To pick up where I left off last time, in November we decided to have Audrey tested for the gifted program. In Pennsylvania, the school has sixty school days from the day a parent puts in the request until they are obligated to produce a document called a Gifted Written Report (GWR). Our wonderful district did not take up its allotted sixty days, no, they were speedily done in only fifty-five. Sixty (or fifty-five) school days is a LOOOONNNNNG time.
During our long wait, we had a few conferences with Audrey’s kindergarten teacher to discuss how best to keep her challenged in the classroom. During one of the meetings, her teacher, Mrs. F, asked us if we had ever considered having Audrey skip a grade. We had been tossing the idea around, but to have a teacher bring up the idea made us think that it was actually something to seriously consider.
I started doing a lot of research online, the best site being Hoagies‘ Gifted. I learned a lot about how gifted children think and our daughter’s rights as a gifted child in Pennsylvania. I also read up on the pros and cons of grade acceleration.
I asked Mrs. F if Audrey could start going to first grade for math sometimes, so she could get to know the children if we decided to have her go to second grade next year. The first afternoon after she had gone to Mr. S’s first grade room, Audrey came home skipping. “Mommy, I learned something!” she enthused. That was the moment I knew that she needed to be accelerated.
When Audrey’s report was finally finished, it indicated that she indeed qualifies for gifted education. We discussed with the principal and school psychologist that we would like to start the process of assessing Audrey for grade acceleration. She clearly qualified on the reading side, and had to score a 90% on each chapter test in the first grade math curriculum.
This requirement raised a red flag for me because most of my research had indicated that children should be required to score no more than 80% to be accelerated. In addition, our district uses Everyday Math, a curriculum that utilizes specific types of games and puzzles that are not always intuitive to people who have not been instructed in how they work.
Again, a looonnng process, but at least they started the tests that day.
So a few weeks later, “they” (the principal, school psychologist, reading specialist, math specialist, and Mrs. F) called another meeting. Audrey had not scored the 90%. She had scored a 71% on the placement test, but had scored an average of 83% on the unit tests. To me, this said that with a bit of support over the summer, she would be going into second grade ready to learn a lot!
The alternative would be that she would be going into first grade knowing more than three-quarters of the material that would be taught to her throughout the year. To “them,” though, the scores meant that the discussion was over. They told us that they would be sure to challenge Audrey in first grade next year, and that they had a new reading curriculum that was more challenging. Right. A kid that is reading on a fourth-grade + level will definitely be challenged by reading first grade books.
Then Mrs. F kind of knocked us off of our feet when she said that Audrey didn’t seem to be socially ready to go to second grade. That she needed to initiate more play situations with other children, and until she saw that, she thought it would be better for Audrey to be in first grade next year. This is from the teacher who started the whole idea! Again, from my research, I had learned (and it has always been true with Audrey) that gifted children often get along better with older children. This seemed like a very weak argument to us, but to “them” it was enough.
We were not ready to give up, though. Stay tuned for part three.