3State law explicitly requires identification, on a binary basis, of gifted andtalented students, with the plain rationale that students officially identified will be served.MCPS over-identifies a huge 40 percent of students, encompassing such an expanse of abilities as to preclude using the identification to match identified students with targeteddifferentiated instruction. MCPS’ no-label pilot program proves that if a label has noconsequence and then the label is removed, no change of consequence will result.MCPS’ SIPPI program is good in matching students to paltry instructional extensions andin ensuring that minority students recommended for extensions actually receive them. If SIPPI drops the binary identification, to “label the service, not the child,” then not only isthe letter of the law violated but the law’s expectation of service to identified students isthwarted by the circular notion that students are entitled to expect no more than whateverthey may be offered.The MCEF/MCEA No Labels campaign is conducted through rhetoric withoutevidence, including very dubious causal connections (e.g., that the label causes theachievement gap). Erasing the label gap will have no effect on the achievement gap; toimagine otherwise is a retreat to magical thinking.
The Montgomery County Education Forum and the Montgomery CountyEducation Association are conducting a “No Labels, No Limits!” political campaign, thegoals of which are to end the “labeling” of students as “gifted and talented,” and to end“tracking.”The
reports that “pressure is mounting on the school system to removethe Gifted and Talented label entirely,” and that, given the success of the SIPPI programdiscussed below, “the school system may be ready to oblige.” Board of Educationmember Laura Berthiaume is reported to believe that “momentum seemed to be more onthe side of the ‘No Labels’ campaign (Ujifusa 2011, A-14).”This paper reviews the campaign rhetoric, a portion of the literature on abilitygrouping, and the law regarding identification of gifted and talented students.
LABEL AND TRACKLabel
MCEA, MCEF and their fellow-travelers have inspired another paroxysm of label-mania. The “label,” a subsidiary though still too necessary facet of a constellationof real issues, has been fantasized by MCEA, MCEF and MCPS into a fetish: thepowerful talisman to an equity utopia.It’s not about the label. But why do MCEF’s and MCEA’s public comments tothe Board address the label exclusively (while their less public literature condemns abilitygrouping)? Why does the Board of Education imagine that its announced label