My daughter is a 5th grade tag student who is bored out of her mind. I have been very frustrated with the "TAG" program in Oregon. It is basically a form that is filled out and then shoved into a file. Nothing proactive is ever done. I know in other states, there are separate classes for the TAG students to attend. Why can't we do that here in Oregon? There may be "No child left behind" - but the flip side to that is no TAG child is able to separate themselves from the pack and really soar.
I agree that something needs to happen, but I dread the phrase "in Oregon". I can't thing of any statewide education initiatives that work in Oregon, and I would hate the see the good intentions of the TAG community subjected to the fate of "statewide". I would put more faith in action that is both urgent and local.
Our kids were bored enough that they each dropped out of school. They have learned a lot on their own as home-schoolers.
At school, they would spend almost all of their time doing make-work assignments waiting for the slowest kids to move up. When an interesting subject came up, their interest was squelched because some kids would not be able to understand.
One their own, they can pick up any book they want, and work on a topic for as long as it takes to master the content: sometimes many hours at a stretch. They learn when to ask for help if they need it.
A budget-neutral change that would greatly reduce boredom at schools:
let children group by what they are interested in, not force them into age-groups.
Suppose everyone does math at 10. Then each kid, TAG or not, could go to a room where they are working on something that's at about the right level and pace, and learn at their optimal ability.
If English were at 11, each kid could migrate to a room where they are reading something interesting and just hard enough.
The teachers would still be focusing the bulk of the effort on the slowest learners, but at least there would be opportunities for normal and fast students to stay excited about education by moving forward when they are ready.
It might be difficult for you to get candid responses from frustrated parents.
Those who still have kids in school reasonably fear for even worse treatment of their kids.
Those who have moved away or aged out of the system have little incentive to contribute to the discussion.
Business as usual is not doing a good job with really smart kids, but overt requests from a family for adaptation can be met with responses ranging from simple denial to "special programs" which are more punitive than educational.
I taught in PPS for 27 years and share the frustration about meeting TAG needs. We used to HAVE separate TAG classes, I taught one years ago at my school site. And despite tchrs' best efforts, meeting TAG needs and NCLB's AYP is (not politicaly correct to say this) darned near impossible.
I retired early from teaching in large part due to the frustration of impossible mandates for tchrs AND students. I have long felt that all this emphasis on raising everyone to benchmark standards cheats our best and brightest (not to mention leaving behind the very LOWEST students). The only way to get everyone achieving at the top is by lowering standards to mediocrity for all. (Shall we follow Texas' lead?)
Public schools are expected to be all things to all students, not possible with over crowded classrooms, unfunded mandates, music, PE and other "specials" cut from curriculums in order to fund more reading specilaists, recess cut out in the panic about reading test scores.
I do not really hold public schools totally to blame. Unless America (Oregon) is willing to fund it adequately, public education will be less than it could be. It has been the whipping boy since I can remember the Russian's launch of Sputnik. It is easier to blame the schools than to look deeper into our society to see where the problems lie.
7 hours a day, even in the very best classroom cannot compete with or make up for other disractions, travesties and inflences upon the nation's children, from abuse, and neglect to hours spent in front of TV and video games.
The best thing about teaching for me was always the kids, first and foremost. The most difficult thing was what happened to my students OUTSIDE the time I had them in the classroom. And that, I continue to believe, believe is where the biggest challenge lies.
I am not a conspriacy theory person, but I do truly believe that NCLB was meant to destroy (privatize) public education. It is a set up for failure, for ALL kids, from brightest to the most struggling. At this it is succeeding!
ashalas: I fear you're right.
NCGA: No Child Gets Ahead
It's logically equivalent to NCLB
Both are quite negative advocacies:
the measure of progress is in what is NOT done.
Thinking People: please help counter the power of sloganeering.
If we hear NCLB repeated enough times,
we could become inured to its pernicious effects.
Every child deserves to learn, not just the slow ones.
Some people are quick to accuse "elitism" anytime someone notices that some people are more ______ than others
(where ______ is practically any aspect you care to observe).
If ______ is not desirable, they might scream "discrimination".
In our PC-filtered vocabulary,
is there a less-desirable epithet than the N-word?
("Nerd", of course)
Avoid discrimination: support the continued education of nerds.
I like what you said, ashalas. Teachers cannot account for what students are doing outside of the classroom. What you said about values, and how it would look if parents and students took responsibility for all that time spent in front of the tv, video games, the mall, etc. That is a big part of it, I think!
My child was in Portland Public Schools until 8th grade. We moved to this area from out of state because I was told that there was a TAG program and that my child would be educated at the appropriate level of instruction. I moved here to find out that there is, in fact, no program, or there was none when I was involved with PPS. There is a 'designation' which, in my experience, consisted of a program for parents. The parent program was designed to keep the parents quiet, and to provide parent enrichment so that we could all home school our children better.
I am so sick and tired of reading about the TAG 'program'. A program as normally understood by most reasonable people consists of an organized set of of objectives and actions. In this case, that would be a curriculum. By a curriculum I do not mean a program devised and carried out by parents at home, or extra sheets that a child can bring home to do if he or she feels like it and chooses to 'challenge' themselves. What garbage!
So, the first thing to do is to admit that there is no program. When I realized that I had been duped, I finally pulled my child out of PPS at the earliest opportunity. Now he is getting a great education at a private school which actively nurtures bright and capable students instead of trying to make all students pursue mediocrity so no one will feel bad. My child had to unlearn the many bad habits he learned in the public schools becasue he never had to think or challenge himself. He became a master at doing as little as possible because he could, and he was shunned by his classmates for being too smart and skipping a grade. He spent many years being bored. His teachers all but ignored him so that they could bring up the bottom to improve the school's scores. Is this what Portland wants? I think so, and that is the crux of the issue. I have heard any number of people express bitterness and resentment at gifted children because they are not like the other kids, and who do they think they are to need something different? Portland does not tolerate diversity. My child absolutely blossomed in a learning environment where he had a peer group and teachers who actually encouraged their students to reach for the top instead of the bottom.
For people with gifted kids who can afford it, they can remove their kids from the negative environment. What about the many, many who can't? Those kids will get left, and no one seems to care. I spent years trying to work with the public system and finally stopped when I realized that Portland is getting exactly what it wants. Everybody has to be the same, and no one should be allowed to achieve too much because it is 'elitist'. 'Tracking' is bad, although no one seems to realize that the kids are all tracked, by age most of all, and then of course everyone is put in the lowest track.
Good luck Portland. You'll need it.
I am the parent of four children, each qualified as TAG students by our school district. The way our district "serves" TAG students is through what is called "differentiated instruction." In theory, this means that teachers have heterogeneously grouped classrooms (all ability levels), and they give the same material to everyone but employ different delivery techniques and have different expectations for kids based on their capabilities. In practice, teachers get very little staff development in differentiation, and rarely have the time and/or resources to implement what they know is right. This model of service is a joke and does not fulfill our state mandate that highly capable students be served according to their needs.
This is a very bad time to be a talented and gifted student in Oregon. With high-stakes testing and the pressure schools feel to meet AYP (annual yearly progress) goals, school administrators have every incentive to serve their students who do not meet state benchmarks, and absolutely no incentive to serve "the best and the brightest," even if they are grossly underachieving. Sadly, talent and potential in a student is rarely celebrated by teachers and administrators because in their world, exceptionality is functionally a burden and a liability. All of the focus on working for state benchmarks has warped the education community's attitude toward excellence. A parent who wants his or her child to have opportunities to work with students of like ability or to have challenges appropriate to their ability is likely to be smacked with the label "elitist" before they even know what hit them. Parents who want to look at options like acceleration, modified curriculum, flexible grouping, online learning programs, or other options are likely to be branded as obnoxious, and/or asked "why would you want to do that?" Their children are not valued and encouraged in their giftedness; instead their specialness is seen as a nail that sticks out, that must be hammered into conformity.
What works? I think there are many ways to meet the needs of talented and gifted students, but it won't happen unless we there is fundamental shift in how we view these students: they will need to be seen as valuable yet vulnerable. Like all students, they will do best when their needs are are acknowledged and accommodated. Their needs may be somewhat different from those of other students, but they don't have to be more expensive to serve.
Talented and Gifted is a misnomer.
TAG students would never waste a letter of an acronym with a redundant article-"and."
The program which teaches to these students should be AIM- Academically Inspired Minds-these students are in their "zone" when learning, calculating, contemplating, and theorizing.
The experience I had as a parent of an identified TAG student was that the school district was unwilling to honor and acknowledge the exceptional talents of this student, who scored a college bound SAT in sixth grade.
A counselor refused to offer this student a review of tests under file, saying
"you don't really want to know your score on this test"
we left the office area shortly after this TAG coordinator said
"Look, I can tell you, you are three deviations away from the norm.."
We had a grand chuckle over that as I researched and investigated alternate educational opportunities for this student/deviant.
Athletic performances are public knowledge, and we like to know how the athlete performed in contests. But there is a perverse fear of intelligence that pervades our society at large, as if the "geniuses" are going to form an elite group of scientists and develop robots that will control our access to Doritos and beer.
I wonder how a quarterback would feel if the coach said
"You don't really want to know if you competed that pass, do you?"
"Let's not show the score tonight, it's playoff time, everyone's a winner!"
"You were born with a throwing arm, no need for practice"
"Go home, eat some Doritos, have fun, you're gifted!"
There is nothing to fear about the TAG students, they are as addicted to Doritos as most coaches, but they have a more difficult time opening the bag. IT is ONE WORLD MELTING, look for solutions, from everyone.
Good image, asdfasdf: keep athletic prowess hidden.
Let's have balance: sell exactly as many tickets to basketball, drama, and knowledge bowl.
I know of schools where the athletic coaches get an increment of extra pay, but the academic coaches do it on their own time. Do you think the smart kids don't notice what is valued at the school?
Supposing that some fraction of brilliant kids do manage to persevere into adulthood, can we imagine a more efftive way to make them bitter towards the hoi polloi than to abuse their minds as children?
Perhaps we deserve the "evil scientists" that we are raising
(over-used as that metaphor may be)
My children are grown now. I had 2 of 4 "identified" as TAG students, one in 2nd grade and one in 4th grade-Eugene SD. I was informed, signed a paper and was told i could provide "enriching" experiences at home. Separating kids out was out of vogue and had been discontinued anyway due to budget.I worked night shift at the hospital and had one child (not TAG identified) with fairly severe ADHD school not too supportive giving meds or willing to evaluate/test for learning disability;unable to obtain good treatment in Eugene(late 1980's). I had no idea how to support/assist TAG kids.One hated high school and dropped out, finishing at LCC,(recently graduated w/MSW@28 yrs. old) the other was "bored" and underachieving barely graduating high school(refuses to attend college).The ADHD child has had no end of troubles in all areas, still does, though finally got GED.The TAG identification was meaningless and frustrating since I felt inadequate to meet kids potential.
I would love to offer a solution instead of complaining, and I did do that while my now College freshman son was in grade school. My son was a TAG student in Portland Public Schools, officially "identified" in kindergarten. The program did basically nothing for him or for the other kids who were labeled as TAG kids, except they paid a full time "administrator" to keep files. Oh yes and had a lot of administrative meetings to let the parents know mostly that the files were being managed. In his 1st and 2nd grade I was allowed to come to the school to tutor the TAG kids in math in the school hallway once a week (not through TAG, but after conversations with the phenomenal teacher). That was great & the kids and parents and teachers all appreciated it. However when 3rd grade came around neither myself or other parents were allowed to mentor inside the school even though nothing else was done. When I asked about it I was told that a really great teacher from Catlin Gabel was going to come to teach. That teacher never materialized. When I asked what the money that goes toward TAG had funded at our school that year I was told by the administrator that one day they taught the TAG kids about the bar codes on grocery items. Wow.
When my son went to middle school we asked about advanced classes and were told he would have to go through the normal classes. Then he heard from another 11 year old that there was a math test he could take from the Principal. The Principal discouraged us at first, saying my son might be disappointed. We asked that he be allowed to take the test. He got a perfect score and skipped into advanced algebra with a few 8th graders and then had to go to Grant to take highschool courses for the rest of middle school which was great but please note that none of it was created or supported by PPS TAG - we arranged transportation and the classes on our own. It saddens me to say that it was zero thanks to the PPS TAG program that my son is now doing fine. I am most concerned about bright kids who have parents without resources or mentors and also about bright foster kids. While I was frustrated for my own son being challenged I was able to provide him with mentors when the TAG program failed. I am concerned for those who have no other options and am angry that money is paid in PPS for a program that is a non-starter. The program as it is currently does nothing except for drain money from the rest of the ailing PPS system. I have several nieces and nephews that were raised in the Beaverton School District who tell a much more positive story. I think what works is actually mentoring the kids who need it. I encourage parents of current PPS kids to get really involved and to find other mentors for their kids until this issue becomes for PPS an active one instead of one they just run on paper.
Don't get too excited about Beaverton School District's TAG program. They mostly have a better PR department: see my posting above about the "differentiated instruction model" which is Beaverton's excuse for TAG service. They too have one or two "administrators" who mostly administer a few tests, keep elaborate files, run an event or two, and brag about "success." Many parents seem to confuse good grades and test scores with adequate education.
I have kids working their way through the Portland Public Schools right now. One of them is almost certainly TAG material - he is clearly at the top of his class. However, we don't dwell on the fact that he is so capable at home, and he gets along great in school. His teacher loves him, and school is as much, if not more, about learning social skills as it is about learning reading, writing, and arithmetic.
