Board Should Reconsider AIM Motion

Bob Poppenga was a candidate for School Board in 2014
Bob Poppenga was a candidate for School Board in 2014

By Bob Poppenga

Irrespective of how one views the AIM program, the process followed last Thursday should be concerning for everyone.  If left unchallenged, it might be the MO for future decisions on controversial issues like junior high/high school reconfiguration or later start times for students or for how decisions are made for the District’s other special programs.

Keep in mind that the previous School Board charged the administration with evaluating all of the “special” programs.  If the action on Thursday didn’t violate the letter of the law, it certainly violated the spirit of the law.  I find it hard to believe that the motion introduced on Thursday was a spontaneous response to the AIM Report presentation that same evening.

I fear that there has been considerable behind-the-scenes maneuvering to achieve a certain outcome on this issue.

What so often gets lost when discussing the issue of AIM is that there is a subset of children who are intellectually “gifted” and whose educational and social/emotional needs are too often unmet in a “neighborhood” classroom.

Admittedly, many children in this subset are well adjusted and get good grades, but many others have difficulties.  Even the children who do well as measured by traditional achievement tests run the real risk of not living up to their full academic potential and often quietly suffer from social/emotional difficulties.

In my view, too many people don’t understand or ignore the scientific basis behind the needs of these students.  I wonder how many community members have taken the time to read the position papers of the California Association for the Gifted (CAG), an evidence-based advocacy group for “gifted and talented” students.

In my opinion, there has been a lack of district leadership in dealing with the AIM issue in an open and transparent manner.  This has exacerbated community polarization.  I vividly recall two years ago talking to a now retired Junior High School principal who believed that the proper role of “gifted” students was to help teach “less gifted” students.

I don’t necessarily believe that this is an isolated opinion.  While I believe that “gifted” students can (and should) interact in many positive ways with the full spectrum of students, putting them in the role of teacher is not, in any way, meeting their needs; teachers should be the ones teaching students irrespective of the student’s set of skills.

In my view, here is (or maybe was) a way to make (have made) progress on this issue:

First, recognize the unique educational and social/emotional needs of “gifted” students as defined by the best available evidence.  If we can’t agree on this, then we can’t develop fair and effective programs.  For anyone who doesn’t believe this, then don’t read any further because you won’t give a fair shake to the following comments.

Second, use the best methods available to identify “gifted” students and use those methods to evaluate ALL students.  This might mean a multifaceted approach to identification that includes testing and evaluations that identify “giftedness” across the full spectrum of student experiences (i.e., children who have been given all of the advantages that supportive parents typically provide to those who have legitimate risk factors that hinder their performance on many standardized tests).

Because of limited resources, our District has not used the most appropriate measures for giftedness.  There is no perfect assessment tool, but many school districts do a better job than we do.  I have no problem severely restricting or eliminating private testing.

Third, use the best available evidence to set a threshold that identifies truly gifted students.  Again, this is not a precise science, but groups like CAG could help set a threshold.   Unfortunately, school districts vary considerably as to where they set the threshold, but it is likely that truly “gifted” students fall within the 98th to 99th percentiles.  Using such a threshold would help to address the frequently expressed concern that the program is too big.  It would be important to adjust the threshold as new evidence emerges.

Fourth, provide open and unrestricted opportunities for all students to participate in programs that challenge them academically.  If the challenge is too great for a student, then they could/should be placed in a more appropriate classroom.  The education research that I have read clearly indicates that many students improve academically when given a rigorous curriculum in a sufficiently supportive environment.  I believe that many parents are concerned about a “watering down” of the curriculum in classrooms with a full range of academic abilities.

Fifth, use appropriate assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of the program.  The AIM Report presented last Thursday has flaws.  The outcome measure, the math and ELA California State Test, is likely to be a poor assessment choice.  Additionally, the report measured effects that apply only to students just above and just below (96% vs. 95%) our AIM qualifying threshold, not to students in the 98th to 99th percentile (I hear the criticism now: what’s the difference between the 96th percentile and those in the 99% percentile.

