For the past few years, I’ve watched my nephew thrive in pretty much whatever he set his mind to doing. He’s pretty meticulous about everything and fully commits himself to whatever feat that he is trying to accomplish. If you follow my postings via here on my blog or on instagram, I’m constantly sharing the insanely creative contraptions that he builds. From light up clay figurines and hand sewn professional grade puppets (image at the left) to his new super galactic solar system, this kid literally blows me away.
The Solar System Project
Let me explain the contents of the box to the left. When Braeden was assigned his solar system, which he had a month to do, he immediately made a list of items that we needed to purchase from the store and demanded that we got them pronto. He made a plan that was more thorough than the house that we built as well as a timeline. He researched planets using everything from apps to NASA. The kid even “evaluated” his sources before validating their value. The first part of his project involved painting each planet according to his research with the most meticulous detail that I have EVER seen in my life. Somewhere along the line, Braeden decided that he wanted to create informational books featuring his drawings too. This is the only place that he asked for help was in laminating as he did not know how to use the machine. He does now.
There is a rocket made from a water bottle and foil, that lights up, which should be no surprise since he also made clay figures that light up as well as a video explaining how he did it. In addition, those red and gold strips that give the “illusion” (his words) of fire light up too. Just to give your brain a break…He is 9!!
On the computer, Braeden made signage to place in specific places of the cardboard box “painted thing” that will hold his solar system. We come home everyday and watch as he completes his other assigned work before turning his attention to the solar system that he only rushed to complete so that he can get back to drawing, molding clay and creating puppets, which he loves. I’m going to guess that he never envisioned himself enjoying this project but clearly he does as it keeps growing in magnitude to his excitement.
I’m Sorry But Your Child is Really Smart but NOT Gifted
Braeden has been tested for GT via the OLSAT (Otis Lennon School Aptitude Test…Pearson) three times and each time he did not qualify as gifted according to our district standards of scoring in the top 5%. This test, which is timed, does not account for kids like Braeden who are artistically and technologically gifted. This is a kid who takes his time to make sure that every thing that he does is to the utmost perfection…also a bad thing according to this test.
Even sentences written for school are specifically crafted to be more thorough in their structure. Watching Braeden take his time to write, say aloud and reflect on each sentence is a poetic experience in and of itself. Math is evaluated from multiple forms before receiving his approval of logical correctness. He too, feels that the “check boxes” of his Excel Math worksheets are ridiculous. Braeden prefers to check each individual problem in context instead of adding answers to reach a number in a box. (his words) This kid brings home science worksheets that teach him nothing so that he can self-learn concepts that he wonders more about. We didn’t train him to be this way. This is how he is.
This kid, who by my non-biased highly educated account, displays every sign of giftedness…yet the school district, THIS TEST, says that he is not.
What To Do If This Is Your Child
You can continue to advocate for him/her. You can challenge the system. You research state requirements for GT testing. You can even continue to push until the district listens and evaluates the equity of their entire program. You can fight while you watch the kids of the “top 5%” have access to learning opportunities that your child won’t have in his/her regular ed classroom in the hopes that one day he/she will.
You create a blog and share your child’s educational journey. Your child can create blog too which will serve as their digital portfolio. (which they will update as they see fit) You push for all classrooms to have access to rich learning opportunities so that every kid has the chance to shine as well as equitable exposure to rich resources on or above their level.
You share everything…and not just because you KNOW that his teachers will assume that his parents did the project (never fails)…but because somewhere there is another parent experiencing the same frustration and your kid’s story might just help them too.
To be clear…Braeden is surrounded by a well informed family who understand the system and his needs. His is NOT the norm by any accounts which begs the question…
What about the “Braedens” who have no voice? Who is fighting for them?