Emilio Handall

Paul Wellman

Emilio Handall

Gifted, Talented, and White

GATE Requirements Reconsidered

Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Some are born GATE, some achieve GATEness, and some have GATEness thrust upon ’em. In the Santa Barbara Unified School District, however, some are English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged, or Hispanic, composing a respective 2, 5, and 5 percent of the gifted-and-talented education (GATE) classes.

Those statistics were revealed in a presentation at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, leading Emilio Handall, assistant superintendent for elementary education, to suggest the district rethink the manner in which it selects students for the GATE program. The numbers also led school board president Monique Limón to question whether assessment tools employed by the district—especially if they can be studied for—accurately identify “GATEness.”

In the Santa Barbara district, potentially “gifted” 2nd graders are referred by parents, teachers, or selected by their standardized exam scores to take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), the results of which determine whether they possess naturally enhanced nervous systems. And while district staffers fell short of questioning the merits of such a test conducted upon the rapidly developing brains of young children, they are questioning their own interpretations of the test’s scores.

In an effort to add diversity to the GATE program, about 100 more Latino students were tested in 2012 than in previous years, but only three more qualified for the program. While 24 percent of non-Latino students who tested qualified, 10 percent of Latino students and 14 percent of English learners (Latino and non-Latino) qualified. Those numbers were crunched by the district’s GATE coordinator, Harriet Whaley, who also did some research into cognitive testing.

She stumbled upon a study that found when English learners take the CogAT ​— ​as opposed to other cognitive tests employed by other districts to distinguish GATE students ​— ​they score along a bell curve similar to that of native English speakers, although about 10 points lower, reaffirming her belief that the CogAT is the best indicator of GATE readiness. She also found a study that compared the test scores of 2,000 students in Waco, Texas ​— ​with demographics very similar to the Santa Barbara district ​— ​in which English learners predictably scored worse on the verbal section of the test but also (less) worse on the test’s other two sections. If Santa Barbara adjusted its entrance requirements to take those gaps into account, 29 more English learners (for a total of 64) would have been accepted into the GATE program. The percentage of those accepted would then be 26, right in line with the 24 percent of English-proficient students accepted.

Whaley therefore suggested that the district retro-qualify 29 students and in the future test all 2nd graders for GATE. As the item was on the conference agenda, it was merely up for discussion and not any sort of formal vote. Trustees Kate Parker and Limón worried about the cost of testing all 2nd graders. But Limón also suggested that some parents can and do prepare their children for the CogAT while others cannot spare the expense, therefore creating a disparity. Although one can supposedly not study for cognitive ability tests, a perfunctory web search found test preparation materials and sample questions.

“That goes to the key question,” said Superintendent David Cash, “whether GATE students are gifted and talented or something else.” And, he pointed out to the board earlier in the evening, should Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate categorical funding make it alive through the Legislature, the state would no longer issue money to districts for GATE courses (or many other programs, including English tutoring, counseling, administrative training, and class size reductions). Brown would like local districts to have near-complete control over their funding, meaning that the Santa Barbara district could hypothetically abolish GATE classes altogether, as unlikely as that may be. The budget also proposes more money for the underrepresented populations that are excluded from GATE. It does this on a per-district basis, however, so that a majority-minority school that is not within a majority-minority district will get the short end of the appropriation bill.

That policy would also enervate the Santa Barbara district’s ongoing efforts to erase inequities and convince parents to send their kids to their neighborhood schools. Two mothers of Monroe Elementary School students just so happened to show up to public comment in order to affirm their support for such efforts. Monroe is sometimes overshadowed by its Mesa neighbor, Washington Elementary, because of the latter’s self-contained GATE classrooms, but every elementary school in the district, Monroe PTA president Alison Jordan reminded the public, offers a GATE program.

