Pennsylvania Plans to Boost Gifted Programs

Joe Smydo:

The state Board of Education today will consider a new process for identifying “gifted” children and beefing up the monitoring of gifted programs, steps advocates say would help provide a mind-stretching education for the state’s top students.
Under the current law, students are classified as gifted if they score at least 130 on an IQ test and meet other criteria, such as performing one or more years above grade level and excelling in one or more subject areas.
The proposed change would classify students as gifted if they meet the IQ threshold or meet multiple other criteria. Advocates said the change is needed because IQ tests don’t always flag gifted students, particularly those from disadvantaged homes, children with disabilities and deep-thinkers who don’t do well on timed tests.
“There are many school districts that will look at that and say, ‘If you do not have the magic number, you are not in,’ ” said David Mason, president of Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education and a retired York County school administrator.
Advocates said they didn’t consider the potential change a watering down of eligibility criteria or something that would swell the ranks of gifted students. About 70,000 of the state’s 1.8 million school-age children receive gifted services, according to the state board.