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Anak-anak Cerdas, 20% gagal di sekolahnya

Ditulis oleh : Satria Dharma

Dear all,
Berdasarkan statistik, 20% siswa gagal yang diuji dalam sebuah tes
ternyata masuk dalam kategori gifted alias anak-anak cerdas. Tes ini
dilakukan oleh Davidson Institute for Talent Development yang perduli
pada nasib anak-anak cerdas berbakat yang tidak mendapatkan perhatian
dan pelayanan yang sesuai dengan kebutuhan mereka.
Anak-anak cerdas tersebut dinilai buruk oleh sekolah mereka justru
karena mereka tidak lagi merasa tertantang dan merasa frustrasi dengan
kurikulum rata-rata yang diberikan kepada mereka. Mengapa bisa terjadi
demikian? “Gifted children, they just think differently. They think
outside the box,” Principal Joyce Skrobot said. “They are able to
assume more responsibility and independence for what they are learning.
We as a school district have a responsibility to meet the needs of all
our students.
Ini adalah salah satu dampak dari diterapkannya kebijakan NCLB. NCLB
“just teaches to the minimums, so it leaves behind the average and the
above-average students,” Adrian said.
Lantas bagaimana sebaiknya melayani kebutuhan anak-anak cerdas berbakat
ini? Silakan baca seterusnya.

