It’s hard to believe that L.A. Unified wasn’t already testing all students for giftedness, but it wasn’t. And it looks as if that resulted in certain poor and heavily minority schools having virtually no students identified as “gifted.”

The L.A. Times reports that the district’s new superintendent is requiring every second grade student be tested, starting this year. This is huge. It sounds as if he actually believes in the concept of intellectual giftedness, and cares about programs that support it.

Across the district, white students — 8.4% of L.A. Unified’s enrollment — make up about 23% of those designated as gifted. And Asians — 3.6% of the district — make up 16.4% of the district’s gifted students.

Most students come to be tested through one of two routes: A parent requests it or the school takes the initiative. And one or both haven’t been happening at many schools like 99th Street, which is 75% Latino and 25% black.

Part of the reason, said L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, is “insidious racism.” But another crucial factor in Los Angeles, he said, is that programs for gifted students have long been associated with integration efforts. Getting the “gifted” label made middle-class whites and Asians eligible for special programs designed as incentives for them to remain in public school.

Cortines, who came to the district in 2008, wants to identify as gifted at least 6% of students at every school. Administrators began targeting some schools, an effort that quickly saw results. The number of black students identified as gifted increased more than 9% over a six-month period.

Maybe “insidious racism” is a factor, but I suspect the administration at the schools in question is not mostly white or Asian. I suspect the main reason gifted minorities get overlooked is that they are in poor, low-achieving schools, and most educators in those schools don’t want to bother identifying gifted students and giving them special attention. There’s no incentive for them to do so. On the other hand, if they don’t get enough low-achieving students up to the minimum testing standards, they run the risk of having the feds take over the school.

School districts get no extra dollars for identifying higher numbers of gifted students. Instead, the state allots funding for the gifted based on district enrollment. For L.A. Unified, that allotment has been shrinking, to about $4.6 million this year. Most of that has gone to IQ testing, administrative costs and training for teachers. About $25 per gifted student has gone to schools, officials said.

The ongoing budget crisis actually created a disincentive for finding gifted students. As partial compensation for cutting school funding, the state allowed districts to use the gifted-student money for any purpose.

Another reason is that many educators think there’s something unsavory about identifying the intellectually gifted. They think it’s elitist, maybe even racist. That’s because as we in this blogosphere know, kids from poor families and kids from certain minority groups get lower scores on intelligence tests and aptitude tests, as a group. So to be fair and sensitive, we’re supposed to say those tests don’t matter — at least we say that when we’re dealing with those groups. Clearly the educational establishment acts differently toward the middle-class schools full of white and Asian kids.

Meanwhile, society continues to make important decisions based upon those tests, such as whom to admit to college. And some of the intelligent individuals from those groups will get shafted, because they were always lumped in with everyone else from the group.

Plus let’s face it: Some people just find the gifted annoying. They don’t want more of them around. It’s a lot more acceptable to say, “Intelligence tests are racist and elitist,” than to say, “I just can’t stand eggheads.”

———————————————————

Here’s a post by “Audacious Epigone on the estimated IQ of teachers. It’s not high — about 107 for K-8. So at least according to this, the average teacher would not be considered intellectually “gifted.”

I read a study recently, to which I can’t find a link now, that the lower-scoring members of the teaching professions are the ones most likely to teach at the poor schools. So if the teachers themselves aren’t gifted, how eager are they going to be to identify a subset of their students as being smarter than they themselves are?


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42 Responses to New L.A. Unified superintendent pushes to identify gifted minority students.

  1. Kevin says:

    For what it’s worth, most people equate giftedness with intelligence, and that’s not entirely accurate. Giftedness refers more to a method of learning than to innate I.Q.

  2. Peter says:

    Most of the social scorn directed at the gifted (“Nerd!”) seems to be in the high school age range. Perhaps junior high as well. Tested for giftedness in second grade makes sense in this context, as children that young aren’t likely to care as much if at all.

