'Gifted' classes produce few gains

Gifted students in special classes and magnet schools don’t learn more than students who just missed the cut-off for special programs, concludes a working paper (pdf) by the National Bureau of Economic Research. From Education Week:

The University of Houston researchers who conducted the study found that students in these programs were more likely than other students to do in-depth coursework with top teachers and high-performing peers. Yet students who barely met the 5th grade cutoff criteria to enter the gifted programs fared no better academically in 7th grade, after a year and a half in the program, than did similarly high-potential students who just missed qualifying for gifted identification.

“You’re getting these better teachers; you’re getting these higher-achieving students paired up with you,” said Scott A. Imberman, an economics professor

The large, southwestern district provides enrichment, rather than acceleration, to gifted students. That typically means “more detailed and in-depth course materials, taught by high-performing teachers, with other high-performing peers.”

Students qualified as gifted based on high grades, teacher recommendations or scoring above the 80th percentile on a standardized exam.  However, students with average academic performance — as low as the 45th percentile in reading and the 55th percentile in math — could qualify if they had disabilities or limited English proficiency or if they lived in poverty.  About 20 percent of students were designated as gifted, an unusually high number.

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  1. I haven’t commented before (thank you for the excellent blog!), but I want to respond as this is a sensitive subject for me: I spent my whole school career in abject boredom. I don’t think the results of the study are surprising considering the selection criteria for inclusion in the district’s gifted program, which are both broad (as you noted) and vague. It’s eminently possible that for students with IQ circa 1sd, a gifted program will not produce any substantial difference in terms of performance; I find that hard to believe at 2sd and 3sd, but even then it is besides the point when working with relatively young students. Gifted programs should be about the quality of educational experience for the child, not about getting “more” from the child. I hope this study will not negatively impact support for gifted programs.

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I only skimmed the article, but it looks like they measured learning based on Stanford Achievement Test scores? As a kid, I found that my scores on those tests were the same year to year, no matter what I had or hadn’t learned. (They seemed to be more IQ tests than ‘achievement scores in the absence of a learning disability or other unusual circumstance (fever on day of test, etc,)

    So– why would we expect the program to increase scores?

    The point of GT programs isn’t to raise IQs, or to raise test scores (after all, most of these kids are ALREADY in the 99th percentile on most tests…where are they going to go from there?) It’s to stop wasting the gifted kids’ time by forcing them into classes where they learn nothing.

    Also, the kids who just missed the cut off are probably in a class appropriate to their abililty levels, just like the kids who blew the cut off out of the water are (hopefully) properly matched to the class.

    In fact, I’d expect the bordeline kids who made it in to fare WORSE than the kids who stayed behind, because they were probably getting put in classes that were out of their league.

    (I was in a magnet program for High School, and as a result got to take Genetics, Cell Phys, History of Science, and a whole slew of other math/science/engineering/computer classes that weren’t even offered at other schools in the district. So, if a school is offering special advanced classes, how can it NOT be increasing learning over schools where students don’t have the opportunity to take much beyond “earth science?” Especially if it includes an accelerated curriculum, so kids are covering 2 years of science in a year?

  3. Sounds to me like it wasn’t really a GATE program with such a low cutoff. I’d like to see a study of the benefits of a program where the cutoff is in the 97th+ percentile.

  4. Deirdre Mundy says:

    The more I mull this over, the more I think the problem is with the philosophy of ‘gifted’ programs.

    Is the point to increase test scores? Well, then they’re a waste— the truly gifted are already acing state exams. Are they to stop parents from complaining that their special snowflake’s needs aren’t met? Or are they an attempt to give bright kids something to do in school besides stare out the window, doodle, and read (if you don’t get caught!)

    As a kid, I often wished that they’d assign gifted kids at-home-private-tutors just like they did the Juvenile delinquents, seriously ill kids, and severely disabled kids, so that we could get instruction at our academic level and not have to spend all day stuck in a seat doing nothing.

