Screening for Gold
While in elementary school and after the end of the year assessments required by our district and state my son’s teacher told her third grade class that there was one more test to take: but this one was a fun test. Not only did they not have to take it seriously, but they could make stuff up and color in pretty patterns with the bubbles. It didn’t matter. Fortunately he shared this with me the night before the school administered the Otis-Lennon ability test. I very gently explained that all those other tests – the state mandated tests – measured how good a job his teacher, and the school, were doing in the business of teaching. The test he was scheduled to take the next day was a test to measure how clever he was. He needed to work as seriously at this test as he had the other assessment tests at school.
This teacher existed in a school culture that “did not believe in gifted.” I heard that sentence many times during our years there. Yet how can an education professional not “believe” in gifted?
Identification is deceptively simple: regular district grade level screenings using an instrument designed to measure ability along with policies that allow for parents, teachers and peers to recommend students for screenings in off-years. Yes there will always be a few students who are missed in these screenings – just as there will be teachers who encourage kids to just have fun with the ability tests.