Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Wrong Way to Go About Implementing a GATE Program

A government-run elementary school in the town of Duxbury, MA decided to implement a cluster grouping program aimed at the top 3-5% of students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades to provide differentiated instruction for them. That's the good news. The bad news is how the school went about setting up this GATE program.

According to an article in The Boston Globe, the pilot program was not announced until after classes had begun in September. The 14 participating children had been selected not based on any objective criteria such as standardized test scores but rather on a chart of behavior traits associated with gifted children. Parents of children chosen for the program were notified, but instructed to keep it a secret from other parents.

Rumors flew of favoritism when it was learned that the son of School Committee member George Cipolletti was one of the students selected for the program.

Not all gifted kids fit the stereotype of the good little teacher's pet. My brother was one of these- he tested off the charts but was constantly in hot water at school because he refused to comply with anything he considered to be "busywork". That's why the selection process for GATE programs need to include objective criteria like test scores. Additionally, the administrators need to be open and straightforward with the community about what is going on.

1 comment:

Dana said...

I was going to ask if the "behavior traits" included listlessness, talkativeness, boredom and other disruptive behaviors which are also very typical of gifted children. That is why 20% of drop outs actually test in the gifted range.

I have a feeling they will continue to be shut out of schools like this one.