Equity & Diversity Opinion

‘Pushback’ Explanation for Gifted Gap

By Richard Whitmire — June 15, 2010 1 min read
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Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, the chief architects for the “pushback movement,” those saying boys are doing just fine in school, take on the New York City gifted gap, citing evidence that boys are more likely than girls to be privately tested for gifted programs.

I don’t have to hold a professorship to know the answer to that one. Just being a parent with two kids who attended academically competitive public schools is sufficient. You have your kids privately tested because they weren’t accepted for the gifted program by the test administered by the school district. And guess who’s less likely to get accepted?

My favorite line:

It's an old, old story established in a number of studies. Lewis Terman, director of a famous longitudinal study of gifted children that began in 1921, found that girls had a decided edge over boys in the early years, but by middle-school years, boys had caught up. This continues to be the case.

I’d like to think that if they were writing for anything other than an “e” publication that the fact checkers would have stepped in to ask: what is your evidence that boys are catching up in the middle-school years? In the real world, middle school is where the gender gaps broaden and solidify.

The two writers end up with some good points, however. They blame these gaps on early testing, but which isn’t quite right, but close enough. The problem arises from pushing verbal skills into the early grades without figuring out a way to help the boys handle that challenge.

Their conclusion:

The tortoise often catches up to the rabbit, if we just let kids develop normally.

True, but schools aren’t doing anything to prevent the rabbit from leaving the tortoise far, far behind, which is why we’re seeing these huge gender gaps in college.

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