Thing One is a bright kid, especially in math and science. Yes, I am his mother and therefore more than slightly prejudiced on the subject, but the thing speaks for itself. He's been in his school's Talented & Gifted program (TAG) since kindergarten. For the record, this post is not intended to be a brag session on my kid...I'm just setting the scene for a rant!
One of the subjects my subcommittee of our school board deals with is curriculum. If I have to hear the phrase "best practices" in this context one more time, I may well scream, but courtesy of this exposure, I happen to know what the best practices are for TAG. I also know that we haven't been following them since Thing One was in kindergarten, for one reason or another. That year was phenomenal. Since then, not so much.
Part of the TAG experience is that every so often, the kids need to be reevaluated to see if they still qualify. Thing One's membership in this club is currently up for renewal. Left up to me, I'd consider yanking him and being done with it. Although he definitely belongs there, I'm not sure that what he's getting out of it justifies the class he misses to be there. But he's old enough to make the decision, and he wants to stay. His reasons are primarily social, but fair enough. His call, at least as long as he manages to keep all the other balls he's juggling in the air too.
Now we have to jump through all the re-eval hoops. He has to take a couple of standardized tests for math and language arts. The powers that be will look at his state assessment results from last year. His teachers will weigh in. He has to do an individual project. And there is a required parental assessment, the subject of today's steam-venting.
I have two major issues with the parental assessment.
First, what is the incentive to be honest? Assuming that you actually want your child to be in the program, why in the world would you ding your own child in your assessment, even where the child truly deserves to be dinged, when your evaluation carries the same weight as all of the others and could be the deciding factor in keeping him or her out of the program?
Second, and more fundamentally, the assessment questions all relate to how, in your opinion, your child compares to his peers in seven areas, with multiple questions in each. Five areas are academic (math, science, etc) and the final two are leadership and creativity. Now I ask you: how am I supposed to know how my son compares to his peers in these areas, particularly the first five? I'm not in the classroom. I don't see the other children's work. I don't hear the questions they ask. I don't know what their knowledge base might be. I have no meaningful basis for judgment whatsoever. Complicating things further, most of Thing One's closest friends happen to be other TAG kids, so those are the ones I know best. Am I comparing Thing One to these peers, or his class at large? Those would yield two different sets of answers on this assessment.
Himself and I did the assessment a few days ago, because we had to. We got through most of it without too much trouble. But then we got to the Creativity section: not Thing One's strongest suit, to be sure. But one of the questions in that area was so freaking ridiculous that I just have to share it here.
On a scale of one to four, four being highest (a score of four meaning that your child displays this behavior to a level far beyond the level expected of a "typical" peer, whatever that is):
Breaks Gender Stereotypes.
Any teachers who may be reading this: does the breaking of gender stereotypes really have anything to do with creativity? And even if it does, does this mean that to score a four on this question, my son would have to be creative in a far more female way (again whatever *that* means) than his peers? What a load of PC codswallop. I actually wrote that I thought it was a ridiculous question right on the evaluation form.
We'll see if he gets back in. It will be interesting...