After some wrangling with his teachers, I pulled Wizard out of school this morning and took him to our home elementary school for gifted testing. We arrived early and met Mrs. E, the Program Specialist in charge of Exceptional Student Education (ESE). [In Florida, gifted programs fall under the same umbrella as learning disabilities programs. This doesn’t make much sense to me, but that’s the way it is.] She was a very nice woman, who had an easy rapport with Wizard. He used his best manners and introduced himself to her. They went off for about 30 minutes for her to administer the Kaufmann Brief Intelligence Test 2 (KBIT). KBIT describes itself as “A brief, individually administered measure of verbal and nonverbal cognitive ability.” Apparently, this test is designed to identify anyone from a gifted to a special needs student. To my mind, it appeared primitive, a quick way for an educator to glean a shred of a child’s intelligence. The test accomplished just that: Wizard scored very high on the verbal portion and only a few points lower on the non-verbal portion.
Wizard’s composite score was close to the threshhold level for further gifted testing, so Mrs. E recommended we pursue further gifted testing for Wizard. One of her comments to me was, “He has quite a vocabulary, doesn’t he.” Uh, yeah . . . he reads and understands college-level texts. But, I digress. After Wizard finished the test, Mrs. E invited me back into her office to discuss the process.
- First, I signed a preliminary consent form authorizing the school to do the KBIT testing, based on Wizard’s instructional needs. I also filled out a registration form for the school district so they could issue an identification number for Wizard.
- Second, Mrs. E needs to forward Wizard’s scores and registration information to the school’s data entry operator, who was not available at the time, for her to prepare a full consent for the full battery of gifted testing.
- The school psychologist then has ninety (90) school days within which to perform the complete evaluation. She will use either WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) or RIAS (Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales).
- During this time, the public school will ask for Wizard’s teacher to complete a Gifted Characteristic Checklist. When I mentioned to Mrs. E that Wizard has several teachers, she looked stunned. I explained that the private school transitions its students in 4th Grade to individual teachers in subject-specific classes. I suspect we’ll ask the Language Arts teacher to draft the checklist and consult with the other teachers for their input.
- Once the school psychologist has all the scores in hand, she will then review the results with me and WineGuy. After that, the entire team – school psych., parents, ESE coordinator – will meet to decide Wizard’s eligibility.
Mrs. E’s comment was “we should have this done [for Wizard] by the end of the school year.” Just shoot me. The private school contracts were mailed home last week. They are due in February, and I won’t know until April or May sometime whether Wizard qualifies for the public school gifted program. Wizard’s class in the private school is filled to capacity. There is a huge wait-pool for kids desiring admission to his class. If we pull him out now, we have no idea if there will be space for him in the private middle school. If we sign the private school contract and later decide to pull him out, we could be on the hook for the entire tuition anyway. We did that once before, when Wizard and Wild Thing were in the local country day school; I do not want to do that again.
More than that, in my heart of hearts I know Wizard belongs in the private school. It challenges him academically. The teachers strive to connect with him on his level, and they keep tabs on him. As such, he has matured and become far more responsible than his peers. I am really proud of him. Moving him into the large and wild public middle school, even into its gifted program, would be immersing an already hormonal pre-teen into an environment for which he is not ready. He could handle it, but it would inhibit him. Wizard has reached the point where he loves school, loves his teachers, loves learning, and desires to do well for himself. His study skills are greatly improved, as is his self-discipline. I do not see how public middle school can foster that growth. Maybe I’m prejudiced; maybe I’m blind.
In the end, he does not want to leave the private school. He will do what we ask because he is a good boy. I do not want to ask this of him. I want him to revel in his intelligence and enjoy his achievements. I want him to be emotionally and socially stable. He will have all of this if we stay connected to him and he stays connected to his community.
So, I ask my friends who are educators, psychologists, and more experienced than I: what do you think? What would you do if you were in my shoes? How do I convince WineGuy that Wizard needs to stay where he is for three more years? Thank you for reading yet another missive.