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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Let’s Retire the ‘Gifted-and-Talented’ Label | EdNext Blog - EducationNext

This post originally appeared on ChristensenInstitute.org.


"If we allow students to move at their own pace, there is no longer a need to label and sort them" says Michael Horn, co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. 
 
Photo: EducationNext
Earlier this year the Fordham Institute wrote about the challenge of the gifted gap in our nation’s schools. Put simply, gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds too often are not identified as gifted, which causes them to lose out on access to a variety of gifted-and-talented programs at their local schools that could accelerate their development and social and economic opportunities.

The report’s authors offer seemingly three solid recommendations toward this end—universal screening for gifted students; identification of gifted students within each school, not just district-wide; and active efforts to counter bias.

Those make sense if we assume gifted programs are a good idea. But in a day and age where we can move past our factory-model schools and personalize learning for all students, such that students can move at their own pace and not grow bored or disengaged and can dive deep into areas of passion, should schools be in the business of placing labels on students designed to sort them?

Count me as unconvinced.

In 2010, a fifth-grade student named Jack (his name is disguised) started the year at the bottom of his class in math at Santa Rita Elementary School in the Los Altos School District in California. I visited the class several times during the year. Jack had struggled to keep up in math and grew to consider himself one of those kids who would just never quite ‘‘get it.’’ In a typical school, he would have been tracked and placed in the bottom math group—and he certainly would not have been considered a “gifted” student. That would have meant that he would not have taken Algebra until high school, which would have negatively impacted his college and career choices...

Closer to home in Lexington, Mass., where I live, over coffee a parent told me that his daughter in the eighth grade was anguishing over whether to take regular or honors math next year in high school. The stress over the decision was intense, he said. As stress like this builds, he told me that many parents were considering taking their students out of the public school system. I couldn’t believe this was all just over what math class a 14-year-old should take. Why did she have to choose, label herself, and place herself on a track with no flexibility?
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Source: EducationNext 


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