Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gifted Pilot Program

Today's PG describes a pilot program for student to receive gifted instruction in their home schools rather than the Gifted Center. Trying the idea out before adopting it across the board seems to be a good move, as is delaying the start of the program when it was found that it would benefit from more preparation.



Mark Rauterkus said...

I was waiting for this news (and non-news) to hit the media. There is much to say in this topic. More from me later.

However, I'm proud to say that the existing gifted education program is one of the jewels of the city schools. It is a gem that the folks in the burbs can't match -- for sure.

The gifted approach of the past has kept the city schools and the city viable. Without it -- as it has been -- and there would be another (few thousands) out the door.

Questioner said...

Many are unfamiliar with the existing giften program. Information on what makes it so good would be helpful.

Stephanie Tecza said...

Well the PPS gifted education is not all that its cracked up to be. I need to make three points:
1. When my daughter Ellie was at Frick for middle school she was only gifted on Fridays. The gifted kids were bussed over to the "GIFTED CENTER".
2. Secondly if there is a two hour delay on Fridays our "GIFTED" kids did not go to the "GIFTED" Center due to the bus schedules.
3. I truly think that many kids (who are not gifted) would benefit from the program. Ellie’s geometry teacher at the Gifted Center used origami to help them learn. I bet there are many typical kids who would have benefited from that same instruction, perhaps we could have discovered that students gifts.

annette werner said...

I was thinking the same thing about a range of students being able to benefit from these programs.

Anonymous said...

Mark, explain for us why suburban program cannot match or better this program. You mean Peters, Mt.Lebo and Hampton can do no better???I would seriously doubt this.
It's nice to see that the city has a "gem" among the ruins.

Anonymous said...

Using innovative teaching techniques such as using manipulatives in mathematics, (the origami example), is certainly not something that should be exclusive for "gifted" students. All students can benefit from a variety of different approaches to teaching and learning.
As an educator (in one of those suburban schools mentioned), I see a trend, (at least with new teachers and experienced teachers willing to try new techniques), a focus on teaching to different "types" of learners, (auditory, kinesthetic, etc.)
I personally believe all children are "gifted", and shipping students to a different classroom (or building for that matter) once or twice a week because they scored a certain number on an achievement test does a disservice to their "non-gifted" peers.
I suggest looking at Howard Gardner's of Multiple Intelligences.

Anonymous said...

There are several routes into the city gifted program (IQ test is the main route, but portfolios are also accepted).

While I heartily agree that all kids benefit from different kinds of experiences and that they should be furnished to all, I also don't think that that's the *only* way that service should be delivered.

Whole group, differentiated instruction, AND some "like-peer" learning are all needed. If we were creating a "gifted" school, I'd be upset (and I fear that's what at least one of the new themed schools will end up being -- and it won't be good for any of the kids). But to say that you can teach all children, all the time, in the same way, by just mixing up the methods is also not true.

Many, many very smart or gifted kids begin to hate school and even learning by school days filled with boredom -- making them read things that do not stretch them, making them go at the pace of the slowest students in the room (you should see some of the doodling that these kids can come up with in the wasted time in their days!), not every pushing or frustrating them.

Truth is? There's no great answer to this, it's a constant struggle to give each child what he or she needs. The gifted program has at least provided a day a week for kids that isn't boring.

Anonymous said...

Last I knew Mt. Lebanon doesn't provide any specialized gifted services, basically saying that all their kids are so smart that the classes meet everyone's needs.

Anonymous said...

That is completely untrue about Mt. Lebanon. The school's gifted coordinators work with the student, his/her teacher/s and parents and create an Individualized Education Plan, (IEP). The key here being "individualized". (IEP's are, by the way, legally binding contracts)
No, Mt. Lebanon does not segregate it's gifted students but rather they come up with individualized plans to keep them adequately challenged in the classroom.
Mt. Lebanon has historically been ranked as the top school district in the region by the Pittsburgh Business Times for years, (Upper St. Clair beat them out as no. one for the first time this year).
It's not only "gifted" students who are performing in that district. Let's give credit where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

Mark's point was that the pull-out program was unique to the city and that fact has been at times, and for some people, a draw.

Mt. Lebanon says that it can provide everything its gifted kids need in each classroom. It is likely very true for some teachers and less true for others.

IEPs are required of all PA schools for kids labeled gifted.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm aware of the functionality of IEP's. My point was that it's not always the best practice to "pull out" the students. That is a very antiquated practice in education. Mt. Lebanon is forward-thinking in it's approach.
Again, perhaps PPS has something to learn from these highly achieving districts.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that the school populations of Mt. Lebo and Pittsburgh are similar enough to use the same methods? Or are you saying that ALL children can benefit from the SAME methods?

I am not crazy about the gifted program as it is done in Pittsburgh, like Anon 9:01 says, I am one who sees it as a draw, but I would hate to have them do away with it. I don't trust this admin to replace it with something better, even if gifted testing and services are mandated by the state.

Mark Rauterkus said...

"Excellence for all" includes the gifted.

Gifted kids are often with high drop out rates. The gifted are often the one's to cause trouble -- for themselves and others too.

Being gifted is, at times, a curse -- if not a burden.

The gifted tag is not earned from some achievement test.

Yes, the busing thing needs better solutions. I'd love to see those days be only at the Gifted School -- without the need to burn an hour or so at the local school.

I'd love to see the creation of a county wide magnet for families to consider for specific kids -- as a "Gifted High School." A full-time gifted high school is a hot topic that might melt many. But, it works in other regions. And, it works for certain kids.

A Gifted High School would be a draw and a retention tool for some families.

It is a worthy discussion.

However, it is less of a priority to me vs. Oliver, Langley, Westinghouse, Peabody.

Finally, as the gifted kids depart the local classroom, the class-size drops. That's a good thing. Reviews, extra-coaching, and other educational experiences can and should be provided every-day. And, that is easier to do with smaller sized classes and more homogeneous groups.

Questioner said...

Re: Oliver, Langley & Peabody- it seems like those are expected to close. For Westinghouse, there are discussions w/ community groups about the future of the school.

Anonymous said...

Mark, whether you know it or not, you are addressing the needs of a relatively small group of people as opposed to what comprises the majority in PPS. Don't misunderstand me, our gifted kids and their parents are to be praised, but you have a superintendent and board who have done more to alienate this type of parent than anything else. You are applauding a few crumbs being thrown in this direction. Sorry, but it can't begin to address all that has gone wrong under this administration's watch. Reminds me of Bush. Somehow, the PR machine on Bellefield Avenue will spin it all to make residents believe that somehow, a great amount of good has taken place.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The gifted kids make up part of the 'special education' demographics of the school. PPS has always been a superior provider for those with special education needs. In the past, the district was much, much better than what was forthcoming from the districts in the burbs.

People moved to Pgh because of the special education opportunities and services. People stay put because of the services too.

This (special ed) too is under pressure and is slipping.

Just to be clear, I AM NOT applauding a few crumbs being thrown in this direction. Nope. I've been branded a 'naysayer' since the time of Tom Murphy.

Furthermore, I'm also worried about the other schools and other students too.