by Anvi Kevany, Administrative Assistant
When you recognize that your child may be gifted, and has not been identified as such, or has been identified as gifted but is not reaching his/her potential, then you will need to advocate for your child so they will receive the most appropriate services. Children have a right to a safe, academically challenging and positive experience in school. (Kim Pleticha, Publisher/Editor Parent: Wise Magazine)
Advocating for your child requires research, preparation, identifying your child’s interests, strengths and skills, knowledge of the school system, and tenacity. Once you are ready to advocate for your child, here are some suggestions:
- Your first ally is your child’s teacher. If you are able to, volunteer at least a few times in the classroom so that you may observe how your child is performing; understand how the teacher addresses the individual needs of each student; and most importantly, develop a working relationship and rapport with the teacher.
- Start collecting documentation about your child, such as reports or observations from the teacher, and/or the coordinator; student work, test scores, report cards.
- Don’t wait until the first Parent/Teacher Conference to talk to the teacher.
- Familiarize yourself with the curriculum, the contact information of the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) coordinator at your school, the types of assessments that are administered.
- Find out the assessment and identification process at the school or the district, and when the process starts. Some schools or districts begin the process at 2nd grade, others at 3rd Some schools will identify students during their second semester in kindergarten. Some districts will accept private assessments, some do not. At times, it is helpful to have a private assessment from a psychologist or consultation services from Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), to provide as supporting documentation. Access the school district website to find out about their Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program.
- Grade or subject acceleration may be an option. Acceleration allows students to move up a class or grade that matches their academic and cognitive abilities. It includes matching the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum to the readiness and motivation of the student. Examples of acceleration include early entrance to school, grade-skipping, moving ahead in one subject area, or Advanced Placement (AP). Research what your school’s policy is on acceleration.
- It is important to know that any type of testing administered by the school requires parent permission. Therefore, you must be informed if and when your child is being tested, the type of test being administered to ensure that it is appropriate, and that your permission is required to administer the test.
- Develop a plan that includes compromises because you are working for the best interest of the child. Parents are encouraged to think in terms of effectiveness, rather than correctness. Quite simply, this means searching for the most effective educational arrangement for your child that addresses the greatest proportion of her or his needs rather than looking for the “perfect” situation.
- Familiarize yourself with the terminology, i.e. differentiation, cluster grouping (for a complete list, go to nagc.org, Glossary of Terms).
- Research and join national and local advocacy groups such Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), The Davidson Institute, Acceleration Institute, Support the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), and Hoagies Gifted Education Page. Join local parent groups, such as the Gifted Support Group at IEA, and attend workshops and parent conferences that provide information on gifted students and programs.
- Institute for Educational Advancement
- National Association for Gifted Children
- Davidson Institute
- Educational Advocacy for Gifted Students, Julia B. Osborn, 2001
- A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, Vol. 1, The Templeton National Report on Acceleration, 2004
- NAGC’s Glossary of Terms
- Gifted and Talented Programs, Los Angeles Unified School District
- GATE, South Pasadena Unified School District
- Gifted and Talented, La Canada Unified School District
- Gifted and Talented Education, Alhambra Unified School District
- Gifted and Talented Education, Pasadena Unified School District
To learn more about how IEA advocates for gifted students, visit our Advocacy page.
 “A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, Vol. 1”, The Templeton National Report on Acceleration, 2004
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