    But, I think we need to admit that the point of modern American education is NOT to help every student reach his academic potential. It’s warehousing and trying to hit a bare minimum of competence, after which point no additional achievement matters since it doesn’t effect the numbers.

    I think there’s a reason that the parents of gifted kids are increasingly inclined to home school.

  5. I didn’t see anything that said that the kids were evaluated using tests designed to measure achievement at the top end. Certainly the usual state testing doesn’t; my older kids’ HS was recently dinged for insufficient AYP; hard to achieve if most of the kids are already at the very top of the curve. It also sounds as if the program was not really a gifted program as I would define it. A serious gifted program should have more material, greater depth AND greater speed. Student achievement, especially at the MS level, should be measured by testing that will discriminate at the very top levels. If that means using the SSAT, SAT, ACT etc, so be it. Private high schools (including Catholic) have been using the SSAT and gifted high schools have been using the SAT for well over a decade, when my kids’ contemporaries were applying, and perhaps longer than that.

  6. Mark Roulo says:

    From the link:

    Fifth graders were identified for the district program based on a combination of criteria, such as scoring above the 80th percentile on total scores in math, reading, science and social studies on the Stanford Achievement Test, high grades or teacher recommendations. Students got bonus points if they had disabilities or limited English proficiency, or if they lived in poverty. As a result, researchers found students at the eligibility threshold for the program ranged widely in actual academic performance, from 45 to 97 in national percentile rankings in reading and from the 55th percentile to 97th percentile in math on the Stanford Achievement Tests.

    So the students in the special programs ranged from below average (45th percentile) to well above average. And the kids in the pile who range from the 45th to the 97th percentile (what, no 99%? Why not?) don’t do better than the kids who just missed based on … what? If the kids who “just missed” run around the 80th percentile, this isn’t much of a surprise. If the kids who “just missed” didn’t get in because they weren’t quite poor enough, then we don’t know.

    But mixing “does well in school” together with “is disabled” and “is poor” and “speaks English poorly” doesn’t seem like the correct way to rank kids for a gifted class. I’d be interested to know the average test score for the kids who got in versus the kids who just missed. If these scores are pretty close, then why would you expect them to differ in a few years?

  7. SuperSub says:

    I went through a pretty standard G&T program when I was in elementary and middle school… and it did not in any way increase my academic performance. Why? Because the program provided enrichment that allowed me to learn about marine biology, engineering, business ownership, etc… and all of those are outside the traditional elementary and middle school curricula and the assessments that are given to measure academic achievement.

  8. SuperSub says:

    Expecting G&T programs to enhance overall academic performance is like expecting added cupholders to make a car go faster.

  9. Good analogy, SuperSub. I suspect that most G&T programs are basically time-wasters (“enrichment” vs “acceleration”) because any meaningful program that actually focused on acceleration would serve to widen the achievement gap. No, can’t have that, can we, if educational equality is defined to be equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities.

    “Gifted” children (e.g. 2+ SD) would be better served by being allowed to skip a grade or two. That was how “gifted” children were typically handled when I was younger, yet even then some teachers and/or administrators would advise against it because it would put the child “out of his peer group” – an argument that I always found strained at best.

  10. G&T programs are as much about making sure smart kids don’t turn into bored troublemakers as they are about teaching them things. It doesn’t surprise me that the kids don’t show improvement because most of the extra things they learn will not be reflected on any standardized test.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Re out of peer group:

    I can’t say I was gifted, but I went to kindergarten at four and didn’t flunk. That was fine until about the eighth grade when everybody got their growth a year ahead of me, or it seemed like everybody. Took me some tough years until I was a senior and caught up.
    I was the last soph cut from the varsity football team and felt bad about it for years until I figured I should have been starring on the ninth-grade team. We didn’t have one of those and a lousy JV program. Now, there’s nothing to say that I didn’t get put on a better path, only that such things do have an effect.
    I’d like to see data telling us that a gifted kid can do coursework for the, say, college track stuff along with kids two years his senior, or even one year when put in a conventional class.
    Thing is, first he has to get the fundamental stuff, what we call in college the prerequisites. That’s a matter of time. If he gets it twice as fast, he can get it in half the time. If there’s someplace gaited to give the fundamentals to him in half the time starting about the second grade. Not many of those around.
    When I was in college, some of the profs took liberties with the course outline. It may have been advertised as a prereq to something or other but they did their pet thing leaving us poorly prepared for the follow-on, and the college wouldn’t let us take the same prereq over again with a different prof unless we’d flunked it. That meant we had to do a hell of a lot of work to keep up. That meant studying the course work and going back independently trying to get the fundamentals we’d missed. If that what a gifted class means, it might not work.
    Seems there are two ways to deal with the gifted. One is to give them stuff they wouldn’t get otherwise, which won’t show up on tests.
    The other is to shove it to them twice as fast so they get further in a given period.

  12. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I think excellent points are being made all around.

    Jeff’ and SuperSub are both right that the GT programs aren’t necessarily going to be about getting better test scores. And the people who are pointing out that the top 20% isn’t exactly the cream of the crop are pretty much on target, too. (Though every advanced/honors class I ever took, much like every graduate course I’ve ever taken, has stragglers.)

    Most everything I’m thinking, though, is based on ancient data: my own experience. Your mileage may vary.

    My GATE class in junior high, which took the place of Language Arts, was an extremely abbreviated version of LA with a few extra books thrown in for good measure, and a LOT of “not on the test” enrichment, including mythology (Greek and American Indian), classical music, art, advertising/media psychology, and theatre. I think we represented around 8% of the student body.

  13. @Richard:

    My parents had wanted me to start kindergarten a year early because I was already reading fluently at 4. I distinctly remember being taken to school and demonstrating my ability in the teachers’ lounge. Ultimately, though, my parents succumbed to the “better judgment” of the teachers, and I started kindergarten at five (well, technically, five and a half, my birthday being in winter), along with my peers. But there is always that niggling “what if” question that haunts me when I think of how my academic career might have been different, had I been allowed the challenge of skipping a grade or two.

    My personality has never been one of the social butterfly, so it’s hard to imagine that being out of my peer group would have exacerbated things – introverts tend not to get hung up on peer groups in the first place 😉

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ref personality. It’s not a matter of peer groups, but of being able to get along socially with people. That they happen to be “peers” isn’t the issue. Perhaps I should say getting along socially with anybody is easier in school if they’re your age mates.
    My kids went to school late, as you did, and did splendidly. Helped with my son in sports to be six months or a year ahead in growth.
    Social and emotional maturity change in large increments in little time at that age.
    You don’t need to be a social butterfly to have a hard time when others are a year or so ahead of you.
    Due to my situation, I was in a HS class which, I found from teachers and administrators at the tenth or fifteenth reunion, was considered the best the school had ever had. I had a couple of neat things going my senior year that I might have missed if I’d been on my age track. I might have done better academically, but I got everyplace I wanted to be in life that scores were going to take me so….
    If you’d merely skipped a grade or two, then you’d have graduated HS at, say, fifteen with good grades. Then what? Start college the following fall at, say, fifteen and a half? What if you’d gone away to college. Imagine a fifteen year old trying to get used to dorm life. Want a date? HAHAHAHA.
    I presume you got good grades anyway.
    The thing about the road not taken is that we usually figure it would be pretty neat. That’s why we ought to take it, to discover it’s not so hot (normally) but so we won’t be reproaching ourselves later on.

  15. If the GATE criterion is top 20%, it’s going below 115 IQ (less than 1 SD above the mean); “adjustments” will make that even worse.  If the classes are then taught so the slowest can keep up, it’s no wonder they wouldn’t show much improvement over those just missing the cut.

    A real GATE cutoff will be around the top 5% (2 SD, 130 IQ).

  16. Deirdre Mundy says:

    EP– When I was growing up the GT cutoff was usually closer to 140.