This story was amended on January 24, 2013 to reflect that Monique Limón was not questioning the merits of a GATE program or the idea that there are gifted students. Her concerns centered around the testing mechanism.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Their are a number of issues that affect why their is a disportant number of GATE students. Many of the tetst used to dertermin GATE status are achievment driven rather then IQ driven. Achivement tests at young af=ges can easly be improved by parents that are more activly invloved in their childs education. Early home involvemnet can improve a studnets score on achievement based tests. This is not about hot housing kids, its just about parents that read more, or teach children to read or do math at home pre-k. If the demographgics favor a home where education is prominante, or finances allow pre-k teaching, these students will have a greater liklyhood of being in GATE. Advocacy also will play a role. Choosing better test methods (IQ based, this still has some issues at young ages), and alowing more parent involment can help. Also allowing GATE admissions and testing regardles of age will also help. However the #1 indicator of GATE will still be parental involvement in the childs eduaction.

EdwinJC (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 3:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The problem would be solved in Spanish-speaking parents learned English at the rates all other non-English speaking immigrants in the U.S. do, but of course the militants who claim to speak on their behalf don't want that to happen so the discussion becomes elliptical.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hi Bill
Spanish only part of the issue, I know a number of Korean familys that speak very poor english, but their children qualify for GATE. Its also how education is viewed, and how involved parents are. Money can be an issue, because of it allowing more time for parental involvement. I belive its to easy to blame it soly on language.

EdwinJC (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 3:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I see your point, BC, but at the same time many Spanish-speaking families trace their residency to a time when this area was ruled by Mexico (and earlier, Spain), so there is an indigenous Spanish-speaking quality here, too. Spanish is a beautiful language and it was being spoken here before English came to town. Yes I know, even so, there is a huge advantage to learning English.
GATE has been known to be a sort of white flight issue within the public schools over the last few years. It is not the GATE program of 20 years ago.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 5:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm sorry but people spoke only Latin centuries ago. And Chumash was spoken here before Spanish. In addition many of the families if not most you speak of are in their own way colonialists since you I doubt many of their specific family lines were here back in the day when "English" came to town.
In addition should Russian was spoken in Oregon, Washington and Alaska; French in parts of the South. In fact at one point French was the official language of Mexico. While were back in Mexico let's also remember that before Spanish was spoken there, words in Aztec, Mayan and other languages were heard and spoken.
Let's not live in the past. Either the students qualify or they don't The whole reason there is a GATE program is to make sure the advanced students get the appropriate education at their level.
To classify it as "white flight" is racist in itself. To patronize somebody because of their racial or ethnic origin doesn't equal respect, it's making yourself feel better.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 5:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting discussion here, so I'll add on to it. Obviously, Spanish--like English is a colonial language.

Edwin, you raise a good point and I realize and I'd like to add my opinion to it. I think that the language issue in and of itself isn't the whole issue but the fact that by not being able to speak the language of commerce of the land it which you live a sense of alienation and low self-esteem result. Human nature dictates that if one doesn't have to learn the language of the country in which they live, there is a good chance they won't, and then the psychological factors of not being assimilated come into play.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Melting Pot. You're supposed to add the best parts of your language to the "American Vernacular" so we can develop a wholly new language.
"Olde English" isn't just a beer, but actual several stages of the development of the English language. After colonialization, isolated populations developed their own slang, narratives, were influenced by indigenous languages ect.
An Australian speaks Australian, American is an almaglamation of languages, English is the root tongue.
Publishers are quite aware of the differences in dialects.
For example the Harry Potter books are available in English and American English- probably Australian and maybe Canada had their own editions.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 3:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It seems like when we have "the underrepresented populations that are excluded from GATE" this is a problem, KV. You have a high faith in the calibre of the testing, but it is slanted to those in higher socio-economic groups. I won't judge if you're racist, Ken, don't know enough about you.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 5:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In a March 22, 2010 [] SB Independent article longtime and highly honored SB English teacher Paul Forster argues that GATE be ended... it was a great idea but it's time is past. Ken, "I'm sorry but" 20 years ago GATE was excellent, it's turned into something else. Try to see that.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 6:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I know we aren't just talking about GATE in the high schools. But Forster states, "like so many good ideas, GATE was manipulated until it ended up creating classes made up of maybe five to 10 truly Gifted and Talented students (as determined by cognitive abilities testing administered in elementary school to select students) and another 20 or 30 hard-working students." And there is a difference there.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 6:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What I have learned from this string; Thank You!:
KV is a racist;
Asians that were poor, stereotyped as coolies, laundry workers, and domestic help had it worse than Mexicans;
Spanish is a beautiful language(I am now even more proud of my own proficiency in Spanish);
Mexicans are indigenous because some of them can trace their mixed background to the original European conquering murderers;
GATE is unfair because every group except Mexicans have not terminally underperformed.
The answer is obvious: GATE favors everyone except Mexicans so get rid of GATE. Those evil, over performing Asians are as bad as the evil non-Spanish, non-Portuguese Europeans...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 8:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the correction about Limon is important: she was examining the testing mechanism itself, not GATE. I think GATE's original intentions were certainly positive, but it has changed. GATE is not required in California and many school districts statewide do not offer it preferring Honors programs, or in HS AP programs, or better programs of their own devising.
glad you learned so much, italiansurg!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

