Before I get into the details of Fernando’s testing process, I want you all to know that it’s because we have privilege and that was why we were able to do this. Language privilege, financial privilege, probably other privileges, too. But it’s important that I mention this before I start this story.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you know that I started Raising Español because Fernando was being raised in a Spanish-only home with a speech delay.
I know most moms can relate that when we see something different, our goal is to “fix it”. Or maybe it’s just me. But I always want to “fix it”. I want to “make it all better”.
When Fer was three years old, I noticed that he could read any 4 digit number. My mom would mix his blocks around (the ones that had letters and numbers on them) and he would read the number. When he turned 4, he was adding and subtracting simple numbers with ease. Then he started adding bigger numbers. He then learned his multiplication facts. I remember speaking to a friend and telling her that I suspected Fer was gifted.
I wanted to get him tested for giftedness, but Fer, who at the time had started preschool, only spoke Spanish. The IQ tests are only offered in English. I know this because I took it upon myself to visit the Mirman Gifted School website (a gifted school in Pasadena, CA) to find a psychologist to test my kid. I reached out to a couple and they both told me that I should wait until Fer spoke more English.
Now this was where I began to do some research because I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ELD kiddos. How inequitable this all seemed. And sure enough, I found multiple studies that proved how Black and Latinx kids are less likely to be in Gifted programs. Studies that stated this came from teacher “bias” i.e. racism to lack of programs.
So while I waited for Fer to learn some English in Preschool, I joined a Gifted Moms group on Facebook. I didn’t see any moms of color in this group. Not one. I posted what Fer could do at the time and asked if he was gifted. I was so nervous posting. And rightly so. The responses were, “Hmmm he seems like a high achiever, but maybe not gifted.” There were 3-4 responses like this. I immediately deleted the post. I felt small, vulnerable, and stupid. I decided right then and there to put Fer’s giftedness out of my mind for the time being.
Fer started preschool last fall and picked up English fairly quickly. At the same time, his math skills were growing exponentially. He was now mentally multiplying double digit numbers by single digit numbers. Faster than me. This time I reached out to a former math teacher of mine and now a colleague and described what Fer could do. I asked for guidance and he suggested a few programs, one of them being the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program which offered online courses. I looked into it and saw that only the math portion of the IQ test was needed to get accepted. I spoke to my husband about this and he was still wary because 1. It was a lot of money even for that one test ($400) 2. Fer’s English wasn’t that strong yet.
So I went to speak to his preschool teachers and asked about Fer’s English and they said it was great. I spoke to a friend about my doubts not only about his English, but about his abilities, because that facebook group had unfortunately made me doubt what was right in front of me, and she said, “White people wouldn’t think twice about having their kids tested.” Read that again.
So my husband and I reached out to a recommended psychologist from the Mirman Gifted School. She was bilingual. And within a couple of weeks, we took Fer to Santa Monica and had him tested in math (WIAT III). He was 4 years old and 11 months.
I may or may not have spiked my coffee that day because I was sooooo nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, parents weren’t allowed to be in the room, and this was just something no one I knew had ever done.
About 35-45 minutes later, the psychologist opened the door, looked at us with her mouth open, and said, “You have a remarkable son!”
She sat us down and said he didn’t miss any problems. He scored a 160. The highest score possible. She said he would probably qualify for MENSA, the high iq society, (which for us Spanish speakers sounds terrible). She then said, “I have tested many children and none have been like Fernando. So naturally you’re moving, right?” and went on to list all the gifted schools in the area. The Santa Monica/Pasadena/Echo Park area. Not my area.
Not Fer’s district. It doesn’t even have a gifted program. So what do I do? Do I do what’s best for my child and send him to a different school outside of the area?
Look. I was a volunteer on Beto O’Rourke’s short lived presidential campaign. I adored that man. But one thing I can’t stop thinking about is Bernie’s slogan, “Not me. Us.” What about the other kids? The other gifted kids in the district? Do they not matter? How can I look into my kid’s eyes and say I advocated for him and him alone and to hell with the rest of the kids from our neighborhood?
No, I use these results, and push for a program, for anything, really. I try. Not just for Fer, but for the kids that I teach, too. Because they matter.