Question for Parents Whose Children Are in Their School's Gifted Program...

Updated on September 22, 2011
L.A. asks from Chattanooga, TN
13 answers

First of all, I realize that gifted programs vary WIDELY around the country so I am just asking for general opinions from parents whose children are currently in the gifted program. My older 2 children, 15 & 19 have been in the gifted program since Kindergarten. They were originally screened & enrolled in a different state and then transferred in to the program here. My 7 year old who is now in 2nd grade, has been recommended by her Kindergarten teacher, as well as all of her first grade teachers for the gifted program. She has only been in 2nd grade for about 6 weeks and her current teacher has also recommended that she participate in the program.
Apparently, she was tested the first week of 1st grade by the gifted program teacher (written evaluation test) and missed the score necessary to be included in the program by about 5 points. She has pretty severe anxiety the first few weeks of each school year so I am sure that contributed to it. I spoke to the program instructor (only one in our school) & she said that she would be reevaluated in the future, so I let it go. A few weeks ago my daughter's 2nd grade teacher told me she scored very high on the math evaluation & was being invited to join the school's math club (one of 6 second graders invited), she mentioned again about getting her into the gifted program. I ran into the principal shortly after that and mentioned it to her and she said that in 2nd grade it goes by recommendation since they don't do formal testing and that I should speak to the Gifted Program teacher.
So I spoke to the program teacher and she tells me that, yes, 3 or 4 teachers have come to her recommending Zoe but they don't test in 2nd or 3rd grade so she will have to wait til 4th grade to be reevaluated. What??? Wait from being tested the first week of 1st grade until 4th grade? That seems ridiculous to me. My daughter is bored in school. She is so far ahead in the reading program that they ran out of curriculum books for her and had her on 4th grade level chapter books before Christmas last year. My husband taught her to play chess in 1 week this summer by telling her how each piece could move (she took notes and studied them every night) and last week she came very close to beating him--and he's played for 30 years.
The other day, I asked her about a boy from school who used to be her friend in preschool. She told me, "He's not my friend mom, he's my foe." I asked what she meant by foe and did she even know what it meant? I asked, "What's another word for "foe"?" She says, "Hmmm..nemesis?" I was just looking for enemy :)
For "fun" after school, she writes pages and pages of math equations or does bubble diagrams on various subjects or wants me to quiz her on analogies. I apologize if this sounds like I'm bragging...I don't mean to, but she NEEDS to be challenged so badly. Isn't it the schools job to help her in this area?
So, my question is: do your schools use more than just a standardized test that is given only every 3 years to evaluate for the gifted program? Shouldn't other criteria be considered? I don't know if I should push this or go back to the principal or what my next step should be.

Additional info: This is the same Gifted Program teacher that had my older daughter for 3rd-5th grade (she is now a Jr in HS) in the gifted program. The last year she was with her, the teacher developed a "dislike" for my older daughter and made it obvious (my daughter was by then a giggly 5th grader). I made the mistake of mentioning my older daughter when I spoke to the teacher last year and my older daughter told me that was a big mistake because the teacher "hated" her.

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So What Happened?

Well, I talked to the principal & the Gifted Teacher had already talked to her this morning. Apparently the system goes like this: They took the test 2nd week of 1st grade. You either make the cutoff or you don't. The teacher recommendations are only used to bring your child's test score along with a couple of teacher's written comments (how they get these, I don't know) in front of the review panel. The principal pretty much told me that the review panel decides based on the test score, so I'm not sure why they "review". They used to add in the Iowa Basic skills test scores for review at this point, but funding has eliminated this test so they haven't taken it.
She did tell me that my daughter was already pretty much doing everything the Gifted Program children were doing (she is in the same accelerated math class as they are, same reading group & she is in math club)...the only thing she isn't doing is some extra science experiments. Yes, we live in a rural area and our program is LAME so I guess she isn't missing much. I will take the advice of those who had great suggestions for extra-curricular, stimulating activities (thanks for that!)! I guess I will be my daughter's "teacher" as well as her advocate! Thanks for all the great input.

