There is post from Gifted Guru that was originally written back in Feb and resurfacing again in social media. Here is the link to it: http://www.giftedguru.com/not-fair-to-gifted-kids/
Reading it again, I couldn’t resist blogging about that issue. The author is right, “school’s not fair to gifted kids.” We saw it first hand with our child. We still hear stories from our friends regarding incidents with their children still in public school. We read about in blogs. We hear about it news articles about the public schools failing gifted kids.
Here are some of the scenarios that occurred with our son:
DS entered kindergarten reading chapter books, knowing his addition and subtraction math facts, knowing his shapes, knowing his letters, etc. He entered kindergarten with achievement skills ranging from 1st to 3rd grade based on outside testing. The school was given this data. However, he was still expected to do the exact same phonics and simple math lessons of his peers. He was expected to read silently when other small groups were given reading instruction. Thankfully, we sent chapter books to school with him. However, he was still sent home with phonics readers. We had to advocate for him to be allowed to take AR (accelerated reader) quizzes on higher level books. The librarian and teacher let him pick out higher level books from the library after our son complained. We enrolled our son in EPGY for math because it was clear the school was not going to differentiate for him. We enrolled our son in CTD for science because it was clear the school was not going to provide any new material for him. We sent in his EPGY reports but our son was still responsible for doing the same math sheets his classmates were. We sent in science work samples and certificates from CTD that went into his grade book. GT services didn’t start until school was half way through and it was after school. We had daily complaints about school from our son regarding school not teaching him anything new and his questioning why they are making him do things he already knows. He liked the after school GT program but felt it was punishment to be at school any longer than needed. We knew public school was not fair to our son.
DS entered 1st grade with a teacher who previously taught 3rd grade. She immediately was trying to differentiate but ran into hurdles due to school policies. Unfortunately he still had to complete the same work as his classmates before he was given the higher level work. She did send him higher level math challenges periodically for homework. She never held him back in reading. In fact he was taking AR quizzes consistently at the 4th-6th grade level. However, the 4th and 5th grade teachers accused our son of “stealing” all the AR rewards for their students because when earned enough reward points he would choose the 4th-5th grade level books. Sadly, the AR teacher caved in to those teachers and my son was restricted to only first grade book rewards. Our son stopped bringing home reward points and instead gave his away. DS’s teacher attempted to get him access to all kinds of online programs that the 3rd through 5th grade teachers had for their students. Sadly none of the older grade teachers would let my son be listed on their roster so he could use those programs. It took a couple months but thanks to his teachers persistence, the technology teacher, and the GT coordinator DS finally gained access to the 3rd grade online math and 5th grade online science. He was the only student to completely finish both programs. He loved them and did them daily. Sadly though, he still had to do the exact same first grade work of his peers every day during the school day. The online programs were really his second set of homework for after he did the stuff he already knew. GT services started a quarter of the way into the year and was pull-out during the day. The GT teacher wanted to group our son with the 3rd to 5th grade students. This lasted for about a month until parents complained that it was unfair that a first grade student was grouped with older students as well as complaints that our son was teaching their children about wiring and circuits. The GT teacher knew DS couldn’t be grouped with the K-2 students and needed more so he ended up getting one-on-one GT pull out. DS’s teacher even tried to obtain permission for our son to compete in the science fair that the 4th -5th grade students do. However this was denied by those teachers and parents, claiming it would be unfair for my child to be in it. He was also denied from competing in the 3rd-5th grade spelling bee for the same reason. I was actually told by a parent that some of the parents and teachers thought it would be unfair because my son might actually win and they would have to explain that a first grade student beat out the older students.
We experienced 2 years of public school being unfair. We informed the school before the year ended that we were not returning and would be homeschooling. His teacher, the GT coordinator, the GT teacher, his former teacher, his principal, and the assistant principal all encouraged us to homeschool. All of them said the school couldn’t help our son and couldn’t meet his needs.
Here are some scenarios we have heard and continue to hear from our friends:
- Daughter can’t start the online multiplication program until her classmates finish all the addition and subtraction facts.
- Daughters do silent reading by themselves because they already are fluent readers and tested at the level they expect for the end of the year.
- Some schools have a policy to stop testing once they reach the end of the grade level they are in and don’t let the students read more than 1 year ahead of their grade level.
- Son couldn’t read his chapter books for AR tests, only for silent reading time. He was required to take grade level readers instead. He was reading books 2 to 3 years ahead of his grade level.
- Son mastered all grade level online programs and was told he could either do them again or just stop as they would not let him access the next grade level.
I do not know how anyone could see this as being fair to these students. These students are intentionally being held back and not allowed to reach their potential. I know some will say, life is not fair and gifted education is elitist. Yes, life is not fair. There are plenty of years for kids to learn that. And, there are other facets of life that kids experience that. Public school is about teaching academic skills and helping students reach their potential. Gifted education is not elitist but actually a truly special education need for these students. Holding them back is not teaching them anything but how to develop poor study skills. After All, fairness is not everyone getting the same, but rather fairness is everyone getting what they need. We wouldn’t put a child with a severe cognitive disability (IQ well below 65) in a general education classroom all day without any modifications or IEP’s (individual education plans). We wouldn’t consider putting a high school student in an elementary classroom and expect them to just sit there and do what the others are doing. However, everyday in our country thousands of gifted kids (IQ above 130 and in some cases well above) are put in a general education classroom forced to do exactly the same thing the other students are doing even if they’ve already mastered the material. No modifications are given, and if they are lucky slight differentiation might occur but only after they complete the same work as their peers. Yup, the author of the original blog that got me started is totally right. Public school is not fair to gifted children.