  3. web says:

    Peter,

    I beg to differ. Being identified as top of the class, or the kid who breaks the grading curve (especially if you are smaller than the other kids as well), is a good way to get scorn in public schools at any age.

    Like it or not, the bottom 60% of the class views their “educational success” as a zero-sum game. If they can’t improve by actually learning something, the “next best thing” is to beat up the kid higher on the ladder, thinking they can drive the “nerds” away and thus move up the class ranking.

  4. Peter says:

    WebGuy –

    That didn’t square with my experience in elementary school, which at the time ran through eighth grade. Most of the smart kids were about as well-adjusted as anyone else. There were no introverted nerds among their ranks, as best I can recall. And keep in mind this was in a largely Joe Sixpack city in Connecticut, not the sort of upper-class suburb in which intellectual achievement is highly valued.

    Things changed only to a moderate extent in high school. A few of the smart kids were social outcasts, but most were not.

  5. trumwill says:

    My experience agrees with Peter with regard to K-5. Grading curves did not occur until at least junior high. Most of the bottom 60% was more worried about objective criteria, passing or getting a good enough grade not to be grounded, rather than comparative grading. That’s to the extent that the bottom 60% cares about grades at all.

  6. ? says:

    Ironically, my own status in middle school actually increased once I became known as “the smart kid”. Of course, at zero, my status had nowhere else to go.

    The TV show Parenthood has one of the families’ daughter identified as “gifted” by a private educational psychologist using cognitive tests. Perhaps “giftedness” is not as controversial as it once was?

  7. Sheila Tone says:

    “And keep in mind this was in a largely Joe Sixpack city in Connecticut, ”

    It was still *Connecticut,* Peter. Things are different there.

  8. web says:

    Peter,

    The grade school I went to, the honor roll was nicknamed the “target list.” I was actually advised by a guidance counselor – of all people – that if I would deliberately throw a few tests, maybe the other kids would like me more. The school had a “built-in curve”, mandated by the principal, that said that if every kid got a question on a test wrong, then the question was obviously invalid or misleading (under the assumption that even with random guessing, one or two kids in a 25+-kid classroom should get it right).

    What this meant was, when a well-meaning but airheaded bimbo of a teacher got up and announced in her doting happy singsong voice that one or two kids had scored 100%, all the rest of the kids with a mere 80% knew PRECISELY who to target.

  9. Sheila Tone says:

    “If they can’t improve by actually learning something, the “next best thing” is to beat up the kid higher on the ladder, thinking they can drive the “nerds” away and thus move up the class ranking.”

    Web, it wasn’t my perception that the hostiles envied class ranking. They just genuinely found the gifted annoying and easy targets. It was more a matter of being different. That’s why there could be someone like me, who looked OK, being lumped in with Fat Madge the Thief, who was on the slow track. We were both equally deviant, although in different ways.

    In junior high, there were four of us recognized “gifteds” in the class. There were two who had popular older siblings and nice houses, and two of who didn’t. The former two fit in, the latter two got hassled.

  10. Peter says:

    It was still *Connecticut,* Peter. Things are different there.

    Connecticut is not like what most people think it is. There are some very upscale areas, the sort of places where going to anything except an Ivy is seen as a tragedy, but the state has plenty of very different areas: rundown Rust Belt industrial towns, ghettos, white-trashy rural areas, you name it.

  11. web says:

    Sheila,

    In the time, it wasn’t necessarily the ladder, but the perks that came with it. Bimbo-esque teachers doting on the “smart kid” still made the nonsmart jerks want to get the teacher’s attention. Honor roll coming with some significant rewards (gift certificates for free pizza at pizza hut, etc) meant that making that honor roll average was “important” for nonacademic reasons.

    And it didn’t take them much of a brain to realize that the 20-point or so gap between the kids making 98-100 on every test, and the majority of kids making 75-80, would “evaporate” without the 1-2 kids to throw the curve off. Again, for the dumb kids, it’s a zero-sum game; get rid of those who set the bar high, and the bar is easier to reach.

