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MCEF. Montgomery County Education Forum http://www.mcef.org Sponsoring group for the Equity in Education Coalition (EEC). Why does MCPS label our kids?. At the end of 2 nd grade MCPS will evaluate your child and decide whether to identify him or her as “gifted and talented.”.
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MCEF • Montgomery County Education Forum • http://www.mcef.org • Sponsoring group for the Equity in Education Coalition (EEC)
At the end of 2nd grade MCPS will evaluate your child and decide whether to identify him or her as “gifted and talented.”
The Equity in Education Coalition wantsNo Labels, No Limits! Let us tell you what happens and why we think it’s wrong.
As seven or eight year olds: Each child is tested Each child is recommended or not by her or his teacher. Each child may be “nominated” by her or his parent or guardian. Parents may have their children evaluated by “experts”.
Parents receive a letter in June that designates their child as “gifted and talented” or, in effect, “NOT gifted and talented.”
This marks the beginning of separate “tracks” – “special education” and “on grade level” versus “honors, AP, IB” – that further segregate our children by middle and high school and deny our children the education they need.
At the end of 2nd grade, MCPS labels about 60% of white and Asian children as “gifted and talented.”
This means that, in effect, MCPS labels about 40% of white and Asian students “NOT gifted and talented.”
At the end of 2nd grade, MCPS labels about 20% of African American and Latino children “gifted and talented.”
This means that, in effect, MCPS labels 80% of African American and Latino students “NOT gifted and talented.”
Do we really think that 80% of African American and Latino children are without gifts or talents?
The worst instructional effects of this practice include: Remedial versus enriched instruction Worksheets versus hands-on labs Rote memorization versus inquiry-based learning However, MCPS, and its principals and teachers have worked hard over the years to reduce these effects
And yet, many effects from the separate tracks remain and extend into middle and high school.
Some of the effects of labeling benefit some children, while harming others. Here’s how:
Many teachers have high expectations for children identified as “gifted and talented.” So do their parents. As do the children, themselves.
These children see themselves with a bright future. They go to magnet programs and take AP and IB classes. They get high SAT scores. They prepare to go to college.
Children MCPS identifies, in effect, as “not gifted and talented” get the message that school is not a place where they can shine;
they are more likely to: Become disengaged; Act out in class; Lose academic eligibility to participate in sports; Drop out; Join gangs.
Malcolm Gladwell in his recent book Outliers refers to sociologist Robert Merton’s description of this kind of result as the “Matthew Effect”: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have in abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”
Gladwell explains the Matthew Effect - “It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success.”
Tracking (or rigid ‘grouping’) segregates children, even those who live in diverse neighborhoods. Even in schools which are very diverse, classrooms are majority white and Asian OR African American and Latino. You can notice this as you walk through most schools.
Tracking reinforces racial and economic segregation. Children learn to study and work only with children who look like them. Children receive the incorrect message that their racial or economic group is “smarter” or “dumber” than other groups. Children on both ends of tracking suffer as a result.
Segregation does not prepare our children for the world and the workplaces they will live and work in as adults.
What’s more, tracking denies benefits to the children labeled “NOT gifted and talented.”This has been studied nationally and locally.
Some examples: Vickie Adamson, a Blair High School teacher, teaches an intentionally “detracked” honors American Studies English class with students who have been in “gifted, honors and magnet” classes and those who have been tracked out of those classes.
Many students discover that they CAN do challenging work if given the chance. Some students discover that because of years of low expectations and less challenging work, they lack confidence and skills.
Another example: Georgian Forest and Burning Tree Elementary Schools are “no labels” pilot schools. They do not identify students as “gifted and talented” or “not gifted and talented”. Parents and children at the school are pleased with this innovation and content that children are getting their need met.
For example: In Rockville Center, Long Island, a whole school system has “detracked” and it has found that all students’ achievement has risen because to teach ALL children well means high expectations and better teaching for everyone.
For example: Carol Ann Tomlinson, at University of Virginia, tells the story of the “detracking” of two schools, in her book The Differentiated School. Both schools – an elementary school and a high school – had “sweeping, positive results for staff and students.”
For example: Joseph Renzulli at the NEAG Center for Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut advocates using strategies designed for “gifted” students for all students.
Let MCPS and the BOE know that we want “No Labels, No Limits!” for our children.Let’s work to change MCPS policy, to make our schools work for all of our children.
Where do we go from here? What can you do?
Send postcards. Make phone calls. Attend Board of Education meetings.
Ask your organization to endorse the “No Labels, No Limits!” campaign.