There are some truly exceptional kids out there, but I believe there is a large contingent of kids in TAG as a result of their parents driven and over developed sense of entitlement. There is only so much schools can do. It is not the job of the schools to raise our kids. Does your child need special challenges? You as a parent should be working to find them extra-curricular challenges to meet their needs. It would be great if we could have public schools that met the custom needs of every enrolled student perfectly. That's not going to happen. Part of growing up is learning to work effectively within the system you've got.
I think having the TAG program is great - having some extra challenges for some kids is fine. However, No one should be expecting that any school is going to meet every educational need of their child. The parent is the primary educator.
Kids from less fortunate backgrounds and with less going for them need more resources in a society that judges its worth by the fate of least well off member. If you are lucky enough to have a talented or gifted child, you as a parent should engage with them to enrich their lives. Don't put that on the already overburdened public school system.
Your attitude is going to serve your child well, he will learn to take responsibility for choosing classes and challenging himself, following his passions and developing leadership skills.
I wish every family with a talented and gifted child had parents who could "engage with them and enrich their lives." Why the assumption that a TAG student is not going to be from a less fortunate background? My family was able to advocate for our children and also find those extra-curricular challenges to meet their needs, but we are talking about needs like not wanting to be bored silly by the tedium of the everyday classroom. Is that a basic need or a special need? What about the need, in math class, to learn new material? What about the need, in literature study, to talk about a book with someone else who has a passion for it? Is the need to do these things basic, or special? Talented and gifted children can sit for months, terms, years without having these things happen, because what is very appropriate for many other students just happens to be out of sync for them. They are called on to be tutors and leaders for other children, and do develop skills if they rise to the occasion, but when do they get to fly? Sometimes never, unless they have a very special (overworked) teacher, or a parent goes to bat for them.
Thanks, asdfasdf, Eganite, and Kathrynann for replying to my post.
I just listened to the radio program, and I thought it was an excellent discussion.
It's been decades ago, but when I was in grade school I tested into the programs for "gifted" students in all subjects. I was given lots of extra challenges in school and at home. I was made to feel very special, being up there in the top 3% of achievers.
I still took a lot of regular classes, and I was bored in many of them, although I was typically pretty well behaved. At a teacher/parent conference, one of my teachers expressed frustration that I was always daydreaming, usually looking out the window - which was not so bad, except that every time the teacher tried to 'catch me out' by calling on me, I would give the right answer, and never stop looking out the window.
I was in all of the advanced classes in high school, and I finally was given a challenging history paper to write, and I was stumped. This project, and other course work that year, required me to apply myself and study independently. I had no studying skills, because studying was not something I had had to do previously. I was doing sports, music, and drama. There were days I was at school from 7:30 in the morning until 11:00 at night. I was completely at sea trying to complete work that actually required concerted effort and concentrated study time. My whole schedule, attitude, everything, fell apart, and I became very depressed and dropped out.
This was the middle of my junior year. I had completed enough course work at that point that I only needed three more classes from a junior college to be eligible for a four year university. I took those classes, over the next three years, got an undergraduate degree, and then a masters.
It would seem that I am making a case for making sure that gifted children are always intellectually challenged in school, but I'm not going to. I liked the advanced classes I was given, and I would hope that any intellectually gifted child would have the opportunities that I did. I want to see the schools trying their best to address the issue, but when resources are limited (as they always are and always will be), I would still prefer to see the lower achievers getting their help first.
I think there was something else missing from my education, in the big picture, which is this: I never really learned the value of hard work. I was told I was exceptional and intelligent, and that was reinforced by my parents and the system in both actions and deeds. It gave me a false sense that things would fall into my lap. I have had to learn over the years that the solution to some problems - even many problems - is just mind numbing hard work. There are intelligent ways to deal with hard work, but sometimes that is simply what is required.
Additionally, as a "gifted" student, I was in the top 3% of academic achievers. That's great, but there's still 97% of the world out there that you're going to be dealing with for the rest of your life. It is REALLY, REALLY important that one not develop a sense of superiority based on academic prowess. There is a lot more to getting along in the world once your primary educational path is complete than academic prowess (unless your career is in academia!).
I feel that both of these things - learning the value of hard work, and understanding that everyone has value (even if there isn't a standardized test for honesty and integrity) are things that come from parents. Everyone's different, and everyone has skills to bring to the classroom to make the classroom a richer place for everyone to learn.
As you might guess from this post. I have sympathy for bored yet gifted students. I still feel that parents have a tremendous role to play in teaching their kids how to deal with difficult situations - are you bored? are you angry? are you scared? What are your problems? What can we do, right now, to change things and help you feel better about it? Sometimes, a good solution can be found. I think it is important, too, that sometimes the answer is "Look, I know this is tough for you, but after everything we've talked about, it looks like your best option is to knuckle down and get through it, and here are some strategies to help you. This won't last forever."
I also believe that the schools can change a few things to address this better. Personally, I liked the discussion about grouping students at least partially based on their ability instead of strictly on age. It seems this would have the added advantage, as time goes on, of building relationships among students that cross all sorts of age and social boundaries, giving the students a much stronger sense of community along the way.
Great discussion! Very interesting.
The crucial problem for Tag kids is learning how to work. When you float through all your clasess while your classmates are working hard to do the work, you are not being served. I have two TAG kids and one is in high school. By the time that the advanced classes are available to these kids they have no idea how to take notes, study, or really work. For those who feel that special classes for Tag kids is unfair - think how you would enjoy spending every day learning at a rate that is impossibly slow, several grade levels behind where you are. The best you can learn from such an environment is how to daydream or cause problems. PPS is losing their best and brightest - these are the ones who are leaving the system for private or home schooling or just dropping out. What a sad mistake we are making.
We are very happy with the education our TAG chlidren, grades 2 and 4, are getting at ACCESS. ACCESS is a little known PPS school for highly gifted children. Grades 1-8 are currently housed st Sabin Elementary and the program continues at Grant. Its a relatively new program - 5 years - and has a way to go before it reaches its potential, but we feel our kid's academic and social-emotional needs are being met, and most importantly, they're happy.
Beaverton also has a special program, at the middle school level, for highly gifted children; it is called Summa. This program came along too recently for my three children who would have qualified for it, but I have spent time with the Summa students, and they are happy kids in a wonderful, very suitable rich learning environment. Their program is housed in the same building as a comprehensive middle school, so they spend time with the other kids at lunch, electives, etc. This is a great solution for those who test at the 99% level and above, but our district points to it as a solution to "the TAG issue" and then does little to serve the other talented and gifted students.
I'm a college freshmen, recently graduated from a K-12 PPS education, throughout which I was a part of the 'TAG program'. I struggled to find stimulation during school days throughout Elementary school, ultimately giving up after our 'TAG' activities included drawing and coloring symmetrical figures for an hour or two a week, or drawing the path of a pool ball bouncing off the walls of a pool table. These are merely examples of the tedious work we were given as TAG students.
Not only were these activities few and far between (not to mention inconsistent and more often nonexistent), but even when our group of bright young students was given an assignment or project separate from the rest of the class, we would still finish early and return to boredom. As I said above, these activities seemed all too often to serve no purpose further than to keep us contented, while things were business as usual inside the classroom.
As is often the problem not only with TAG but similar programs (i.e. honors/accelerated classes in high school), the problem was not always that there wasn't more advanced work to do and material to learn, but that the supplemental work given was more of the same - busy work, designed to take more time and not necessarily stimulate the growth of more knowledge - mere size over actual substance.
The real problem, however, is not going to be solved by complaining, nor will anyone make real progress dealing with the TAG program on a case-by-case basis. I was able to be successful and ultimately stimulated in school at least partly due to a few well-timed exchanges with other students and teachers who had advice on how to 'beat' this system. Obviously, this isn't the ideal situation, and PPS (TAG included) needs to work harder to publicize opportunities to get ahead, get involved, and for both students and parents to be proactive in students' education. If these intelligent, motivated students can be made aware of opportunities that already exist, then the support of parents, teachers, and administrators will follow.
As for the poster who commented that those who have left the PPS system would be unlikely to weigh in on this conversation, just because PPS has a long way to go, and the TAG program hasn?t done a whole lot to help these successful students, doesn?t mean that there aren?t some really good things happening in PPS, and that there aren?t truly passionate, dedicated people working as teachers and administrators. I know tons of students who wouldn't have traded their experience in PPS for anything else, myself included, and that's no coincidence - which isn't to say that it was perfect, but that education is what you make of it. What is left for us is to teach students (and their parents) how to contour their own education to their own personal needs.
Back in 1989 when my son was identified as a TAG student in Kindergarten, the TAG program was a pull out program. The teachers were, as often as not, local business people who had experience and enthusiasm about teaching young kids. My recollection is that the teacher's union put a stop to it several years later because the teachers were not certified teachers. Instead, they came up with the idea that kids should be "challenged within their classes". My experience with this system was that a teacher, who had 25-30 kids in his/her class, would propose that my son do more of what the rest of the class was doing. It almost felt like a punishment. My son would have preferred to go to a whole school of pull out TAG programs rather than have to do an extra amount of boring work. We ended up pulling him out of school altogether half way through his 7th grade year, and a year later we started him in college. He was much happier there!
My son attends elementary in the Salem/Keizer School District and there isn't a TAG program enforced there either. He was 'identified' a few years ago, but there is no program at his small school. A teacher pulled him and a few other children out during class in 3rd grade to be with an aide to do extra reading, subsequently, he missed a year of math. At home, we were expected to compensate with the Aleks math online program, which I fought for and paid half the cost. My child is bored and does the minimum effort, no motivation and bad habits. His TAG educational program does nothing to enrich his day. I've gone to local meetings, an OATAG convention and complained many times. Other parents that attend meetings complain. Many of us grew up in other states. I believe the entire TAG budget in S/K goes to two administrators that test children and put together a meeting or two in the fall. Even they say, ?Good luck. We have to leave enrichment up to parents. There is no money?
I'd love to move him out of public school, but worry that he would be so far behind he'd fail miserably in private school. The Oregon public educational expectations are so far below par. Since he hardly has homework, we spend weekends and evenings on 3rd grade curriculum even though he?s in 4th and at the top of his class. How can I afford private school. I don?t have the resources?
Being a TAG student myself and a elementary school teacher I am shocked and disappointed at the lack of effort of our children that are supposed to be future leaders. As a TAG kid, I had amazing enrichment all the way though my public education. Being with other kids that were academic equals are some of my fondest memories of school. As a teacher, it was an exciting challenge find stimulation and curriculum, and watch my children blossom.
My husband and I have a child in the 3rd grade in a Portland Public School (PPS). Our child was identified as TAG at the end of the second grade.
We concur with many of the statements here about the problems with TAG in the Portland Public Schools. Following are some things we have seen or have done that have worked, as well as some ideas worth considering to improve the problems.
The Portland Public School District has a program called ACCESS, which falls under its alternative programs. ACCESS is currently located at Sabin Elementary. ACCESS admits students who perform at the 99th percentile on nationally-normed tests for aptitude and/or achievement in any or all of the following areas: reading, math, or general intellect. When we learned our child scored in the 99th percentile on the mathematics portion of the Iowa Basic test, we immediately submitted an application to the ACCESS program. We felt it would be hard to meet his needs over the long term in the regular classroom, especially since most elementary teachers don?t come from a math background.
ACCESS wants to grow, but can?t at the current location because Sabin, the neighborhood elementary, is growing from K-5 to K-8. So our child, and others in the district are on a waiting list, while the district considers what to do with ACCESS. District administrators and elected officials seem to be interested in growing ACCESS, especially if it can serve more children from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. This is a place where children who might not otherwise get extra support through their families can develop their potential. But the district is also trying to conduct a major facilities review, with possible remodels and new buildings. This makes it harder to decide where to place this program. It?s not clear when this decision will be made. We remain hopeful that a good location will be found soon, and new children will be able to enroll. Maybe as soon as this fall.
Meanwhile, we have been working with our child?s teacher at the neighborhood school. At our conference last year, we asked her if she would read a book we had bought, ?Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom? by teacher and educator, Susan Winebrenner. The book is on the hoagiesgifted.org website, which serves TAG children and families. The book offers some excellent descriptions of the habits and capabilities of the TAG students, and suggestions on how to modify lessons to meet their needs. His teacher has since given our child a 5th grade assessment for math, which showed he knew 50% of that material already. Now she has a better idea of where to aim his classroom work and homework. This has taken some time?which is hard with these children?because they are so eager to learn new things. If you have a teacher who is willing to look at this book, this might be a way to start a conversation.
One strategy the Portland Public School District could do with little or no cost would be to have grades in elementary/middle and k-8 schools teach the same subjects at the same time. This would facilitate single subject acceleration, so that a student in 3rd grade who is ready for 6th grade math could attend math with those students. This is not now the practice at many schools. It is something for which the PPS Parent TAG Council is advocating.
As parents we plan to be in contact with our legislators, to encourage more funding for TAG students. It wouldn?t take much. We believe it makes sense for a district like Portland to have a program like ACCESS, but also to provide options for those parents who decide to keep their children at the neighborhood school, a choice we have seen some parents make, even though they are not satisfied with TAG efforts at the neighborhood school. More money could help strengthen a program like ACCESS and provide more professional development for teachers at the neighborhood schools on how to teach these children.
