Another School Board Attempting to Diversify Gifted Classrooms with Non-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.

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: 

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Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

3 Responses

  1. So sorry to hear this. Gifted children are already at a disadvantage as it is and when there are programs that actually address the needs of the gifted somebody is taking them away? Wow, it feels like a move in the wrong direction. I have been advocating for move towards more understanding and accomodations for the needs of the gifted child. I was blessed to go through a gifted program growing up and feel so thankful for it. I wish all schools would offer at least something similar to this if not more. My son has fallen through the cracks and it is devastating! In my opinion th n to ds of the gifted are as portant as those of the disabled as they truly may have as equally devastating consequences if not addressed properly. The article doesn’t even touch on the subject of gifted children ending up on the streets engaging in criminal behavior due to lack of proper placements in schools, suicidal rates etc. In short all of the devastating results of improper identification. I feel they are at a greater disadvantage than a disadvantage since disabled adults continue to receive assistance through government assisted programs but a gifted individual resulting in adult criminal behavior only gets some jail time.

    1. Thank you Carina for your thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree! We know there is a pipeline to prisons for our underserved gifted and twice exceptional population and we know there is also a high incidence of mental health issues when gifted needs are unmet. This is why I keep posting about this issue as various states (New York) grapple with and seem to make uninformed decisions.

  2. I have heard of people saying that the undersered gifted and twice exceptional population has a risk of going to prison and doing nothing with their lives. What is the research and source of the information, and what can a parent do about it now.
    The problem of getting rid of the gifted programs are particularly bad in Southern California school districts.

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