Gifted students often bored

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Clovis adminsitrators exploring programs that target school’s elite.

Morning after morning, Alan Herman struggled to motivate his son to go to school.

“He didn’t want to go to school because it was boring,” Herman told the Clovis Municipal Schools board Tuesday during a special work session. Herman’s son is gifted and talented. In other words, he is extremely smart.

“For some of these kids, it’s almost a disability that goes along with this high ability,” said Herman’s wife, Cindy.

To qualify for gifted and talented programs in Clovis schools, a student must have an IQ of 130 or above and must score in the 95th percentile in reading, math, critical or creative thinking, according to Clovis Schools Director of Student Support Services Cindy Osburn.

More and more can, should, and is being done to reach this population of students in Clovis Schools, according to school officials, who spent more than an hour briefing parents and community members about gifted and talented programs.

In the past decade, strides have been made, according to parents and school officials.

“It’s a lot better program than it has been in the past,” Alan Herman said. Three of his four sons have been diagnosed gifted and talented, and he has seen the program evolve from an hour of specialized instruction to what it is today, he said.

“(My son) knows he will go to school and love what he is doing, instead of hating it because he is bored to tears,” said Regina Dent, mother to an elementary-aged gifted and talented student.

“You don’t go into a shoe store and say, ‘I want fourth-grade size shoes.’ But that’s what we do with kids,” Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said.

This year, a goal of school officials is addressing the needs of students who already know what is being taught in their classrooms, Seidenwurm said.

In addition to enrichment programs —in which a student’s regular curriculum is supplemented with alternatives activities, gifted and talented students are now afforded independent study opportunities and can enroll in a mentor program, Osburn said. Accelerating by subject or grade is avenue recently opened for gifted and talented students in the district, school officials said.

School board members are considering allowing the district to administer exit exams to any student who has already mastered a subject area. Students who pass the exam would be given a credit and would move on to the next level of instruction in that subject area, school officials said.

Another relatively new option for advanced students is the dual credit program, which sends students to Clovis Community College to obtain college credits while still in high school.

“We need to give these kids meat to feed one to go to the top of where they need to go,” said Dent, moved to tears.

“They are like sponges. They absorb everything.”
Seidenwurm agreed.

“If we don’t pay attention to (these students),” she said, “we are going to lose a lot our kids.”