The inequity and ineffectiveness of such testing has even seen the NSW government update
its outdated testing methods for selective schools in 2020. However, such practices are
still widespread within schools. This leads to many of our brightest slipping under the
radar, becoming disengaged in their learning and often drastically underachieving,
negatively impacting their self-esteem and mental health. Essentially, the very system that
is supposed to educate them, is causing them to resent their education.
Gifted education and identification needs a rethink. While there are many reasons achievement-based tests can mask cognitive ability, there are plenty of identifiable characteristics gifted children share. These children stand out in every classroom I have taught in, but that visibility rarely comes
from looking at their academic outcomes. Rather, they are the children who challenge authority because of their strong sense of social justice. They joke with the teacher in a way that is more sophisticated than other children. They show high levels of curiosity, and contribute to class discussions with well-considered points rooted in strong reason and logic.
However, they are also perfectionists, self-critical, and experience emotions with
incredible intensity. They are empathetic and sensitive, and have a strong moral compass.
As educators, if we do not start acknowledging the importance of these traits and rethink
the way we identify our gifted children in schools, their attention will continue to be out the
window, along with their education.
Brooke Lumsden is a teacher and education consultant specialising in gifted education, and
the author of The Busy Parents’ Guide to Raising Gifted Kids.