At the end of 2nd grade your child is evaluated to see if he

• Montgomery County Education Forum
• Sponsoring group for the Equity in Education Coalition
Why does MCPS label our kids?
At the end of 2nd grade MCPS
will evaluate your child and
decide whether to identify
him or her as “gifted and
The Equity in Education Coalition
No Labels, No Limits!
Let us tell you what happens and why we
think it’s wrong.
As seven or eight year olds:
• Each child is tested
• Each child is recommended or not by
her or his teacher.
• Each child may be “nominated” by her
or his parent or guardian.
• Parents may have their children
evaluated by “experts”.
Parents receive a letter in June
that designates their child as
“gifted and talented” or, in
effect, “NOT gifted and
This marks the beginning of
separate “tracks” – “special
education” and “on grade level”
versus “honors, AP, IB” – that
further segregate our children by
middle and high school and deny
our children the education they
At the end of 2nd grade, MCPS
labels about 60% of white and
Asian children as “gifted and
This means that, in effect, MCPS
labels about 40% of white and
Asian students “NOT gifted and
At the end of 2nd grade, MCPS
labels about 20% of African
American and Latino children
“gifted and talented.”
This means that, in effect, MCPS
labels 80% of African American
and Latino students “NOT gifted
and talented.”
Do we really think that 80% of
African American and Latino
children are without gifts or
The worst instructional effects of
this practice include:
• Remedial versus enriched instruction
• Worksheets versus hands-on labs
• Rote memorization versus inquiry-based
However, MCPS, and its principals and
teachers have worked hard over the years
to reduce these effects
And yet, many effects from the
separate tracks remain and
extend into middle and high
Some of the effects of labeling
benefit some children, while
harming others. Here’s how:
Many teachers have high
expectations for children
identified as “gifted and
• So do their parents.
• As do the children, themselves.
These children see themselves
with a bright future.
• They go to magnet programs and take
AP and IB classes.
• They get high SAT scores.
• They prepare to go to college.
Children MCPS identifies, in
effect, as “not gifted and
talented” get the message
that school is not a place
where they can shine;
they are more likely to:
• Become disengaged;
• Act out in class;
• Lose academic eligibility to participate
in sports;
• Drop out;
• Join gangs.
Malcolm Gladwell in his recent
book Outliers refers to
sociologist Robert Merton’s
description of this kind of result
as the “Matthew Effect”:
• “For unto every one that hath shall be
given, and he shall have in abundance.
But from him that hath not shall be
taken away even that which he hath.”
Gladwell explains the
Matthew Effect - “It is those
who are successful, in other
words, who are most likely to
be given the kinds of special
opportunities that lead to
further success.”
So the “achievement gap”
may increase because of
MCPS policies.
Some of the effects of labeling
harm all children. Here’s how:
Tracking (or rigid ‘grouping’)
segregates children, even those
who live in diverse
• Even in schools which are very diverse,
classrooms are majority white and Asian
OR African American and Latino.
• You can notice this as you walk through
most schools.
Tracking reinforces racial and
economic segregation.
• Children learn to study and work only
with children who look like them.
• Children receive the incorrect message
that their racial or economic group is
“smarter” or “dumber” than other
• Children on both ends of tracking
suffer as a result.
Segregation does not prepare our
children for the world and the
workplaces they will live and
work in as adults.
What’s more, tracking denies
benefits to the children labeled
“NOT gifted and talented.”
This has been studied nationally
and locally.
Tracking Video
Some examples:
• Vickie Adamson, a Blair High School
teacher, teaches an intentionally
“detracked” honors American Studies
English class with students who have
been in “gifted, honors and magnet”
classes and those who have been
tracked out of those classes.
• Many students discover that they CAN
do challenging work if given the
• Some students discover that because of
years of low expectations and less
challenging work, they lack confidence
and skills.
Another example:
• Georgian Forest and Burning Tree
Elementary Schools are “no labels” pilot
• They do not identify students as “gifted
and talented” or “not gifted and talented”.
• Parents and children at the school are
pleased with this innovation and content
that children are getting their need met.
For example:
• In Rockville Center, Long Island, a
whole school system has “detracked”
and it has found that all students’
achievement has risen because to
teach ALL children well means high
expectations and better teaching for
For example:
• Carol Ann Tomlinson, at University of
Virginia, tells the story of the
“detracking” of two schools, in her
book The Differentiated School.
• Both schools – an elementary school
and a high school – had “sweeping,
positive results for staff and students.”
For example:
• Joseph Renzulli at the NEAG Center for
Gifted Education at the University of
Connecticut advocates using strategies
designed for “gifted” students for all
MCPS labels our kids - but it
Let MCPS and the BOE know that
we want “No Labels, No Limits!”
for our children.
Let’s work to change MCPS policy, to make
our schools work for all of our children.
Where do we go from here?
•What can you do?
• Send postcards.
• Make phone calls.
• Attend Board of Education meetings.
Ask your organization to endorse
the “No Labels, No Limits!”
Volunteer to help with this
We need your help!