in 1/10th the time.

Grade 2 and similar situation. New teacher, didn’t believe last years results, tested again, ditto result, same plan of action (more work not different work). More arguments. Discussions with principal, agreed to skip Grade 3 next year, so she went from Grade 2 to 4.

Grade 4 and things were humming along nicely. Little girl was feeling challenged and so decided to extend herself by reading ahead and we also decided to assist by tutoring her in maths. She was way beyond the basics of multiplication, addition, etc.

So, then she started Grade 5 and another new teacher (I have no idea why the teachers couldn’t get together and discuss the situation). A new principal at the school too, so we were back to square 1. Principal decided that parents were full of shit, had the little girl tested again, and similar result on the two tests. IQ of 130+. Principal is surprised, so is grade teacher. Basically, she was graded as working at 2nd year of secondary school level, so she was offered work of that level rather than Grade 5. Hooray, at last, we were getting somewhere.

This year, she is in grade 6. New teacher (see a pattern by now I hope), new principal (again). Same story. Don’t believe the results, test again, same results. Why they didn’t believe the last 3 or 4 sets of test results my SO and I sill can’t understand. So far, we are about 1/4 of the way though the school year and teacher has done squat with regards to extending her, so she sits in class, bored as all hell and (naturally) causes disruption to her classmates.

When queried as to why the school can’t provided a comprehensive gifted ed. program, lack of funding comes back almost before my mouth gets closed. But funding is provided for the thickies at the bottom of the bell curve, why not the top, generally comes from my mouth next and the usual answer to that is that the school needs to provide a basic level of education for everyone and people at the top of the class don’t need more education.

We have considered private ed. but the private school system does not cope with gifted ed. in primary years.
We have considered moving schools but as this is the last year of primary, little girl would like to stay with her friends of 6 years.
Furthermore, none of the other schools in the area have anything like what we have going at our school, so a swap of schools would only put the little girl through another battery of tests and in the remaining 6 months, achieve little.

Next year, she will be (hopefully) attending a school that has an accelerated learning program with selected entry via (you guessed it), another batter of tests. At least this program has been going for about 5 years, so should be well established, and the school have no issues with completing 6 years of secondary ed. in 4 years.

That brings up another issue in that the little girl might actually leave secondary school and be ready for university at 15. Depending on her maturity at that point, she may not feel ready. I’ll wait until we get closer to that to worry.

So, IYHO, what do we do until December ???

Well, this is My Humble Opinion, but we have a similar situation and we decided to pull our daughter out of school and educate her at home. It has been a wonderful decision for our family. I encourage you to give it some thought. And if you want to take a look at what I consider to be an excellent curriculum, go to .

You know, when they made budget cuts when I was a middle-schooler, the gift program got the ax first. Most of us had the same questions you did about special ed vs our program (not too shabby thinking for 12 & 13 yr olds, eh?) and basically the answer we got was that we were doing better than everyone else, so they needed to put their resources into helping kids who weren’t doing ok on their own. Even though I’m an adult and working with special ed students myself, I still don’t think it was/is fair to hope that the gifted will get by on their own. Fortunately, I learned a lot on my own because I’ve been an avid reader most of my life.
As for graduating early…it’s a lot of pressure. I know 3 girls who did, and none of them got through college any sooner than I did(two actually took longer than average to earn their degrees) because of issues they had. They were certainly bright enough to do the college work, but all three are bitter in retrospect about not having had a “normal” teen existence, especially the one who got out of high school the youngest (14 or 15). I’d think long and hard before pointing her in that direction, if I was making the decision.

I would say have her hold off on starting university. Let her take some time off and enjoy herself. Let her discover her interests. If she’s anything like most “gifted” people, she will be devouring books and want to try many new things.

Granted, I never skipped classes, but I always did well in school. However, my freshman year of high school, there was a girl who was in our grade but was only 12 (I don’t know how familiar you are with schools in the US–everyone else was 14 or 15 when they started high school). She had a lot of problems fitting in–though she may have been advanced enough academically (more on this later), she didn’t have the emotional or social maturity that the rest of us did (and considering we’re talking about teenagers, that’s saying a lot). She was in a lot of my classes, and from what I could see, her coursework really started to decline in quality. I ended up moving after 2 years, but my friends there said she was going to take time off before starting college.

I think it would be good for your daughter to take time off and start college at the same time as the rest of her peers. It will give her a chance to catch up socially and have a more normal university experience. It’s much easier to work at your level in college–there are honors classes, and a wider variety of classes to choose from.

As always, YMMV.

Sorry, C@W, no ideas yet about what to do until December. But I think different universities have different policies when accepting younger applicants. I know a girl who applied for Medicine at Melbourne Uni when she was 15 or 16, but was asked to do another year of high school (with a full VCE load) before they accepted her. Unsurprisingly, her ENTER was 99.95 and she’s probably doing swimmingly now. :slight_smile:

I feel where she’s coming from. In our school system, the motto was that the gifted kids were going to catch on anyway, why waste time coddling their over-sized crania? This becomes a problem when a precocious wunder-kind says to herself, “Screw writing the alphabet, I can read quite well!!!” Such was my dilemma. The powers that be offered Mom the chance for me to skip two grades, in order that I might be on a level that might be a little more to my abilities ( and be provided with work that might keep me out of the teacher’s hair). She decided (correctly) that developmentally I was not equipped for such a social shift. On the other hand, I continued to get in quite a bit of trouble until my middle school started pulling me out for gifted and talented. It wasn’t the best curriculum (the teacher wouldn’t have known a gifted lesson plan if it bit her on the arse), but it was an untailored recognition of skills and an association with other kids that I could talk to without having to “dumb it down”. I can’t presume to tell you how to parent, but I can tell you that it is a worldwide epidemic and to let your daughter know that she is not alone in this. I have been on this road for years and will bet you can find scores of Dopers who have experienced the same toil.