In many Delaware districts, the gifted are left behind
State offers no funding to teach brightest students
By ALISON KEPNER, The News Journal
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2007
They are bored — so much so that they may not pay attention in class
or will act out in frustration.
Some make poor grades, either because they no longer care or because
they have spent so many of their younger years unchallenged that when
they suddenly face a rigorous course in middle or high school, they
don’t know how to study.
They are the nation’s gifted children, those with abilities beyond
other children their age. Too many of their abilities, advocates argue,
remain untapped by U.S. schools that don’t serve them as they focus
instead on lifting low-achieving students to meet the goals of the
federal No Child Left Behind law.
Statistically, 20 percent of U.S. school dropouts test in the gifted
range, said Jill Adrian, director of family services at the Davidson
Institute for Talent Development, a nonprofit founded by
philanthropists Bob and Jan Davidson out of a concern that the nation’s
most gifted and talented children largely are neglected and
“Clearly there’s a problem there,” Adrian said. “If we don’t meet the
needs in the classrooms, they often tune out.”
Delaware is one of six states that neither mandates gifted instruction
nor provides gifted education funding, a Davidson review found.
No Child Left Behind, now up for reauthorization, requires all students
to be proficient in core school subjects by 2014. While supporters and
critics alike credit the law for forcing needed attention on
underperforming children, an oft-cited flaw is the lack of incentives
for educators to boost advanced students.
NCLB “just teaches to the minimums, so it leaves behind the average and
the above-average students,” Adrian said.
Even schools that offer some services, such as weekly pull-out
enrichment classes, need to do more, she said: “Gifted students are
gifted 24/7. They are not just gifted one hour a week.”
Only 10 of the state’s 19 school districts and one of its 17 charter
schools offer gifted education: Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Capital,
Caesar Rodney, Christina, Colonial, Indian River, Lake Forest, Red Clay
Consolidated, Smyrna and The Charter School of Wilmington. The models
and extent of their programs differ greatly, ranging from schoolwide
enrichment for all students to pull-out classes to full-time,
self-contained gifted programs.
“As we follow local control on so many other issues, we’ve deferred to
local districts to develop programming,” said Mike Stetter, Delaware’s
director of curriculum. “Other states have enacted programs funded by
state dollars. Delaware has not done that. Instead, it has gone by way
of [gifted teacher] certification and support out to the district.”
A November Delaware Public Policy Institute report estimated the cost
of an elementary-level gifted program at $3,000 to $4,000 per
participating student.
Even without state funding, some Delaware districts are trying to meet
gifted students’ needs.
In Brandywine, gifted elementary school students attend cluster
buildings where they are placed in all-gifted classrooms. Kindergarten
through third-grade students attend Mount Pleasant Elementary, then
move on to Claymont Elementary for fourth to sixth grades.
About 215 of Mount Pleasant’s 541 students are in gifted classes. They
follow the same curriculum as those in regular education classes but
often study more in-depth and at a faster pace. Gifted students also do
more project work.
Thinking differently
On a recent morning in Christine Szegda’s third-grade gifted class at
Mount Pleasant, students split into three groups to sort individual
packs of word cards. Szegda, who previously assessed the children in
their related skills, grouped them according to their needs. Some
looked at vowel sounds, noting what determines whether words have long
or short “e” sounds. Others looked at what effect syllables coming
together have on vowel sounds. A third group studied base words and
what happens when adding suffixes and prefixes, with an emphasis on
Greek and Latin roots. Later, the groups would share what they learned
with classmates through a game similar to “Jeopardy!”
“Gifted children, they just think differently. They think outside the
box,” Principal Joyce Skrobot said. “They are able to assume more
responsibility and independence for what they are learning. We as a
school district have a responsibility to meet the needs of all our
To ensure that all students are challenged — and that regular and
gifted students interact more — the school recently started a
schoolwide enrichment program, offering students classes ranging from
cricket and karate to jewelry making and cooking.
Mount Pleasant mother Kate Tullis said she appreciates the education
her daughter, Tully Liu, is receiving in Kim Griffith’s first-grade
gifted class.
“She’s challenged by the other kids, by the level of conversations and
interaction,” Tullis said. “It’s not just zooming ahead, but it’s
making bigger, longer, [more diverse] stories.”
Students whose schools don’t have gifted programs still have some
options available to them, particularly in high school. Some schools
offer dual enrollment programs, allowing students to take college
classes for high school credit. Advanced Placement programs also offer
college-level courses, and the state Governor’s School of Excellence
offers summer enrichment opportunities.
What, if any, effect NCLB is having on advanced students is hard to
determine: Few states have tests that show the growth of students
working above grade level. Delaware has no such testing program.
Stetter points to some good news for Delaware’s highest-achieving
students, noting that the number of Advanced Placement courses offered
in schools across the state has about doubled since NCLB went into
effect. State testing results indicate some growth, too, he said. In
2001, the percentage of 10th-graders who scored 5 in math — the top
mark — was 7.5 percent. By 2007, the percentage had almost doubled.
The effect on gifted-program funding is easier to see, according to a
Time magazine report earlier this year. In 2003 — a year after NCLB
became law — Illinois cut its gifted education by $16 million and
Michigan’s funding dropped from $5 million to $500,000. Meanwhile,
federal commitment has shifted from $11.3 million in 2002 to $7.6
million today, Time found.
Parents and other advocates for gifted student across the country are
pushing for more resources and better testing. In Utah, the Utah
Association for Gifted Children wants state lawmakers to devote $5
million next year to training teachers in gifted instruction. The
Davidsons founded the Davidson Academy of Nevada in Reno, a public,
tuition-free school chartered by the state to serve “profoundly gifted”
students. Students must have SAT, ACT or IQ scores in the top tenth of
1 percent and perform academically at the middle or high school level.
Same content, varying levels
Historically, gifted children were pulled out of classrooms for
enrichment activities or advanced instruction. But out of concern for
equality in education, many educators shifted to differentiated
instruction, meaning teachers present the same content to all students
but with lessons or activities geared for multiple levels. That is
Appoquinimink’s approach.
“In language arts, teachers may have one group reading a particular
book that others were not ready to handle,” said Debbie Panchisin,
Appoquinimink’s director of elementary curriculum.
Gifted and talented classes are offered building-wide through
enrichment electives in the elementary and middle schools.
“We believe that all students have the potential, they have their gifts
and their talents. So through our Talent Development Program, we try to
expose them to things they might be interested in,” Panchisin said.
Offerings range from quilting and dance to German lessons and Delaware
wetland study. Most classes meet one day a week for 60 to 75 minutes.
Although teachers already are strapped for time to prepare students for
state testing in core subjects, they make time for the enrichment,
Panchisin said.
“If you are reinforcing writing through storyboarding, through
claymation, they are not sitting in a writing class but we are coming
through the back door and reinforcing those skills,” she said. “We
aren’t doing something ‘instead of,’ we are enhancing what we are
Contact Alison Kepner at 324-2965 or akepner@delawareonline.com.

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