  12. rob says:

    Identifying 6% as gifted is probably a stretch, the cutoff would be about 108 IQ for a particular population. And even trying shows that the school district cares a bit about appropriately educating smart kids, and that’s a fantastic sign.

    But if school’s won’t track beyond vegetable-normal-megagenius, I guess it isn’t a bad idea to separate people who can learn reasonably well from most other kids. A friend of mine teaches 3rd(?) grade. He has an autistic kid who can’t talk and randomly goes apesh*t and a Downs syndrome kid, who even if she’s well-behaved, either holds the class back or doesn’t learn much.

    Sheila, didn’t you go to an girls’ school? The gifted-normal dynamics there are probably different from coed schools. Webguy’s curved classes are a probably a rarity in grade school and junior high as well I sort of wonder if the death of tracking is what made current “cognitive elite” class despise average people.

  13. web says:

    Rob,

    I’m willing to say that a lack of serious tracking in my early public-school education did, at the very least, instill in me a probably not entirely healthy distrust of the “average people” and below.

  14. stone says:

    “Connecticut is not like what most people think it is. There are some very upscale areas, the sort of places where going to anything except an Ivy is seen as a tragedy, but the state has plenty of very different areas: rundown Rust Belt industrial towns, ghettos, white-trashy rural areas, you name it. ”

    But I’ll bet your schools were large and good enough to have the critical mass of college types needed to sustain services and, for lack of a better term, a culture.

    This is what would suck for the gifted minority kids at the poor schools. There aren’t enough of them to wield any clout. At the middle-class schools it’s different. You don’t have to be the majority, just a substantial minority.

  15. stone says:

    “Sheila, didn’t you go to an girls’ school? The gifted-normal dynamics there are probably different from coed schools.”

    Only my high school was all-girls. And the more important defining characteristics of that school were probably that it was small (fewer than 100 per class), fairly poor, and there were only a handful of other white students. All of them except me were legacies, meaning their mothers had gone to the school back when it was majority white. The school was majority Latina with a substantial Filipina minority.

    The honors classes were mostly Filipinas. We did not have Advanced Placement classes. “Honors” English junior year just meant you joined a senior year English class with non-honors seniors.

    There was heavy emphasis on going to junior college and transfering.

    My grade school was 1-8, co-ed, with only one class per grade, with from 36 to 38 kids per grade.

    So in both schools, being more than one standard deviation above the norm meant being in very limited company.

  16. stone says:

    “So in both schools, being more than one standard deviation above the norm meant being in very limited company.”

    When I say limited company, I mean: There were two of us at the high school.

    The other one is the one who’s not speaking to me.

    She teaches junior high in East L.A. now. She got very irate a few months ago when I raised the subject of what, if anything, they did for gifted students. She now apparently believes it’s racist to talk about IQ.

  17. rob says:

    Only a couple TAG kids per grade? Maybe the cutoffs do need to be adjusted for each school’s population and size. More parents with gifted kids would mean more support, and company for the really bright kids.

    She got very irate a few months ago when I raised the subject of what, if anything, they did for gifted students. She now apparently believes it’s racist to talk about IQ.

    Neglecting gifted kids is a nasty consequence of anti-IQism. Most schools don’t IQ test every kid. Teacher recommendations on who gets tested are subject to all the biases teachers have. When schools do test everyone, they often only test once, and before IQ is stable. The LA schools are testing 2nd graders. Roughly 7 and 8 year olds. LA is sure to peg lots of children who matured quickly as gifted. They will also miss the huge of chunk of gifted people people who were a year or two behind on development as 8 year olds.

    Not everyone matures at the same rate. If anything, slower development indicates a higher peak. Cats mature faster than people, yet adults are smarter than cats. There’s some evidence that the phenomena holds within people. Do teachers think everyone matures at the same rate?