Colleagues, I really appreciate your commentary. It provides me with good thought.

I think for the next 9 months, the little girl may just has to grin and bear it (like some of us older ones do at work, which is why we are here at SDMB).

We will continue to enrich her life outside of school and stuggle to connvince the teachers to make her 25 hours at school more appropriate to her ability.

Again, thanks for you opinions.

I understand what you’re up against. I was in my school district’s gifted program all through Elementary and junior high, and then gave up on it in high school because the teacher was a fool who gave nebulous instructions.

I learned somewhere along the line that wigh regards to “special education” that our schools were spending roughly 3 times as much money on educating mentally retarded students as they did their “gifted” students. It always seemed like the school board just figured we were smart so we could “invent” out own learning materials and challenges.

They REPEATED the WISC and the SB year after year after year??? Bwahaha. Fools. Those tests should be repeated after a two year gap or your tests are invalid. Why are they so worked up over an IQ of 130? About one in 20 kids score at that level. It’s not an IQ level which a school should be having a cow about meeting her needs. There’s always the strong possibility that the school psych didn’t interpret the results properly in any case. Little issues like ceilings on the WISC and the fact that the SB IV is not a good instrument for testing gifted kids ;).

I’m not a fan of gifted programs or of extension programs. All too often they are simply makework and don’t meet the needs of the kids. And she won’t be at uni early unless you manage to bully someone into radically accelerating her.

If you want to email me privately and tell me where you are :slight_smile: I can probably help more. I’ve just pulled my kid from school because he’s learnt nothing in the last year except new and fascinating ways to be a vile spawn of satan. But we’re facing quite a few challenges and they will most effectively be remediated at home until he’s ready to go back. There’s a useful email list called oz-gifted where you can network with other parents and find out what accommodations etc other parents have succeeded in getting.

The thickies argument is not generally well received (I’ve got a foot in both camps with an EG+ child with severe learning disabilities. Yippee it just means that neither ends of the spectrum are met for him). I’m guessing you’re in NSW and referring to the OC system. Experiences are mixed. I don’t think I’d put my kid in an OC class, I’d probably go for straight acceleration.

Lastly if you’re in Sydney get in touch with GERRIC at the university of NSW.


Yeah, I know the comment of the lower end of the standardised curve is generally not well received, but when you’re feeling frustrated sometimes the words come out with the frustration.

I also know about the ceiling on the WISC which is why I used the 130+ term, but it’s good to know someone else has similar opinions. Upon re-reading my OP, I’ve also inadvertently misled the group in that they didn’t readminister the WISC or SB tests, but other tests to determine the little girls whereabouts on CSF II.

Actually, I’m in Melbourne so I’m not sure of what th OC term means. We’re looking at Williamstown High and Brunswick High who both run a selected entry accelerated learning program. They suggest that the gifted kids can complete up to VCE (Year 12) in 4 years if they wish, but we’re a little skeptical about getting through that, especially WRT the final age that the little girl may be before she ‘qualifies’ for Uni.

We have contacted GERRIC at UNSW and while they were helpful, the frustration is getting the primary school to dedicate time to creating a personalised learning plan.

The SO is out performing at the local theatre tonight, so tomorrow, I’ll ask her whether she wants to contact you directly via email and we can continue the discussion there.

Again, thanks for your input.

I went through a fairly erratic gifted program myself in primary school, although in my case the school didn’t require endless retesting. After going through the 1st and 2nd grade SRA reading modules in three months, the school eventually bumped me up two grades for the reading classes. In sixth grade there was a short-lived gifted program which went under the budget knife the next year. In seventh grade they tried putting all the top students in “advanced” sections of the same subjects. after that, there was pretty much nothing.

My suggestion to you is that if there aren’t any official gifted programs, then you’ll either have to homeschool or otherwise supplement your child’s education. If you homeschool, remember to encourage participation in sports or other activities, as social contact with peers is an important part of the process.

Or she could just sulk a lot and lock herself in her room and play Pearl Jam at high volume. :slight_smile:

If you don’t want to contact me privately, do join the Oz gifted list. There’s several Melbourne families there. It seems to be very hard to get into GERRIC for testing. We were supposed to be there in December for testing but I’m still waiting on an appointment time.

It astounds me how few Aussie school psychs know about ceilings and/or are willing to acknowledge them. I won’t let the schools test my kids. It’s costing a lot for testing but at least I then own the results and it’s not being viewed through a lens of minimising the giftedness of the child.

You might also want to check out Mensa. I’ll be the first to admit that some of them can be more than a little arrogant, but they do have experience in dealing with bright kids, as well as in being bright kids. I’ve heard it described as “a support group for the terminally gifted.” Also, if you find the right crowd, they can be a blast!!