In talking to AIM teachers and looking at the empirical evidence, there is a substantial difference).  The report authors failed to state this during their presentation last Thursday.   Finally, there is the prospect that the authors did not really test for differences between students in self-contained classrooms vs. those not in self-contained classrooms.  The authors need to verify their data in this regard.

There has been inadequate time for interested community members to raise legitimate questions about the conclusions of the report and to hear how the report authors respond.  This is critical especially if any Trustees based their decision primarily on the report findings.

Lastly, differentiated instruction should be utilized in every classroom (self-contained AIM or otherwise).  I’m willing to give it a shot, but manageable class sizes, well-trained teachers, and constant monitoring for effectiveness will be required for it to succeed.   I don’t believe that the District has shown that it can meet those requirements.   Why not set up a pilot program with appropriate outcome measures to prove that differentiation can work for all students in our District?

As mentioned above, the previous School Board charged the District with assessing the effectiveness of all of the Districts’ special programs.  AIM was the first program undergoing assessment.  Now let’s see if the Board follows up with other programs.   I wonder what would happen if the da Vinci High School program was shown to be no different than DHS in terms student academic achievement using the same outcome measure; or Montessori; or Spanish Immersion?

I wish we had a term other than “gifted and talented” to describe this subset of students.  Unfortunately, these are the terms in common use.  Every child has their own unique gifts and talents and every child deserves a public education that meets their unique needs.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. ryankelly

    The Board receives, not one, but two research papers that bring to light flaws in the testing process for GATE that has resulted in 1/3 of the students in Davis being identified as gifted.  The Board takes action to stop private testing (where the students identified as gifted are averaging in the 70’s on the OLSAT and are now the greatest percentage of our GATE students) and directs staff to come up with a plan to better identify students whose needs truly require them to be separated from the rest of the student population. The Board also directs the administration to better implement differentiated instruction for high achievers in regular classrooms.

    I think they are on the right path.

      1. MrsW

        Students do not participate in the program at the same race percentages as who qualify.  A table that showed participation would have different percentages.  Despite the Districts’ effort on identification, few black and Hispanics who qualify, choose to attend.  A large proportion of Asian students who qualify, do choose to attend.  One effect is that our Asian-American students and our Hispanic-American students are essentially segregated from each other, starting in 4th grade.

        1. wdf1

          MrsW:  Despite the Districts’ effort on identification, few black and Hispanics who qualify, choose to attend.

          And I think this is the crux of the issue which is not being directly addressed, but I think “choose not to attend” may not be the right way to think about it.  No proof, but I strongly suspect that participation among Hispanic/Latino students breaks along education level of the parents.  Hispanic/Latino parents who are college educated (possibly even faculty members at UCD) are likelier to have their kids participate in AIM/GATE.  Those parents are also much likelier to have greater fluency in English and would understand and follow all the information about the program.  

          Hispanic/Latino parents who don’t have college education are likelier not to be as fluent in English and would need to have information accessible in Spanish (translated print info, Spanish/English interpreters at parent meetings).  I don’t think the district provides adequate information about AIM/GATE in Spanish, nor makes the effort to see that such families are informed. The district does keep track of education level of parents, which I think is provided when students register in the district, so this is not impossible to find out.

          The reason this matters is that having access to a full range of educational options is key to improving social/economic mobility — i.e., movement of students from lower to higher levels of income from generation to generation.  As an overall strategy to promote social mobility between generations, integrated rather than segregated school programs show more success.

          When you look at the overall numbers we’re talking about, there is about 4-5% participation of Latino students in AIM/GATE, but within the district Latino students make up 15% and growing (source).  The “and growing” qualifier is key.  This is a demographic trend in Davis and California.  So if this issue isn’t adequately addressed now, it won’t go away.

