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I just read yet another example of misunderstanding the gifted classroom issue, and putting a bandaid on a gushing wound. In Seattle, Washington, the School Board is contemplating replacing Gifted programming, referred to as the #highlycapablecohort, and described as a “program for students who demonstrate high academic achievement and don’t do well in a typical classroom environment.” The replacement would be STEM programming from the nonprofit Technology Access Foundation (TAF), described in the article as a “nonprofit [that] uses a STEM-focused learning model as a way to provide educational equality for students of color and low-income families in public schools.” This article makes clear that parents are “fearing the new program will not address advanced learning needs.”

Reading further we find the basis for this “replacement” the same complaint seen elsewhere – inequitable and underrepresented populations in gifted programming. If the idea is to diversify the gifted classroom, taking away the gifted class and replacing it with a program that aims at the diversity but not the giftedness will only frustrate everyone and ignore the core of the problem. Assessments must be adjusted to identify a wide range of gifted learners and government must stop understanding gifted students as “smart” and learn about the other gifted needs that make a “typical classroom environment” unsuccessful.

The only issue that irks me as much as this, is the overarching assumption that Advanced Placement classes are gifted classes. In my opinion, the way to truly address equitable gifted programming requres three steps:  Step #1: Understand that gifted brains are neurodiverse and require classrooms that take into account deep empathy, the need for relatable and meaningful tasks, potential sensory considerations, learning differences and tendencies toward perfectionism and anxiety. Step #2: The percentage of gifted students seen within white and asian communities are the same as in all communities. Step 3: Assess students in a way that allows for cultural and socio-economic differences and expect to find the same percentages of gifted students in each group. Read the article here: https://www.king5.com/article/news/education/seattle-school-board-vote-implement-stem-program/281-4870fd8d-e48b-4290-87c6-bf80332cc3f4 

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