Status Update

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Is it possible we have the wrong perception of what it means to “identify” a child as “gifted”? If we’re using terms like “got in the gifted program” or “did not get in,” we probably need to┬áhit the pause button and think about our purpose for assessment and identification.

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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13 Responses to “Status Update”

  1. Carrie Simpson says:

    great thoughts on how that language of “acceptance” into the program is reinforcing status among the adults. Imagine the impact that has on how effectively a parent can advocate for their child, too! They will spin their wheels fighting the wrong fight: how can we get her in GT programming rather than how can we make sure she gets the most from her educational experiences. I love this blog! Great work, Kay.

  2. Jannette says:

    Program ‘admission’ requirements can vary from school district to school district. So it may be by demographics that a child qualifies or not for one of those coveted spots.

    The thing is, giftedness is relative to the context and also comes in many forms. It is true that often the children don’t know why they are in those classes however I have seen the great divide of opportunity manifest itself riiiiight about 8th grade.

    In 8th grade something magical happens in schools (parents take note). Eighth grade is the time when some students are allowed access to algebra, and by default, some students are denied access to algebra.

    Those students who take algebra have a higher probability of graduating with their cohort AND have a higher probability of going to college.

    I think giftedness should have accessibility to many programs such as the arts. There are many children who go undetected under their black attire and eyeliner.

    The end.

  3. Beth says:

    Loved your GT video GT Time. Our daughter found out that 2 of her 3 children were “identified” for our GT program. One of her identical twins was not identified. My advice was not to fret over it and neither girl will probably realize there’s anything special or not regarding the program. Unfortunately, our district isn’t really servicing the younger grades until 3rd grade. Teachers within the home room are expected to provide enrichment for them on their own time. Isn’t happening.

    • Kay Shurtleff Kay Shurtleff says:

      Thanks, Beth. We can get ourselves into a lot of trouble over pigeon holing kids into a “gifted,” “not gifted,” “struggling,” or any other label. We don’t think enough about what those terms convey to kids–or adults, for that matter!

  4. Tracy says:

    Excellent! As a mother of twins, where one was “identified” and the other one was not, I was very sensitive to the “gifted” label, or any other label, for that matter. Both were in the G/T program, and we successfully kept either of them from knowing that one was “identified as gifted” for four years, until a teacher decided it was ok for her to let them know. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy about that! I love what you said at the end about getting a bigger house or nicer car if you want some status symbol to brag about. Great video!

  5. Jeb Puryear says:

    I agree with the sentiment but I think the problem is a bit more macro. The very idea of “gifted” as an intrinsic characteristic (or set of them) in the first place breeds this parent view. It also breeds the overreliance on testing for placement in advanced paths. And the rigidity of those paths themselves. And the flourishing (overuse) of the 2e label when a good test score in kindergarten reflecting good preschool doesn’t result in expected academic outcomes. I could go on and on. The paradigms/beliefs stuff is one of my niches.

    • Kay Shurtleff Kay Shurtleff says:

      Thanks for your insights, Jeb! Educators can get really carried away with jargon, especially if it’s the new, hip topic (like 2e). To invoke a worn out (but applicable) adage, we don’t see the forest for the trees.

  6. Amy says:

    Thank you for your wise words, Kay!

  7. Kelly Tumy says:


    When I listen to you advocate for what is right for students and for the education of these gifted students, I am happy to be part of a profession that includes your level of expertise and reasoning. You are SO RIGHT that not all of these students even consider themselves “gifted” and can’t see past the label to the success they can achieve. BRAVO and I cannot wait to share it with my teachers.

    All the best,
    Kelly Tumy

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