Gifted Children & Albany Schools
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Gifted Children & Albany Schools
My son will be entering kindergarten this upcoming fall. We live
in the Albany school district. He is a naturally curious boy and
is already reading beginner books, with consonant and vowel
blends. For math is he doing simple one-two digit addition.
I'm concerned that the 3-hour public school curriculum won't be
enough to keep him engaged. And the after school options don't
offer much in way of enrichment.
Can someone who has a child at a similar level offer some kind of
feeback (good or bad) about the Albany public schools and what
their children do there?
I love the idea of a local neighborhood school, but want to meet
his needs and curiosity.
Thank you in advance for your feedback.
I had the same worries around 9 years ago. Our son was a
fluent reader entering K, and his K class did one letter per
week! However, please don't let that stop you. Nothing could
have been better than the education he got at Cornell School
(excepting maybe 4th grade, but that was an odd fluke). The
after-school (Y-Kids Club) was all about excercise, making
friends, getting help with homework, and getting along in a
group - all things that helped our son tremendously (I just
wanted them to tire him out). I learned a lot over the years
about my son's personality, and about how school is not just
about academics - at all. Academically, I'm sure there are
better all-around school districts, with better facilities,
more AP classes, etc. But Albany has a great & diverse mix of
kids/families/teachers, and a terrific atmosphere. Our son had
issues with socializing that took a tremendous amount of
patience, and he usually got the help he needed. He wasn't
phased by the one letter per week deal in K (it's really just
for structure - they did many many other things), he just sort
of put up with it, and we all focused with him on his people
skills. (Our daughter had the same K teacher, thank goodness!
She was a wise & wonderful blessing for us once more.) He is
still best friends with the kids he met in K, and now they're
in 8th, preparing rigorously for high school. It's definitely
challenging academic material now, and has been for many
years. Some, including our son, are turning into great
musicians, having played band instruments together beginning in
4th grade. Most of our best friends are parents of our
childrens' friends. I'd say our son is doing amazingly well,
both socially & academically. What a great experience it's been
for us all, I wouldn't trade it for anything! Worry less, have
more fun & count your blessings, that's my advice. :)
I know in 2003 people have said that gifted children will not be
happy in Albany schools
but I wondered if anyone had stuck with them and found any
Our child is in one of the elementary schools now and is finding
the work too easy. I also remember how being in a GATE program
was very supportive when I was young, and think that's important
for gifted children. What have other parents done and why?
left for private schools? If so, which ones?
found accommodations at the school?
had your kid skipped a grade?
stuck it out until high school and honors classes? Was it
I am really curious to hear about how people have dealt with
gifted children in the Albany schools! For a couple of years
now my son has been ''used'' to help teach the other students. I
love the school and the teachers are working hard and doing
what they can. But with 28-30 children in the class, there is
not much they can do. Last summer we tried the Head Royce
summer program but my son said ''Mom, all the kids who are here
NEED to be here.'' That wasn't what we were looking for. So
advice here will be really helpful
Love Albany schools but want more
I beleive all schools receiving Federal and/or state funding are
required to provide
all kids work that is appropriate for them, that includes in particular
challenging work to gifted and talented children. I recommend that you
this to see if that's the case. It's unfair to any taxpaying citizen
to feel they must
leave the public schools in order to get a good education for their
schools should be providing this in any case whether it's required by
law. Push for
it. Contact Dr. Wong, etc.
My child is in Kindergarten in Albany schools and we have been
VERY disappointed. He has a fall birthday and we held him so
he'd be an older child in the classroom even though his reading
and math were way beyond average. We had heard that K teachers
are pretty well able to handle a range of abilities but that has
not proven to be the case. They really just care about getting
kids up to the level of the standards and don't give a hoot
about kids who are performing above grade level, especially if
they don't cause trouble. That said, I understand that there is
a large group of kids in the 3rd grade classes at Marin School
that were doing more advanced work, so the teachers all came up
with a program to help both the kids above and below. But I
think that is a rare situation.
My understanding of the Albany argument against the GATE program
is that so many of our kids would test into it. Apparently no
one has ever confronted them and said that the standards then
ought to be raised or a more creative curriculum introduced at
all levels so that kids can excel and not stagnate, waiting for
other kids to catch up to them
Thinking about switch to private
If you are the parent of a very bright child, I think you
might find Albany schools disappointing. As has been noted
on this group before, Albany schools do little or nothing
for gifted and talented children--at least as part of the
The problem is mitigated in K-3 because of the smaller
classrooms, due to the state class size reduction program.
But grades 4-8 don't have much to offer gifted kids. At
the high schools, kids can pick from a reasonable selection
of honors and AP courses. There are clubs and after school
programs, but they don't help with the problem of boredom
in the classroom.
Albany schools do a good job of bringing average and below-
average kids up to a pretty high level. But if your child
is already performing above the level, they will just be
used as test score fodder.
As the dissatisfied parent of a gifted child, my advice is
to seriously consider private schools or some other
alternative to Albany schools if you have a gifted child.
Albany Middle School has no GATE program, and seems
indifferent, and sometimes almost hostile when approached
by parents who feel their child (ren) are not being
challenged by the present curriculum. To quote the
principal - ''1/2 the children at Albany are gifted'' (I had
no idea that 1/2 of AMS kids scored in the 99th percentile
on IQ or other tests assessing learning ability.) To again
quote the principal ''1/2 the parents at AMS think their
child is gifted''. Well, that may be true, and probably a
good take by parents, but that doesn't change the fact that
a certain group of children with special needs (high
achievers bored with the standardized curriculum) are
dismissed as a pleasant problem needing no attention from
AMS. My recommend? If you have a gifted child, explore a
GATE program in another district, because you will be
politely ignored (sometimes impolitely) at AMS, which seems
content to coach to the standardized state tests and leave
it at that...
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