What’s the status of gifted students in BC Schools in 2015?
A Report from the Gifted Childrens’ Association of BC
On January 3, 2015, the Vancouver Sun ran an article motivated by a visit of two journalists (Tracy Sherlock, Chad Skelton) to the TALONS program for gifted students at Gleneagles Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC. Subsequent investigation of the status of gifted education in the province resulted in the following findings:
- Students reported as gifted to the Ministry of Education has dropped by half across BC, from 2.5% of students to just 1.1% since 2002.
- Experts in the field agree that this is not because BC’s population became less intellectually able, but because gifted kids are no longer being identified
For example, in some districts, this drop is striking – where?
- Mission – the % share of gifted students rose steadily from 2002 to 2006, then in one year dropped to almost none!
- Surrey – in 2002, 2.7% gifted were reported, in 2014, 0.9%
- Vancouver – 2002, 5% reported, this past year, 0.7%
Coquitlam (third largest district in the province) is one of only 5 districts where the number of identified gifted students reported in the past few years has increased. The other districts are Delta, Revelstoke, Conseil Scolaire Francophone, and Haida Gwaii.
What does this mean?
It is generally accepted in the field of gifted education that between 2 and 5% of the population meets criteria established for a gifted designation.
Once such a designation is established and reported to the Ministry the school district is required to consult with parents concerning the educational program needed to meet the needs identified in an assessment process, prepare an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to guide programming, and review the progress of the goals of the IEP at least once a year with parents.
Why is this happening?
In 2002, the Ministry removed targeted funding to all “high incident’ special needs students which includes gifted students. Funding for these students is now included in the base.
The cost to school districts for Level C assessment (Ed Psych testing), or to parents for private assessment, is high and resources are tight. However, it is worth noting that a Level C test is only one measure used to establish giftedness; there are many other tools that are widely accepted in the field and allowed within the Ministry definition of identification processes for gifted learners. But, in many districts, Educational Psychological Assessment is the only assessment validated!
Schools and educators are more aware of the myriad of other special needs that have been identified over the past 2 decades and funding and awareness has shifted to this segment of learners in both teacher education programs and ongoing professional development of practising teachers as they learn about and respond to these students’ needs.
Preparation of Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) is time consuming and teachers largely do not have the training in pedagogy and best practices in gifted education to inform writing a good IEP. Therefore, the ability to plan and respond is restricted.
Parent support and advocacy groups that once flourished across BC in partnership with school districts have largely disappeared and the provincial body, The Gifted Childrens’ Association of BC has languished.
How to respond?
Seek out other parents in your school or district, ask them to attend a meeting of parents addressing similar issues and wanting to learn how to be more effective and supportive of their children.
Become a member of the GCABC by signing up on the website at: https://giftedchildrenbc.wordpress.com/ Annual memberships are only $35 per family/school year! Follow the GCA website for information on giftedness and links to other sites for information and advice.
Join the GCABC email group to make connections, and find out about events that support gifted parents across the province. firstname.lastname@example.org
Request support from GCABC in providing a speaker to create an event for your area that draws families into networking.
Join the Facebook pages listed below, and watch for a message in your “other” inbox in Facebook messages. This is a closed group and this message in the “other” inbox will allow entrance.
- BC Parenting Gifted Kids
- BC Gifted Home learners
In the 2015/16 school year, the BC Ministry of Education is introducing significantly revised curriculum. Become informed by visiting http://www.bcedplan.ca/assets/pdf/bcs_education_.pdf Several features of this new look at teaching and learning for the 21st century embody best practices for meeting the needs of gifted learners including personalization (recognizing the individuality as well as the commonalties among learners) and flexibility and choice, long advocated by gifted educators.