May 10, 2010; Los Angeles Times | Most of the effort to reform schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods, focuses on helping improve instruction so students perform as close to grade level as possible. But what about gifted students in these schools who are capable of learning at several grades above where they are currently slotted?
Under an initiative launched by the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit that manages a group of historically low-performing campuses on behalf of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the city is making an effort to discover and nurture students of “exceptional ability.” Once identified, these gifted students who attend some of the city’s poorest schools, receive extra attention to help them excel.
So far the program has been limited to four schools, where nearly every second grader is tested. In one school, where 25 percent of students are still learning English and most are poor, school psychologists found 13 gifted children. As a result of such positive findings all LA public school second graders will be tested starting next year.
Angela Bass, the Partnership’s superintendent of instruction, said, the program “has allowed us to ramp up our expectations for children.” She added that at many schools, “we’ve missed the fact that our children are really talented. We need to make sure our teachers know that, our parents know that and our students know they are gifted.” Additional activities for students deemed gifted include bigger projects, discussions with scientists and visits to museums. For these students, that extra attention and opportunity to excel is the real gift.—Bruce Trachtenberg