How Should Schools Identify Gifted Students?

Carol’s Summary:
The method by which to identify gifted students at a New York City high school is now being challenged, as the school admits students based on the results of a single test, which is written by a teacher at the school. This test ultimately determines a student’s eligibility to attend, and has  sparked a debate about what qualifies a student as gifted, particularly because this test has caused a decline in black and Hispanic student enrollment at the school.

Critics say that the test gives certain students an unfair advantage, whereas many others who come from less fortunate backgrounds may not be as well-prepared to take such a test. The cost of prep materials and tutoring gives wealthy students a good chance at being accepted, while students who come from less fortunate families may not be able to pay for the preparation.

Therefore, they may not be as well-prepared to take such a test. They say that the admissions tests should utilize several kinds of evaluations, including portfolios of students’ past work, essays, and interviews.

There are currently 3 million students nationwide who are identified as gifted, and it is believed that there are many more who have not yet been noticed or who have undergone one-sided tests such as the one previously mentioned. It is necessary to employ various strategies to identify gifted students, so that they may receive the education they deserve.

To hold back a student who is gifted may make the student likelier to grow bored with school and possibly even drop out, because their abilities are not being recognized. At LifeBound, we believe it is incredibly important to tailor teaching to individual students, their abilities and their needs. In our curriculum that accompanies each of our books, we have included activities for both gifted and at-risk students, so that no child’s needs are left unattended to. Visit or e-mail for more information about our books and curriculum.

Identifying Gifted Students

By Walt Gardner

The latest chapter in the gifted student saga was on display at Hunter College High School in New York City when a graduating senior delivered a commencement address that called into question the basis for admission to the storied school (“Diversity Debate Convulses Elite High School,” Aug. 5). The school uses a single, teacher-written test that has not changed for decades. Although the test is defended by Hunter College, which oversees the high school, as “very valuable in terms of preserving the kind of specialness and uniqueness that the school has,” it has resulted in a decline in the percentage of black and Hispanic students enrolled.

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