  17. palisadesk says:

    My district revised its criteria a few years ago to make the Gifted program one limited to the top 1-2%. The students accepted must score in the 99th percentile on one or the other scales of the WISC-IV and no lower than the 97th percentile on the other.Some subtests (those dealing with reasoning) are weighted more than others, such as digit span and object assembly. Rarely, a different IQ measure, such as the WJ-III, can be substituted.

    However, the program offered gifted students is identical in curriculum to the regular program. Acceleration is not permitted; instead, students are to explore the grade level curricula in greater “depth.” What does seem to make a difference is the absence of unmotivated, disruptive, psychotic and seriously disturbed students; often, the gifted students — the ones I have known were all from low-SES backgrounds — are among their intellectual peers for the very first time, and they flourish.

    For bright, but not “gifted,” students, there are other options, such as the IB and magnet programs, which also offer the filtering effect of limiting the presence of peers who actively disrupt the learning process. This, quite apart from any teaching or curricular orientation, is bound to improve learning for the students involved.

  18. Cranberry says:

    The authors need to proofread. Is there a law that a working paper can’t be spellchecked?

    I’m concerned that this study’s conclusions have been overblown. The headlines for articles reporting the paper trumpet the study as proof that no gifted program will work for anyone. That’s politically convenient in a time when budgets must be cut.

    The admissions criteria are so generous, I’m not sure what “just above” and “just below” the line implies. Did the authors compare the performance of students just above and just below the line who qualified on the basis of test scores only? A kid who scored 81% on a standardized test, and a kid who scored 45% on the test, but got points awarded from teacher nominations, or socioeconomic factors, aren’t alike enough, in my opinion, to treat the group as a homogenous whole. How was the performance of kids at the boundary, when you looked at them divided by nomination criteria (i.e., did the kids nominated by teachers do better than the kids who qualified by test scores?)

  19. Cranberry,

    It’s even worse than you think. The basic problem is that gifted programs are thought to be most essential for children who are very gifted, who may not fit in well in a standard classroom. So the methodology (comparing students who barely got in to students who almost got in) is terrible in this context.

  20. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I went to a highly selective Magnet high school (only 100 kids from all of Montgomery County, MD. At the time admissions primarily based on test scores.) There were a couple of kids who had been borderline and had gotten in through various forms of string pulling. Everyone knew who they were, and anecdotally, if I had to guess, I’d say those borderline kids probably did WORSE than their same-ability peers who’d stayed at their home schools–because the teachers DIDN’T slow down the pace. So you had kids who were really outclassed.

    On the other hand, for the program, I was on the low end of average for Math/Science/CS ability. And we had some actual geniuses. Being on the Low-end-of-average was actually GOOD for me. While I didn’t make NHS I learned a lot (because of the pace of instruction) AND I had to work at a fairly steady clip to get B’s (I was a slacker and unwilling to stay up past 10pm just to get a higher grade.)

    Which meant, when I got to my first quarter at a college where most kids were shell-shocked by the sheer pace and amount of work, I felt like I was getting a break because I only had FOUR classes that wanted attention instead of EIGHT. And more time OUT of class for studying, too!

    Anyway– For a kid in the middle of the accepted-score-range, a good GT program is amazing, because you can go a lot further and a lot faster without bumping your head on the instructional ceiling. My school actually had university professors come in to teach the kids at the very top, so they were careful to also help the most advanced kids keep advancing.

    BUT for the kids who are barely there, GT programs taught at GT speed were just too fast, and I think they actually lost the opportunities they would have had by being in a right-speed course. (We went faster, not more in depth. Year long science classes taught in a semester, compressed Math classes, etc. so that senior year you COULD go in depth—by taking higher-than-AP level physics, chem, etc…..)

    I’ve heard that the program has changed considerably in the last 15 years or so–and that now they evaluate the ‘whole person’ not just scores. I assume it had something to do with the fact that out of 100 kids, about 50 were Asian and another 25 or so were Jewish………

  21. Deirdre nailed it; gifted programs are consistently under attack for their lack of “diversity.” It seems pretty clear that the criteria for inclusion in the programs under discussion were designed to provide diversity, so the resultant population was a combination of apples and oranges, academically speaking. Given that, the curriculum, instruction and pace were unlikely to reflect the cababilities of the most academically talented. I don’t find the results surprising, given the group composition and the general ed-world disinterest in acceleration and anything that might increase the achievement gap.

