In my school district, Lake Washington School District (LWSD), there is a waitlist for students who have qualified for our gifted education program (known as “Quest-Highly Capable”). Qualifying for gifted education involves earning high scores on standardized tests, including day-long testing on Saturdays, as well as strong teacher recommendations and consistently high grades on report cards. Yet the reward for some students who make it through that arduous process isn’t a spot in a gifted classroom, but a number on a waitlist. Even worse, students may only stay on the waitlist for only one year; after that the student must re-test and re-qualify all over again. LWSD states that while it does the best it can to offer gifted education to every student who qualifies, it does not have the resources, particularly the classroom space, to offer gifted education to all qualifying students.
Nancy Mann Jackson of Scholastic.com writes that some school districts and parents are tackling this problem through partial homeschooling. With partial homeschooling, parents and districts work together by allowing students to attend their traditional public school for part of the day, then take advanced classes or work on projects on their own time. It is a highly individualized approach that allows talented students to pursue their passions.
According to Kathi Kearney of the Gifted Development Center, gifted children are the fastest-growing group to leave traditional institutions for homeschooling because of the shortage of gifted education options. With partial homeschooling, students can take classes at their traditional school, and then pursue gifted education in alternative settings (online, at home, at a community college, with a tutor, etc.). A partial home school student can still access school activities such as sports or clubs. This flexible approach can provide the best of both worlds for gifted students; students are engaged with academic work that challenges them, while they also maintain important social bonds with their school community.
Beth T. Sigall
February 14, 2013
Note: Lake Washington School District is located in Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish, Washington