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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Instead of ‘gifted and talented’ …

It’s time to drop the “gifted and talented” label and use personalized, mastery learning to challenge all students, argues Michael Horn. A co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, he is a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions.

Sixth graders work on a genetics lesson at a Seattle-area school. Photo: Mike Siegel/Seattle Times)

Bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds may not be identified as gifted, according to a Fordham report. They lose out on programs “that could accelerate their development and social and economic opportunities,” writes Horn.

The report recommends “universal screening for gifted students; identification of gifted students within each school, not just district-wide; and active efforts to counter bias,” he notes.

He proposes an alternative to labeling and sorting students: “Personalize learning for all students, such that students can move at their own pace and not grow bored or disengaged and can dive deep into areas of passion.”

He cites a fifth-grade boy (at my nephew and niece’s old school) who struggled with math. In some schools, “Jack” would have been placed in the bottom math group. He would have waited to take algebra till ninth grade, limiting his access to a math-centric major and career.

But Jack’s story took a less familiar turn. His school transformed his class into a “blended-learning” environment to personalize the learning. After 70 days of using Khan Academy’s online math tutorials and exercises for a portion of his math three to four days a week, rather than remaining tracked in the bottom math group, Jack rose to become one of the top four students in his class.

Horn isn’t saying that every student is gifted. But he argues that advancing students when they show mastery makes it possible to give all students “the stretch opportunities they need to soar.”

Chinese-American parents are angry about changes in admissions to gifted and talented programs in Montgomery County, Maryland, reports Kenny Xu in Daily Signal.

Since the 2016 changes, which devalued test scores to boost diversity, Asian-American enrollment has dropped by 20 percent. Parents have formed the Association for Education Fairness.

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