The issue of schools aiming the curriculum too low is something that is gaining attention. In September 2007 the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation issued a surprising report about high-achieving low-income students in the U.S. schools. It found that 3.4 million lower-income high-achieving students steadily lose ground in the public education system and are ultimately less likely to attend the most selective colleges and less likely to graduate when they attend the less selective colleges. The report states: ?As schools and other educational programs for lower-income students have been pushed to increase the number of students who achieve proficiency [to meet No Child Left Behind], few have targeted services at high-achieving students or even assessed the effects of their programs on the number of lower-income students who reach advanced levels of learning. This reality is unlikely to change as long as proficiency alone remains the lone achievement mandate. If such policies allow schools to ignore the seven percent of the student population who are form lower-income backgrounds and achieving at advanced levels, we must ask whether the incentives under the law are the best they can be?.policy makers and educators should begin a discussion at the federal, state, and local levels about whether and how to develop incentives that encourage schools to advance high achievement among lower-income students.? The report can be downloaded at: www.jackkentcookefoundation.org
That's a cruel joke. The only TAG program I know of is run by the Univ of Oregon. (http://www.uoregon.edu/~tag/view_program.php?sess_program_id=68)
Our son is now a senior in high school, tag programs were absent from K thru 12.
We did however fair better than a lot of people, thru luck more than anything else. We live near the U of O, and the grade school that serves this area has many faculty/student children. This makes a difference, both in money (contributed to the school) and interest and participation in school administration. The school had by some estimates over 50% TAG kids, this makes a great difference in the teaching. The whole school was basically a surreptitious TAG program. The middle school also had a lot of the same qualities. For the high school they have an International High school, which serves as a surrogate for a TAG program.
My daughter was identified as TAG in the 3rd grade ( she's now almost 21). I felt her intellect was catered to in elementary school, but when she arrived in middle school she had a reading teacher whose sole comment on her TAG plan was this: "Rose turns her work in on time." That practically sent me over the edge. I decided to take control, and asked him if I could pull a small group of high readers for literature discussion. He graciously agreed. From that day on, I worked with a small group once or twice a week. We read "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Seedfolks" and "Out of the Dust". It was a fabulous experience for me, and I think for the kids as well.
Several years later, I decided to become a teacher. As hard as I tried, I never felt I met the needs of my TAG students in my classroom (third grade). There were just too many demands, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of low kids who were practically non-functioning. This year I moved out of the classroom and into the ESL department.
In addition to teaching ESL, I am now the TAG coordinator at my school, a job which has had its level of frustration and of reward. My largest frustration is this: I work at a school that is almost 70% ESL. I am an ESL teacher. Of our 7 students who have qualified for TAG, only one is ESL. Our TAG enrollment should reflect our population, but it doesn't. However, our district is reluctant to use more subjective measures to qualify kids as TAG because that can open up a Pandora's box. Who is truly "talented an gifted?" Where would we make the cut? Thus, we have less kids than we should, but all the kids who are enrolled met the necessary percentile on the tests.
My reward in being the TAG coordinator is seeing our district allocate funds this year for TAG enrichment . This spring, my school's students will have incredible enrichment opportunities, from working with a digital film animator to studying wetlands to designing robots. They'll travel from their rural community to attend the Oregon Writing Festival and to see theater in Portland. These are wonderful opportunities for these gifted kids.
I grew up in CA, where we called it GATE and had pull-out classes which focused on Art and Culture and the principal of my school even stepped in to help with advanced Math. It was great.
I was also a teacher in OR for 3 years. I left last year because even though people told me I did a great job teaching, all the other stuff was too much for me. I'll be honest and admit that it was simply not the job for me, even though I loved every minute of it. Part of "all the other stuff" is trying to figure out how I'm supposed to create enhanced curriculum for TAG students in addition to the standard curriculum and the accommodations for struggling students. On top of that, I had to grade it all too.
Teaching is a tough job, and I can only give the utmost respect to the people who do it, but until you reduce class sizes (mine ranged from 22 to 27) and start paying teachers what they're really worth for the work they do, you're simply not going to get a quality expanded education for your children, unless you're really lucky. Fortunately, most of the TAG students I had were so individually motivated that they helped me expand their education by sharing interests and did a great job working together and challenging each other. The successful ones also had parents who were deeply involved in their learning experience at home.
I believe in an educational environment that puts the best and brightest in the same room with students who struggle for any reasons. The mix is essential for all the right social reasons. I witnessed incredible interactions between students of all levels that made them all better students, teachers and people. However, you're just not going to get the quality TAG education you need for these kids without doing a lot yourself as a parent until you fix the system as a whole. And by "doing a lot" I don't just mean harassing your child's teacher to do more.
I was identified for a TAG program in the 1960's in Pennsylvania; my husband received some TAG services in Florida in the 60's as well. My daughter is a TAG first-grader in a Beaverton school.
In Pennsylvania, I was in an ACCESS-like program, a self-contained one-site program. It seems to have been better funded than ACCESS; we had all the "specials" -- music, art, PE -- and school-provided transportation. I moved from a TAG sixth-grade classroom to eighth grade, in an honors program, and suddenly there were no more TAG services.
In Florida, my husband was identified as TAG in third grade, and had occasional pull-out enrichment activities but no program. He applied his energies to Boy Scout activities.
My daughter has just been identified as TAG. Her testing took place in November, results came back in January, and we're working with the school to figure out what happens next. Her teacher, who is a kind and well-meaning woman, didn't know what the Oregon administrative rules were, what the district's standard says, or even what is available at our elementary. The principal suggested assessing my daughter's achievement in math (her strongest area) and moving her to an appropriate class (probably 3rd ot 4th grade) for math time. Of course, it's February now and that assessment is still in process; in the interim the teacher has agreed to allow us to substitute pages from a third grade workbook for her math homework.
We seek out opportunities for our daughter to do interesting and challenging things, whether that's the Junior FIRST Lego League engineering program, dance classes, etc. I see two big problems with what she's receiving at school: first, she's doing a lot of unproductive and boring busy-work, and second, she's beginning to think of herself as the brightest person in the room. The latter is one of the biggest social handicaps a gifted person can face.
My husband is a blue-collar worker and I work part-time for a governmental agency. We are a middle-income family. I mention this because we keep running into a mistaken belief that is held by staff at multiple levels within the public educational system. There is a misconception that TAG kids only come from upper-income families and that their parents are the only ones that step forward to complain. Nothing could be further from the truth. TAG students come from a variety of socio-economic groups throughout our state. Currently, there are approximately 41,000 identified TAG students in Oregon. The key word in the previous sentence is IDENTIFIED. There are more intellectually gifted and/or academically talented students in Oregon that have not, and may never be, identified. These students once identified as TAG are required by the Oregon TAG mandate to receive classroom instruction at the appropriate level and rate for them.
I have a question that begs to be answered: By not providing the appropriate educational services for TAG students in the public school system, isn?t the system creating an even wider divide between the ?have and have-nots?? Upper-income families do have a choice to provide other educational options for their students, which most families cannot afford.
Here?s a brief overview of our family?s experience with TAG in our school district. Our student attended public school through 4th grade, but increasingly our child?s educational needs were not being met at the public school, so we chose to home school 5th through 8th grade. Fortunately, both my husband?s and my schedules have allowed us to accommodate our student?s educational needs. Others do not have this option. Many TAG students, for a variety of reasons, may only have public school as an option for their education. We have had to make it work for our child. We don?t want to see our student lose the love of learning. So far our student hasn?t, but we have watched as our child?s friends have. Our student is now attending our local public high school. With our re-entry into the public school system, we have discovered that our belief that high school would offer appropriate educational opportunities for our student and others that ?tick? like them is, for the most part, incorrect. Our student has had a few gems over the past two years, but they are exceptions. This is unfortunate for this population of students. Sadly, I am sure that other TAG families can concur on this point.
Now picture yourself sitting in an all day seminar that you are required to attend. Every piece (or just about every piece) of information that is being relayed to the audience you already know. In fact, you may find that you know more on the subject than the one who is presenting the material. Now multiply sitting in this seminar and others like it for 180 days. This is what many of these students face from the elementary through secondary level in Oregon. These students are ?dropping out? as they sit in the classroom.
I?ve often heard it suggested that these kids can just go to the library or attend an extra ?enrichment? activity after school hours. Some families can?t afford these extra events. Shouldn?t these students? brains be engaged during school hours? Do we hand a basketball to a promising athlete and tell them to go shoot a few hoops, or do we have a coach work with them so they can hone their skills? Likewise, do we point an individual to a piano and tell them to practice, but not supply them with a mentor and the materials that they need to excel as a musician? Why should it be any different for TAG students in the classroom?
To quote my student?s motto, ?Logic is primary.? The way our current public educational system works for TAG students, it doesn?t seem to be functioning logically.
I don't know if my child is TAG or not. Not sure it matters. Our public school has allowed that students should read, write, do math, and study other subjects at their own rate and level regardless of age or ability from early grades on. This has resulted in 5th graders studying Algebra and students of middle school age having access to Advanced Placement classes when needed. It hasn't made every parent happy, as some want to push faster than their children are able to move, but many parents are pleased with the results. Monk (nickname) will finish the Advanced Placement math curriculum (AB, BC and Statistics) this year and return to high school for one more year in 08-09. (Monk is not the most advanced math student in 11th grade, so no bragging intended. Well, maybe a little pride). Having begun taking AP classes at 13, Monk will have about a dozen to show colleges by graduation. School is hard for Monk. Homework occurs. Monk persists. We're happy.
So I don't get the fuss. So-called TAG kids don't seem to need anything special (although some folks get nearly hysterical at that suggestion), just a chance to move along at their own rate like everybody else. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Monk and friends seem to be well fed with no special programs and no fanfare. If everybody did this, some folks would doubtless resent the lack of fanfare, but it's OK by me.
The chance to move along at their own rate is a rare privilege in schools.
For kids who can do that effectively, it is a GREAT way to accommodate their needs without extra expense.
The kids spend most of their time on interesting work of their own choosing.
Too few schools have caught on to the merits.
Your school is apparently a wonderful exception.
Caveat: many kids are not comfortable leaving their own little group.
It takes some courage to take classes with the big kids.
Encouragement and support from staff and parents are also needed.
Multiage grouping and building-wide projects can expand a student's sense of 'their own little group'. It helps that there is literally nothing that is done by students of only one age or grade. Whomever walks through the door seems to belong. Athletics is probably the only exception.
I have two high school children in the Bend school district. Both were identified as TAG in 2 grade I believe. They had IEP's which supposedly were to help them be challenged at school. No teacher ever followed those guidelines and so they went on as normal students. My older daughter did well in school, but my son was content to be lazy and not make an effort. I was pleased that we had a dedicated 4th and 5th grade TAG classroom in the district, and he did well when I moved him there. He opted out of the 6th grade one because there was nothing past that anyway.
The sad thing is, the kids get little extra attention until high school when they can take Honors and AP classes. It would be nice if there was some consistency all through the school years.
It frustrates me the states pay so much for "special ed" yet ignore the smart kids. All I seem to hear from teachers is "gee, your kid is really smart, how nice."
Hi! Last year and this year, my son?s teachers suggested that he should be in the school?s TAG program. My 9 year old son really wanted to be in TAG, because his friends are in it (And because who doesn?t want to be regarded as ?special?, right?).
I was going to let him, but after I thought it over, I decided against it. TAG bothers me.
First, there is the name itself. If these kids are ?talented and gifted?, you are automatically labeling all the rest of the kids in a school as ?UNtalented and UNgifted? (I wonder if the parents of the majority of the children in schools realize their children are being ?tagged? as losers). I don?t see that it benefits either group to be labeling them in that way, even if it isn?t overt.
Second, all the TAG kids in my son?s school that I know of are white (in a school that is 30% Hispanic), with college-educated parents, with a stay-at-home mom or a mom who is employed part-time. These are the type of parents who value education, and teach their children at home. It does not make their children ?smarter? or ?better? than every other child in school! If you took any of the other kids in the school and put them in homes that make a point of teaching and learning, they would be just as ?gifted?.
Third, you could do a report on what constitutes intelligence in the contemporary world. As far as I know, TAG programs use a 1950?s IQ test! Think of how much more we know about the brain since the 1950?s!
There are many ?gifts?. Many of those ?30% Hispanic? kids have parents who do not speak English. Many are not read to at home, are not taught their ?abc?s?, etc. All their education and learning stimulation comes from school. That these kids are bilingual and many are testing at grade level suggests to me that they are pretty ?talented and gifted?.
Another thought: TAG is a nice ego boost for the parents; it is so nice to think your genes produced a little ?genius? who is so superior to all the other children!
Finally, I totally support having all the children in schools being kept challenged. And the schools should always be working towards that goal. But I don?t think an elitist program like TAG is what is needed.
I have read in here a lot of comments from people who think TAG parents are pushing their kids for their own egos' sake. You aren't listening to those of us who talk about being dismayed at how lazy our kids have become in comparison with their classmates. My son tried to dumb himself down because he wanted to fit in with his classmates. What finally convinced me to pull him out of school was a creative writing piece he wrote about how frustrated he was with the pace the rest of his class was going at. He was so bored in school he used to act up. I also suspected he was becoming increasingly depressed. He got to the point where he refused to do any homework. We were able to give him some stimulating experiences outside of school, but for 6 hours a day he was bored out of his skull and he wanted nothing to do with it once he was home. We put him in community college when he was 13 years old and he once again became a happy, productive kid. He wasn't allowed to take the GED until he was 16, so until then he didn't qualify for financial aid. We had to pay for it ourself, but it was the best investment we could have made for him. I don't think even psychotherapy would have had as positive results as stimulating his mind in college did.
What works? Well, TAG students want to spend some time working on material that is a challenge to them, and they want to spend some of their day working with other students who are like them academically. Some folks want to put up the argument that TAG parents want their children to have a custom education that meets their every need, etc, but really, most just want at least some opportunity for appropriate education during the student's school day. I think we would even put up with having our children in larger-than-average classes if they were on target with the rate and level of learning. Sometimes that is finally available to students in high school, in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes.
