A report from The Baltimore Sun claims that Baltimore County school officials acting in the name of political correctness are planning to drop the words “gifted and talented” in favor of a new term, “advanced academics.”
The move away from the label “gifted and talented” has upset some parents in the Baltimore County school district who are concerned that the change will lead to neglect of accomplished students who demand a more academically rigorous education. However, in response, the county believes the incorporation of the label “advanced academics,” which will include gifted and talented and advanced placement students, will help retain the school district’s focus on providing an environment for advanced students that is specifically suited to their unique educational needs.
According to the report, students qualify as “gifted and talented” when they display superior abilities in both academic and creative pursuits: “Baltimore County selects its students in third and fifth grades based on achievement and other, more subjective criteria, including personality, creativity, curiosity and ability to concentrate. Roughly one-fifth of students qualify.”
Some educators reject the traditional approach to educating “gifted and talented” students because they claim that students who don’t qualify for the accelerated curriculum by second grade will be unable to progress into the the gifted group despite any progress that would have qualified the for it otherwise.
You can read more about the changes from The Baltimore Sun:
Nowhere in the new policy do the words “gifted and talented” appear. In its place, the county uses the term Advanced Academics, an umbrella name that includes gifted and talented, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes for high-achieving students.
Wade Kerns, the county’s coordinator of advanced academics, said the name reflects the change in approach. “We made a change in our philosophy and practice,” Kerns said. “We wanted to be aligned with what is on the ground.”
Kerns said the term gifted and talented is too narrow to encompass the range of the district’s offerings for bright students.
Jeanne Paynter, a former director of gifted and talented education for the state Department of Education, said the county risks running afoul of state law.
“Gifted and talented has 60 years of research documenting the needs of the student, the characteristics, the methods to identify and the methods to serve” those students, said Paynter, who now teaches at McDaniel College.
“Lumping all the programs together is fine,” she said. “But where is the policy that stands up for the rights and needs for this special needs group?”
Kerns said the district is following state law.
“There is no danger that it is going to go away because we haven’t used those three words in our policy,” he said.