Thursday, January 19, 2012

Too Many Gifted Kids?

Houston, we have a problem... too many gifted kids in the Houston Independent School District.

At least that's the gist of an article from Watchdog.org, pointing out that the HISD gifted rate of about 15% is double that of the state at large (closer to 7%).

This is, of course, one of the perils of giftedness being a concept without a clear definition. It is unlikely that there are twice as many students per capita in Houston who require the educational intervention that gifted education should entail vs. elsewhere. What we have is varying standards, likely looser in Houston than the rest of Texas. But what happens when a child who is gifted in one district isn't considered gifted in another?

This is yet another reason to keep one's eye on the ultimate goal of matching the education to the child. Because then the particular definition doesn't matter quite as much -- and those of us who care about this issue don't have to keep seeing the word gifted in quote marks, as Watchdog.org puts it, indicating how flimsy a concept they seem to think it is.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The state of Texas will give extra money for gifted kids up to 15% of an overall district's population.

So, why do you think HISD has set its markers where it has?

It has nothing to do with servicing gifted children appropriately and everything to do with scooping up a few extra dollars.

A few years ago, they had a tiered system for entry into the gifted programs--where kids that scored 92% were given priority of entry (basically--more complicated than that). But they did away with that for a lottery system. On HISD's "gifted" matrix, a child can score as low as 56 points and still qualify for gifted services.

In the district's eyes, there is no difference between the kid who scores 56 points and the kid who has a 100 on the matrix--they are treated identically. Classroom teachers (and parents) will tell you there is a world of difference in those kids.

Anonymous said...

I'm not familiar with HISD, but I do believe that some areas have more gifted kids than others. My military child has attended schools in CT, rural NC, a district in rural VA and a district in the northern VA suburbs. Poor daughter was a fish out of water in NC and rural VA: there just weren't many other kids like her (reading five years ahead of grade level, studying Suzuki violin, doing science projects at home for fun "just to see what happens"). In northern VA where we are now, she has a large peer group and appears to be a 'normal' kid with friends, sleepovers, etc. Sure, she's taking five high school AP classes but plenty of other kids in her school do the same. And --- guess what--- she's a much happier kid when she has a peer group.
So why are there more gifted kids in expensive suburbs than rural areas? We could debate genetics vs learning opportunities but the kids here are smarter. If a district in northern VA shows twice as many gifted kids as a rural district, that's accurate.

Heather said...

As someone who has lived in three states in the past six years, gifted programs vary wildly from state to state--but we knew that.

I also think the second poster is right. There are populations with more gifted people in them than others. Probably because like attracts like. There are more opportunities for gifted parents in certain areas, and therefore more gifted kids (making a genetic generalization) in those areas.

Because gifted people tend to process more information at a fast rate I think urban and suburban areas tend to be more attractive to them than rural areas. Although I think some rural areas tend to attract people gifted in different intelligence areas, like the nature and animal ones. And a number of artistic types live in the rural areas around Santa Fe NM--(which is where I grew up.)