The best way of encouraging “gifted” kids to do well in life and school is to create an incredibly nurturing environment and then find great role models and personalities to help keep them inspired. This works well for kids of all kinds. Adults, too.
Sure, we grew up during the John Dewey-laden progressive era, but this is all just so terrifically awful.
Predictable, but awful:
In a renewed effort to better serve intellectually gifted students, Burbank school officials are working to create a new master plan to address the district’s approach in teaching students who are part of its Gifted and Talented Education program, commonly known as GATE.
A total of 236 elementary students and 509 middle school students were part of the GATE program during the 2015-16 school year.
Combined, those students represent 13% of the 5,598 students who were enrolled in fourth through eighth grades.
That’s an odd number discrepancy there now, isn’t it? Half as many k-5 kids are considered to be high achievers?
How so? They suddenly get bright when they enter the 6th grade? Or does GATE become a PR thing for the older kids?
After acknowledging a need to improve the program’s quality, several educators, administrators and parents started to meet on on a weekly basis last December to draft a new plan, which they modeled after one used by the Davis Joint Unified School District.
Burbank’s plan addresses the social and emotional development of students, who are defined as having “high potential in the areas of abstract thinking and reasoning ability as applied to school-learning situations,” according to a district report.
The plan aims to have teachers work with parents to address common characteristics of gifted students.
“Lots of gifted kids have anxiety, and it’s not something out of the norm,” said Jennifer Almer, a teacher specialist who worked on the plan, which was presented for the first time to school board members last week.
Anxiety? No wonder:
Although school board President Larry Applebaum said the plan, overall, was well-articulated, he took issue with its accountability aspects, and wondered whether students’ exam scores were enough to determine whether they are being pushed to their academic limits.
Is that the goal? Turning gifted kids into performing automatons? Gifted in what?
Almer pointed to the plan’s use of benchmark exams, state exams and classroom observations as ways to measure students’ growth, while Burbank Supt. Matt Hill said educators would also examine students’ attendance rates and behavioral issues.
Teachers’ design of assessments and lessons would also be used to determine whether or not a student has mastered skills, Almer added.
“It really is going to be up to teachers and benchmark assessments to see where they begin and where they end,” she said.
Tests tests tests! Accountability! Which is often the very opposite of what intelligent people want or need to be measured on.
Even so, board members wanted the team to detail additional ways to use data to measure student outcomes.
“What data demonstrates that we’re supporting them effectively?” board member Steve Ferguson asked.
He also requested the team outline the plan’s qualitative and quantitative measurements.
Applebaum agreed with Ferguson and wondered whether a student scoring well on exams is enough for an educator to measure that student’s ability.
“How do I know that the kid who is doing exceptionally well is being challenged to the limits of their ability to be successful?” Applebaum asked.
He’s really big on extreme performance, isn’t he? What a dangerous knucklehead.
To answer that question, school officials recently administered a survey about the GATE program to students, their parents and teachers, said Tom Kissinger, assistant superintendent of instructional services.
“One of the things you can do to ask if a student is being challenged is to ask him. Ask her. We’ve done that in the survey,” he said, adding that the survey had not yet closed.
Like these days this pack of youthful self-promoters and grade-grubbers are going to tell you anything they know or might think you don’t want to hear? And why does lots of work and effort mean the most?
Most smart kids know how to challenge themselves, and should be — unless you think you need to spoon feed them all the time. Which is what this really sounds like.
School board member Roberta Reynolds suggested using the recent survey responses with students’ past answers to draw comparisons and trends.
The team crafting the plan is expected to return to the board during an upcoming meeting to further discuss quantifiable ways they can measure students’ outcomes.
Those poor kids. They’re being ruined in the cradle and most of them now don’t even know it.
We would have– and did. Our problem back then was the families not expecting anything of us, or even deliberately blocking the way. Especially in Burbank. Not the schools. They were being cool and supportive. We had wonderful, wonderful teachers and administrators and lots of great and inspirational characters who were just that way on their own. (Miss Smiley, anyone? How about Miss Johnson?)
But that’s for a different post. As you can guess, we think it all begins and ends in the family. And yes, we don’t like most of them.