    When I was 18 or so, a friend of mine said her kindergarten teacher thought she was retarded because she wouldn’t use her right hand. As people who believe biology is real, we know that some people are left handed. That teacher thought every trait was malleable. I’m sure I had teachers who thought near-sightedness was a matter of not trying hard enough. Even seemingly benign delusions can cause harm.

  18. stone says:

    Well, Rob, remember it was parochial school. There was no TAG program (public schools call it GATE in this state).

    When I said there were two, me and her, I was basing that on being in the top 2 percent of standardized testing, for instance the PSAT. I somehow got the idea that was about the equivalent of two standard deviations above the norm.

    I think a lot of the animosity wasn’t really about race — it was that she got hassled a lot for being a geek, and has always been hedgy about identifying with that side. Whereas I simply dug my heels in deeper.

  19. Nanani says:

    Interesting post, and more interesting comments!

    I wonder what, if anything, L.A. intends to -do- with the gifted kids they turn up?

    I mostly lurk here, and make a point of always reading Ms. stone’s posts.
    I think I’ll throw in my story since gifted programs were a facet of my own upbringing.

    I was in the gifted track for my entire elementary (K-8) education but was only picked on in the junior-high-equivalent grade 7. I’m also a decade younger than most of you, I think.

    I went to a small school in suburban Canada, mostly (white) French-Canadian with the minorities being recent African and Caribbean immigrants, for the most part. No Asians to speak of (I only recall one, and she was Vietnamese). It was also a Catholic school that required proof of baptism for enrollment, which surely kept out other groups.

    Since the classes were small (mine was unusually large at 50something students) I had no genuine gifted students for company, though the cutoff shifted every couple of years meaning that a few other girls and one boy would join me sometimes.

    However, the gifted “program” consisted of being taken out of the classes I had already moved beyond (can’t recall which, but would guess history or social studies or something where I’d have likely read ahead) and getting to do a special project on something I was interested in. The teachers supervising me were special-ed teachers, so I think I may have been their “recess”, so to speak.

  20. Peter says:

    This is an interesting thread, but if it’s still going on tomorrow (Tuesday) I won’t be able to participate. Tomorrow’s going to be a rather unusual day for me, for reasons I pointed out on Subchat earlier today:

    So a couple of hours ago I find out about this huge last-minute sale on Jet Blue [note: I later found out it’s their 10th anniversary]. All available seats on flights tomorrow and Wednesday are $10 – yes, ten dollars – each way. I have work obligations on Wednesday, but could get away tomorrow. Fly out somewhere in the morning and return in the evening. Figuring I’d get the most bang for the buck I first looked on Jet Blue’s site for international destinations. There was nothing available to Bogota or San Jose, and while Santo Domingo was available international taxes would push the total cost well over $100. Because of these taxes I decided not to try other international destinations. Puerto Rico came next, to no avail; the only available flights to San Juan would allow for only a couple of hours on the ground, and there was nothing available to Aguadilla or Ponce.

    Sticking to the mainland U.S., I had quite a bit of trouble finding anything. All the California cities and Denver were unavailable, Salt Lake City was an San Juan-style short turnaround, and a site technical glitch stopped me from booking Austin. Finally, just as I was about to throw in the towel, I was able to book New Orleans. I was there about 20 years ago, but making a return trip – especially one that’ll cost less than a tankful of gasoline – sounds okay. I’ll have to leave for JFK no later than 4:30 tomorrow morning and won’t get back until almost midnight. But hey, the price can’t be beat, and I’ll have about seven hours in New Orleans.

    My only regret is that I won’t be going to Bogota. How would that be for a day trip?

  21. David Alexander says:

    This is what would suck for the gifted minority kids at the poor schools. There aren’t enough of them to wield any clout.

    Depending on the size of the district, one could argue that the gifted students should simply have their own school, pool with other area districts to achieve the gifted student body needed to support the school, or send the gifted students to another district with a large programme. Hell, we do that around here for certain special education, performing arts, and vocational programmes.

  22. rob says:

    Stone, I didn’t mean to imply that your problems were racially motivated, only that being in a two person class with someone who hated you would be awful.

