From this article:
Questions for debate:
What is to be done about this situation? If a child is being “prepped” into giftedness with expensive programs, then they are at a ridiculous advantage over a child who isn’t. This is unfair, but is it something correctable?
Should kindergartners be tested for giftedness? I say no. Selecting the smart ones out of the bunch so early in the game is assuming that early-bloomers–kids who start talking earlier, for instance, or who are better at paying attention–are inherently smarter than kids who develop later. Like a couple of years later. When I was in school, kids weren’t pulled out for gifted programs until the third grade. That seems reasonable to me. By that age, kids are at a better place for being compared. When you are just four or five-years-old, though, so much of who you are is still latent. I barely spoke intelligible English when I was in kindergarten (having a twin does this to you). I couldn’t tie my shoes or distinguish my right shoe from my left, I couldn’t zip my own coat, and I couldn’t hold a pencil correctly. By the third grade, however, my speech problems were almost all gone, I had fantastic spatial abilities, and I had shown myself–despite having a strange pencil grip–to be a talented artist. Based on the last standardized test that I took (the GRE)–if the correlation is as indeed as tight as “they” say it is–I have an IQ that would qualify me for Mensa. But I was some kind of a retarded child when I was five. Destined for a life of mediocrity.
When kids are picked out so early and told that they are gifted, you create a halo affect where they actually achieve better than they would have otherwise. Does the opposite occur too? If you’re a smart kid who’s stuck in an average classroom and you know there’s a gifted program just across the street that you don’t qualify for because you missed the cut-off by a point, how does this make you feel? I’ll tell you, as someone who was in this situation. It sucks. The gifted kids got to learn French, go to museums, do science experiments, and write books that the rest of us were totally excluded from. They even got to learn typing in the fifth grade, which meant that they were submitting perfectly typed reports in middle schoool while the other kids were turning in hand-written stuff. It wasn’t until I got into the fifth grade that my teacher intervened and had me participate in as many enrichment activities as she could possibly get away with (for instance, I got to enter the writing contest and I won!) But I would consider myself lucky. I had parents that constantly assured me that I was smart, despite not being in the gifted class.
The intersection of socioeconomics and race in this doesn’t surprise me at all, and like I said, I don’t know how it can be addressed. It’s clear to me that parents with financial means are using the system so that they can get their kids in the very best public schools, thus saving money while creating an image that their kids are not sheltered or spoiled since they attend public schools. I can’t say I completely fault them. I’d probably do the same. But it only works if someone gets excluded. I’m wondering how they set the percentile cutoff. Is it drawn from the population of a random pool of test-takers that stays constant from year-to-year? Or can it be shifted based on the performance of the preceding year’s cohort of test-takers? That is to say, if no one is prepped last year, the cut-off score will presumably be lower than it will be this year, when everyone was preppred. I have a feeling that the “random population” is what sets the bar because that would make more sense, but I have no idea if this is the case. If it’s not, then they aren’t tested for an objective definition of giftedness. Only a relative one.
What do ya’ll think? Do you think this is a problem or just another one of those advantages that come with class that will never go away.
(Please forgive any typos. I have to run to work in the mornings, so I always rush when I’m on the Dope at this hour.)