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Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Recommended Reading, Throwback Thursday

TBT | A ‘Gritty’ Discussion: Are Schools Leaving Gifted Students Behind?

TBT | A ‘Gritty’ Discussion: Are Schools Leaving Gifted Students Behind?

This Throwback Thursday post originally appeared on our website in March 2014. Angela Duckworth’s recent best-seller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,  has direct tie-in to the socio-emotional resources Dr. Diane Heacox shared at our May 2016 chapter meeting.


St Croix Valley Gifted brings you a news round up of Minnesota and national conversation about the overall environment today’s gifted youth and their educators are facing at school.

A crop of early 2014 articles began drawing attention to the distinct needs and lagging condition of education supports for gifted learners in the United States. Arriving on the heels of NAGC’s newest ‘State of the States of Gifted Education‘ report, these articles coincided with:

In our own back yard, the Star Tribune ran two articles in March that show how these issues are playing out on a local scale. Although the articles cover Minneapolis Public Schools, they are reflective of questions and concerns St Croix Valley Gifted and MCGT field regularly about schools across the metro, and of key reasonsthis organization exists to provide connection, support and advocacy.

Excerpts of both Star Tribune pieces appear below, followed by links to national coverage on giftedness, education trends, and how to meet needs of our country’s high-ability learners.

Nitty Gritty in the Twin Cities: Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 2014

Minneapolis parents of gifted students feel driven to Bloomington  

They remember their first glimpses that their children were different. Rebecca Kane saw it when her son started counting blueberries by twos at 18 months. Ronna Rochell found her first-grader acing third-grade spelling lists. Jennifer Weismann learned when an outside tester checked her home-schooled twins.
Now they’re part of a growing brain drain for Minneapolis schools, parents willing to move their gifted students to full-time suburban programs not offered in Minneapolis.
At least 41 gifted students who live in Minneapolis attend full-time gifted programs in the suburbs, mostly in nearby Bloomington; they wave at each other from their carpools on the Crosstown and Hwy. 100.

It’s been a word-of-mouth movement, especially fueled by southwest Minneapolis parents who say their children’s advanced needs are not being met in a district so focused on low-performing students.

At least a dozen metro districts from St. Paul to smaller Spring Lake Park offer full-time gifted programs, most launched in the past 10 years. While Minneapolis has 1,200 elementary students identified as advanced learners or potentially so, the district has consistently turned down proposals for similar programs. … 
Although parents moving their students say they recognize that Minneapolis needs to give first priority to students struggling to read and do math, they ask why the district can’t give every student the chance to reach his or her potential. – by Steve Brant,  full article 3/10/14

Gifted kids and their needs are still largely misunderstood  

As a mom of three well-educated Minneapolis Public Schools children, I hate to see these families go, but I don’t blame them. For all the progress we’ve made to meet the needs of this special group, gifted children remain largely misunderstood, underfunded and unappreciated.
We should care more about them.
On a practical level, our economy is already seeing the negative impact of business leaders going overseas to hire brainy talent in engineering, math and science. Results of one recent national test placed 8 percent of American 15-year-olds at the “advanced” level in math proficiency. Chinese kids? Fifty-five percent.
In addition, our teachers are stretched thin and we need to support them with sufficient funding for programs and training to help them do their increasingly challenging jobs.
Most important to me is that it’s our grown-up duty to nurture every child to his or her greatest potential, ­wherever he or she falls on the academic spectrum. The biggest myth about gifted children is that they tend to be white and living in affluence. Those kids are simply the lucky ones, with parents who have time and resources to advocate for them and drive them across district borders if need be.
But children who could benefit from a challenging and rigorous academic curriculum — our future inventors, teachers, political leaders — are sitting in every classroom in Minnesota, waiting for someone to recognize their high ability and transform it into high achievement. – by Gail Rosenblum, full article 3/17/14

Giftedness and Grit: Conversations Receiving Coverage Around the Country

  • Boston Globe: The poor, neglected gifted child (3/16/14), also appearing in Dallas Morning News (3/20/14)
  • Christian Science Monitor: How colleges are finding tomorrow’s prodigies (2/23/14)
  • District Administration: Are gifted students slighted in schools? (Feb 2014)
  • Newsweek: America hates its gifted kids (1/16/14)
  • Vanderbilt University, STUDY: Are gifted children getting lost in the shuffle? 30-year study reveals clues to the exceptional child’s journey (1/6/14)
  • Creativity Post: Talent on the sidelines: The widening gap in excellence (12/11/13)

These discussions are taking place at the same time ‘grit’ and ‘growth mindset’ are receiving attention as an education concepts and driving predictors of achievement.

  • Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley: What’s wrong with grit? (3/20/14)
  • NPR: Does teaching kids to get ‘gritty’ help them get ahead? (3/17/14)
  • P.L. Thomas, EdD., Furman University: NPR whitewashes ‘grit’ narrative (3/17/14)
  • EducationWeek: What’s dangerous about the grit narrative, and how to fix it (3/3/14) – access requires free login
  • Center for Talent Development: Challenging exceptionally bright children in early childhood classrooms (3/9/14)
  • Edutopia: Resilience and Grit: Resource Roundup (1/13/14)
Amy Crawford, author of the Boston Globe piece that kicks off the links above, pulls both conversations together in this series of tweets:

Does “grit” theory contradict Vanderbilt research (“grit is actually a better predictor of success than IQ”)? @NPR

… or are the two ideas compatible? Kids deemed “gifted” who “skated through school tend to crumble when they hit their first challenge…”

Together, two sets of research suggest we should make #gifted kids “struggle” in order to bring out their grit. (Obv harder than it sounds.)

— Amy Crawford (@amymcrawf) March 17, 2014