Thanks again, Mamas!

Leigh, it sounds like your program is terrific! We may have to move at some point :)
Riley, I totally agree with your last paragraph. The teacher has made her stance clear and my daughter tells me that she has a "bored face & bored voice" for Math Club so it's probably for the best for now.

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answers from Tulsa on

I know a woman who decided to enroll her son in the GT program in 3rd even though he had been put in private school instead of the GT program for k-2. They only tested him after she insisted and he FAILED, not just by a few points. She was irate and being a lawyer, went in demanding a retest. They retested him and let him in. Three weeks later she withdrew him because the private school was better.
Their own website claims you can't get in after the beginning of 2nd, but they caved for her. I would not threaten and throw a fit like she did, but I would formerly appeal it.

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answers from Norfolk on

The school where my son went when we moved tested him when he was in the third grade.
His test scores wow-ed them.
But then the gifted program didn't do squat.
We came in at a point where we attended meetings about what the program was about, then a month later we were informed the program was cut and essentially there was nothing being done about gifted in elementary school.
Now they are doing something in middle school, but it's basically the same core classes with a few extra projects thrown in to keep them from getting more bored than they already are.
In theory the school should help, but the ones we've experienced have not.
They'll bend over backwards for special needs programs but gifted they cut at every opportunity.
Guess no one sues them over that.

If your child is capable of learning more, and enjoys it - do not allow school to limit their learning experience.

Take them to museums yourself.
Do some fun experiments on your own at home.
Have them learn to play an instrument.
If they are interested in any subject, get them a book (or find them in the library) or help them learn more about it.
I find my son does better getting through the boring drudgery of school if he has other things to look forward to once the grunt work is finished.
We're going to a renaissance festival later this month.

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answers from St. Louis on

I hate the term gifted, yes my issue I know.

I can tell you from experience a "gifted" child can challenge themselves. A child that studies too much cannot. Take it for what you think it is worth but I never allowed my children in "gifted" programs and they turned out just fine.

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answers from Dover on

Sounds like you should talk to the principal again. I'm assuming here & maybe incorrectly, that the principal calls the shots in the school so if he/she says your child should be tested for the G&T program, then she should be. I also think that it's not your job to carry that message to the G&T teacher, it's the principals.

One thing to keep in mind: teachers are people, too. Some are amazing, some are petty, some are lazy, some find pure pleasure in doing their jobs every day. It always stinks when you run into a teacher who pushes back rather than attempting to help, but that's when you just move on to the next level as you would in any other business.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter is in the G&T class in fourth grade. She was placed there at the end of 3rd grade based on a recommendation from her 3rd grade teacher and a test she took called the Woodcock Johnson Cognitive test. She scored in the 98th percentile. This test was not the usual test given, but was acceptable for the program's rules. My daughter struggles with writing and spelling, so her teacher found a test that measured her thinking ability without requiring her to write. Gifted kids often have areas of strength and other areas of weakness.

So... the G&T program amounts to a 40 minute pull-out class three days a week. My daughter does not like the teacher much at all. The curiculum seems fine, but the teacher does not inspire these kids. My daughter does enjoy the Accelerated Math classes she's had these last two years.

So, there is no magic in anything labeled G&T, it totally depends on the curiculum and the teacher to make it worthwhile. We as parents can encourage our children to explore outside of school in their interests, or find outside activities that also keep them engaged. I don't believe that a specific school program will make or break a bright child, as long as they have the support of their family.

