All Students are Gifted

The October issue of Educational Leadership came this week. One article in particular really peaked my interest. It was called, Why We Run Our School Like a Gifted Program by Linda Conlon. The article shares the intriguing vision of Quaker Valley High school. Their vision assumes that ALL students are gifted and that it is the job of the educators to help students identify their gifts and find ways to develop them. Ten years ago, the high school decided to take the hallmark features of a successful Gifted Program and open them up to all students. Elements of a strong gifted program include: rigorous curriculum, differentiated instruction, personalized counseling, and enrichment opportunities tied to personal interests.

They learned (without major budget changes):
  1. All students, not just the usual suspects, have considerable untapped potential
  2. The time saved by identifying who should be "gifted" is better spent in providing additional services to more students

Grad your latest issue of Ed Leadership and read the full article specific examples of these practices transformed unmotivated and under-achieving students into successful, self-directed college-bound students.

Conlon, L. (October 2008). Why we run our school like a gifted program? Educational Leadership, p. 38-42.

Comments

Linda said…
Hi Kelly,
I wrote the article and appreciate that you thought it intriguing. I hope your post prompts a discussion! You captured the essence of our vision well, but I do want to make one comment, however. We actually don’t think that all kids are gifted - only that you never really know what's inside many of them. History is full of kids that were “missed” by educators who didn’t recognize, let alone do something, to foster their potential or make their path through school a better fit. We just don't think it's worth the time to guess at who is and who isn't, when instead, we could just run the school with gifted practices as a guide, and see what happens! Our "usual suspects" still receive the attention they need, (acceleration, compacting, etc.) but by involving all teachers and broadening the services we offer, we think there’s less of a chance that an exceptional child will pass through our high school having had no opportunity to explore his or her potential. I’m sure this isn’t a perfect system, but we think it has advantages over the formality of testing, labeling, meeting, filling out forms and limiting opportunities to the identified few. It was A LOT of work, but with NCLB killing off gifted programs right and left, we’re sure glad we’re where we are today!
Kelly said…
Linda,
Comments and insights from the author are always welcome! I appreciate the clarification. I was using the term Gifted as both a label as well as a disposition that all children have unique talents, interests, motivations etc.... Students in the later category will not always qualify as Gifted, but it exciting that your school recognizes those students and provides flexibility in programming to meet the needs of those students as well. Congratulations on your success and keep publishing!
kemeigh said…
Hi Kelly,
We just professionally skimmed and discussed the article that you referenced at our Gifted Advisory Council meeting. It opened up rich collegial discussion including inquiry into the ways that we determine eligibility for gifted programming, ways to provide enrichment and extension to our students, and whether we are moving into an environment that is only quantitative. The group was encouraged to see that there are schools that are raising the bar for all students. Also, we noticed that the "system" was all on board and working toward a common goal of promoting student success.
Signed the Gifted Advisory Council at CIU 20

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