No Gifted Child Left Behind!

The Other Side of 'Response to Intervention'

The Neglected Needs of our Gifted and Talented

“IN 1971, researchers at Johns Hopkins University embarked on an effort to identify brilliant 12-year-olds and track their education and careers through the rest of their lives. The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, which now includes 5,000 people, would eventually become the world’s longest-running longitudinal survey of what happens to intellectually talented children (in math and other areas) as they grow up.

Today, many are CEOs, professors at top research universities, transplant surgeons, and successful novelists. That outcome sounds like exactly what you’d imagine should happen: Top young people grow into high-achieving adults. However, previous research into gifted children has shown that many, or even most of them, aren’t so lucky: They aren’t identified early, and they don’t necessarily get special attention from their schools. Even among Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth participants, the Vanderbilt researchers have previously found that those who weren’t challenged in school were less likely to live up to the potential indicated by their test scores. Other research has shown that under-stimulated gifted students quickly become bored and frustrated—especially if they come from low-income families that are not equipped to provide them with enrichment outside of school.

But it’s hard to separate the findings of this study from what we know about gifted kids in general. The genuine concern is, we know we’re not identifying all of this population. We’re not getting nearly enough, and we’re losing them.

To people more worried about kids who are falling through the cracks altogether, doing slightly less than we could for the most gifted might not seem like a pressing problem. But if the study is right that exceptional youthful ability really does correlate directly with exceptional adult achievement, then these talented young kids aren’t just a challenge for schools and parents: they’re also demonstrably important to America’s future. And it means that if, in education, we focus on steering all extra money and attention toward kids who are struggling academically, or even just to the average student, we risk shortchanging the country in a different way.

The poor neglected gifted child - Precocious kids do seem to become high-achieving adults. Why that makes some educators worried about America’s future

Retrieved from the Boston Globe


In Closing

Academically advanced learners have unique and challenging needs. We cannot assume because they are getting good grades in school that their needs are being met. Likewise, students who are not being challenged may become bored and refuse to do work they already know how to do, thus appearing as lower achieving. Recognize that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and/or who have language barriers are often under-identified. They don't always come to school prepared with the same advantages of other students. Remember, Every Student Deserves to Learn Something New in School EVERY SINGLE DAY. The burden of insuring this falls on the parents. Gifted students are at risk and can get disillusioned and not achieve at the levels they are capable of. They have tremendous potential, but that potential can be lost and they can fail to realize the promise their gifts suggest if we do not address their need for challenge.

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Maria Griggs


Assessment, eligibility, and qualification

Bellingham Public Schools

Bellingham, WA