GATE will forever be a controversial program because of who gets it, who doesn't get in and why. The only solution is to dumb-down our educational system so people of all backgrounds can easily pass. No child will be left behind, but none will get ahead either. Equality and political correctness for everyone!

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 8:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

unfortunately you are half-correct, Botany. The deal is, our public education system in Calif at least has been plenty dumbed-down in the last 20 years. See Diane Ravitch, THE THOUGHT POLICE and also her latest articles. Since you are among those who inveighed heavily against Prop 30, can you see that the progressive [pun] starvation of funds for academic education is at least a big part of this problem we agree our young students face? Remember, this for BC, the NUMBERS of students have gone way up so some increase in state budgeting for public schools simply gets swallowed-up in the much higher numbers of students compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
Are you making fun of "equality" -- ? I do separate that from political correctness. One solution to the diminishing quality of public education is independent and parochial school education: their populations are rising and the students perform well on standardized tests, which are usually overrated. I would never put my child in a Catholic school locally so long as Bishop Curry is at the head!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 9:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not everyone is born with brains and talent. Putting a kid in over their head is cruel to the kid.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 12:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Equality should be in terms of opportunity for an education. Of course, not everybody will GET an equal education. Much of what they get depends on the student's individual intelligence,motivation and the involvement of the parents. Government's job is to provide the opportunity. What is done with that opportunity is not within the government's control.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 12:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Exactly, you can lead a horse to water.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

yes, and the testing of the second graders is somewhat suspect, part of the point of this article. It's a bit wild to imagine that at age 7 or 8 standardized exams can actually "detect" who is "gifted". Sure, parents and teachers determine which kids take the CogAt. As Louis Menand says in a recent New Yorker piece, 'the dirty little secret of educational achievement is the economic background" of the family and area. The Pres. of France wants to abolish ALL homework in French schools since those kids with highly educated and usually more affluent parents already have an amazing advantage right there! The playing field is not equal starting way back in second grade.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, I think having involved parents is far superior to having affluent parents, but having both is even better for the child's educational development.

But that's where government involvement should end. Government should not be about assuming the parental role for those parents that do not for whatever reason.

Is it fair that a child with better familial support mechanisms does better than one that doesn't? (Assuming both have equal intelligence) No, it's not. But if you are going to have a GATE program, it needs to be with students that have the ability to take advantage of the opportunities that program provides. Otherwise, school will be less about providing an equal opportunity to get a good education and more about forcing everybody to get an equally bad education in the name of political correctness.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 1:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

makes sense Botany, but don't you think if we make this determination at 7 years of age we might be missing a whole lot of very bright and talented children? Government acts in loco parentis all the time, why not more so here?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is NOT wild to recognize a gifted student in second grade. Do you know how old Mozart was when he was first recognized? Five years old he was playing his compositions in European courts and they are still played and enjoyed today.
And who says the kids only get one shot?
Abolishing homework has to be one of the dumbest ideas to come down the educational pipeline in a long time if not ever.
I didn't come from a great economic background but that didn't stop me from drawing, reading and writing miles above my peers.
Altering a program meant to focus on gifted kids to meet a political agenda is plain wrong.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

