Friday, September 21, 2012

Standardization ~ The Implications for Gifted Children


Every time I hear the word ‘standardization’, I {{shiver}}. And I shiver a lot these days! When I consider the implications for gifted children, I visualize a roll of duct tape about to be applied to the ‘box’.

I fail to see how the road we’re headed on leads to anything but a dead end. Standardization has been twisted and turned into a grand scheme of seeming equity, but in truth – it is the stifling of innovation and creativity. It sounds like a nice idea, but it is not.



Children today are taught to excel on standardized tests. Teachers are being rewarded for how well their students do on those tests. Can you see where this is headed? Equating high test scores with educational success is short-sighted. What happens when teachers vie for the best test-takers based on a child’s previous scores?

When people embrace a ‘standardized is good’ mindset, they are often thinking ‘all children are gifted’. For these folks, the very existence of gifted classes and programs becomes a threat. The only way to eliminate the threat is to eliminate the perception that some are gifted and some are not. This ultimately leads to the demise of gifted programs.

Gifted kids get the message loud and clear every single day. If everyone is gifted, then no one has a right to acceleration, differentiation or to learn with their peers. Their needs are unimportant, an illusion or worse ~ nonexistent. They dare not say anything. Denial becomes ingrained in their very being. This can lead to very serious mental health complications.

Here’s a few ‘what ifs’ for you. What if all tall people were expected to play basketball … and win? What if all children with red hair were expected to go into theater and play the lead role in Annie? Oh … and what if ALL children were expected to score proficient on standardized tests without ANY accommodations? Most people would agree that these scenarios are absurd; and they would be correct.

It is much more appropriate to say that all children are different with unique needs. No one teacher in our current educational system should be expected to produce individualized lessons plans for each student each week. They could, however, provide differentiated lessons to groups of students who were clustered in regular classrooms or educational peer-based classes.

The problem is not a national one. It occurs around the world; some places more than others. As parents, we need to explore all options for educating our children. A one-size-fit-all approach does not benefit anyone. Support open dialog with your child’s teacher and school administrators. Educate yourself of the possibilities available in your area. Do not settle for ‘standardized’ solutions. If few exist, create your own!

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