        2. MrsW

          The closest I could find quickly–See demographics chart in “10/28/13 AIM meeting handouts” for numbers of students, by ethnicity, for the 2013/14 school year.  I believe this data is from after the lottery and after intensified efforts to identify and seek students who were not first identified from the OLSAT (so describe a situation different from 2009 and 2011).  In 2013/14 starting out the year, there were 139 white students, 79 Asian students, 36 Hispanic students and 6 black students in Grades 4-6, in all four strands/schools, combined.  The table also shows the number who are fluent in English (vast majority).  I could not find any follow up–how many students who start the program, finish it.

          1. Don Shor

            Is there a belief that AIM needs to reflect the ethnic proportions of the district as a whole?

        3. wdf1

          Don Shor:  Is there a belief that AIM needs to reflect the ethnic proportions of the district as a whole?

          If there are notable imbalances, it is worth asking and investigating why, especially if there is a mismatch between the percentages who are AIM/GATE identified and the percentages of those who participate.

          In this piece in the Enterprise, Trustee Sunder makes the case that, in terms of AIM/GATE identification, the proportion of students is roughly equivalent to the demographic representation in the district as a whole.

          But when compared to percentages who actually participate, then the number of hispanic/latino students is notably under-represented.  See data for 2009 and 2011.

          That deserves further investigation.


          1. Don Shor

            You’ve made the case in the past that the district doesn’t communicate well with the hispanic/latino parents about the program. Have the participation rates changed since 2011, and do you feel the district is making more of an effort in that regard?

        4. wdf1

          Don Shor:  Have the participation rates changed since 2011, and do you feel the district is making more of an effort in that regard?

          I don’t know.  I suspect not, but would like to be disproven.

          I think 2013 data will be available at the end of the summer.

        5. MrsW

          A comment about participation.

          There are group dynamics in a AIM classroom.  Just being invited in doesn’t mean a student is comfortable there.  My children experienced a culture clash in the AIM classrooms.  They and their peers would have benefited from an adult present–the teacher or playground aid–to help them understand/process their experience. For example, one of my children thought he was being bullied in 5th grade, when other students were incredulous that he had received anything other than  a 100% on a test.  Were they mercilessness teasing him?  Maybe, but our family doesn’t talk about test scores and others’ do.  Our family considers many topics personal that others don’t and one of them is test scores.  I know we are not unique.  The teacher–the adult in the room–missed an opportunity to help both the children commenting on the test score and my child understand true diversity in human responses to the world.  The teacher–the adult in the room–missed an opportunity to teach something that would be meaningful to their students for the rest of their lives.

          All this is to say, in my opinion, just getting into AIM  isn’t enough to improve participation.  Creating a place that doesn’t feel toxic once students get there is equally, even more, important.  Not all parents are willing or know how, to day in and day out, to send their child back into a culture where their child ‘s natural response is to be uncomfortable.

    1. lotaspark

      So what happens if I supply you with more than one study showing how important GATE is to advanced and gifted learners? Will that then negate the studies  the district is basing their opinions on? Here you go (you will find multiple studies sighted here) There are many issues with this board vote. The first being that the notification to the public was regarding independent testing. Nowhere did it say that a vote was going to be taken about differentiated instruction. If there is even the slightest hint of a Brown Act violation or non-transparency amongst the board, wouldn’t it behoove them to put the discussion on the next agenda and give people proper opportunity for discussion prior to any vote? Every child in Davis deserves to have a good education. We spend vast amounts of money on special education, English-learners, snd Spanish immersion programs, why do the gifted learners not deserve the same opportunity for advancement? If people don’t see the value in the program then don’t register your children for it. If it wasn’t considered worthwhile then we wouldn’t need a lottery for it and it wouldn’t need to be offered at four schools. Like everyone else in Davis, I pay a ridiculous amount in taxes every month to support the school bonds. The least I should be able to expect in return is the $38 a school year spent per child in the program. (2000 students at a cost of $77000)

      1. hpierce

        OK, supply your info… have lived the gifted/advanced learner thing… myself and a child… and I have strong feelings that DJUSD Board is on the right track, to get more info (which I hope you provide), and critically look at the current program.

