A few years ago, when the Diva was in first grade, the school guidance counselor tested her – and bunches of other kids – to see if she was eligible for the advanced class. She wasn’t. Someone suggested I call to see how she scored, so I did. The guidance counselor looked it up and said, in effect, that she wasn’t even close to scoring high enough.
“She’s just dead-on average,” she said.
WHAT?! Um, excuse me, Ms. GUIDANCE COUNSELOR who perhaps skipped a human relations chapter or two, there is no better way to bring out the bitch in me than to call my child Dead-On Average. Because NO CHILD is Dead-On Average. Especially not mine. Have I told you she’s writing a murder mystery right now?
Had the counselor handled the situation more delicately, I might have let the matter drop. But she made me so mad I had the Diva independently tested, and the shrink who did the testing told us that the Diva is so smart that she will one day rule the world. We reported that to the school system, and the Diva has been in the advanced class for three years now. She’s on the honor roll.
A few weeks ago, as I was emptying out the Pterodactyl’s backpack, I found a crumpled envelope covered with Cheez-It crumbs addressed to Hot Firefighter Husband and me. It was a form letter from the same guidance counselor. It said:
Your child was given the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, Second Edition (KBIT2). This is the St. Johns’ County approved screening tool used to help identify students who may qualify for the gifted academic program. Your child did not meet the minimum score required to proceed with further evaluation by the school district.
Please know that your child’s score on the KBIT2 does not make him/her eligible or ineligible for the gifted academic program. Again, the KBIT2 is only a screening instrument and the results do not take the place of an actual IQ score.
Ha, ha! Your kid’s not smart!
Okay, that last line was just the undercurrent. It wasn’t in the actual letter.
Let me organize my thoughts here instead of lashing out and making petty comments about the counselor’s dry brittle hair and general sourpuss aura.
1. DO NOT write to me regarding MY child’s intelligence and stick a lonely useless uninvited apostrophe after the word Johns. Seriously? You miswrote the name of your own employer?
2. I did not ask for my child to be tested, so don’t address me as if I did.
3. My son is so “gifted” that he would probably be manufacturing weapons of mass destruction if we placed him in the advanced class. So we’re going to leave him with the rest of the Dead-On Average dummies.
I love this school, and the teachers do a phenomenal job of keeping the children engaged and motivated. Every teacher we’ve had has instilled a priceless love of learning into the kids, which to me is the most important lesson to teach.
But this attitude toward the “gifted academic program” infuriates me. It previously was called the P.A.C.E. program. I don’t know what that stood for, but I liked it. I despise the term gifted, unless it’s referring to children who play Mozart concertos at age 4 or start college before entering puberty. I don’t tell the Diva she’s gifted – I tell her she learns differently. I want my child to know she’s smart; I don’t want her to think she’s better than anyone else.
Obviously the guidance counselor has been too busy solving Rubik’s Cube puzzles to compose an appropriate letter for parents of the Dead-On Average kids, so I have thoughtfully prepared one. School principals and counselors, feel free to use any or all of this language. You are very welcome.
Each year we screen all first graders to analyze whether they’re eligible to be placed in an advanced class that, on occasion, tackles academic material above grade level. The test we use is only a screening tool, and is not a definitive measure of intelligence or ability.
According to test results, your child, at this point, is exactly where he or she needs to be. If you believe that your child isn’t being sufficiently challenged, or needs to be in an environment that includes a faster learning pace, we urge you to talk to your child’s teacher, and to investigate private screening options.
Please remember that this school remains one of the top performing elementary schools in the state, and that all of our children receive the stellar education for which we’re known. Thank you for being involved in your child’s education, and feel free to contact me should you have questions or comments.
Easy-peasy. Your letter, Ms. Guidance Counselor? It was just Dead-On Average. Or maybe a little below that, considering that apostrophe error. Ouch.