According to Maryland State Law, students identified as gifted and talented (GT) must have access to services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program. That’s something that students identified as gifted and talented have in Baltimore County Public Schools right now, but a proposed name change to the GT policy has parents worried that those services could go away.
“The concern is that when you move away from that term the population is invisible, they're not seen, they're not named, they are forgotten then all of the accommodations they're supposed to be getting stop,” said Julie Miller-Breetz, the chair of the Baltimore County Citizens Advisory Committee for Gifted and Talented Education (GTCAC).
Baltimore County school officials said that’s not true. Wade Kerns, the coordinator for the BCPS Office of Advanced Academics said the proposal to rename the GT policy to “Advanced Academics” is simply a change to the language in the policy.
“It's mostly about the name and about making sure that the name encompasses everything that we're doing rather than just one of the services that we’re offering,” Kerns said.
He's talking about honors courses, advanced placement classes, dual enrollment, international baccalaureate courses, and other advanced programs. By grouping them all together they're including more students under one policy.
“It reflects a shift in our philosophy where we've really moved from worrying about labeling kids and putting them into specific tracks and now we're more concerned with creating programs that give kids responsive instruction based on their needs and focusing more on the services that we provide to kids rather than labeling children,” Kerns said,
Still, some parents feel there needs to be a distinction and that gifted and talented children have different intellectual, social, and emotional characteristics and therefore require certain instruction.
“There's just this concern that it's the beginning of the crumbling of the services that gifted and talented students need and deserve,” Miller-Breetz said.
However, school officials said none of the advanced learning programs are in jeopardy because of the new proposal.
“There really isn't any danger of those things going away because we've changed the title of our policy. State law still requires us to do those things, and those things we always have done them and will continue to do them,” said Kerns.
Parents are invited to comment on the proposed change at the BCPS Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. The Board is scheduled to vote on the matter on September 13.