Alexandria, Virginia parents are complaining the schools have made it harder for students to qualify as TAG (Talented and Gifted); kids left behind in mainstream classes aren’t being challenged, parents say. Virginia’s Standards of Learning exam is a minimum competency test for fairly bright students, writes Patrick Welsh in the Washington Post. Other students need lots of work to pass SOL.
To allay parental anxieties, Superintendent Rebecca Perry has said that the students at the top of the regular classes — i.e., the white kids who didn’t get into TAG — will help to “challenge, mentor and coach” the students struggling with the SOL material.
George Mason parent David Rainey charitably calls Perry’s statement “an interesting perspective.” But “the unanswered question remains,” he says. “What else could these students be doing instead of reviewing material they already understand as they challenge, coach and mentor their classmates?”
Welsh, who taught high school in Alexandria, isn’t a fan of the “gifted” label, but predicts white, middle-class parents will leave the public schools if their children’s needs are ignored.
Why not offer harder assignments or enrichment classes to all students willing to do the work?
My daughter was identified as gifted in reading and math in first grade. Then Palo Alto decided all students were gifted so no extra enrichment was required. As a parent volunteer, I spent half Allison’s third grade year photocopying for the teacher. Then, when I asked about the disappearance of the gifted program, she gave me some “critical thinking” questions, six or seven bright kids and an empty room. At least, I saved the kids from boring work they didn’t need, though I did lose my mad photocopying skills. In fourth grade, the teacher slipped Allison a copy of Tuck Everlasting, but told her not to tell the other kids that she was reading a “gifted book.”