      2. hpierce

        By the way.. almost all of the gifted, advanced learners I know (and there are many) created their own “opportunities for advancement” independent of the school districts they were in, or had nervous breakdowns/severe depression, also mainly due to forces other than the educational system.

        The ones with the worst outcomes were due either to biological issues, or what we now refer to as either ‘helicopter’ or ‘tiger’ parents.  I hope and pray your children don’t fall in any of those categories.

  2. aaahirsch8

    Information request:

    How many school have maintained a separate gate type program at elementary  level? I hear all top districts have move away from it.

    Davis is already out of step with the rest of the nation with our K-6 elementary, which makes our 6-9 Jr Hi program more like high school as it has to make 9th grade Hi-school like– which has not good impacts on our 7 and 8th graders. .

    Are we becoming out-of-step by maintaining our GATE program too?

    1. MrsW

      How many school have maintained a separate gate type program at elementary level?

      Four elementary schools have AIM: Willet, Pioneer, Korematsu and NorthDavis.

  3. Barack Palin

    Wouldn’t all this be akin to the city council agenda stating they were going to discuss studies on fluoride then in the early morning hour decide to take a vote on whether Davis drinking water would have fluoride or not?  I can’t imagine the uproar if something like that had happened.

    1. Matt Williams

      That is a good analogy BP. However, since no fluoridation could be approved and implemented without a second hearing by the Council, would anyone who opposed fluoridation actually have been disenfranchised? They would be out in force on the date of the second hearing, and in many ways functionally would have added power to their arguments against fluoridation because of the uproar associated with the first hearing.

      In Davis nothing spices up a political discussion more than outrage/uproar. Without it the “silent majority” frequently says “Ho-hum, nothing interesting here”

  4. hpierce

    No, not ‘akin’… more like, “the city council agenda stating they were going to discuss studies on fluoride then in the early morning hour decide to take a vote on whether” to direct staff to come back with options to either start a fluoridation program or reject it, and in any case, offer alternative actions.  I have absolutely no issue with he actual (factual, not ‘implied’) action taken.

    BP… you have a GATE/AIM kid in school?

  5. hpierce

    Fair enough… I was a “GC” participant over 45 years ago, and had a child in Davis “GATE”.  I have strong feelings about the Davis program, and have real problems with many of the teachers assigned to it (many of whom get the position based on District politics, not based on their own ‘gifts’, particularly as teachers), and the outcomes for both the uber-gifted, and those who have special gifts that need to be challenged in certain areas, but otherwise present as an ‘average’ student.

    I believe differential instruction is the way to go for all the children, no matter where their challenges lie on the ‘bell curve’.

    1. ryankelly

      The AIM teacher who spoke at the City Council meeting was not the best public speaker, but neither am I. However, when she talked about her student’s “intelligences” and emotional problems, I wondered if she was really prepared to teach high-achievement students.

    2. Don Shor

      I believe differential instruction is the way to go for all the children,

      Definitely would not have worked for mine. In fact it was not working. Please don’t make absolute assertions (“all the children”). Every parent will or should seek the best placement for his child. GATE with Special Ed was the best placement for mine.

      1. MrsW

        GATE with Special Ed was the best placement for mine.

        I would describe a classroom with a pull out program and example of differentiated instruction.

        1. Don Shor

          Special Ed is a pull out program. But I certainly would not have seen any advantage to pulling the child out for GATE as well as Special Ed. It’s actually disruptive.

      2. hpierce

        “Please don’t make absolute assertions (“all the children”).”  

        I made a statement of ‘belief’.  I made no ‘assertion’ of “fact”.  Unless someone has changed the rules, and I just didn’t get the memo, I’m as entitled to my beliefs as you are to yours.  Feel free to copy me with the memo if I just missed it.

  6. wdf1

    Poppenga:  I have no problem severely restricting or eliminating private testing.

    That was the main thrust of Lovenburg’s motion — to eliminate private testing.  Does that mean that you would agree with her motion if it didn’t involve differentiated instruction?

