Here it is:
Statement from Shirley Brandman, President of the Montgomery County Board of Education, and Patricia O’Neill, Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Policy Committee
“The Washington Post published a story today entitled ‘Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label’ that creates the impression that Montgomery County Board of Education has already made the decision to stop identifying students as gifted and talented. This is incorrect. The global screening process, as required by Policy IOA, Gifted and Talented Education, will be conducted for all second graders this year as it has in past years.
“It is correct that Montgomery County Public Schools is conducting a pilot program in two elementary schools—Burning Tree and Georgian Forest—that provides gifted and talented services to students without labeling students. The screening process at these schools—including assessments, staff surveys and parent surveys—is st ill conducted, but staff does not label students at the end of the process. Students in these two schools still receive the same opportunity for accelerated and enriched instruction as students in schools where the label is still used.
“MCPS has been engaging parent and community stakeholders in a robust discussion about the system’s policy on gifted and talented education and will continue to do so. This discussion and parental input will be important as the Board of Education’s Policy Committee considers revisions to the policy some time during 2009.
“It is true that among the options that will be considered is eliminating labeling in favor of a services-based model. In this model, students are still screened for their readiness for advanced work and parents are provided the recommendations from the screening so that they are fully informed of their children’s readiness to excel at a higher level. Students are then provided advanced work based on the results of the screening process, consultation with parents, and the ongoing assessment of students’ needs.
“The Board of Education’s Policy Committee will consider this and any other changes to Policy IOA as part its work. Parents and other stakeholders will be provided ample time for comment before any action takes place by the Board of Education.”
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Posted in Gifted, In the News, School, tagged acceleration, Center for the Highly Gifted, differentiation, elementary school, Gifted, Gifted - Montgomery & Fairfax County GROUPS, identification, MCPS, middle school on December 16, 2008 |
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Yup, it’ s right there on my screen:
Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label: Implications Concern Some Parents
You can read the accompanying story here.
I have to say, I find the tone of the article disappointing. It’s snarky and snide and overlooks the real concern at the heart of the discussion for most parents. No, it’s not about being able to say “my kid is gifted and talented.” Like a sticker on a banana. Good Lord. It’s about being able to access an appropriate education for their kid in a system that wants to insist that everyone is exactly the same. That everyone will complete algebra in 8th grade…whether you’re not ready…or were ready two years earlier. That you will work from this “GT” vocabulary workbook because it’s the book that goes with this grade…even if you already know every word in the book. That by waving a magic “high expectations” “every teacher can differentiate” wand they can make it so. Because to do otherwise would inconvenience, show favoritism, hurt someone’s feelings. It’s about parents being supremely frustrated at wrenching even small educational accommodations from a system that is hell bent on providing a one-size-fits all education–and grasping at any tool at their disposal.
But hey, okay, let me take them at their word. Let me believe that “it’s about services, not labels.” How did they plan to “service” the kid who is reading at a high school level in 5th grade? How are they going to service the child that is gifted…whoops, can’t use that term any more…”highly able” in, say the humanities? What are they going to do with the kids who need to be be taught at levels that would take them out of the building, when at the same time MPCS generally REFUSES to countenance this because, a) “that would be socially and developmentally inappropriate” and b) “What will we do with little Madison when she’s in grade X?” And yet they won’t service the child IN the building (like independent study, supervised online work, building-wide or grade-wide regrouping, etc.) because they don’t have the staffing–all those para-educators are working with the truly deserving who can’t meet the minimum standards. Too complicated. So sorry, your child just needs to be where he/she belongs, providing a “service” to the other students, namely being an exemplar of “high achievement.” At least for awhile–before he/she gets completely frustrated and fed up with school.
Yes, there are the Centers for the top 3% at grades 4 and 5. Yes, there are the three selective middle school magnets, and high school magnets. We absolutely need those. But what of the kids who for a variety of reasons just miss or choose not to attend these programs. These students are still back in “normal” school, sometimes in schools with enornmous challenges. No I don’t care if the child is designated “GT” by the school system. But I sure as heck care that this child has the opportunity to learn with intellectual peers in genuinely rigorous classes–not “GT” classes that have been watered down and expanded beyond the bounds of reason so that everyone can feel good about “aiming high.” That’s what this is about.
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