In my state of Missouri, the state limits school districts to identifying no more than 5% of a district's student body as intellectually gifted. This gets confusing as funding and regulations change year-to-year, but the ultimate result is that of a moving target. Your child may be gifted in one district, but unable to receive services if you move a few miles down the road.
Add into that the issue of different tests and different versions of tests being used by each independent school district, and the water becomes even more muddied.
So, here I am. A mom of a bright boy, an experienced educator of gifted children, and a professional counselor who specializes in working with high-potential children. I know that my son, Sparky, is smart. I know that he has been doing things developmentally that are generally beyond those of most kids his age. I know that he is an emotionally intense little guy with some social anxiety and a few sensory-avoidant behaviors related to food and clothing.
But: Is he GIFTED?
Being given the title of gifted as he enters first-grade would allow him access to the pull-out program in his district. He'd be exposed to different types of instruction and experiences. He'd be with the smart kids and maybe that would, in turn, perhaps give him opportunities he wouldn't already have.
I could coach him on the types of questions the test would ask and spend hours on the evenings and weekends practicing with similar puzzles and spatial reasoning tasks. I could purchase a membership to a website that would promise to enhance my child's score with sample test items specific for the exam he would take.
Or, I could just let him do his best. And let that be okay.
So, okay - - maybe he doesn't qualify for the gifted program. What does that mean exactly?
It means he has the chance to excel and develop a growth mindset in his classroom.
It means that I can continue to challenge him and help him to explore his interests at home and with other community programs.
It means that he is still my smart, sensitive boy. He didn't do well enough on a particular test on a particular day to get into a program that relies on a quantitative test result to determine whether or not he can participate.
It does not mean anything more than that.
And, personally, even as someone who works specifically with children and adults who get the label, I know that it is only that and nothing more.
The World's Okayest Mom