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Houston ISD bursting at the seams with ‘gifted’ students, shelves plan to tighten standards

By   /   January 19, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

By Mike Cronin | Texas Watchdog

Chess HOUSTON — Of all the challenges facing the Houston school system, here’s one you probably haven’t heard about: It may have too many gifted kids.

About one student in every six in the Houston Independent School District has been identified as “gifted and talented” — that’s more than twice that of the Texas and national rates for gifted children, according to public records and a national expert.

Just what will be done about it, though, is unclear. HISD administrators in August had considered making it more difficult for students to qualify for the gifted program, but that plan was shot down after “feedback from principals” said it would be “a bad idea,” district spokesman Jason Spencer said.

If the gifted criteria had become more stringent, he added, students already in the program “probably would (have been) grandfathered in.”

Peggy Sue Gay, 52, a mother of two sons educated in HISD’s gifted program and a member of the district’s Gifted and Talented Parent Advisory Committee, is one of many parents who complained that HISD “does not have a clear consistent path for” gifted and talented students.

“When I met with the administration in December, they admitted” they had not rectified the gifted and talented situation, “and said it needed to be addressed,” said Angela Standridge, 46, co-chairman of the committee. Her son, 14, is gifted and has an IQ between 165 and 168, depending on the test.

“I have not seen (a solution) in writing and action, but there does seem to be a dialogue. It would be most helpful if they filled the open position for a gifted and talented coordinator. It will not be on anyone else’s front burner, no matter how many parents voice the concern.”

About 15.6 percent of HISD’s student body has been identified as gifted and talented, according toe-mails written by HISD administrators in August and obtained by Texas Watchdog. The state rate is 7.2 percent, or closer to one child in every 14.

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