Article: ‘Why gifted education may not be a smart idea’

While I appreciate the fact that there are researchers out there looking into the efficacy of gifted programs, this article strikes me as missing the point. Should improvement on standardized tests be the goal of gifted programs? How well controlled was this study? What are the variables? What demographics are they looking at when they point to the dropout rate? In essence, I’m not convinced based on this single assessment of test scores and dropout rates.

Moreover, the author points out that “Canada is not the American South West”. I would take this even further. The fact that the demographics, socioeconomic backgrounds, educational programs and other factors are completely different in Canada — and even between each province — means that this study has little relevance, and one would be hard pressed to generalize.

Which goes to show that when it comes to studies that can potentially sway funding decisions for special needs programs, research design is key, and one surface study does not a conclusion make. I would hope that this is kept in mind at the policy level.

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2 comments on “Article: ‘Why gifted education may not be a smart idea’
  1. Hi,

    welcome back!
    Personally, I consider that we have huge problems with assessment: they do not measure what it is important or relevant about a child’s understanding or knowledge. Teaching for standardized tests, unfortunately, became a trend and we should just cut through that.
    There is a need for programs for special programs, but I would emphasize that in the same measure there is a big need for better programs at all levels – especially Kindergarten and elementary.
    The effects of special programs should be searched at level of patterns of thinking, predisposition for knowing and integrating new knowledge at larger scale…a standardized test is nowhere close to this.

    I am interested finding out about initiatives for gifted children in Montreal. Please, let me know if you know about.

    • Thank you!

      I agree with you re: the need for better programs at all levels. I just don’t see how students can be properly taught (let alone accommodated if they have special needs) in a classroom of 30 students.

      At this point, I’ll admit that we moved away from Montreal this year. We’re in Ontario now. We did not move because of gifted education, but it is a nice benefit of being here. Ontario recognizes giftedness, and there are gifted programs to be accessed. Of course, testing is a part of the process. This poses a number of challenges, of course — as you suggest. But at least it’s something.

      I never was able to find resources for gifted students in Quebec. I Googled, contacted various schools, and even e-mailed a giftedness researcher at one of the universities, and he didn’t know of any schools either. The private schools, such as St. George’s, which impressed me with its child-centred focus, are of course, much better at accommodating gifted students, but the tuition can be prohibitive for many families.

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