look, I just want more slots for kids... Ken, you haven't answered whether you feel the CogAt standardized test will find all those gate children? That's my point, not that you could be stopped "from drawing, reading and writing miles above my peers." While grit matters, there's a fair bit of busy work and unnecessary homework given, at least in some public schools.
Yes, am aware of the Mozart story, and how Einstein only began speaking at 5, and these amazing eccentric geniuses. Reread the Paul Forster piece I referred to above.
What if altering this program means more kids get more attention?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not sure is 7 is the right age or not. As far as assuming the role of parents, other than ensuring a child is not abused or neglected, the government is way out of line in assuming any greater parental role.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How am I supposed to answer that Dr. Dan since I haven't seen the test?!
All kids should get the appropriate level of attention.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now my question to you Dr. Dan. Since you're a teacher and you seem to feel that ALL students are at the same level, do you teach at the advanced level?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, I see that, but many teachers feel these standardized tests are particularly poor at spotting just that kind of wonderful creativity and aesthetic impulse and genius thinking I imagine you value very highly. So I don't know the tests exactly either, of course, but they are fill-in-the-bubble standardized tools which it's hard to believe tell us very much.
My point isn't to hassle over GATE or not, but who gets in and in what ways has the playing field been kept off of level. Botany, surely you could see some government intervention? My sister taught primary grades in Visalia and Hmong and other children often came in hungry, so she got government money to feed them. If a child is frightened, or hungry, or insecure in too many ways, s/he will not test well.
I am arguing for more $ for more music and dance and art and studio art and video to tap artistic expression in our children. We're not far apart on this section, are we?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not far at all. I don't think placement should be wholly dependant on the test but an interview and examples of work as well. Fir instance, despite my boasting about my own "excellence" I actually was horrible in math.
In fact I promised my college algebra professor I would not pursue a career in engineering.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've taught part-time at 5 universities, I've taught in two German high schools, I currently teach 6th and 7th graders. I do NOT feel that all students are at the same level! Howard Gardner posited 7 specific types of intelligences, but likely there are many more. "Measuring" intelligence or creativity is nearly impossible.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 2:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It certainly wasn't my intention to disparage you as a teacher, and no doubt your students love you. I was merely trying to illustrate my point.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 7:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Three more things I have ascertained from these comments:

Equal opportunity only holds true if everyone avails themselves of the opportunity and advances at the same level; otherwise it is racist, bigoted, or otherwise unfair.
GATE is only good if there are no under achieving groups; read the first definition if there are groups that are unwilling to excel;
English Learners-Euphemism for under performing kids/groups so that we don't hurt their feelings.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 5:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@italiansurg, many years ago I favored the Bilingual Ed programs in SB Public Schools, but upon reflection I came to understand that we DO have to push the English language aspect and not "coddle" young learners. My point about indigenous is, for example, when you moved here there wasn't an existing Italian community where you could simply stay in that original language of yours (a great language, indeed). So I should've written "historic community of Spanish speakers", which hinders the young when they move into school.
I don't know if there are "groups unwilling to excel"... I do know that growing up in LA, near poverty-level, my drive to excel was enhanced and with good opportunities I'm having a fortunate and materially adequate life here in lovely SB. Yeah, I've worked very hard for it and continue to do so; I like working!
It may be that, e.g., many Asian cultures value hard work in a different way than some other cultures define "hard work". The suicide rate in Japanese schools is very high compared to our schools, so there are just too many factors to discuss in a thread like this.
Equal opportunity, yes! Deeper: is the original "playing field" somewhat level? Economically? With the exception of Roosevelt School, ALL the high achieving [API index] schools are in higher income areas: Cold Springs and MUS [they are getting about $19,000 per kid], Hope District schools, Peabody, etc. Grit and hard work are crucial, but so is the background.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 5:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr. Dan
I agree that this forum is too short for many of these issues. There are so many different factors to consider when looking at GATE. Higher income allows more time at home and more involvement. Culture also matters when we look at parental involvement and also role modeling. Each on a macro scale can drive scores. On an individual level these items can matter as well, but personality comes more into play. I do however note that raw IQ cannot be overlooked. There are some that just learn fast. If you look at the smaller population of HG, EG and PG students it becomes obvious the current education modes start to fall apart. If you look at the gifted (I dislike the term, but I use IQ 130+) they do need a different form of learning. It's too bad most see this as a privilege. We accept gifted athletes and see no problem in placing them with top performing athletes, but when it comes to education we cannot seem to see that some just learn quicker than others. I believe all should be given the same chance, but not the same outcome. We are each different. If I was king of the world we would have IEPs for every student so that they could each move forward at their own pace, rather then a pre-determined idea that says everyone should know Algebra by 8th grade. It’s like saying everyone will be 5'2" by the 8th grade. The schools also cannot change the family the students come from, and yes money can and should be able to buy some privilege. It is short sighted to think otherwise. Money will not raise someone’s IQ, but it will give an involved parent the opportunity to provide things for their children that others cannot.