    A quick googling showed 2SD (130 IQ) is the norm for TAG/GATES programs. A 120 cutoff might be better: the difference btween 120 and 130 isn’t as large as between 100 and 120. The pop above 120 is ~5X larger than the over 130 pop. More students means its possible to have actual classes of gifted kids. With classes, they can move through material faster than pulling kids out of regular classes once a week to look through a telescope or whatever. A slightly lower average ability in gifted classes is better than no gifted classes at all.

    Nanani, I have no idea why special ed teachers should teach gifted kids. That’s well, it’s retarded.

  23. web says:

    Rob,

    the reason special-ed teachers teach the “gifted” kids during pull-from-class time is simple: the special-ed teachers are the only available teachers with that little to do otherwise. The rest of the teachers are occupied playing babysitter to the rest of the student population.

  24. Sheila Tone says:

    Peter, enjoy New Orleans. I don’t know that I’d be up for two flights in a day. I’ve been enjoying “Treme” on HBO though.

  25. Sheila Tone says:

    “Stone, I didn’t mean to imply that your problems were racially motivated,”

    Well, on the surface they were. There was plenty of racial crap going on. But it didn’t happen much to the legacy white girls, except to Nerd No. 2 who was almost as mouthy as I was. That’s the annoying thing about being a white minority — people can not only hassle you for being different, but they can always justify it and claim the moral upper hand by calling you “racist” if you challenge them.

    Nerd No. 2 did in fact claim her outrage was due to my alleged racism. I just don’t believe she really thinks that.

  26. Sheila Tone says:

    “A quick googling showed 2SD (130 IQ) is the norm for TAG/GATES programs. ”

    That may be the case, but L.A. Unified has always had many ways of designating people “gifted.” For instance, I knew people whose “gift” was playing an instrument.

    Here’s the state’s definition:

    “Each district shall use one or more of these categories in identifying pupils as gifted and talented. In all categories, identification of a pupil’s extraordinary capability shall be in relation to the pupil’s chronological peers.

    (a) Intellectual Ability: A pupil demonstrates extraordinary or potential for extraordinary intellectual development.
    (b) Creative Ability: A pupil characteristically:
    1. Perceives unusual relationships among aspects of the pupil’s environment and among ideas;
    2. Overcomes obstacles to thinking and doing;
    3. Produces unique solutions to problems.
    (c) Specific Academic Ability: A pupil functions at highly advanced academic levels in particular subject areas.
    (d) Leadership Ability: A pupil displays the characteristic behaviors necessary for extraordinary leadership.
    (e) High Achievement: A pupil consistently produces advanced ideas and products and/or attains exceptionally high scores on achievement tests.
    (f) Visual and Performing Arts Talent: A pupil originates, performs, produces, or responds at extraordinarily high levels in the arts.
    (g) Any other category which meets the standards set forth in these regulations.”

    (California Code Regs. title 5, § 3822)

    So with such broad criteria, there’s really no excuse for not having a substantial number of poor and minority students designated gifted. Plus politically it’s a good idea, to get blacks and Hispanics on board.

  27. Sheila Tone says:

    “Depending on the size of the district, one could argue that the gifted students should simply have their own school, pool with other area districts to achieve the gifted student body needed to support the school, or send the gifted students to another district with a large programme. Hell, we do that around here for certain special education, performing arts, and vocational programmes.”

    David, if the high-scoring kids leave for another school, that may screw their home school for No Child Left Behind assessments. Not that I think that’s a good reason, but I can see where administrators wouldn’t like it.

    I don’t think it’s all that helpful to have a program like Nanami describes, because the gifted kids are still socially stuck with all the others.

    My grade school just had me take certain classes up a grade. I don’t think that’ such a great idea, either. Then the kid isn’t really going to fit into either class.

  28. trumwill says:

    Clancy went to aschool devoted to the best and brightest in the state entire state (it was a residential school). Several states have such schools. It was a real godsend for her. The Colosse school district also has some best-and-brightest charter schools. They tend to be devoted to people that want to go into a particular field (medicine, for instance, or the arts) and are really competitive.

