Board Statement about Gifted Student Identification

December 16, 2008
Board of Education Issues Statement in Response to Washington Post Story, ‘Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label’

Statement from Shirley Brandman, President of the Montgomery County Board of Education, and Patricia O’Neill, Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Policy Committee

“The Washington Post published a story today entitled ‘Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label’ that creates the impression that the Montgomery County Board of Education has already made the decision to stop identifying students as gifted and talented. This is incorrect. The global screening process, as required by Policy IOA, Gifted and Talented Education, will be conducted for all second graders this year as it has in past years.

“It is correct that Montgomery County Public Schools is conducting a pilot program in two elementary schools—Burning Tree and Georgian Forest—that provides gifted and talented services to students without labeling students. The screening process at these schools—including assessments, staff surveys and parent surveys—is still conducted, but staff does not label students at the end of the process. Students in these two schools still receive the same opportunity for accelerated and enriched instruction as students in schools where the label is still used.

“MCPS has been engaging parent and community stakeholders in a robust discussion about the system’s policy on gifted and talented education and will continue to do so. This discussion and parental input will be important as the Board of Education’s Policy Committee considers revisions to the policy some time during 2009.

“It is true that among the options that will be considered is eliminating labeling in favor of a services-based model. In this model, students are still screened for their readiness for advanced work and parents are provided the recommendations from the screening so that they are fully informed of their children’s readiness to excel at a higher level. Students are then provided advanced work based on the results of the screening process, consultation with parents, and the ongoing assessment of students’ needs.

“The Board of Education’s Policy Committee will consider this and any other changes to Policy IOA as part its work. Parents and other stakeholders will be provided ample time for comment before any action takes place by the Board of Education.”

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