Over in Batavia, Illinois, the school board is considering a curious gifted education proposal. The idea, according to this article, is to get rid of the pull-out program (basically, 50 minutes of advanced math per day) and instead, have one gifted class per grade level.
So far, so good -- here at Gifted Exchange, we definitely prefer homogeneous grouping to enrichment pull-outs, and expanding the gifted concept to mean more than just math.
But then things get interesting. Because these gifted classes aren't actually going to be homogeneous. According to the article, "Each 'gifted' classroom would include all the gifted children in that school at that grade level, plus a mixture of high-achieving and average students. Low-achieving students would not be assigned to those classrooms." The purpose of this, according to Associate Superintendent Jan Wright is to "narrow the range of abilities in those classrooms." But, I guess, not be too narrow.
My first thought is that this was odd, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like a relatively reasonable compromise. In this era of fiscal tightening, no gifted education proposal will be accepted if it costs more money. All must be budget neutral. If there aren't enough gifted kids in any grade to fill a full class, in order to be budget neutral, other kids would have to be assigned in. But by aiming the median slightly higher, you'd avoid some of the challenges of meeting a more diverse range of abilities. A full-time gifted class, even if the median isn't in the gifted range, is still better than pull-out.
That said, there are other options for a school district that could be budget neutral too. If there are only enough gifted kids for half a class, you can combine grade levels (so a 3-4th grade gifted class -- and maybe a 3-4th "regular" class too if that makes the numbers come out right... ) Or you could combine 3-4-5th grades, even if it meant a slightly bigger class size. I'm curious what Gifted Exchange readers think.