  29. Sheila Tone says:

    “A quick googling showed 2SD (130 IQ) is the norm for TAG/GATES programs. ”

    Here’s the LAUSD where it explains its criteria: http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/lausd/offices/GATE/prog-opt-4.html

    The district has its own qualifying test. For the “highly gifted magnet centers, one has to score in the 99.9 percentile. I believe “Megan,” of the former “From the Archives” blog, attended one of those highly gifted schools.

    But, there are other “gifted/high ability” programs for which students only need to score an 85 on the regular standardized tests.

    The article mentioned something about the district using a new test, and that more minorities were qualifying under the new test. But it didn’t explain anything about the test or criteria.

  30. stone says:

    “Clancy went to aschool devoted to the best and brightest in the state entire state (it was a residential school).”

    And Clancy became a doctor. A good result. And she married a decent guy and will likely transmit her high-intelligence genes to another generation.

    Whereas Nerd No. 2 and I became a public middle-school teacher and an undistinguished lawyer, respectively.

    And NN2 is 39 and never married, and appears to have never had a substantial romantic relationship. Probably will not reproduce at this point, therefore a genetic dead-end for her high-intelligence genes. (And she’s thin, in case anyone was thinking “Aha! She’s alone because she’s fat!”)

    And we are so dysfunctional we couldn’t be Facebook friends for one day without someone getting accused of being evil.

    We’re not in jail or anything, but still. Look at the difference in outcomes.

  31. rob says:

    Web, that makes sense, but while the special ed teacher chills with smart kids, who watches the special students? Special ed teachers have relatively specialized training, don’t they? It’d be cool to separate out gifted ed just in the hopes that smart people might become teachers to teach gifted students.

    The Nanami-style gifted program seems worse than nothing: single them out for being nerds, but don’t separate them out. Residential schools must pull from just the top sliver of IQ, and probably only a small chunk of kids who qualify go. Will, if it isn’t too personal, why did Clancy go?

    That’s the annoying thing about being a white minority

    I wondered how a well-adjusted woman got involved with the hbd-sphere.

    I did say it was a quick googling:) “Leadership ability:…” When, if ever, will people realize that an idiot leader is worse than no leader at all? Extraversion is great and all, but I have the feeling that the leadership they’re looking has high overlap with stereotypically masculine traits along the lines of “big guy, talks real loud.” The same “leadership ability” that the left-wing touts as a benefit of AA is the one that was historically used to avoid promoting women.

    Stone, what would you attribute the difference in outcomes between you, NN2, and Clancy to? As for NN2, not everyone wants kids, so that isn’t necessarily a failure of the system.

    Also, I have a nom de web for your new kid: Chip. It’s between that and Shard.

  32. Nanani says:

    “The Nanami-style gifted program seems worse than nothing: single them out for being nerds, but don’t separate them out.”

    -Exactly-.

    (My name is NanaNi, with an N, though)

  33. David Alexander says:

    that may screw their home school for No Child Left Behind assessments

    IIRC, NCLB’s focus is toward the under performing segments of each school’s student body, and less on the overall achievement of the students. Having a pool of gifted students doesn’t do much as averages aren’t taken into account, and the emphasis is on the lowest segment of the student body. In other words, if the special ed children are under performing, then the school must take efforts to improve the low performance of these students in order to avoid being declared a “failing school”. Eventually, the goal is for all students to meet or exceed minimum state standards, but this does not take into account under performing kids who improve, but don’t meet state standards or students who move from meeting standards to exceeding them.

    Thus, if the state standard is 50 points on an exam, the presence of 25 gifted children scoring 100 has no effect on the school’s overall record, or the decision to place the school under any type of review. It’s the presence of children scoring below 50 on the exam that creates the trouble.