EdwinJC (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 5:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It costs money to ask your kid how they're doing in school or if they have homework? To encourage them to get better grades?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 6:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan brings up a point that's long been on my mind--the suicide rate in Japan. While Japan is possibly the most academically advanced country on the planet, the pressure to achieve is such that (as the doctor points out) people are driven over the edge. As such, the question is creating a balance between academic achievement and emotional health which as he points out, is a much deeper issue.

As for comparing cultures and their emphasis on academics, I will address the uncomfortable "elephant in the living room": The issue isn't only what cultural attitudes are brought to the U.S., but how people who immigrate see themselves in response to how they are perceived. If one group of people is expected to achieve linguistically and academically, and another (in this case Spanish-Speaking from Mexico and the rest of Central America) is always being given the proverbial fish but never taught how to catch a fish, then of course their self-esteem will go down. Don't forget, there's a lot of money made in poverty and keeping people down justifies a lot of jobs in the social worker department as well as the bilingual education realm.

About 15 years ago I was at a school board meeting where the subject was bilingual education; I really got a good taste of why the public schools are in such bad shape. I went there with an open mind--wanting to hear an intelligent argument for bilingual education but instead there was the onslaught of militants claiming to speak for the "Latinos" and the apologetic white people and of course, the argument that "studies have shown" without any support to back them. There was also the teacher who compared ending bilingual education to "Hitler's Final Solution". (Tell that to an Auschwitz survivor) The Grand Slam however came from the other side when a woman got up and looked at the panoply of activists claiming to represent the Spanish-Speakers (by the way, not one of the parents who spoke spoke English, and those of us in the audience who understand both languages were repeatedly having to interrupt and correct the translator that schools provided--another sign of how dysfunctional our education system is) when she calmly addressed them and asked--in so many words "since you feel every other immigrant can learn English are you telling us that you feel Spanish-Speaking people are not as smart as the rest of the world?". All the angry militants fell dead silent as she walked off the podium. Evidently she hit them at the core or their self understanding.

Yes folks, racism can be so subtle that even some of its practitioners don't see it.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 6:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Incidentally, I know a girl who's in the Gate program and I know her parents: Her Mom's Philippino and her Dad's Black.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How about turning the GATE program into a GANG program instead? I think that would solve this problem.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 7:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fortunately bc, the Asians of all backgrounds did not bring their school systems to us, we made them learn English and integrate into our school system, so the question, while potentially interesting, is irrelevant to this discussion. Unless that is, folks are willing to admit the POSSIBILITY that some cultures value education and achievement, even to the point of suicide in their former countries, more than other cultures.
I will also reiterate that Chinese were viewed as being nothing more than subservient and Japanese were viewed for gawdsakes as traitors, and were imprisoned by that great bastion of Democracy F.D.R. How is it that being viewed as a Mexican gardener is worse than a traitor or a house servant?
It's natural to stereotype: Irish as drunks, Italians as Mafia, Gypsies as thieves, Jews as cheap, Germans as Nazi's, Mexicans as gardeners. We need to stop making excuses for people, insure EQUAL ACCESS(which in the case of GATE these kids have), and then start looking for honest answers instead of excuses for under achievement.
I also wonder if there is a growing percentage of lack of support from within the culture for acknowledging achievement, much like the problem that exists in American black culture and "going white".