Meantime, we do what we can. We found a distance learning program in math that served my son in middle school. We paid for it ourselves. Later the district broke down and began to pay for the program for a few exceptional students. My daughter found middle school unbearably tedious, but it seemed impossible to modify the rigid curriculum, so she just skipped seventh grade so she could get out of that place faster. I would not call that an ideal solution, but you do what you have to. The next daughter suffered a lot in middle school but hung in there; the only creative thing we did was bring her home early every day one year to work on science at home, since the offering at school was so weak.
The TAG Mandate does in fact indicate that each identified child should receive instruction at the student's assessed rate and level. Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a state where ALL students received instruction at their assessed rate and level and all students were helped to achieve at an appropriate level? Even better, wouldn't it be wonderful if the State of Oregon funded this type of education?
That being said, it would be interesting to find out how many TAG parents are truly frustrated with the level of instruction in the classroom. If data indicates that students really aren't being challenged and continue to be bored learning the same thing over and over again, then the State of Oregon has to step up and fund the mandate and help make appropriate instruction happen. If TAG parents are mad because their children don't get pull-out services unrelated to the content curriculum (like what they had when they were kids or what their older children had 10 years ago), then that is a totally different issue.
I was a TAG student in the Beaverton School District and as far as I can remember, the only TAG activity that I participated in was pull-out classes that consisted of solving some puzzles in elementary school. After that it was up to me to take the most difficult classes that were offered. (In middle school math levels were differentiated, and in high school I was in the first class that could graduate with the IB diploma.)
I understand how you feel sedlie, i have some of that same feeling as well. I have not been very well challenged and i only get pulled out of classes to participate in little field trips and do little activities, it is fun, but i still would rather be doing work so i don't have to miss it!
I was identified as TAG in 2nd grade. For three days I took tests, was interviewed, filled in bubbles, and missed class. But nothing ever came of it. The Oregon school system consistently failed me through middle school, at which point I moved out of the state. More often then not I was bored in class and often put aside homework in favor of my own books on mathematics, genetics, and history. How much more I would have learned if the schools hadn't insisted I keep the same pace as all of my classmates.
I'm a senior in high school. This has been my experience as well.
I was identified as TAG in 3rd grade in California. After moving to Oregon over the summer, my TAG identification was dropped. When I was finally re-identified in 5th grade, all that ever happened was that we were pulled out of class to do a few logic problems once a month. Because I had just moved, I wasn't advanced in math far enough. But at least the TAG coordinator existed.
I think where the system really falls apart is junior high. TAG in junior high in my district means that you have the option to do extra assignments and you may be jumped a few levels of math.
No kid wants to do extra assignments for nothing (because we got nothing, not even extra credit.) I did them because I had a teacher who understood my frustrations and really gave me a lot of support. But I know that this was not the case for many kids. Kids who don't get support from an actual person are lost. I know a few really bright kids who fell apart in junior high. If they aren't challenged in the classroom (and few TAG kids truly are), they begin to hate school and are lost within the system.
High school is fine. We have the chance to take as many hard/interesting classes as we can (generally). But the kids who didn't make it to high school with their interest and love of learning intact don't take advantage and can fall apart.
One of the things challenging teachers' ability to meet the needs of any student. TAG or otherwise, is the prevalence of mandated curriculum. We have become a school system that largely teaches curriculum rather than teaching students. Empowering teachers to make decisions about what the individual students in their classes need will benefit all learners.
We don't need to isolate TAG learners or learners who struggle with concept development from their peers. We need classrooms to be places where more children can chase their own learning with the support of a thoughtful teacher.
As a "TAG" identified student in a grade school in the southern suburban Portland area, my son attended a school that was known to be "progressive" and had attracted the best and brightest teachers and administrators when it had opened a few years before he attended. He was offered "opportunities" to attend after school "enrichment" programs as a TAG student. The same offerings that were available to anyone who had the money to pay for attendance. Interesting, but in no way geared to meet the larger needs of kids who were underchallenged in their daily classrooms. That was the extent of the TAG program in our district.
A recent conference with our son's middle school science teacher says a lot about the fundamental lack of thinking about what to do with AP students. Our son looked at his test scores, which were pretty strong. They were printed in a column next to the benchmark scores. The benchmark scores were lower. He pointed to the benchmarks column and asked "what are these numbers?"
The teacher replied "that's what you're shooting for."
As a local teacher at a newly formed charter school that is focused on academics, we are just trying to develop our TAG policy. It seems that district to district the TAG process varies in how they identify these students. Many districts use the state testing results to identify TAG students but this leaves out children who can be considered TAG in non tested categories, such as art and music.
The biggest mistake that educators make when working with TAG children is giving the TAG children MORE work rather than advanced thinking work. No wonder why the TAG children become bored in the classroom.
If we think about how Special Education children are legally served and protected by an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) because they are below the normal general education, it only makes sense that TAG children who are above the norm also receive specialized instruction.
As an 8th grade classroom teacher, I have two recommendations for helping teach TAG kids.
1) Lower classroom sizes. I can't give my TAG kids enough attention if there are 30 children in my class.
2) We have to identify TAG kids accurately. Testing tends to identify TAG students who have access to the dominant culture and hear and speak"standard" English at home. Testing doesn't necessarily identify our truly brilliant students who don't have those things.
I'm glad we're having this conversation at the state level, and I support the Parkrose administrator that said we need "individual plans to meet individual needs."
I was enrolled in the TAG program in Oregon throughout all of elementary school through high school. I found the program inflated the egos of those students accepted into TAG, and made other no-TAG students feel inferior. I think the whole argument about students being "bored" is a myth. If your kids are getting straight A's then you should be happy. I found that TAG did nothing to better educate those students enrolled, but it did give those students a sense of entitlement that was OFF THE CHARTS. I saw students who had been told they were Talented and Gifted drop out of high school during their senior year because they couldn't deal with the fact that they were falling behind in a single required class. If people want to further challenge their kids in learning, there are plenty of ways to educate children and engage them outside of the classroom. If kids are reading books, making art, going to museums, and travelling, even if they might get "bored" in the classroom (WHAT KID DOESN'T?!) then they'll end up doing just fine in the real world without having such inflated egos.
Unfortunately, there are many bright kids who can't have that cultural education outside of schools because their parents simply can't afford it.
Our son is an honor-roll student, and he's bored. It is manifested in his poor behavior in the classroom. When he is challenged, his behavior improves markedly.
That he's getting good grades is little consolation. If he's not getting intellectually challenged, and he's disrupting the learning environment for others, it's a lose-lose...
Allocation of resources is a good indicator of educational priorities. Would you be able to ask your guest from the Parkrose District how many staff in her district serve special education students exclusively, how many staff serve English language learners exclusively, and how many staff serve TAG students exclusively?
The question is not necessarily about TAG or TAG students at risk. Schools typically are teaching organizations, focused on answers. Most schools employ knowledge memorization and lower-level thinking skills that have students research and organize information, only to regurgitate, reiterate, and restate known answers. Essentially one can call these elements ?The Three Rs.? Teachers typically control the questions, the answers to which are prescribed by the adopted curriculum. Students are then tested, using state and district standardized tests, to assess student ?progress and achievement.? Successful schools, on the other hand, are learning organizations which target multiple intelligences, and employ (student-driven) multi-level questioning strategies, metacognition, and workflow organization that focus on and value student interests.
Concerning school restructuring, students are not at-risk, their situation is! The problem is that much time and effort is expended to ?fix the kid.? School administrators and teachers spend an inordinate amount of time meeting with parents, specialists, and students, focusing on students, instead of their situations. Successful schools focus on transforming the situation for students. If schools continue to focus on fixing the student, the odds increase daily that students--including our most talented and gifted--will become disenchanted and withdraw from the educational system.
Our daughter, now age 26, was in a full-time gifted program in Washington State. The children in this program had multiple social difficulties associated with their high intelligence. Several of her friends as they became teens tried to commit suicide. There is a higher rate of suicide among gifted teens than other populations.
When our daughter was first identified as "gifted", a term I hate, I was told that there is an old world curse: "May all of your children be gifted." The parents of many "gifted" children are struggling to cope with raising a child with so much intellectual ability who are unable to blend with other children. This is not something to be bragged about but is a serious emotional and social dilemma for children who are otherwise just kids with all of the usual emotional insecurities and needs to belong.
I think you are saying that gifted students have special needs. I would have no problem with considering TAG education as a branch of Special Education, because these students have special educational needs that are not only academic, they may (or may not) be social or emotional. I would like to seem them benefit from some of the resources that are available to Special Education students.
You are right, they do have special needs. Our daughter's friends were in an isolated group and they were not getting the social skills they needed within this group. At the 6th grade level there was a new program started with high academic standards that was filled through a lottery in the entire school district. Many of the "gifted" children enrolled in this program and blended quite successfully with the other children. The common factor was a thirst for learning, not IQ. This school has continually been one of the highest rated schools in the nation. The success is not the IQ of the children but their energy and drive to grow intellectually and culturally. I would love to see more schools such as this available to all children.
My 2 children were both designated TAG. I can tell you from 15 years in the schools that there are 2 issues out of the schools' control. One is the accelerating number of children coming to school without the basic skills necessary for school. These students require additional time with teachers, and their needs can't be neglected, either. The other is the co-current reduction in school funding. Your school needs more money for ALL students. The place to express your frustrations is the Legislature in Salem. Our schools need for money!
We can have success for all! Successful schools focused on reform are engaged in ?new? ways of thinking about the real nature of their business. Schools in transition address multiple intelligences, and require rigorous, pliable learning processes. Teachers design workflow models and teach problem solving strategies for information gathering, organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and processing, thus enabling learners to create knowledge. Rigorous, pliable learning processes, workflow models, and problem solving strategies must be tied to student interests. These structures and processes enable students to develop abilities that enable them to be lifelong learners and contributors to their families, friends, and communities.
My daughter is in 2nd grade and bored out of her mind. She finishes early and then gets in trouble because she's expected to create her own challenges or extend her own learning without the direct assistance from the teacher or teacher's aid (there isn't one). With teachers having classes up to 30 kids, it's understandable that there isn't enough time to work directly with the higher learners when the focus is pulling the slower learners forward. I'm very frustrated that the paperwork is handled for the TAG program at the school but the program is not being implemented.
I was a TAG student in the small community of Yamhill in the 1980's when I was in grade school. I attended the summer TAG camp at the University of Oregon for three summers as well. Now that my daughter is in first grade in Redmond, I am coming to find out what many already know: TAG programs are not the same where ever you may be in the state!
I just found out my first grader reads at the sixth grade level. Obviously she needs support to continue to read at that level, and to stay interested in order to comprehend what she is reading. I'm very involved, but feel let down with the school because there is very little going on with regard to TAG. I want to know what I can do - because I'm very willing to be involved - to bring an enriching, academically rigorous TAG program to my daughter's school for her and for all the kids who would benefit.
I think that each state should implement at least a blanket directive for TAG programs in the state, and then let each school district work out the details. Schools vary from region to region. I think that No Child Left Behind is a good idea in theory, but in practice it doesn't do what it is supposed to do because there are so many variables. I think we ought to do what makes sense, and provide EACH STUDENT with whatever they need to be challenged academically at WHATEVER THEIR ACADEMIC LEVEL. There is no reason students should graduate from grade school without being able to read, write, or understand basic math. There is further no reason why students performing at below average rate could be brought up a level, or for above-average students to continue to excel.
I'm a senior in high school. This has been my experience as well.
I was identified as TAG in 3rd grade in California. After moving to Oregon over the summer, my TAG identification was dropped. When I was finally re-identified in 5th grade, all that ever happened was that we were pulled out of class to do a few logic problems once a month. Because I had just moved, I wasn't advanced in math far enough. But at least the TAG coordinator existed.
I think where the system really falls apart is junior high. TAG in junior high in my district means that you have the option to do extra assignments and you may be jumped a few levels of math.
No kid wants to do extra assignments for nothing (because we got nothing, not even extra credit.) I did them because I had a teacher who understood my frustrations and really gave me a lot of support. But I know that this was not the case for many kids. Kids who don't get support from an actual person are lost. I know a few really bright kids who fell apart in junior high. If they aren't challenged in the classroom (and few TAG kids truly are), they begin to hate school and are lost within the system.
High school is fine. We have the chance to take as many hard/interesting classes as we can (generally). But the kids who didn't make it to high school with their interest and love of learning intact don't take advantage and can fall apart.
I am the head of Oregon Mensa, an organization for people who score in the top 2% of the population on IQ tests. My opinions are my own and don't represent Mensa. However, in my position I have participated in many conversations with some of the brightest people in our society about their educational experiences.
Our society so badly needs the smartest people of the society to be active citizens, inventors, managers, politicians.. Yet we give little support to educating these people to their potential. On the other hand we put significant money into educating people who, because of developental issues, will be able to contribute to the advancement of our society only in a minimal level. I am not arguing against educating children of more limited abilities to the best level of functioning they can meet. I simply would like to see similar resources put into training teachers of the gifted and providing special education for gifted kids.
There is adequate information to suggest that truly bright students do not learn in the same way (and do not mentally develop in the same way) as kids whose IQs are in the more average area. It takes different teaching methods and teachers who are as smart as the kids. In addition teachers need to be well educated in diagnosing learning disabilities and emotional problems which can accompany high IQ and prevent kids from developing as they should.
Ruth Parvin, J.D., Ph.D
503 234 5687
I am educator of 20 years and a mother of T.A.G. 6th grader. My beliefs are based on an understanding of the frustration of funding, along with the knowledge that, "A parent is a child's first teacher." Although the mission for T.A.G. is honorable, it's an unfunded mandate. My husband and I have taken on the responsibility of challenging our son. A child only spends about 5 and one-half hours in a classroom for about 180 days out of the school year. As parents, we push our son to grow academically through hobbies outside of school. He is an excellent percussionist in a blues band for the Cascade Blues Association, an athlete in a variety of sport, and I involve in meaningful real-life synthesis type learning activities. I only view T.A.G. as a helpful statistic for funding classes and teachers.
