Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Leave No Gifted Child Behind

I'm reading: Leave No Gifted Child BehindTweet this!

Check out Susan Goodkin's piece Leave No Gifted Child Behind in yesterday's Washington Post. The main idea is that by forcing schools to focus their time and funding almost entirely on bringing low-achieving students up to proficiency, the No Child Left Behind Act sacrifices the education of our most gifted students. While this is not a new discussion in gifted circles, it's nice to see it in a prominent newspaper.

President Bush talks about holding schools accountable for student progress, but NCLB provides neither the process nor the tools (nor incentives) to properly assess the children who perform above-grade level. If my son took our state's 3rd grade math assessment as a third grader and scored in the upper percentile what exactly would this reveal? Given that he probably could have scored in the upper percentiles when he was a first grader, I don't think his scores would indicate much about the quality of his teachers or his academic progress.

I've heard talk of some parents of gifted students who have banded together to boycott the state testing. I'm not sure if this was a threat to get the school district to give their gifted children adequate instruction and academic challenge, or was there a perverse hope of the district missing AYP goals so the parents would (theoretically) have some school choice? I don't know and I'm not recommending these drastic measures. However, maybe the folks at www.fairtest.org/ would. If nothing else, they provide some food for thought.

Really though if our public school had a system for appropriately assessing academically advanced students and the district was held accountable for the progress of those children, I think I'd not only be pretty excited about it, I'd be saving myself the expense of private school.

3 comments:

jim mcnelis said...

I had an early post on my blog about an article in The Washington Monthly that looked at the assessment methods used by the Dallas school system. It's pretty interesting stuff. They incorporate a measurement system whereby kids can be measured against themselves, i.e. what they are expected to achieve from year to year based on their own previous inidividual achievements. It's meant to measure the "value added" component of the schools. And of course, this does not go without negative consequences as they try to co-exist with the rest of the state. It's a good read.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0510.toch.html

Kim Moldofsky said...
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Kim Moldofsky said...

Thanks for the tip Jim. It's an interesting article. For academically talented students the Dallas system sounds quite practical.