How are gifted students disadvantaged in secondary schools? Much of the woes befalling gifted students can be attributed to today’s focus on standardized testing and raising graduation rates whatever the cost. Essentially, gifted students may be ignored in teachers’ desperate zeal to bolster the statistics of underperforming students. Sadly, it can be lonely at the top of the GPA curve when all available resources are devoted to bringing failing students to a 2.0.
In a typical classroom a gifted student may be disadvantaged by being given simple worksheets instead of more challenging fare. A teacher may not have the time to create more suitable assignments for a gifted student, focusing instead on getting the bulk of his or her students through more rote material. After long periods of having no interesting or challenging work, a gifted student may begin to disengage and/or act out. Grades may suffer as the gifted student loses focus on boring worksheets.
Another disadvantage for gifted students involves grading and performance assessment. Gifted students may be unfairly downgraded as teachers inflated the grades of lower-performing students, thereby not letting a gifted student’s natural abilities, or hard work, receive due credit. If a teacher bumps up a class average from a 60 to a 70, and leaves a gifted student’s 85 unchanged, is the gifted student receiving fair credit for his or her efforts?
Also, when teachers focus on assisting the bulk of students a gifted student may not receive needed help. A gifted student may not understand Concept A, which is grasped by the majority of non-gifted students. If the non-gifted students need more help on Concept B, which the gifted student has already mastered, the teacher will reteach Concept B and leave Concept A untouched. Therefore, unless the gifted student has educational needs in line with the majority of his or her classmates, he or she may be overlooked when it comes to reteaching.
This problem may be compounded due to a belief that the gifted student needs no extra help. A teacher may assume that even if gifted student X is struggling with Concept A, the gifted student will be able to get there without any outside assistance. This can often be incorrect. Gifted students can need tutoring and academic assistance as well, making stereotypes that overhype gifted student performance damaging to learning and performance.
In the end, gifted students are quite similar to other students, but must be treated fairly and given work that challenges their innate abilities. High expectations must be held, but tutoring assistance must be offered if the student is struggling.