Wait till he gets a little older - middle school. That is an age when kids want to become independent and Mom and Dad are no longer "cool". I too have always been active with my son's education trying for a well rounded experience that includes. academics, music, and sports. But now he is 13 and resists everything I suggest. He wants to fit in and doing these additional things like SAT testing for Talent Search makes him stand out. He complies if I push for something but I find it harder and harder to keep him interested in learning. He is a straight A student, never brings homework home, breezes through his geometry, and honors language arts. He is not being challenged. And he has developed an unfortunate "get by with the minimum" attitude that I fear will hurt him in the future.
I was a TAG student in another state (Rhode Island). I can't speak to that state's level of TAG funding, but I can say that TAG was the reason that I stayed in public schools. In grade school, I spent 6 hours a week with a dedicated TAG teacher. TAG taught me computer programming, geopolitics and advanced mathematics. In my small town, the TAG program was a refuge from repetitive, boring coursework. Rhode Island didn't have a TAG program in high school. I nearly left the school system out of sheer boredom.
TAG kids, if you can manage to survive finishing tests early and teasing from other kids, education is the best revenge. MIT's cheer for their losing football team is "that's all right, that's OK, you'll all work for us someday!".
My daughter has been tag identified since 4th grade. Now three years later it seems that nothing has changed for her in the classroom. I wonder what the motivation is for Portland public to identify these students if they have no plan to assist them? It also bothers me that the TAG coorodinaters in the school have no focus, no program to follow and no support from the district.
Hi chelangela, i am also in the same exact siituation as your daughter, And i have only been pulled out of classes for little field trips that were fun, but i never really learned anything that i didn't already know! I also have some advice for you. Tell your daughter to think of fun ways to think of ways to have fun with her learning and she might find it alot more fun and easier to learn! it works for me!
A couple of years ago we looked into the TAG program, but it seemed to emphasize what parents could do for their talented kids. Frankly, we already provide the extracurricular learning activities, and really want TAG to help with the 6 hrs a day our kids are in school.
I graduated from Seattle Public Schools gifted program in 2005, and saw fellow students skipping grades, and students I had been in middle school with skip high school and go straight to college. In my experience, K-12 schooling is as much about socialization as academic learning For some, skipping ahead was a great experience, but I worry that students who skip ahead miss crucial parts of social and emotional learning that can only be delivered by suffering through K-12.
On March 8, Oregon Mensa is sponsoring a workshop for parents and teachers of TAG kids that will address self esteem issues. For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to your language: "...suffering through K-12." Why would we want our kids to be unhappy? My son, at the age of 8, was happiest when he was at an adult computer users' group. He could talk with his real peers who understood what he was talking about and help him learn what he wanted to learn. He's a well-adjusted adult himself now, and he's just started mentoring a 13 year old that reminds him of himself. He's not some anti-social nerd. Kids can be cruel with anyone who is different. He was much better socialized at the age of 13 when we put him in college. He likes people and he's got lots of friends. But in grade school he suffered, as you say, and it wasn't a positive experience for him.
I am a public school science. teacher. This discussion is important but incomplete if you do not discuss funding and teacher workloads. I have 175 kids that I am responsible for. Some are TAG, some have IEP's to address learning disabilities, some have English Language issues. All of my students need my individual attention. If you calculate the number of hours I am in a classroom with kids, the number of hours I am in meetings, and the number of hours I have for planning and assesssmnet, I end up with about two minutes per week per student for grading all assignments, plannining lessons, cleaning lab equipment, and differentiating instruction. Schools simply need more resources.
We get all sorts of inservices. I have drawers full of great ideas. I still have no time to individualize lesson plans to the extent that kids need.
I have heard that teachers are not prepared or supported to address the needs of TAG kids in their classrooms. I say "prepared" because many do not have any training on how to teach TAG kids and even have bad attitudes about them. So it is not enough to simply tell the teacher to challenge these kids. A dialogue with the teachers to determine what it would take to do so is necessary. Identify the blocks and deal with them. If it means that TAG kids can't be served in traditional mixed classrooms then find ways to put them in other classes. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that my son is an asset to the classroom. Yeah, they benefit from having him in the class but he doesn't benefit by being in the class.
I volunteered in a classroom for my 5th grade daughter. There were so many kids in the class coming and going for TAG, special ed and other services, that not one student in the class received the full benefit of learning the subject being taught. It was difficult for me to focus with all the shifting. I wonder how the kids can learn with so much movement? This must frustrate and undermine teacher motivation.
Hi, I'm a 15 year old 4.0 honors student who's received academic achievement awards such as student of the year. I have never been in TAG. It was always a joke, if you wanted to get in all you needed was for your parents to talk to the principal. Never have I been bored with the curriculum and the kids in elementary school who were in TAG got out of class to study roleypoleyology where they rolled around on yoga balls.
I am a PPS parent. I have two boys, one who is identified as TAG and the other who is yet to be identified, but shows signs of being TAG as well. My experience has been this:
My 15 yr old was identified as a 3rd grader. The 'individual plans' that they do, is nothing more then what the teacher is already doing in school. The teacher claims that topics are 'open ended' so that a child can take it to what ever level they want. This does not work for the child who wants to take the easy way or is afraid of call attention to themselves will not stretch their learning. This becomes 'more' or 'extra' work, not assignments at the grade level they are at. Middle school improves the situation, because their is more opportunities for more challenging classes. High school again is a step up because some schools have advanced placement classes that have accelerated learning. The 'Honors' program is a bit different. In some it's a separate class that has accelerated learning, in some cases it's the same class as everyone else but with extra work. Another think PPS does is send info for being in a special program linked to John's Hopkins. It's mostly testing (which costs $$$$) and then the opportunity to attend classes (which cost $$$$) that JHU sponsors.
At this point I'm not even sure it's beneficial to have my youngest (now in 1st grade) identified as TAG. The only time it helps is in middle school or high school when they can get into advanced placement classes.
My belief is that theses kids need the work at their learning grade level, NOT an 'open ended' learning situation in their current grade. It should be challenging work NOT extra work. Does PPS provide this? no.
My son was a TAG child in the Reynolds school district, and he was in an excellent TAG pull-out program from 2nd to 5th grade. Then in middle school it all ended and he lost the benefits of both the special learning experience and the community of other TAG children. He cried after the party celebrating the last day of TAG in 5th grade.
I had as similar experience in the Salem public schools in the 1960's. I was in a wonderful TAG-like program (EA) in grade school. It ended when I reached junior high. I complained so much about being bored that my parents sent me to college when I was 15. In college, for the first time, I liked school, and I graduated at the top of my class.
I have one daughter in special ed and another in TAG. Having struggled with public schools for 10 years with my special ed daughter, I thought having a TAG daughter would be so easy. It's worse, because there is no federal protection, such as IDEA or ADA (or even interested in TAG students!). My district's solution to TAG was to move my then 5 year old into first grade. She is now in the sixth grade and ready to move up another grade, but instead of regular public school I have moved her into an on-line district charter school and am basically homeschooling her with some other friends for art and music enrichment. It is not an ideal solution, her homeschool co-horts are generally 12-15 years, and she is 10 years old. Her social co-horts are generally their younger siblings closer to her age. All I know for sure is that I've given up try to match academic ability with chronological age. Also, I have given up with regular public school. I can't afford private schools, so I'm doing the best I can. To my surprise, it's a better job than regular public school, but then I have a couple of college degrees and am in grad school right now.
I was in a TAG program from 1st to 5th grade in Eugene during the eighties. If I had been in that program five days a week, eight hours a day, I might have actually got something out of the 12 years I spent in public school. As it stands, public school was a greater hindrance to my education than a help. Going to a Tag program one day a week whet my appetite for what was possible in school, but it also alienated me from the rest of the students in my regular school to the point where I told my parents in 5th grade that I didn't want to go to TAG anymore because the kids in my regular school made fun of me. I must admit I still feel quite resentful about public education. I spent all that time being bored out of my mind. Perhaps I wouldn't have become so interested in drugs and alcohol during high school if I had had something to engage my intellect. I want those 12 years back!
As the mother of two TAG students (twins) who were identified in second grade, I was very relieved to find an excellent summer program for my daughters. The Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) on the University of Oregon campus provided a remarkable opportunity for my girls to be themselves, explore subject matter they couldn't access during the school year, and make lifelong friends. Any parent who struggles with a TAG child's boredom in the summertime might want to look into this program. When my daughter came home after her first summer session at SEP, her comment was, "It was great, mom! Everyone was either as smart as, or smarter than me!" This was a miracle to me, because this same child had routinely complained about having to "dumb down" in class at school. Both of my girls found SEP an excellent setting in which to explore their interests in a safe, accepting environment.
I was one of those kids that parents are mentioning were "bored" with the curriculum. I graduated high school in 2002, and just wanted to comment that the common solution to this boredom rarely seemed to fit the problem, for myself and many of my friends. It wasn't a matter of not having enough work to do, it was the level to which the teachers presented the course material. Giving us more work to do was not a helpful thing -- the problem lay in that we understood material without doing the work already, so it became redundant "busy-work," fit to sacrifice for our own personal studies or extracurricular activities. This led us to underachieve on paper (getting poorer grades), while at the same time, we and our teachers both recognized our potential. It would be easy for someone to say, "You should have just sucked it up and done the work," but to truly encourage success, the material should be challenging with *purpose*. It affected our desirability for universities, and easily may have hurt us by restricting our higher-ed options.
I'm a TAG student from Oregon. I've found that the primary difference between TAG and non-TAG kids is the amount of work they are given, not the subject matter of the work itself. TAG students may be able to understand more advanced topics than non-TAG students, but they don't have more free time. It is frustrating to be doing the exact same work and studying the same concepts as your fellow, supposedly 'less-gifted' peers, while being met at the "gifted" level through the same concepts but an increased workload.
The point of education is to teach, and also to instill a love of learning in all students. Whatever academic subject it may be that a student gravitates toward should be encouraged.
Once a student has a love of learning, they are more likely to seek out more information, be self-motivated, and achieve more. That's not to say they will work independently at all times, nor should they be expected, but that the motivation comes from within and carries that student further in life.
That should be the goal for all students.
Agreed! For ALL students! What is required is implementation of rigorous learning processes that incorporate the spectrum of multiple intelligences, fused with authentic assessment. The template for a step-by-step learning process that is based on students? individual interests, and which is adaptable for any grade level or content area, has been outlined herein. It is up to educators to have the courage and willpower to take the first step on what will be a successful journey of reforming education, one classroom at a time.
Why can't public schools team up with the homeschool community? There's a lot of support for parents who think their children may thrive in a homeschool environment. Why does public school and homeschool have to be opposing forces? It could be a good thing to make them more interconnected. There is a program in Camas, WA call Home Link where this cooperation between homeschool and public school seem to be working well.
My wife is a Master's+ level teacher in the Hillsboro School District, where we have three TAG children attending; one in middle school and two in elementary.
All three of our children have "forms in their file" and not a whole lot more to show for their identification.
While the premise of the TAG program is admirable, it seems sorely lacking in implementation. The two elementary students appreciate the extra activity offerings that are available (classroom "pull-outs" for cultural activities, OMSI-sponsored science activities, etc), but the in-class academics are [i]mostly[/i] "more of the same."
Our middle-schooler has access to Saturday Academy classes in many areas, but very little in-school differentiation seems to occur at that level.
As an educator and spouse, we are acutely aware of the lack of funding for both Special Needs and TAG programs, but there has to be a solution that allows all three groups to succeed to their maximum potential. I know this is a dead old horse, but is indicative of continuing issues- perhaps a little less spending on administration buildings and a little more on classroom resources?
I am a seventh grade student who is in the TAG program for reading, english, and math, and i find that it is not as challenging as it dhould be to me. I have a few friends who have tag as well, but i find it hard to find friends. i live in a town that is not very...advanced so to say. So many people say i am super mature and all, but i just want to be a normal girl with normal friends! but at the same time, i like being in TAG because it opens more opportunities for my future.
Our consistent failure to meet the basic needs of Talented and Gifted students, let alone to challenge them to meet their full potential, is a grave disservece to them, but it is also a serious danger to our future as a state and a country.
I am consistently troubled by the investment choices we make at the societal level. I realize this is a highly imperfect analogy, and that some may find it offensive, but I think it has some value:
If, as a society, we had a large amount of money to invest in the stock of different companies, would it be the right choice to invest FAR more in the lowest performing companies, hoping to bring them up to average, while investing very little in the top performing ones? Would we expect that to give us a good return on our investment as a society?
I fully realize that we are not talking about companies -- we are talking about children. We cannot and should not simply be willing to let children fail. Nevertheless, as a society, can we afford to continue to make the same upside down investment decisions we have been making?
I registered just to respond to this topic. I am a 41 year old male whose experience in the public education system is very similar to that of your caller Chris from Eugene. Testing in the top 1% of my class I was placed in a gifted program in one school district and excelled. When my family moved to another school district in 6th grade that district did not have a gifted program for middle school my excelling stopped. I was bored and got into a lot of trouble. I finally dropped out of high school at 16 and went directly into college. However college was not as successful as it might have been, since I did not learn the skills of studying and follow through taught in later k-12.
This was my experience in Upstate NY in the late 1970's - early 1980's. It is very discouraging that Oregon is where upstate NY was 30 YEARS AGO.
