Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Girls Prevail in New York CIty Programs for Gifted

That's the headline on yesterday's article in the New York Times. While the city's schools as a whole are about 51% male, the gifted programs in the early grades are about 55-56% female.

What causes the disparity? Some experts say that little girls are better able to sit still during the exams required for entrance to these programs. Girls may also develop verbal skills at an earlier age, and hence be able to communicate their giftedness to adults better. (I guess we can be grateful, for the cause of gender relations, that experts aren't suggesting that girls are smarter than boys -- a reverse of the way people spun Larry Summers' comments a few years ago).

If these gender differences are true, though, what is to be done about it? I suppose the same things many of us advocate for making gifted programs fair on multiple dimensions (race, class, etc). Use multiple assessments. Allow people to test in (and out!) of gifted programs at many different points. And stop treating gifted education as a reward. If it is seen as an accommodation for kids who need it, and all children are getting an education that matches their needs, then it matters less what the exact percentage of each different group will be.


Leonardo Da Coolest said...

Hear hear. As a former little boy myself, I can say that the sitting still is a real issue. I used to get so fidgety, and my success was in spite of that, not because of it.

Adina said...

Hi, my name is Adina and I am from Romania...My son has been tested and qualified as highly gifted, but , besides being tested, nothing can be done here, the educational system does not provide any kind of specialised help for gifted children...So, my problem is that I need help and I was hoping you could inform me on where I can find such help. Thanks and have a nice day!

Davidson Institute Staff said...

Hello Adina -

While the Davidson Institute for Talent Development does not offer services to families residing outside of the U.S., here are a few international organizations you may find useful:

- Council for Exceptional Children

- World Council for Gifted and Talented Children

- Hoagies’ Gifted website offers information about online parent support groups.

We also offer a free online database and a public Gifted Issues Discussion Forum.

Adina said...

Thanks! I'll contact them in order to see what can be done for my son's education!

All the best for you and your work!


Troy said...

As I parent of a gifted child, I think that girls do improve language skills at a faster rate than boys. Working with youth, I can definitely tell that girls grasp language faster than boys. Being gifted is more than passing a test. It's about perception of environment and processing the stimulus on a different level than a non-gifted child. I think language has a lot to do with that.

I appreciate your statement that gifted education "shouldn't be seen as a reward. That is so true. Many teachers and administrators feel that gifted programs are just a reward for being a good student.

purple said...

As a teacher, I feel that it is really important to use multiple assessments in identifying gifted students to make if fair for all. I think one way to lessen the treatment of gifted education just as a reward is by educating teachers as well about gifted education. I, personally did not have an idea about identifying and nurturing gifted students until I started attending courses about this. It will really help to inform general education teachers.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter in a gifted program in NYC (who qualifed for the citywide program but we opted for program close by). I find it astonishing how the media is focusing now on how the test is geared toward girls because of the age in which its given. I wonder if the media should scrutinize Styvesant High School, a specialized school in NYC, where boys outrank the girls.

I agree that more assessment is needed than just the test. However, shouldn't girls who meet the criteria for gifted education be given the early intervention?