Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Higher Learning Gifted Students Taken Up a Peg

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Higher Learning Gifted Students Taken Up a Peg

Article excerpt

Some high schools students might get stumped solving the equation: 2x + (-x) + 3 = 2(-x) + 15.

But for 9- and 10-year-olds with "exceptional intelligence," it's a simple algebra lesson in linear equations.

The pupils attend St. Louis Regional Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students, known as PEGS. The program, housed in Lindbergh Schools, serves two dozen elementary and six middle school students. They come from the St. Louis Public Schools and suburban districts, including Affton, Brentwood, Ferguson-Florissant and Parkway. Educators hand-pick the students, who must be tested, interviewed and recommended. To even be considered, a student must have an IQ of 140, although many score higher. PEGS students are such whiz kids that they have outgrown gifted programs public schools typically offer part time. Across the state, about 40,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade earn the label "gifted." Less than 1 percent of those move up to "exceptionally gifted." The label is a blessing and a curse, said David Welch, Missouri's director of gifted education. He said these children could pcontribute greatly to society as doctors, lawyers and teachers. On the other hand, they don't fit in the public school system. "They need to have individual instruction and separate settings," he said. "They need interaction to develop socially. They need recess." Christine Ebel, Bea Wilmering and Gail Bush team-teach PEGS elementary students. They say these students would be bored even in a gifted program and, once uninterested, could want to skip school. "You'd hear, `I've already learned this. Why do I have to learn it again?' " Ebel said. Ten-year-old Lauren Smith agrees. Before PEGS, Lauren got into trouble in first grade when she went ahead on math problems. "The teacher said slow down," said Lauren. …

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