    1. Bob Poppenga


      I don’t recall this SB or the previous SB discussing in a public forum the role of private testing in identifying AIM qualifying students or asking staff to report on who and why parents resort to private testing or how private tests compare to District administered tests.  I wonder how many members of the SB would pass a pop quizz on the topic?

      I do agree that any testing program adopted needs to be equitable and that the best measures (one or a combination) should be used for identification.

      I disagree with your statement that eliminating privated testing was the main thrust of the motion.  The portion of the motion that states “the focus of the assessment will be to identify students whose needs cannot be met in classrooms which fully implement best practices of differentiated instruction” needs to be clarified.

      I absolutely disagree with the process of voting to eliminate something that has not been adequately studied by members of the SB in a public forum.

      1. wdf1

        Poppenga:   I don’t recall this SB or the previous SB discussing in a public forum the role of private testing in identifying AIM qualifying students or asking staff to report on who and why parents resort to private testing or how private tests compare to District administered tests.  I wonder how many members of the SB would pass a pop quizz on the topic?

        And yet you yourself say, without qualification, “I have no problem severely restricting or eliminating private testing.”   Would that mean that you have studied this issue thoroughly to justify that position?

        Private testing and its role in identifying potential AIM students has been a regular part of board discussion going back for years.  I can provide references.

  7. sos

    Regarding the lower rate of participation of minority students who qualify for AIM:

    I have spoken with several teachers who have minority students who were “chosen” by the AIM coordinator to be re-tested using the TONI. Many of these students tested well below the 97% cut-off, including many well below 50%. The teachers couldn’t understand why these students were being re-tested as they were not advanced learners nor gifted learners, and expressed concern at what an improper placement AIM would be for these students. The students were qualified for AIM upon retesting. I suspect many of the parents of these students don’t enroll their children, recognizing it’s not a good match. It begs the question, why is the AIM coordinator retesting students whose OLSAT scores and teacher reviews indicate AIM is an improper placement? If it is to increase the number of minority students “qualifying” for the program, this isn’t how you do it.

  8. iWitness

    aaahirsch8,  The junior high program is 7-9.

    We are not out of step in Davis.  Some districts around here have ended their GATE programs but they don’t have the need — nothing like the large gifted population that Davis does.  (Other local districts have added International Baccalaureat and Fine Arts campuses and other entire schools for gifted and talented)  For 50 years Davis has had at least 20% gifted and talented that has only grown in size by sensitive, appropriate testing.  Anything less would not serve a population that looks like Davis’s at all.  Thirty percent always seems high to me but some of those are extra-high achievers and it seems sad to deny them an appropriate program, just as it’s sad to homogenize the highly gifted in classrooms which will not work for them, no matter how hard their teachers try.

    Davis’s self-contained classes for AIM/GATE have been recognized as one of the top three districts in the State that provide best practices for gifted and talented.  Some area districts have indeed dropped their GATE programs because categorical funding ended for GATE and all other programs to be left up to the districts.  The cost to this district is minimal.  Top districts are not moving away from GATE.

    ryankelly, “intelligences” is the academic word for the many different kinds of gifted intelligence, seven recognized and others pending but it’s current usage and the teacher’s using it because she’s been studying, taking workshops and working hard and doing a great job in AIM.  Don’t slam what you don’t know.  Emotional problems occur at every level of intelligence.  Gifted students have ADHD, autism spectrum, dyslexia, learning and physical disabilities, language development deficiencies (Einstein), poverty (Lincoln, 165), divorced, less educated or troubled parents, ELL delays, hunger, poor access to books, etc. and sometimes they’re not white or Asian. Who knew?  But they have great ideas and we need them. That’s why we look for them carefully.


    1. ryankelly

      iWitness: I would say that you have clearly made up your mind and are not open to hearing/reading specific research about the Davis program.  For example, the average OLSAT score of privately tested AIM students is in the 70th percentiles and this retesting is accessible only to students who have parents that can afford it.  Yet this is the largest percentage of what you call our  “large Davis gifted population.”

