Adams: More gifted and talented classes would help school diversity in New York, without harming it. here’s why

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In August 2019, the New York City School Diversity Advisory Group called for the elimination of gifted and talented programs in Grades 1 to 5, to be replaced by a model of enrichment for all. This vote was mentioned in a May 2021 Journal of Educational Evaluation and Public Policy article titled “Do Students in Gifted Programs Perform Better? Link participation in the gifted program to achievement and non-achievement outcomes. “

Like with all these studies, it gives both supporters and opponents of gifted education something to support their point of view.

Authors Christopher Redding of the University of Florida and Jason A. Grissom of Vanderbilt University write:

Rigorous studies of gifted programs in unique school districts show that participation can (underline theirs) have positive effects on student success.

They also write:

Two separate studies of 148 students in gifted programs (showed) improvement in non-academic self-concept, but non-academic self-concept (emphasis mine).

Two questions raised in this article are of particular importance to New York City. The first is the effect of G&T programs on low income and minority students, and the second is the education delivery model.

The main reason given by the advisory group for advocating the abolition of G&T is to increase school diversity. Currently, while the New York Public School System is 40.6 percent Hispanic, 25.5% black, 16.2 percent Asian and 15.1 percent white, 75 percent of students accepted in G&T are white and Asian.

Redding and Grissom report that nationally:

Gifted programs have long been the subject of criticism of elitism and that they represent an accumulation of opportunities for already advantaged students, criticisms that are often based on models of under-representation in access. gifted programs for marginalized students. … For children whose families already have access to high levels of cultural, social and economic capital, gifted programs are often characterized as an “accumulation of benefits”. In contrast, for high potential students who do not have the same access – especially low-income students and students of color – gifted programs can help compensate for what might otherwise be an ordinary classroom setting with expectations. weaker low academic rigor… Enrollment in a stand-alone accelerated class exposed black and Hispanic students to higher teacher expectations than they would in a traditional classroom. (No evidence was found that white students scored higher when enrolled in gifted classes; the benefits were concentrated among black and Hispanic students.)

Based on the above, it would appear that rather than getting rid of G&T programs for all students, it would make more sense to expand them widely, so that more black and Hispanic students can benefit.

The advisory group claims that is exactly what it is trying to do. At the time of this writing, the majority of New York’s G&T programs are “enriched,” meaning that teachers in each class have the freedom to improve the standard curriculum as they see fit, whether with hands-on projects, field trips, additional reading, etc. By implementing “Enrichment for All”, they would make a G&T experience accessible to every student. Right?

Not exactly.

The language of the study authors is very clear. They speak of a “self-sustaining crash class” as benefiting black and Hispanic students. The majority of NYC’s G&T programs are “enriched”. Only five city-wide programs are actually accelerated, in that students learn the standard curriculum one year in advance.

We are told that the reason it is so difficult to assess the real value of a G&T program is that:

The relatively low estimates of the typical gifted program may reflect that the “treatment” many students receive is not intensive enough…. As national evidence shows that a majority of gifted elementary school programs include four hours or less of educational services per week, the educational dose of gifted programs may be too low to produce positive effects.

This suggests that “enrichment” would not be enough, even if it were offered to all students. (It should be. All students deserve all kinds of enrichment for their education.) But it still would not meet the needs of the high potential population, especially among poor and minority students, because “Talented researchers argue that acceleration is an efficient and cost-effective way to supplement the learning needs of exceptionally talented students. ” Acceleration, not enrichment.

The authors speculate:

It could be that resource constraints in Black schools and low SES [Socio-Economic Status] the students attend entail a frequency or a limited duration of the gifted services…. We hope that this discovery (that enrolling in a stand-alone accelerated class benefits black and Hispanic students) may lead gifted education practitioners to take a close look at their offerings to assess whether they are adequate to meet the needs of students at high potential. historically marginalized student populations…. Advocates of gifted education might well conclude that our results suggest that investment in gifted services needs to be increased, not decreased, so that gifted students are provided with better and more challenging opportunities by students. teachers trained in the education of the gifted over a larger part of their school. day.

I am not in favor of educating the gifted. I am a supporter of every child receiving the education they need when they need it.

Related

Adams: go ahead or spin the wheels? A question of fairness versus equality for schoolchildren in New York

As I wrote at the beginning: supporters and opponents of gifted education can find something to support their views in the study. (For example, the Hechinger report titled his analysis “Gifted programs provide little to no academic impetus.”) We all see what we want to see. We all choose what we want to choose.

But what I saw (and handpicked) was in direct opposition to anything NYC has to offer.

They say we should get rid of G&T in the name of diversity and give all students the same opportunities for enrichment.

I’m saying we should expand G&T in the name of diversity and give the students who could benefit the most, especially low-income and minority children, access to a fast-track program.

If, as the study suggests,

Resource constraints in schools attended by Black and low SES students result in limited frequency or duration of gifted services, while enrollment in a stand-alone accelerated class exposes Black and Hispanic students to higher teacher expectations. than in a traditional classroom, (and) the benefits were concentrated among black and Hispanic students,

Wouldn’t it be racist not to do it?

Alina Adams is a New York Times bestselling mystery and fiction writer, the author of Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High School, a blogger at New York School Conference and mother of three children. She believes that you can’t have real school choices until all parents know all of their school choices and how to get them. Visit his website, www.NYCSchoolSecrets.com.

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