  34. Sheila Tone says:

    Thanks, David. I wonder, though, does the *percentage* of failing students make any difference? In other words, if you removed 10 percent of the top students, the bottom performers would comprise a larger portion of the student body. Would that make a difference?

    I saw a funny cartoon of you today, BTW. 😉

  35. Sheila Tone says:

    “Stone, what would you attribute the difference in outcomes between you, NN2, and Clancy to? As for NN2, not everyone wants kids, so that isn’t necessarily a failure of the system.”

    If a person’s married, or at least been married, I’d be more inclined to see child-free status as a lifestyle choice. I didn’t get that indication from her. But more importantly, she’s apparently been alone consistently. Didn’t really date in college, either. I never understood why. I had thought maybe she’d turn out to be a lesbian, but there’s no evidence of that (and she’s an atheist, not the type who’d cover it up).

    It would seem to me that Clancy’s superior education could be a substantial factor in her superior outcome.

    “Also, I have a nom de web for your new kid: Chip. It’s between that and Shard.”

    I like Shard.

  36. Sheila Tone says:

    Man, if she were a guy, I’ll bet she’d totally be online complaining about alpha males and pretending she’s a “Game” expert.

    There’s no HBD explanation for her.

  37. trumwill says:

    Will, if it isn’t too personal, why did Clancy go?

    She wanted to get out of the house. She was also have a lot of trouble fitting in to her high school. She was part of a GT program there, but it didn’t work out for her like the GT school did. Her younger sister did the same thing. Her youngest sister, just as smart as the other two, is a social butterfly who could fit in anywhere and stuck around.

  38. rob says:

    Nanani, sorry ’bout that. Maybe I interest in dropping the IQ cutoff for TAG is a bit self-serving.

    I like Shard. Flake for the older one?

    If NN2’s always been alone, that points to personality/socialization issues, which certainly could be related to HS socialization.

    Stone, I always got the feeling that you thought going to a directional school (for undergrad?) hindered your opportunities. Since lots of people go to Ivies or 2nd tier colleges from non-elite high schools, does being in a gifted and talented program give an advantage in college admissions? Probably advanced classes prepare kids better for college. At minimum, studying is an easier skill to learn at 14 than 18.

    Or is it more a matter of what the school guides you towards? In senior year, I told the guidance counsellor I was thinking about UVa, Brown, or Reed, and was going to apply to whatever I thought would be safety schools. She looked at my transcript, and suggested that the safety schools were more like stretches. I told her my SATs and she changed her mind. If she hadn’t believed that SATs measured something important, and I hadn’t had parents pushing me, I probably would have ended up at a much lower ranked school. That might have been good, who knows. Personally, I wish I had gone to Deep Springs.

  39. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    In defense of those teachers with paltry average IQs of 107, if you have an IQ of 107 that means that your IQ is higher than that of 70% of the population at large.

    Not what we’d call “geniuses,” perhaps, but that’s probably getting close to what we’d call “bright.” And that’s the average, so some individual teachers are going to test higher than that.

  40. Maria says:

    My son was in GATE in California public school when he was in middle school. They made him do a lot of boring, useless, swipple crap like be a delegate in a “Model United Nations” program. He got bored eventually and refused to participate in the program. He would have benefitted from advanced math and science programs, but I don’t remember them being on offer.

    Maybe things have changed since then, but GATE did nothing for him.

  41. David Alexander says:

    I wonder, though, does the *percentage* of failing students make any difference?

    It depends on how the standards are enforced at your state’s Department of Education. Remember, we’re not talking about schools where half the student body is gifted, but merely ten to fifteen percent at most. As long as there’s a majority or large plurality of failing students, the districts will be nagged into dealing with these students and pushing them toward academic proficiency and higher graduation rates. In other words, in a school of 1000 students, even 200 of them tested as gifted, the focus will always remain on the bottom who aren’t passing.

  42. Maria says:

    In other words, in a school of 1000 students, even 200 of them tested as gifted, the focus will always remain on the bottom who aren’t passing

    Yeah very true, unfortunately.

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