Michael Martin, OPB Member
Soon after our academically precocious daughter entered first grade, we realized that she was rarely challenged and consistently bored. We found that some teachers went out of their way to provide her with more challenging materials, whereas others did not see this to be their responsibility (e.g., Your daughter exceeds grade-level benchmarks: I?ve fulfilled my duty). Even teachers who are committed to providing instruction that matches the learning levels and rates of advanced learners find it difficult to do so in the context of large classes with a very wide range of aptitudes and subject-area knowledge. I think most would agree that all students should be entitled to receive instruction that meets their level of readiness. The question is how to accomplish this and to do so in a cost-effective manner, given ongoing budget constraints.
I am now a member of Portland?s TAG Advisory Council (TAGAC), a group that advises the District on TAG policies and practices. Last year TAGAC produced a report which recommended that PPS adopt a policy that grants students the right to study higher grade-level curricula in those subjects in which they are prepared to do so. For instance, a 4th grade student who has mastered 4th grade math should be ENTITLED to study 5th grade math. Although single-subject acceleration won?t meet all the needs of advanced learners, I?m convinced that it is the single most effective way to address these needs in a cost-effective manner.
Accelerated learning fully fits the District?s goal of providing educational opportunities that are backed by sound research. As put by Columbia University?s James Borland (1989) ?The research on acceleration is so uniformly positive, the benefits of appropriate acceleration so unequivocal, that it is difficult to see how our educators could oppose it.? The influential 2004 report ?A Nation Deceived? strongly seconds this proposition.
Our 4th grade daughter recently transferred from our neighborhood school to Hayhurst?s Odyssey program, where she?s now taking 6th grade math. The Odyssey program offers kids the opportunity to test up and study up as a matter of course. Our daughter now feels challenged by her schooling. It?s likely that a policy granting students the RIGHT to advance in single subjects would reduce transfers out of our neighborhood schools, thus reducing the ?skimming? that is weakening many of our neighborhood schools.
Ohio has recently granted all students in the state the right to single-subject acceleration and when Montgomery County, Maryland adopted a math-acceleration program, the number of 5th-grade students enrolled in above grade-level math increased from 196 to 3,800 -- i.e., 37 percent of all 5th Grade students! Interestingly, more than 40 percent of these students were not identified as TAG students.
I believe that PPS is CONSIDERING such a policy change. Although I likely won?t be popular for doing so, I suggest that you voice your support for this policy by contacting our new Superintendent (email@example.com, the Director of Teaching and Learning, Judy Elliot (firstname.lastname@example.org), and ) and the School Board (SchoolBoard@pps.k12.or.us).
As a former TAG student and current educator, the recurring theme that rings true in this discussion is relationship building. The large class sizes that Oregon educators face largely prevent meaningful education by preventing relationship building. Educators who know their students are more effective at identifying the tools to challenge and excite learning for their students. As Chris mentioned earlier he appreciated his social/peer grouping because it prevented bullying and other social dilemnas that tracking or grade acceleration can lead to. I also agree with Jim who plainly states the problems faced by caring teachers who are simply overwhelmed in a way that further inservice is not going to alleviate.
I am very tired of hearing the platitudes from the person representing the school district. The first step of all school districts is to admit that they do not have anything in place.
My son was evalutated by the Eugene School District as Talented and Gifted in Fourth Grade and the system worked for us until 6th grade. After this, we never received an IEP despite several written and phoned requests. When my son tested two levels higher in Math, we were told he would not be moved ahead because the classes were full. He became bored, stopped turning in homework even though I stood over him every night and made sure the homework went in his backback - he just refused to participate in a situation where he was completely turned off to what was happening.
I made sure he got involved with music, chess and I took him to the natural history museum and art galleries. I did everything I could think of to allow him to explore his interests. In the meantime, his school performance decreased and the school's response was to send him to counseling !!!!!
I ended up sending him to Blue Mountain School in Cottage Grove (which South Lane wants to close). Blue Mountain practices Sudbury Education which essentially puts children in charge of what they want to learn and allows them to participate fully in the governing of the school. It's like a small one-room school with all grade-levels k-12. At the school, my son was able to travel to national chess tournaments, attend courses at Lane community college and gain leadership skills from chairng and organizing school meetings and events.
It seems like every time the school district comes up with a solution, they close it down. I used to be a supporter of public education but after being a parent and having gone through what we went through, no more!
Our school system in the late 60's near Stanford University used a mixed grade level arrangement with all students learning a 4-year curriculum delivered in reasonable class sizes, with appropriate 'level' groupings. We also had 'lanes' and 'AP' classes which amounted to independent studies within the departments with pass/fail grading of those course offerings. There was also a connection with the local Junior Collages and Stanford as well. Our community benefited ghreatly by recognizing the different 'levels' children gain knowledge and understanding of our ever-changing culture.
I have a son who's 3 rd grade sent us 'assessments' she had done on him. She told us to bring the assessments to his doctor and have him diagnosed as ADD/ADHD, because her was acting out in class. I refused, as I knew he was just bored. She refused to test him for TAG. I had to go to the school administration to have him TAG tested. This teacher has received numerous district awards for her work with ESL teaching etc. , but to her my son was a square peg that didn't fit in her round holes, soshe decided that trying to get me to medicate him was easier than dealing with his obvious lack of stimulation in her classroom.
How can we not label theses kids as "at risk"? Many of the callers and posters tell us that the TAG kids are bored. Special programs are expensive and take a lot of management. Keeping kids in their class rooms and providing the teachers with a TAG resource person can be the answer. Differential education must be at the heart of that process. If this is a part of teacher training it is not practiced.
The hand off from grade to grade is really important. It shouldn't be that hard and yet it is not done well. Many students have one year of education at their accelerated level and then repeat material for the next two years.
Not only are the students at risk but our society is at risk if we allow these students to be bored and phase out
TAG programs work when they are segregated. Otherwise the teacher is forced to teach to the lowest common denominator.
The program I was in in Vancouver from 1st through 8th grade (1987-1995) was marvelous. I graduated from a prestigious law school with peers who kept the names of their high schools on their resumes (Andover, St. Albans) and was able to compete on that level because of the gifted education I received from the Vancouver School District.
I agree social difficulties arise when TAG kids are separated from "regular" students. I don't think that's a good reason to force them into a class in which they'll be bored and disengaged. Smart kids are picked on no matter what, but so are lots of other kids. Bullying and social problems are not the result of TAG, they're the result of school and adolescence in general.
I have an answer that will work in Oregon. Call me. Been there done many of these things.
We need entrepreneurial/ self employed teachers who can collect a group of similar minded students from several local schools. This relieves public school burden with no impact on money, while increasing the academic menu for youngsters.
It seems to me that quite a few parents have mentioned that their TAG child dropped out of school. I think it's truly sad that the students who are identified as particularly brilliant, who have the capability to contribute greatly to society, end up dropping out of school due to, essentially, boredom.
I was identified as a TAG student, and I also dropped out of school from boredom and the belief that there was no way I could ever afford college. I got absolutely nothing from the TAG program, which is sad because if that extra support had been there, I probably wouldn't have dropped out. I ended up getting my GED with perfect scores and going to college a few years later, but sometimes I wonder about what kind of contribution I could have made by now to society if there had been more challenging classes and additional support to keep me interested in school.
Our first two children were tagged very early and after a horrible experience in the public school the teacher said to "get these kids into a private school". We did and they were very happy - just our school ended with 8th grade...the answer for the high school years - boarding school....Please think about sending your children. There is a lot of financial aid, they won't be bored, they will be challenged! I know this is not the 'normal' practice for people on the West Coast, but consider it. No one wins with angry and frustrated children!
I was a TAG student, identified in the first grade. Sometimes classes were boring for me, but I think that a lot of students need to take personal responsibility, instead of blaming the lack of tag instruction for their lack of motivation to seek outside resources for learning. Teachers are overextended as it is. If TAG students are dropping out of school, they need to take responsibility for it, rather than blaming it on the schools.
I don't think anyone should ask kids to take responsibility for their education when an adult is making the pertinent decisions. This is particularly true when they may come from challenging backgrounds and are not receiving the support at home that they need.
I graduated from high school in 2002 and was a part of gifted programs starting in first grade. I am finishing my Master's degree this year. (I was raised in the midwest, not in Oregon, but I live in Oregon today.)
My experience was very patchwork, with some schools I attended busing me miles and miles to get services, while others had in-house programs of varying effectiveness. I think the patchwork nature of the programs was a big part of the problem, because there was no continuity for me- I was in one on-site program for a year or two, and then the school lost funding, or cut the TAG budget, and I was bussed away for the next year. Then one year I was put in a class with the learning disabled students because the school assumed that all the 'different' kids should be in the same place. (I still feel sorry for that poor teacher!) High school was an improvement, as a designated class for TAG students was offered, and given equal time and funding with other classes.
My advice for effective TAG classes: some segregation of students is not a bad thing- the entire school week should probably not be segregated, for the social development of students, but I had a phase where I was bussed out for one day a week and I acclimated to that fine. (It was a bit difficult, for a second- and third-grader, but in retrospect it was the best program I participated in.) But when I was not segregated out, the quality of programming inevitably suffered. One teacher can't deal with twenty or thirty average kids and one TAG kid and give all the attention they deserve.
Also, programming should be INTERACTIVE. Oh please, please, please! I had so many kinds of programming supposedly tailored to TAG students and some was just a double-dose of worksheets, while others were things like visiting a cadaver lab on a field trip, disassembling clocks and other mechanical devices to see how they worked, or other engaging and interesting ideas. More work is not the answer- DIFFERENT work is the answer.
However, regardless of the failings of the situations, I feel that the good experiences I had in TAG classes were the most memorable and inspiring times of my educational career.
My daughter was identified as a TAG student in second grade, when I requested that she be tested. In elementary school in Hillsboro, her TAG program consisted of a PEP - Personal Education Plan. It basically adjusted how much busy-work homework she need to do. The school had a small prgraom for the TAG kids where they met after school for a few weeks a year to work on projects. It was fun, and they had a chance to get to know each other, but it was way too limited. We found creative outlets for her in dance and theatre classes outisde of school, plus family activities and trips. But, it was in seventh grade that she really had severe issues with boredom. Most of her classes were review and repetition. We finally found a private school, The Northwest Academy in Polrtand, that accepted her as a ninth grader when she was 12 years old. She excelled acadmeically once she was challenged in the enriched environment. She went on to complete college in three years and graduated magna cum laude. She is now in grdauate school at age 20. I was frustrated that the public schools could not challenge her, and that we had to pay for four years of private high school to help her find her strentgths and enthusiasm for learning.
I am an elementary school administrator who is formerly the TAG coordinator for my school, and I am also currently the interim president of OATAG (the Oregon Association of Talented and Gifted). I have been attempting to call in, but the line is very busy, so I'll try to post a quick reply here.
At my school, we have dedicated a teacher at .5 FTE as well as a small budget at both the school and district level. This allows the teacher to spend 20 hours per week identifying and developing our program for TAG students. We use a variety of strategies to address the needs of our TAG students, including acceleration, ability grouping, pull-out program, etc.
As I see it, there are two main problems: first, TAG is not a priority for our state. The legislature is only now setting aside a tiny amount of money toward TAG. The other is at the district and school level. While my district does allocate funds for TAG, many districts do not. Additionally, even when TAG funds are available from the district, some principals do not direct those funds to TAG.
The main thing is for parents to get involved. Legislators, principals, and superintendents listen to parents. Parents must tell them what they want. OATAG.org provides resources on how to do this. We are hosting a number of "meet-ups" that will allow parents to network and begin this process. Go to www.OATAG.org to learn more.
My son is five years old and has autism spectrum disorder. He will be in kindergarten in September 2008. Luke reads at about a second grade level and knows most of what is taught in kindergarten. Through my immense investigation of autism, as a mom of an "asperger" kid, I have learned many interesting tidbits. For example, it is speculated that both Einstein and Beethoven suffered from Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps we need to dig a little deeper? I feel lucky to have choices like immersion languages and such. After listening to the bulk of the show, I also feel lucky that Luke will have an individual education plan (IEP)! Peace
Public Schools have become like hospitols, the more likely to recover get better care, the more likely to succeed get more attention...up until TAG, where these kids get used like a teacher's aid and not as a brighter bulb.
I am a current senior, and have taken accelerated classes since grade school. TAG abandoned me in Middle School, where I believe my study habits were formed. In high school I did enroll in the IB program, but gradually became disillusioned and disinterested in it. Nothing in school has challenged me, and I have been forced to educate myself outside of the classroom in order to learn the things I really want to know.
It sounds like this has less to do with the schools and more to do with your own attitude toward how you choose to interact in the world.
I'd much rather address 100+ people who are interested in a topic
than try to corral a dozen kids who are on vastly different levels.
Make it normal for ALL kids to go where the right class is,
probably not as a big group, but individually.
It need not seem like "pull-out" any more than it does when
students at a university go from class to class.
Avoids feelings of resentment,
as all kids are expected to set their own course.
A big advantage is that teachers might have a fairly focused group in the room.
This is just not good teaching. ANY good teacher s able to easily engage with students at a variety of different levels, from a 4th grade reading level to college reading level. It is the diversity of a class that makes it enriching, and a good teacher knows how to harness that diversity and create an atmosphere where excellent teaching and learning can occur. This happens every day throughout Portland Public. There are at least a few teachers in every school who do this well. If you are a teacher, I suggest you seek them out an learn from them.