      Re: don’t slam what you don’t know – I assumed that she was using it as a technical term, but she didn’t explain it or elaborate in anyway about what she was referring to, so it sounded uneducated or, at least, grammatically incorrect.  If a professional steps up to speak at public comment, I would assume that they would be aware of their audience and environment and not insert technical terms into their testimony that only people in the field would understand.

  9. sos

    iWitness: Davis does have gifted students and they frequently have all the issues you describe, but AIM is not a gifted program. It is an advanced learner program and gifted and advanced learners are two very different students with very different academic needs. Of the 40-50 students who actually qualify for AIM each year on the universal OLSAT test, some would benefit from a gifted program and others are advanced learners. Davis needs both a gifted program for the small number of students with these needs and a much larger advanced learner program with the flexibility to include all advanced students without the need to game the admission process.

  10. iWitness

    ryankelly:  I’ve been reading, studying and discussing specific research about the Davis program for years.  I’ve had students in AIM.  I don’t base my support just on what I hear about it.   I don’t favor private testing, because I believe in equal access.  Testing with the TONI is FREE.   FREE.   It helps find the unidentified who don’t do their best on timed tests or on tests dependent on English skills alone.

    SOS, I don’t base my support for the Davis program just on what I hear about it, even from teachers second-guessing.  I’d call this hearsay.  You’ve heard it.  I haven’t.

    It sounds as if you think “advanced learner” is the same as “high achiever.”  Do you mean out of level learners?  Then they may be the kinds of students who enter fourth grade ready for 10th grade math, but accelerated promotion is nearly always less appropriate than gifted classes because there’s more to maturity than math.  Do you mean high achievers? They are hard workers, and successful, but don’t learn the same way gifted learners do.  You can’t expect all gifted learners to be advanced, but they are still gifted.  It’s all in how they learn, deeper, wider, making more connections even in areas of knowledge that are very different.

  11. MrsW

    I have been reflecting on this exchange and think I can articulate my interpretation of Ms. Lovernberg’s comment better—
    Differentiation is a practice that integral to providing elementary education in public schools at multiple levels—classroom, school and district.  It is baseline.  The AIM program is part of a portfolio of differentiation tools available in Davis.  It would not be rational to eliminate any tool from the portfolio.  I am under the impression that Susan Lovenberg is rational.  Try as I might, I cannot construe her comment to suggest anything close to “elimination.”  That word has been introduced by others.

  12. ryankelly

    Bob Poppenga and his wife, Amy S. Kapatkin, have introduced the idea that the proposed changes will eliminate the AIM program.  Amy’s article in The Davis Enterprise ran with the headline “Special Programs on the Chopping Block.”   Amy used the word “eliminate” several times in the article.  This is just Fear politics – an attempt to stir the emotions of parents.   Sunder started it, though didn’t go as far, stating that the School Board’s vote would “end the AIM program as we know it.”   The Board responded appropriately to information that demonstrated that parents were gaming the admissions process to win seats for their bright and hard working, but non-GATE, children, which has steered the GATE program away from its true purpose.  It’s really too bad that Sunder is not able to set aside her emotions on this one program.  I commend the rest of the Board for its civility during Sunders meltdown over the vote.


    1. Davis Progressive

      ” It’s really too bad that Sunder is not able to set aside her emotions on this one program.  I commend the rest of the Board for its civility during Sunders meltdown over the vote.”

      i don’t think “meltdown” is a fair characterization of what happened at the meeting.  she had concerns about process, stated them, and they moved on.  perhaps you should watch greenwald v. asmundson again if you wish to see a meltdown.

      1. ryankelly

        You make it sound like she merely stated her concerns and moved on.  I saw it differently.  Her emotionally reading from a letter from a former student, her questions challenging the professionalism of the researchers, etc. was a sharp contrast to consensus that was building around her.