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answers from Minneapolis on

are there any advance learning charter school in the area that you could get into? I am not sure what your income or financial abilities will allow but if you are saying your child needs better guidance for this gift, I would look into one of these, I am sure you have since you have two other highly gifted kids. She sounds like she needs much more that what that school can offer. If the area does not include these types of schools. Then I like B's answer. She needs challenges from you. You are there best teacher anyway. Take her to chess tournaments, or to something else that she might have interest in. Reading clubs, and other gifted clubs can get her in touch with kids with her abilities. Be aware though that kids with higher IQ's get bored easily and that can turn into neurosis of different kinds. They tend to have not so great social lives, so be sure to balance smarts with fun and get her around lots of other kids with the same and not the same abilities. Smart kids tend to compete and they dont always make the best of friends. I have a 4 year old that could have started school even last year but I opted to keep her with her age group peers only because I hate to have her feel way tooooo special. She is doing well and her father and I do her teaching at the moment. She is Tri-Lingual at this point, reads 1rst grade books, writes at a 1rst grade level, and LOVES math. She is adding and subtracting into the double digits. She sings she dances and does it all. I dont want her to burn out though I want her to have a really easy going childhood. We are debating having her go to a gifted school, or just public with extra classes. There are no gifted or advance groups here, in the suburb I live in. At the moment we could drive over an hour for one and I have decided that its not worth it yet till she is tested further.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm a bit unclear: So is there an actual gifted curriculum for identified kids in 2nd, and 3rd grades at your school? Is it full-time GT in all subjects or just a weekly '"pull-out" session with a GT teacher and then all other work is done on the regular curriculum in a regular classroom?

If there's an actual GT curriculum I would advise you to find out what kind of forms and recommendations you need to file to get your child into it now instead of waiting until 4th grade or later. If it's just occasional pull-out-of-class stuff and these kids are in the regular classroom 95 percent of the time I would just wait.

Our system uses the results of tests in first and second combined to make a child an offer of "GT" (called advanced academics in our system) for third grade and onward. We don't have full-on GT below that, except for a GT specialist who gives the whole class special activies about once a month. Kids who are qualified for GT but who choose not to move schools to attend an all-GT, all-subjects "center" (which we did) do get some GT instruction in their regular schools but it's once a week for an hour or so. We didn't think that was enough so we chose to move schools for a GT center school and it's been terrific.

In our system you can ask for a child who does not make the numeric cutoff in testing to be considered for GT anyway, based on teacher recommendations and letters from other adults who know the child, etc. You also can get outside testing done to submit to the school though that can be tough if no one in the area does this service (usually it's universities).

Any GT admission system should have some alternative method beyond pure testing for parents to request their child be considered. Such a method sounds like what you're seeking, so she doesn't have to wait until 4th grade to be re-evaluated. By then, if other kids are doing GT especially in math, she will have catch-up to do if she hasn't been following that curriculum with them and comes in at a later grade. Not to scare you. It sounds like she would be pretty accelerated in math anyway, if her teachers are halfway decent!

The fact that teachers seem to have gone out of their way to tell you your child is bright says volumes, so get out there and advocate for her if there is an actual GT curriculum at her grade.

Meanwhile, don't let her feel your stress over it or SHE will stress out.

Take her to every museum you can, to plays and concerts, do every "museum trail" on offer, every "family day" at local places where there are activities....Have fun with her and stimulate her in many ways including the non-academic.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would find out the district protocol for kids in your child's situation, given the circumstances.

I was put in GT in 5th grade by one district, and put in the GT program in 6th in another district. They considered it a "mistake" because they hadn't evaluated me themselves, but they let me stay and I did very well. So in 7th they pulled me back out til they could test me, wasted half a year and when I got back with the GT class, I was very out of sorts. There were whole projects I missed and I never did get into the GT version of Geography. To this day, transitive and intransitive verbs confuse me (the chapter I started in the middle of). It all worked out in the end, but why hold your kid back if she's gotten recommendations and can do the work?

Since you have spoken to the teachers, you could bring it to the principal or the guidance office that you have this child who is not challenged, so what options are left for her in their school?

Your older daughter sounds like my SD - smart and high energy. Try to guide her to behave in class and use her energies elsewhere. My SD had to learn (though she still has moments) when to question authority and when not to and when her antics are not really appreciated.