I'm afraid that I disagree with you here. When there are students at many different levels in a classroom together, students quickly realize who is where academically: who is at the "4th grade reading level" and who is at the "college reading level." Like it or not, kids take this to heart, and those at the lower levels of a subject often withdraw because they do not feel as good about themselves. Like it or not, kids are also mean to one another when they know someone is not doing as well as they are. Think back to your own elementary school experience. Did the kids who had the most trouble reading like to read in front of others? Probably not, because unfortunately, those kids who are doing better tend to know it and make it known that they know by making fun of those who struggle. When you divide up into multiple classes which are more specialized, this problem decreases radically, and students then feel more comfortable interacting with the other students in their class, which keeps them more engaged, and which in turn helps them to be motivated to achieve more, rather than just withdrawing and sinking farther behind.
I am the parent of a TAG child in Portland. When the TAG ACCESS alternative program began, I transferred him to that program. What I saw in the classroom before I transferred him was that teachers were overwhealmed. They saw a high achieving child and figured, "I don't need to worry about him." Their version of challenging him was to ask him to tutor the other students in math. Any work that he did at a higher level was the result of his own initiative or mine. For a third grader, deciding on his own to do more work with no encouragement or enthusiasm from a teacher is not very tempting. I have been happier with the ACCESS program, both on an academic challenge level and on a social support level. My son will be going to the ACCESS @ Grant high school program next year. I expect Grant could support his academic needs without the ACCESS program, but I really hope his being in the ACCESS community will support his social needs and provide the emotional support for his adjustment in the classes he will be taking with mostly Jr and Sr students.
Yet you do not really understand something deeply until you teach it. If your child heard from YOU that he was having a great learning opportunity, and learned from YOU how he could engage with his peers in this way, he would have had an incredibly enriching experience.
We need teachers in the Math and Science fields- there is a desperate need especially in the middle schools, where many TAG students are left to flounder.
I believe we should all write to our legislative leaders and ask that they craft a program to supplement college expenses in these fields to students who will soon graduate in Math, Biology, Physics, Engineering, etc, in return for a year or two of teaching to Tag and other students in Oregon.
College students in their last years of the identified subjects could be paid to teach on a temporary or yearly contract, and earn tuition reimbursement, or loan payoffs, and forego the teaching degree. I believe we would end up with more Honors and AP classes, and middle school students completing the prerequesites to enjoy these classes AND some of those graduates may find that teaching is a great way to earn a living, and stay on.
A college graduate in some of these fields can expect much more monetary compensation than a teaching degree will bring, therefore we need to find a creative approach to luring some of these great minds back into the K-12 system, where they will inspire and lead others.
As a senior in the Vancouver School District, I thought I might be able to provide a different perspective.
Through 7th grade, I went to school in the Evergreen School District (another school district in Vancouver). They have an accelerated program called EXCEL that starts when the student is in third grade. I was placed in this program, and although it was more advanced, I was never truly challenged. But I was NEVER bored. The teachers were very engaging and the curriculum was always interesting. I continued with the EXCEL program through 7th grade when I moved to the Vancouver School District. I was placed in Challenge program for 8th grade, another accelerated program. I found myself much more disinterested than with EXCEL, but my drive for academic excellence kept my grades high. Unfortunately, I did have to attend the local high school every morning because the middle school didn't have the right math class.
For the most part, high school has been very easy for me, I have nearly a 4.0 (a 3.993), scored in the 98th percentile on my ACT, and scored 4's and 5's on the hardest AP tests. The only classes that have been more challenging are those with material I have never encountered before, such as AP Statistics, and AP Economics. I have been accepted into the University of Washington Honors College, a program that only accepts about 200 of the incoming freshman.
I am fairly neutral on my experiences with accelerated programs, I definitely could have been more challenged, but being in a class with other advanced students and teachers that know how to teach advanced students was a positive experience, much better than if I had been in a normal classroom.
It's amazing to me that we continue to apply more and more effort and energy into piece mealing education. While we busy ourselves trying to untangle the multitude of problems inherent in our education system, our children are being lost in the shuffle. Treating students like they are all cut from the same mold can never work because we all have different learning styles and abilities. Conversely, trying to custom-tailor programs to fit all the different individuals in the equation is impossible as we can never have enough resources to support such programs for any length of time.
It seems to me that our approaches are all wrong. Treating children as inanimate objects that are simply waiting to be filled. When we start treating them as resources and engaging them in their own learning only then will we be successful.
My children started school in PPS. They were capable, creative,intelligent, and engaged at the onset. In spite our family's pro-education stance, they quickly began to lose interest in school. They were nominated for the TAG program. After my husband and I checked into the program and found it to be lack luster at best, we decided to put our girls into a Montessori school. What an amazing transformation they underwent! Our children feel so empowered an capable. They are well-spoken, engaged and happy. I can't believe that this method isn't more prevalent in the public sector because it WORKS beautifully!Every child deserves a chance to be engaged in his or her own education.
I was once a TAG child in OR befor i moved away. I was in Bend OR in the bend-lapine school TAg program. I had a good experiance, but its really only for certian children. other smart kids were not really able to keep up.
I was one of the guests on Think Out Loud. I'd like to let you know that you can continue to discuss TAG issues on the OATAG listserv. Portland parents may be interested in the Tagpdx list also.
To sign up for the OATAG listserv, go to http://wwww.oatag.org/ and choose the button for "mailing list". OATAG is also planning meet-ups this spring for families and a one-day conference this fall.
To sign up for the Portland TAG mailing list to go http://www.tagpdx.org/ and use the button on the homepage to sign up.
These are both Yahoo lists, so if you are already a Yahoo group member, you can add these to your groups. Participation is free.
There are many very helpful TAG resources on the web. I have lists for both listservs and websites (meta-sites) on my website at http://www.tagpdx.org/ and quite a few other resources.
Reading some of wealth of materials on the national Hoagies gifted website http://www.hoagiesgifted.org and joining one of the listservs (TAGFAM is the largest) is the best way to find resources and parent-to-parent advice for your children. Educators are very welcome to participate in these lists also, especially the OATAG list.
OATAG, the Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted is the only statewide Oregon association that focuses on gifted and high-achieving Oregon students. Washington has several organizations--one mostly for educators (WAETAG) and one mostly for parents (NWGCA). There are also Oregon and Washington branches of Mensa, which provides social support for adults and children in the top 2% of the population.
To support OATAG's efforts to increase funding, knowledge and resources for gifted and talented education in the state, please consider joining OATAG. Right now, our focus is on obtaining a full-time TAG specialist for the state Department of Education to serve our 40,000+ identified students and to gain funds for training teachers. We also provide information and support for families.
Just reading through the posts on this blog should make it clear to everyone that we can't afford to keep wasting these children's time and limiting their opportunities. Education is not a zero-sum game. We are all better off when every child has a chance to learn. Warehousing children is a waste of all our resources. We do need more funding to serve these children, but we could also be doing a much better job with what we already have if we had a better-informed community of families, teachers, businesses, and school administrators.
I hope everyone who took the time to write will use some of that energy to foster real change.
I just read through this forum, and I am so relieved that so many people feel the same way about this that I always did growing up in the Beaverton School District!
I was identified as a TAG student in 3rd grade, in Math and Reasoning, and even at that age, I had a bad feeling about the whole thing. My mother said I was going to get a better, more challenging education this way. As it turns out, I really did not (though they certainly had the parents convinced that that was what was happening and that we were all just being whiney kids). They gave me a few extra worksheets to do, and in one case put me in a couple "higher level" classes. The worksheets were just extra busy work that the teachers never looked at, and the "higher level" classes were mostly just a detaining ground of sorts where those of us who were ahead just socialized while they caught everyone else up to us. The first time that they actually had differentiated classes was in middle school, by which time I was so bored that I did not even care anymore, and failed all the placement tests. But, because I was TAG, they put me in the highest classes anyway. For a while, this held my interest, but after a while, it was back to more of the same (me speeding ahead while others plodded along) and I got bored again. Like bonhas said above, I hardly even knew how to take notes or pay attention in class, and struggled as a student. In high school, I zoned out through most of my classes, especially Math, and by the time I got to pre-Calc and IB Physics, which I thought I would love (I wanted to be an astrophysicist), I was so unfocused that I could not get my grades up and was failng tests, ended up dropping into the lowest level Physics class, and barely pulled a C out of the first term my pre-Calc before dropping out of that and into an additional music class, which is what I have ended up going into in college (I also spent hours upon hours on my own with music outside of school). Other than the resulting unhappiness from never having been challenged enough and being bored, my only memory of TAG is hearing teachers gripe about the evaluation forms that they had to fill out for "those TAG kids." Music, which was not a TAG activity, but where we actually got challeneged, and were able to pursue our induvidual talents (through solo work and competitions), finally reigned me in and gave me a reason to go to school. Most of my classes were not advanced (there were not many available), so my GPA was still fairly good despite the fact that I was not having to do much studying or trying very hard at what I was doing. I now go to a challenging private university, where for the first time in my life, I actually feel like I am being challenged to my highest potenital in all areas (and boy did I struggle my first term to get into the groove of such all-around challenge). . . for the first time in my life, I actually have to study. . . after 13 years of lack of challenge and sailing through.
Parents, please be aware that the public school TAG programs really are not the good education that they appear to be. Your kids are not just whinning! Unfortuntely, it really is up to the parents to make sure that kids get enough challenge, the schools will not do it for you.
Unfortunately it really is up to the parents... HELLLLOOOOOO PEOPLE!!!!!! Since when have parents abdicated their responsibility to anyone else? The PARENTS are the child's first teacher. OF COURSE it's up to the parents and it SHOULD REMAIN THAT WAY. It's the parent;s responsibility after all.
Many parents have been abdicating that responsiblity for years. Mine was one of them. She never involved herself in my education unless she absolutely had to. I am glad that you do not think they should be doing that, and I agree with you, but there are many who unforunately do not agree with us.
Working in local elementary schools as a teacher's aide in high school and college, I have also seen it on a fairly regular basis. Many parents drop their child off at school and expect all of their needs to be taken care of there. When teachers try to get them involved in things like conferences, or afterschool enrichment activities, it can prove to be very difficult. The unfortunate attitude of some parents seems to be "is not that what you (the teacher)/the school is for? To educate my kid so I do not have to?" I have heard parents remark that they send their children to schools instead of home schooling them for a reason: they do not want their child's education to be their responsiblity, and that if they wanted it to be their responsiblity, they would have home schooled them. Not a great outlook, but unfortunately it is out there.
I was entertained by listening to today?s TAG show and I am fully amused reading through the plethora of responses on the topic. My oh my, we are a very frustrated population of parents of talented (brilliant, endowed, capable, cleaver) and gifted (exceptional, naturally able) children. Ah, were it so that your child is SO VERY DIFFERENT! Where, oh where is MY entitlement!
Clearly, the expectations of today?s educated parent have yet to come to grip with the fundamental reality of public schooling: lack of personalization. Public schooling in America is consumed by addressing those that have not and those that can not. It spends very very large sums of money bringing individualized plans to those who are identified as having a disability (be it a modality issue, a learning issue, or a chronic challenging condition). Whether the foundation of their support rests on IDEA, ADA, or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the student is provided with a personal document providing?and guaranteeing?accommodations, modifications, or adaptations.
FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) rules, baby and we will leave no poorly tested, poor performing young person behind, even if they don?t want to get on the grand see-saw of teaching and learning!
The rest of the student crowd moves slowly through the system as an edu-mass of learners, albeit differentiated in approach whenever or wherever possible. Unless or until there is a fundamental change in the way that we provide education to recognize pace and learning differences, the TAG population will have to bite the elementary and middle school bullet by remaining vigilant to their own parenting efforts to ensure learning. However, as cautioned by one of the contributors, one needs to rely on a team approach. Going at it alone is tantamount to catching wind in a bucket. In the end, your bucket is full of something, but not with anything that makes any difference.
I have two grown up children, both of whom are highly successful academically and otherwise. The first of my two children was involved in TAG.
I do not agree with the premise that labeling children Talented and Gifted and then offering them a special and/or accelerated curriculum is beneficial.
My biggest concern about TAG is that it identifies a child as Talented and Gifted rather than focusing on identifying each child's talents and gifts. I also think that children develop at different rates, and may be academically advanced at one age, and not at another. The program often reflects the ambitions and conceits of the child's parents more than it does the academic needs of the child. Finally, these programs often create little perfectionists whose fear of failure stunt their potentials.
I am fine with offering classes that address the talents and gifts of children. They should be available to a child whose talent is natural facility, or or one who excels through diligence and discipline. Most children have talents and gifts. Let's have schools with the resources to address the gifts and talents of all the children.
I was labeled as a TAG student when I was in 2nd grade. I found that many of my early classes were really engaging, which got me working on high school level math in 5th grade. Through middle school the busy work accumulated & teachers didn't even appear to be the slightest bit convenced that TAG students should have different course work. By High school, I was so frustrated and bored I began skipping classes and smoking pot. Through my mixture of disgust/ loss of interest in high school, I found a way to channel my energy into something positive. I ended up doing essentially the opposite of everything my advisor told me to do. I actually took extra-cruricular classes and graduated a year early.
This conversation is absolutely infuriating.
The TAG program doesn't work precisely BECAUSE it labels kids as "smart" or "not smart," as though intelligence were some sort of concrete thing that one has or does not have. This is contrary to every piece of research in cognitive science that has been done in the past 10 years. Intelligence is a PROCESS of CURIOSITY. It is not something a kid HAS. I'd be willing to bet that the minute a child is "proven" (by inherently classist test scores) that he or she is "smart," that this is the moment the child begins to get bored. Read recent articles and books written about motivation and cognitive science for more information on this.