    I assume the MoCo school in the last post is the Blair HS magnet. The associated MS math magnet appeared to be using criteria other than math ability in the early 90s because I remember my son helping a teammate with his 8th-grade algebra I homework (most kids in that magnet school took it in 7th) and the kid was struggling. I also knew another kid (bright but ADHD-disorganized) from that magnet who was meeting with teachers for extra help every day after school and his mother basically did a bunch of his homework.

  22. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Yup, it was Blair— but there were actually several Math tracks– I came out of Eastern, so I’d had Algebra in 8th grade, not 7th. (7th was AM7—basically enrichment to keep you in a holding pattern for a year)

    So I was in the lowest Math track:

    9th Grade, Geometry. then 3 semesters of “Pre Calc.” Then Calc. Then additional math electives.

    The fastest track was: 9th grade: 1 year of “Functions” (basically A2, Trig, and Precalc in a year), 10th grade Calc. 11th and 12th grade, UMCP teachers came in an taught college Math. But there were definitely kids who barely passed on the slow track. (I graduated 1995, so probably overlapped with kids your son knew.)

    Also, we had a few ADHD GENIUSES who had failing grades, but mostly b.c they only took tests and didn’t turn anything else in. The school actually served them well, I think–they got challenging classes, good teachers, friendly peers, and actually got into good college in spite of grades because they were really just that smart. (And, contrary to all the ‘busy work helps us learn to be goodf people” ed school tripe, they’re successful now–they were incredibly brilliant and hardworking….as long as adequately challenged……….

    But yeah, I’ve heard Blair has really fallen on hard times because it was too expensive and not diverse. (Lack of diversity was originally the point, since it was actually created to integrate a primarily minority school and to make the numbers come out better…….at the time “gifted classes” were more politically feasible than “forced bussing from wealthy enclaves.”)

  23. Probably the most common myth about gifted programs is that they allow students to get through the material quicker, to go farther, and if the teacher is good, to dig deeper.

    It’s just not so.

    Gifted students aren’t good students. They’re troubled and their drop-out rate is very high.

    Added to the tangle is the fact that gifted students are gifted in different ways. Lumping them together often amplifies their problems.

    What do we do for gifted students? It’s a very complicated question and I won’t even attempt to take a stab at it.

    I’d look at any research on the subject with an especially critical eye.

  24. Richard Aubrey says:

    Recalling the valedictorian and salutatorian in my HS grad class, the same and the top ten in my kids’ class, and the bright kids of some of our friends, I would say they were not troubled. They were pretty bright, grounded kids. One graduating senior at a nearby system told me that the val. in his class was pale as a slug–are slugs pale?–because she’d been studying for, gunning for, valedictorian for years.
    Robert may be referring to kids with the potential to outshine the ordinaray val/sal, top-ten kids.
    Considering that most personality disorders or orders, or neural issues, are on a continuum, is it possible that the kids Robert refers to are just entering the idiot-savant class, just brushing the entry? And if you’re a savant in the potential, at least, of the entirely false and artificial world of conventional behind-the-desk education, and if your idiot is in some other area of life, maybe you will be troubled.
    All of which presumes Robert’s observations are generally applicable.

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    Oh, yeah. As to observations, my wife has taught HS for many years and any val/sal/top ten is going to be run through the foreign language department. All grounded.

