I'm not big on labels. But sometimes, labels give you access to resources that you wouldn't otherwise receive. In the public school system in my state, it's convenient to have a designation of "talented and gifted" or TAG. Despite the fact that schools have no money (and therefore no cash for TAG activities), the label can sometimes help you to access services, quicker and with far less hassle.
So it was when my DS14 entered public school for the first time, almost two years ago. Homeschoolers (and public schoolers/educators, for that matter) may be interested in knowing what's happened with him. It may apply to kiddos you know.
DS14 is bright. No doubt. However, in our state, "bright" isn't enough. In order to receive a TAG label, you have to qualify using more than one piece of information. One of these MUST be a nationally standardized test, scoring above the 97%.
So, consider. I send a child to school who has, for seven long years, been taught to THINK...not to TAKE TESTS. I ask to have him tested, knowing full well that he has the ability to qualify.
He takes the computerized test. Comes home that day and says, "I wrote some comments in the comment box below a couple of the questions."
"Because several of the questions didn't have any correct answers."
WHAT?? I'm sure that's what the public school teachers would have said, too. Let me explain.
For much of my ds's life, he's participated in testing curriculum. That's right. TESTING CURRICULUM. On a daily basis, we made note of which questions needed editing. Which were confusing. And which were simply *wrong.* I taught my son to be critical of outside sources.
I taught him well. So well, that he missed TAG qualification in his first round of testing...because he was testing the testers.
I explained to him that these tests have been thoroughly checked and that he could be sure (ha...relatively) that one of the answers was right.
So he went back to public school and took more tests. His scores went up. And more tests. His scores went up. And more tests. His scores went up. After exactly ONE YEAR in public school, he tested at the 99th percentile and qualified for TAG.
What does this tell me?
Nothing that will surprise you, I'm sure. But the system of testing to qualify for TAG is insufficient at best, harmful at worst. My son was a brilliant, creative thinker--clearly TAG material--but it took him a year to learn enough test taking skills (by doing it over and over and over again) in order to qualify. (Either that or he gained so much "content" in one year of public school that his scores skyrocketed!!)
I am very aware of a great number of kids who will never qualify based on tests. Kids who've experienced early trauma. Have large stressors in their lives. Or simply freak-out when it's test time. We know that the thinking parts of the brain basically go into lock-down when stressed or anxious. So how are kids under stress ever supposed to qualify?
Maybe it doesn't matter. No money exists for services anyway. But how have we reached a point where the ability to fill-in bubbles counts for more than the ability to think creatively, pose interesting questions, and problem solve?