When Our Actions Defeat Our Intentions
The previous post on this blog talks about the disparity based on socio-economic status of advanced academic programs between schools in Fairfax county in Virginia.
|Above copied from
Fairfax County Public Schools Profiles
The above gap lingers inspite of numerous actions taken to address the gross underrepresentation of Blacks, Hispanics, and low-income children in the advanced academic program. The Associated Press early this year goes as far as stating that such actions have actually "exacerbated the problem":
|Above copied from WTOP
The identification of gifted students is a very challenging process. Quite a number of education policy makers as well as advocates for gifted education hold the opinion that it is in this process that one can address the underrepresentation of Blacks, Hispanics and children from low-income families in gifted programs. Considerable effort is done in casting a wider net. Universal screening, for instance, has become common. This necessitates additional steps in identification. Frequently, this includes parent and teacher referrals. In some cases, a final placement test is introduced, but even with this additional screening tool, the number of false positives (students who are not gifted are being identified as gifted) remains high.
|Above copied from
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Some may easily dismiss the false positives, thinking that we may err on this side but not on the side of missing children who are really gifted (false negatives). However, gifted education becomes expensive and less effective if the program caters to a huge fraction of the student population. The National Association of Gifted Children lists several myths. The following two myths are important to consider:
Gifted Education Programs Are Elitist
Gifted Education Requires An Abundance Of Resources
Jonathan Plucker, president of the National Association for Gifted Children, said Fairfax County’s system “feels pretty extraordinary, but it doesn’t surprise me.” Wealthy, suburban districts often face intense parental demand for gifted programs, he said.The disparity problem is indeed a stubborn issue. It is plain hubris to think that we could address this problem. Our attention and efforts are most likely to be fruitful if we simply concentrate on delivering the best to every student.
Plucker applauds the placement testing for all second-graders, but says allowing hundreds of parents to spend hundreds of dollars for a second IQ test defeats the purpose. “Why add a second level to the process that just reintroduces the disparities you’re seeking to get rid of in the first place?” he asks.