Even more importantly, TAG programs have been demonstrated to be both classist and racist at their core, and this has been aptly demonstrated in this conversation every time the guest who is a parent speaks. The comment about how No Child is like "giving every kid a cheeseburger and fries, but what about the kids who need more than that?" How infuriatingly CLASSIST. With all due respect, ALL children deserve FAR better than cheeseburgers and fries. EVERY child deserves local, organic, high quality, homemade food (to take the metaphor a bit further). And your child is no more deserving of high quality and challenging education than is any other kid. And if your child is privileged with more genetic intelligence than others, then they can use that opportunity to teach and mentor others because no one truly understand anything until they teach it. (And no I am not a teacher - just a parent of a child who will test into TAG one day, but will certainly not be participating in such an unethical and worthless pursuit). Rethinking Schools has some good information on this.
What's more is that teachers cannot possibly teach to excellence when they are being asked to teach to the tests. They cannot possibly teach for excellence when they are being required to teach up to 160 kids. If one wants to increase excellence for ALL children, reduce class sizes.
Finally, stop using rewards and punishments when working with or parenting kids. They just don't work and do more harm to kids' motivational levels than good.
Schools define talent far too narrowly. TAG programs are more about labeling than about looking for each child's talents and gifts.
This ill-conceived approach is essentially a coalition of pushy parents and the teachers who think that they would be more successful if they had better kids to teach.
I absolutely agree.
Suramita is correct. Every child deserves a good meal. I was thinking in terms of quantity, not quality. A hamburger and french fries would be way too many calories for me, and way too few from my son's best friend, who is over six feet, plays football, and runs cross-country.
All of my children served as teacher's aides or tutored other children, but not at the expense of their own learning. When a school singles out a few children to serve as unpaid teachers' aides all the time, it makes them more vulnerable to bullying. If teaching other children is important for learning, than all children should have the chance to participate.
All children have the SAME right to learn, but each child may need adaptations to the curriculum and instruction to meet his or her needs. We don't object when these adjustments are made to fit the learning needs of developmentally disabled, ELL or disabled children, so why is it unfair to make adjustments for children who have already mastered the curriculum? That is what our TAG law says should happen. It is an extension of a state law that says districts must help teachers provide appropriate adjustments for all children.
Ironically, the very common contention that TAG is "racist and classist" does the most harm to children who members of minority groups or come from low-income families.
Across the county, learning gains are inversely proportional to ability. The highest-achieving students make the lowest gains. Minority high-achieving students make even lower gains than their "mainstream" classmates. These children are truly left behind. They are more likely to be in schools that are preoccupied with helping students meet benchmarks and they are least likely to have parents who can supplement their educations outside school.
The lid placed on the learning provided to these children in school greatly reduces social mobility and often denies them the opportunity to attend college and pursue a professional career. They fall further behind for every year they spend in school. As the posts attest, they often drop out or get into trouble.
To see what happens to high-achieving students (students who exceed benchmarks), as a group in Portland Public Schools, and to see what happens to Hispanic, African-American and low-income high-achieving students, go to my website at
The Jack Kent Cooke report "The Achievement Trap" on high-achieving low-income students that was mentioned earlier can be found at http://www.jackkentcookefoundation.org/jkcf_web/home.aspx?Page=Main
A report from the Northwest Evaluation Association on this problem as it affects hispanic students can be found at
Incidentally, the identification methods used to identify TAG students in Oregon are not based on "50s" tests. We believe that the identification process needs to be improved, but districts use our own state tests, matched to our own state benchmarks, or recent aptitude and achievement tests based on current national norms. Non-verbal aptitude tests such as the Naglieri and the Raven's Matrices are used in many districts including Portland for children may not speak standard English. The schools are supposed to select the test that is most likely to reveal a student's abilities, and two pieces of information are required.
I was really glad to hear the discussion about multi-age class solutions to meeting the needs of TAG students. I have four girls who all test at 95% and above. My 13 year old is in public school and feels that she is getting a lot out of her TAG activities. It seems the funding is minimal though, and the classes are led by volunteers from the education program at PSU. (She attends Ockley Green) I still find there are gaps in my education from time spent having fun in TAG activities, so I try to keep track of what they are up to in my daughters TAG classes. My two youngest are at Trinity Lutheran which is moving to a multi-age classroom model in order to better meet the needs of different levels of students. I'm hoping that my ten-year-old who reads at high school levels will get challenged more. When she tried the public school she was miserable!
My oldest is graduating from high school this year and still tests very high, having never had TAG or multi-age opportunities. She attended private school and was challenged plenty.
All student have gifts. It is our job as adults in our community to find the gifts and talents of each child and then support and encourage the
development of these talents. Some students are gifted in athletics or the arts, TAG students happen to be gifted in learning. Being a gifted learner should be celebrated and nurtured, as it is in a gifted athlete. Instead, our Salem-Keizer School District provides no advanced classes in elementary or middle school (except math), has reduced honors classes in high school, dismisses parents and sometimes treats them with hostility. TAG students and parents value education and the work of teachers, we are a resource for our community and I will never be able to understand why the school district doesn't develop this resource.
Sandy Husk, SK Superintendent recently gave a speech about the increase in the number of families qualifying for free and reduced lunch, stating that there is a correlation between low income and low academic performance. There are TAG and advanced students in this group of students who are not being educated appropriately either, TAG students come from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. TAG students do not just automatically succeed on their own and sometimes even drop out of school. Our district should find the high-ability students in this population and nurture them because education will help them break out of the cycle of poverty. Husk stated that the SK district needs to change classroom instructional strategies due to this increase in low income families. The SK district must look at ways to educate these students. However, diluting the curriculum to meet the needs of low performing students and bringing down the students at the top is short-sighted and wrong.
Also, I am very tired of the stereotype that students who are high-achievers only do so because their parents have money. My money does not help my children study for tests, do their homework or spend hours working with other students on group projects. We have created an environment in our home with high expectations and supported them but they achieve on their own. They are gifted in learning and are motivated to excel. My children and others like them deserve to be celebrated for their hard work just as we support and encourage a gifted athlete or musician.
In elementary school, both of my children were sent out into the "pod" with a couple of peers and a 6th grade math book to teach themselves more advanced math.
Both of my children experienced very little challenge in middle school. I had to advocate to have them accelerated in math. The school will only accelerate students if parents advocate. Some TAG students have re-taken the same math class because more advanced options were not offered or available, parents - this is against state law.
My daughter says that the only reason she made it through middle school was because of the music program. Our district has an excellent music program that encourages students to achieve to their full potential - and they do!
I am concerned for the future of our country, why on earth wouldn't we want to teach every child so they can achieve to their full potential?
There is a simple solution that is not expensive. The school should offer different levels of classes and students should be grouped by ability in each academic subject. Schools should test students to determine what level of instruction a student needs and then place them in the appropriate level of instruction, this is what the state law requires!
In middle school, my TAG son was in regular classes with no differentiated instruction or acceleration. He never had homework and was not challenged. This experience helped him develop an elitist attitude toward other students. He began calling some students the "simple people" because they were not as smart as him.
Then, he began taking honors classes in high school. This was a humbling experience because he realized that he was not the smartest one in the class. He began to read his books, study in groups and actually learn to use good study habits. I believe that having him grouped with other high-ability students reduced elitism.
Too many parents think their child/children is/are "special" and deserves to be in some TAG program. Send them to a private school or home school them because if you folks think the public school system is going to go along with your way of thinking, wrong...
Just listened to the podcast on this topic. We've been struggling with what to do with my TAG-identified son for some time. We live in the 4J district in Eugene. Our experience has been similar to many who posted here, namely that of frustration. When he was identified as TAG, I assumed that meant he would get some kind of differentiated instruction.
We finally realized that school was not working for him, and the transition to middle school was difficult. We finally decided to homeschool this year, and it was clearly the right decision. I won't go into all the details, but let's just say he is succeeding and surpassing even our expectations with the freedom that homeschooling gives him to pursue his interests.
However, homeschooling is not a choice that I would have chosen if I felt it hadn't been necessary. I find the overcrowded classroom, lack of funding, and overburdened teachers terrible for all children when struggling or gifted. But clearly none of that is going to change soon. In fact, here in Eugene, many of the smaller schools are being closed to bring in "economies of scale". A really unfortunate state of affairs.
I have experience as a "gifted" child (although I'm 65 years old now) and as a parent of gifted children. TAG programs, as now constituted, don't get to the heart of the problem: highly intelligent students find it all too easy to adapt to a mediocre classroom experience by turning it off. The entire educational experience needs to interest the TAG students, and challenge them. An occasional excursion into the realm of something interesting just is not adequate.
In grade school I was tested at 145 points on the Stanford Binet scale. The system knew I was bored, but didn't know what to do about it, other than to offer to skip me a grade or two. My parents declined to do that, which probably was the right decision for several reasons. So, I continued at my age-determined grade level, where students were chastised for reading ahead in the primer, and for not staying "on place" when another student was reading aloud (no matter how haltingly).
I adapted, and the focus of my efforts was socialization: football, baseball, friends. School was boring, and I did enough to stay out of trouble, without expending any particular effort. De-emphasizing my smarts was part of my success at socialization. Not that I played dumb; I just deemphasized.
I graduated, and attended a private high school on scholarship, where my bad habits and lack of academic interest were quickly identified. I didn't do badly, but I was perhaps the brightest in the school at the time, and clearly didn't live up to my "potential." I was packed off to Spain, as an exchange student, for my junior year, where it was hoped I would be challenged.
It was a watermark experience, but did not erase my boredom with academics. Instead, it reinforced my dislike of institutional learning. I had no background in the Spanish language when I arrived, and no instruction available there, but there was a wonderful opportunity to practice, and good reasons to learn. I studied Spanish, particularly grammar, with a vengeance, and on my return I took the college board exams and scored 800 in Spanish.
Upon graduation, with decent grades (but not the grades I should have had) and high SAT scores (National Merit Finalist) I was accepted at Cal Tech, but went to another good university (which gave me a scholarship), where I majored in physics, with minors in math and philosophy.
It took a year or two before the boredom reaction became extreme, but it did. Despite my success with Spanish, I managed to get D's in German. Instead of diligently studying physics, I started my own program of reading good literature and working nights and weekends in a service station, where I pursued my interest in auto mechanics. Finally, I decided I did not want to by a physicist, and in my senior year was accepted to law school, based on an extremely high LSAT test. Had it not been for the Viet Nam war, I might very likely have chosen to drop out of the educational system and go do something more amusing, with a pay check. (The owner of the service station where I was working part time (himself a math major in his college days) wanted me to join him as a partner in setting up a chain of service stations, which was appealing but no asnwer to the Viet Nam issue)
In law school I did not attend class regularly, but performed adequately by reading the case books and making extensive notes during the three or four weeks prior to each end-of-semester exam. I even wrote high paper in my "future interests" class (a technical and arcane area of the law which for some reason caught my interest). I graduated, and took the bar review course (where, realizing the need to be admitted to the bar, I paid close attention, probably learning as much in the course of those 4 weeks or so as in my three years of law school; I consistently scored in the top 3 or 4 of all the participants, including some ivy league grads).
The bottom line, I believe, is that I concluded very early that school is boring, and I developed habits consistent with that belief, which I never managed to leave behind.
Two things might have spurred me to a much higher level of achievment: Exposure to intellectual peers at an early age, and the opportunity to pursue (to the extent of achieving a high level of excellence) subjects and projects of genuine interest to me.
I was eclectic in my interests, and had good parents with definite expectations, so that I did not end up entirely wasting my gifts. But any teacher can tell tragic stories of brilliant minds which never bore fruit; some finding a tragic end, others just coasting along doing unproductive work, well below capability.
The last response to this was months ago, but after reading through this conversation following a discussion on talented and gifted students in the classroom in my college course work, I wanted to comment. I was raised in a TAG program. I was identified in 1st grade. However, the services I received never equated to much more than pull-out activities once a week and being able to work ahead of other students in math. In third grade I was working on Algebra. Here is what I feel many of you have missed in this discussion, while research shows the "average" person needs to be presented information between 5 and 8 times to fully understand a new concept, a TAG student only needs to hear it once or twice. This means that they can learn at between three and eight times the speed of their classmates. No wonder we get bored. And you can say that it is our responsibility to deal with our boredom, but is up to a six year old to teach themselves when they know everything they teacher is covering in class? I was fortunate to go to a high school that allowed me to take all academic classes (against their policy to require non-academic electives) and that allowed me to write my own curriculum for five separate classes when I ran out of advanced coursework my junior and senior years. Most kids aren't that lucky. Now even in college, I often find myself bored. I study for 15 minutes for a test, my peers study for upwards of five hours; I still get the highest grade in the class. Needless to say that, anyone who finds that out, hates me. My friends still do well, yes, they are SMART. But there is a difference between smart and gifted. I was able to do Calculus in 9th grade without ever being taught. My friends haven't done that, but yet they have taken Calculus and done well. They are smart, not gifted. They have IQs in the 120s and low 130s. My IQ is in the high 150s. There is a difference there. I believe that many students placed in TAG programs are smart. They have strong support systems at home and have been given many opportunities to succeed. They have great backgrounds and have been exposed to a lot of culture. And so perhaps, more than the child who comes from the low-income family with two older parents who are raising their older child's three children, they look like a gifted child, when they are only smart.
And, for those of you who think that private school or homeschooling is the best option, please be kind with your words. Many of our parents couldn't afford or didn't have the resources for that. Instead, my mom took me to the library and let me check out 40 books a week. I devoured them. My true learning has always taken place outside of the classroom, I only wish my teachers would have encouraged me in this instead of discouraging me daily with busy work and by requiring me help my classmates repeatedly. It makes sense to me, as I'm sure it does to the rest of you who are gifted, that depression as well as suicide are much higher in gifted populations. We are literally bored out of our minds.
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