  26. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Well, we had some superbright kids at our school who DID get low grades—but, as I said, it was because they refused to do busywork. They’d ace the tests(across disciplines) and then lose on the whole homework/notebook check/project thing,

    And they certainly weren’t “idiot savants”—they mostly grew up to become entrepreneurs. On the other hand, they weren’t deliquint/dropouts either. They were ‘challenging’ for teachers— because they were nice kids, occasionally pulled elaborate clever pranks, and were clearly brilliant BUT REFUSED TO PLAY THE GAME. So teachers either loved or hated them. But the magnet was great for them, because they had enough interesting challenging classes that they actually LEARNED things. And they had friends and a normal social life. At a normal high school? They’d have just been bored and annoyed all the time,

    Not all really smart kids are people-pleasers…. but an unwillingness to play the game does not make someone an ‘idiot savant.’ It just makes him a kid who’s unwilling to play the game.

  27. Cranberry says:

    In the sixth grade, we moved to the other side of town, which meant a new school. I was assigned to a classroom which had two teachers. I had always thought that I was assigned to that class because I was new to the school. In hindsight, it could have been an experimental nurturing/gifted classroom. Half of the students were the oddest/most troubled/pranksters/low SES in the grade. The other students, in hindsight, were gifted.

    I don’t know if the students made more academic progress than they would have in other classes. I made friends with kids I would have been frightened of in other settings, because the two teachers didn’t stand for any nonsense, and they were good disciplinarians. Instruction continued even if a student wanted to create a scene.

    I remember that year more vividly than other years. I remember the teachers more vividly. It didn’t hurt my academic development. It might have had some social consequences for me, as I was new in school, and thus didn’t get to meet as classmates any of the students who would set the social boundaries for us all in Junior High. Brainy and disruptive kids don’t rule the roost in junior high.

    So, as a parent, I wouldn’t mind mainstreamed classrooms, or attempts to mix different types of kids in the same classroom, as long as the kids who need more academic challenge receive it, and the kids who want the drama of in-school misbehavior aren’t allowed to disrupt the classroom. It may not be the best of all possible worlds, but it need not be harmful, if done carefully.

    Of course, the two teachers may have been the most effective teachers in the grade. There are costs to trying to create a more intensive learning experience. Tracking kids may be more cost-effective. I worry when the “gifted” track becomes every educable student in the grade. If the curriculum isn’t faster, or more intense, why should there be the special kids who get the “gifted” curriculum, and all the others? It seems to enforce class boundaries without increasing academic outcomes.

    In the study, there seemed to be a benefit for the very high kids. Perhaps the conclusion should be, “Criteria for Inclusion in Gifted Programs Influence Outcomes.”

  28. Gifted students aren’t good students.

    Correction: intellectually gifted students and high-achieving students are overlapping subsets (think a Venn diagram).

    Both my brother and I tested the exact same for IQ and our SAT scores were within 10 points. I was Miss Type A Overachiever, salutatorian and top female in my class, National Merit Finalist, accepted to both Stanford and Harvard, yadda, yadda, yadda. My brother just barely graduated H.S. by the skin of his teeth. He always aced tests but refused to do anything he considered to be “busywork”. So his grades were all over the place. He was interested in a specialized music technology program and all that college cared about were his grades in math (excellent) and his musical talent. He did well in college and in his career afterward.

  29. Richard Aubrey says:

    Either Robert is describing the kids who didn’t want to play the game as “troubled”, or it’s a different bunch.
    I recall a physics teacher telling a colleague that one of the kids in our class figured out how to tell if a valve was open by,something or other. Kid said, when you have a T handle it’s open if the bar of the T lines up with the pipe. Good, but not the way to get the right answer. Prof thought the kid did it to show off. Bright, but not a good scholar. Stole hubcaps from time to time, back when that was a gateway crime. Don’t know if he went further.

  30. Richard, the students I’m describing are those that are selected for GATE, the gifted and talented designation for California schools.

    The statistics show their drop out rate is high, high enough to classify their so-called advantage a disability.

    I’m by no means an expert on gifted students. I taught a 7th and 8th grade GATE core for four years. Before and during the assignment, I read the research that was available on their social and emotional needs and the theory of multiple intelligences and other publications put out by the state department of education.

    The information about the drop out rate is from the research I read.

    The theory of multiple intelligences seemed to be confirmed by my experience.

