Identifying GT students in Pre-K: Choose your criteria wisely!

A recent Washington Post article talks about Maryland’s newly adopted guidelines for identifying gifted and talented students as early as age three.  Critics of the guidelines point out that such early identification processes are likely to overlook children of color, those from low SES backgrounds, and non-English speakers, as well as those who are twice-exceptional.  Proponents of the bill point out that  GT children who are not having their needs met at an early age are more likely to become withdrawn or disruptive, both in the classroom and at home.  The new guidelines also require school districts to report on their GT populations and programming to the MD Board of Education.

Obviously it is important to meet the needs of all learners, and to do so at the earliest possible time.  In that light, I celebrate the new legislation, but I hope they are careful with the criteria they use for identification.  In order to do the best for ALL students, such criteria must be based not solely (or even heavily) on ability, but on the thought processes of the children, on interests that might be highly divergent or non-traditional in nature, and on observation of all children to pick up on both the asynchronies and the overexcitabilities which so many GT folks have as part of their psychological make-up.  Criteria need to be sensitive to the exposure (or lack thereof) that students have had to various ideas and opportunities, and need to be applied afresh each year, always drawing in children who have been overlooked, but NEVER pulling a child from programming once identified, since a) children don’t *stop* being gifted, and b) pulling them from such programming can be a crushing blow.  [Ed note: I read a great article backing up that latter point the other week, but can’t find it again now. If anyone has it, I’d LOVE to link to it.  Thank you!]

What do you think?

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