  13. ryankelly

    Well, her stated ability to form consensus is all over her campaign website, but I agree that this is an issue where she has strong and different views that would make it difficult to reach.  However, it was her manner – tone of voice, speed of talking, the “cross examination” of the researchers, and her own comment that she was stunned by what what happening.  The Asmundson vs. Greenwald exchange sets a very high bar for “melt down” and I don’t think any of the current Board members will ever reach that.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i find it weird that people on the campaign trail like to hear about consensus builders, but in reality, we want someone who will fight for the things that matter, even if it’s a losing fight.  i voted for her because i believed we needed someone who would be a powerful voice against the status quo.  there are too many people from the pta/ political machine and not enough fighters.  but that’s just me.

  14. hpierce

    Yet, Munder was precisely ‘fighting’ for the “status quo”.  You are correct tho’, re: meltdown.  I’ve seen “melt-down”, and that wasn’t even on the same log scale (order of 10) as a melt-down… it was a bit snippy, but well within normal tolerance for folk who have different ‘visions’.

    I am strongly inclined to side with the four votes, tho’.

  15. iWitness

    The people who feel that the professionalism of the econ professors was questioned have not read their report to see how it arrives at its conclusions.  It does not support severe reduction of AIM.  It has a narrow focus on the test scores of a thin slice of the students involved, and worse, before the lottery those students were not even likely to make it into the GATE (it wasn’t AIM yet) program because the program was filled top scorers down (by NEED) until after the tests that the researchers looked at.  Those would have been the students scoring at 98 and 99 and 99+% and maybe a few at 97.  The slice looked at was 95 vs. 96.  Those students weren’t in the classes which may be why the effects were so small.  Graphs, eye candy, don’t prove the study was adequate.

    I write and assess social science research.  But you don’t need that to see this technical paper was based on false assumptions and an outdated test irrelevant to the situation now.   The one page of sources was minimal and not referred to; it includes papers on Headstart’s effectiveness and on the impact of emotionally disturbed students (nice assumption there) on their classmates.  The main presenter made claims for the study which were not reflected anywhere in the paper, and he admitted that under Ms. Sunder’s questioning: the “negative” impact on Hispanic students in heterogeneous classrooms when the highly gifted are removed from them as 10-15%.  The board accepted this report with thanks but not all trustees may have had time to read it, since after two years this tiny, delimited study was delivered the weekend before the meeting.

    The researchers got a future publication (they admitted it wasn’t peer reviewed) that supported a research technique done by a colleague of one of them on an average population of 3-4% gifted, instead of Davis, with 20-30% gifted.  It took a district employee a week or more to encode the scores of our children to protect their identities, so it wasn’t exactly free, but at best you get what you pay for.  Ms. Sunder had read the report.  It’s hard even to glance at this report and not see that it’s solely about high achievers or honors students.  It is not about the gifted who were not studied!   If that’s consensus building, it was built on preconceived ideas.  Thanks again for your comments, Davis Progressive.  It’s not just you.

    You can’t cancel a real vacation for what’s sprung on you last minute.  You can cancel a stay-cation to read a nine-page report in big print.  All the dirty work gets done during school vacation when families and teachers are out of town.We can do better in Davis than that.  So keep an i out.  The life you save may be your child’s.  This will probably go unread since the strand has halted.

  16. MrsW

     It is not about the gifted who were not studied!


    Do you recall when the screening score for GATE/AIM classroom inclusion went down to 95%?  Were the numbers reduced when universal 3rd grade testing was implemented? Do you recall why?

    Do you have any sense of the percentage of DJUSD students who would be identified as gifted, if the cut off was 99% for the program?

    In my field (a biological one), we use weight-of-evidence approaches to make judgments.  We might have a test number, but we would make observations, too–we actually prefer 3 or more lines of evidence before making a judgment.  Like veterinarians who consider owner’s observations at home, perform a physical exam, and evaluate blood test results before making a diagnosis.  Do you recall, why DJUSD abandoned any other lines of evidence other than an intelligence test score to determine who gets to participate in GATE/AIM?  Also, do you think the conditions that at the time made sense, are still true and still make sense?

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