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 5:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not sure we're teaching achievement in our culture as much as instant gratification and no consequence behavior.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 8:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Amen Brother Ken; you, obviously, are the reincarnation of Saint Billie the Dog.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I wouldn't be surprised if GATE were eliminated in the name of political correctness. Of course we do have gifted and talented students in our school system. But the PC crowd will see it as a glass half empty. They will see the GATE program as telling those students that aren't in the program that they are neither gifted or talented. The PC crowd will have none of that.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 8:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I've taught in Germany, and visit their schools fairly often, and my estimation is italiansurg is correct: yes, some cultures really do value "academic education" more highly than others. Why would it be the same all over the world, anyway? It is not surprising.
Botany, who knows, they might eliminate GATE or not. If monies are spent more wisely and spread out more effectively to "GATE" students across the board and across the different ethnic groups that would be a good thing, no?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 9:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not sure how you spread the money to GATE students with no GATE program. But then do you get to the point of providing an equally bad education to everyone just so you can get everyone to pass? There's a difference between an "equal education" and an equal opportunity to get an edcuation. For those students that wish to excel, opportunities should be provided to do just that. People should face the fact that some students will end their academic education with high school, some will get a BA or BS degrees and some will get PhD's and beyond. Our educational system should be set up to allow all students to succeed to the best of their ability, not just give the exact same education to everyone to avoid offending some.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 10:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Some ideas to consider, from the perspective of a highly trained and experienced school psychologist: 1) Using the CogAT or any other single assessment in a systematic way to assess eligibility for "gifted" programming will result in a high proportion of errors of both inclusion and exclusion. 2) In most cases, the educational needs of the "intellectually gifted" can be met by providing relatively routine opportunities for enrichment and/or acceleration. The needs of the "severely" gifted (e.g., like Mozart or Einstein and other extremely creative, divergent thinking true geniuses) will not be met by a program such as GATE. These students need individual mentors to proceed and find a way to fit in with the rest of their peers and society. 3) With all due respect, if the article is correct, if the Director of the GATE program actually "stumbled" upon some research to guide her recommendations, that is not a research strategy to be endorsed or upon which to make decisions. I highly recommend that the District obtain consultation from a School Psychologist or Educational Psychologist from an assessment specialist/expert at a nearby California university regarding the use of standardized tests (such as the CogAT, Otis-Lennon, WISC-IV, DAS-2, Stanford-Binet, etc.) as part of the model to identify "gifted" students as well as recommendations based on research-based strategies to meet the needs of these students.

JLSINCT (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 2:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

thank you JLSINCT; and your comment that students taking standardized tests like the CogAt or Standford-Binet or Otis-Lennon (I'm familiar with this one) "will result in a high proportion of errors of both inclusion and exclusion." You will miss many of the "gifted" kids, if we even want to own up to that unsubstantiated designation. Isn't Standord-Binet right up there with the original IQ tests (Galton?), and don't many in education feel "IQ" measurements are useless, and suffer both class and linguistic biases??
When you also note that there are in-class regular teaching tactics which are "providing relatively routine opportunities for enrichment and/or acceleration."
The point is not to attack GATE, but to focus on the criteria and "tests" uitilized to get into these classes. I think it's a fact that most of the State of Calif education districts abandoned GATE a long time ago. We can do this better in-regular-classes, and more cheaply.
But the OTHER hidden part of this is how woefully underfunded are almost all public schools. We're debating a smaller portion of a much bigger tragedy. And Prop 30 barely keeps a finger in the dike, yes, we will need more parcel and other taxes to create that great Calif public education systems celebrated of yore...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 5:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is no best solution; it’s more a matter of best worst solution. Identification will always have issues, but that does not mean we should give up. We only have the tools at hand, I believe a combination of IQ testing, Achievement testing, teacher recognition, and parent involvement when used together can catch most. Remember Gifted is not always the one that does best in class, it’s a different way of looking at things. I like to say when you see one gifted kid; you have seen one gifted kid. Cookie cutter descriptions do not always fit. The thing that has always disturbed me is the money spent on the lowest 5% compares to the highest 5% has never been even close to equal. As a parent of an HG kid, there are no accommodations. I understand why, but it’s hard to see no money for one, and individual aids for another. Both sides of the spectrum need help. I think many believe because you are gifted you will do better. The funny thing is that within the gifted population the graduation rate is the same. Many gifted students have difficulty later in life through never learning to overcome challenge, they value themselves by their intellect rather than effort. If our academic institutions better addressed their needs and taught within their zone or development, the better served they would be.

EdwinJC (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 6:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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