    Most students I taught in the program who were obviously smart in some ways were woefully dumb in other ways. Not being simply smart when you were assumed to be such, caused problems.

    Sure, the straight A student who goes on to get admitted to a great university was probably a GATE student, but the fact that all poodles are dogs doesn’t make all dogs poodles.

    The research on gifted students isn’t well received by the parents and policy is implemented due to the politics of the squeaky wheel.

    The misconceptions and the competing expectations of education for the gifted made me glad to finally get transferred away from the sound and fury and the paucity of reason.

  31. Soapbox0916 says:

    This reminded me of a couple of other discussions. I agree that a top 20% may not be all that much different than say top 1-2% or gifted in the +2SD category.

    I remember this article in the Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2011/03/29/the-burden-of-raising-a-gifted-kid/

    Also this website about how gifted students may be so beyond what the teachers can deal with, that gifted students can be totally overlooked and bored. This example from Hoagie’s Gifted explains the issues with the slightly smarter and gifted. Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted Students: An Underserved Population http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/underserved.htm

  32. Soapbox0916 says:

    Proofreading skills have already left for the weekend. I meant in my previous post that I agree that the top 20% might not be all that different than the population in the average class in terms of IQ, and the truly different in terms of smarts that stand out are more likely to be top 1-2%.

  33. Richard Aubrey says:

    Were those kids average smart in whatever it was they weren’t GIFTED in? Were they less than average smart?
    Is the problem that a genius in math ought to be a genius in social interactions or how to hold a part time job and he isn’t?
    Or is he likely to trip over the furniture outside of his area of genius?
    Clearly, they aren’t the val/sal/top ten kids you’re talking about.

  34. In the GATE classes I had, some were below average in some forms of intelligence, some were average, and some were above average yet short of being gifted.

    All seemed to read above grade level, most by several years. Many didn’t write very well and those who could, often wrote as little as possible.

    The val/sal type were in the minority.

    None were “teacher pleasers.”

    Many were as warm and cuddly as Steve Jobs.

  35. There are lots of ways of getting into GATE classes today, not just IQ tests. The last GATE group I taught included a thug with a transcript full of F’s and a mile long discipline record. However, her was a three sport star and qualified under multiple intelligences as “kinetically” gifted.

  36. *he was…*

  37. In most CA schools, GATE students are identified but not provided much (if anything) in the way of services for it.

    The district where we lived from 2006-2009 had a single GATE class each in 4th and 5th grade and that was it. Additionally, far more children qualified than there were slots available in the GATE class (I never could get a straight answer from district administrators as to how students were selected).

    The district where we live now does *NOTHING* for GATE students and they don’t even offer an honors track until 11th grade.

    It would not at all surprise me if GATE students have a relatively high drop-out rate. Spending so many years bored out of their minds by a slow pace & unchallenging material is going to turn many of them off to school.

  38. Robert, is there anything wrong with not being a teacher pleaser?

    Is there something objectionable to being “as warm and cuddly as Steve Jobs”?

    Are these considered defects in a student? Should students be barred from GATE because of these undesirable traits? And if so, who should GATE be for?

  39. Hanish,

    1. There is nothing wrong with not being a “teacher pleaser.” In fact, “teacher pleasers” are usually labor intensive and I don’t particularly like them. But they exist and I try to respond to their needs as well as the needs of my other students.

    2. Having the abrasive personality of Steve Jobs is indeed a flaw and I’m glad he was never a student of mine. But personality isn’t everything and he’s in fact one of my heroes.

    3. Should students be barred from GATE because of undesirable traits? Of course not. Those with undesirable traits often have the greatest need.

    4. Who should GATE be for? There are standards and procedures for classifying a student for GATE which are drawn up by the state and implemented by individual school districts. Each district gets GATE money. How they choose to spend it us up to the district and sometimes it’s up to the schools. Who do I think GATE should be for? I don’t know. After decades of experience in education, the answer to that question is still beyond my grasp and it looks like it always will be.