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answers from Seattle on

Yeah... ours didn't even start until 3rd grade.

We had the options to

- Skip him to 3rd (the school's recommendation in K. Um. Social Suicide much? Not only that but my son was the only 5yo in K. In our area people don't generally start K until 6 turning 7. That meant 3rd was full of 10 year olds!!!). BUT not for the gifted program. Because he tested into 5th (lowest score was 5th grade), but the school will only skip 3 years at a time. AKA skip the rest of K & 1st & 2nd and go into 3rd. The GT program starting in 3rd was only 1 hour a week. Um. No.

- pull him out and put him in a private gifted school (PHENOM school, loved and adored it). Steep pricetag. Theoretically possible if I put my own education on hold for the next 10+ years.

- Montessori school (where he'd come from was a montessori preschool). The only ones in our are of elementary had waitlists of hundreds and hundreds, even thousands, of kids. I called a bit ago to check. We've moved up the list a LOT. We're now 630 on the list.

- homeschool

We personally chose to try homeschooling first. That was 4 years ago, and it's been a blast :)

Moving evey 2 years as a kid myself I was usually in some version of GT classes BUT... here's the kicker... the teachers make the program. REGARDLESS of what district policy is; if the teacher doesn't want your kid... find another option. They can block you (like what yours is doing) or they can accept under protest and make your kids life miserable.

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answers from Columbus on

You need to talk to your school's special ed dept and look up your school board policies and learn what their rules are. Also look up the laws for your state (state dept of education). Some schools are required to identify, but not to serve, which boggles my mind... Some don't serve because they don't get funding. But if I were in your shoes I'd be looking elsewhere for gifted education. If our school didn't offer gifted math, I'd be giving supplemental lessons at home or outsourcing the education somehow...

Here's a site to check out:

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answers from Dallas on

I don't know how to help with this, but I can tell you from my husband's experience that if you are gifted, you will run into teachers that don't like your kid because they're too smart. I don't know if the teachers get threatened, or don't like to go the extra mile, or think the kids are disruptive on purpose, but be aware of it.

Maybe some of the teachers on mamapedia can help with that one.

Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

she's clearly gifted. so, now what do you do.....

I'd start by scheduling a meeting with the principal and asking for her help on keeping your daughter challenged - don't even mention the gifted program. rather, go in with examples of what your daughter can do and where your daughter needs help (i.e., she's bored out of her mind in class, you need suggestions on reading material, etc.). if you have a good relationship with her current teacher, see if she can join the meeting. the point being, you're not trying to undercut the GT teacher, rather you're asking for solutions to an identified problem.

And, you should get a good response. Under No Child Left Behind (which I prefer to call Every child left behind), every school that takes federal money as to provide an appropriate education for every student - not just the lower end....At a minimum, you should formally request an ALP (advanced learning plan). Actually, the prinicpal should offer this at your meeting.

If that doesn't get you anywhere, you might consider doing private GT testing. In the Denver area that runs from $500 to $1500 depending on who does it and how in depth the testing is. In Colorado, a parent can also request, at any time, that the school district administer a GT test. If it is not part of the "normal" testing protocol, then the parent is asked to pay for it, but it's less than private testing (about $150 in our school district). So, something else to investigate.

FYI - most GT tests have false negatives but not false positives. So, it is likely that she tested lower than she is. Your GT coordinator should know this. If you ever get to where you're pressing it, I'd ask why the GT coordinator relies so heavily on a standardized test. Our district uses three pieces of information (test, parent impression, teacher recommendation) and I've known kids that did not have good scores get in due to parent and teacher observations. Our district feels parent and teacher impressions are more important than the test scores in identifying GT kids.

Even when in a GT program, you'll have to supplement a ton at home (as you probably already know with your older ones...). It just takes a lot to keep these kids engaged - musuems, after school programs, etc.

GT kids are a blast and a hoot but they are definitely not easy to raise. Good luck!

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answers from Charlotte on


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