Monday Morning Thoughts: More on the Brown Act, Board Views on GATE, And Why the Motion Passed

gate

We have kept the focus on the GATE/AIM issue on the potential Brown Act violation. The Brown Act, as we noted yesterday, requires among other things that the legislative body of a local agency shall post, at least 72 hours before a regular meeting, “an agenda  containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting….”

Moreover, “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda….”

We see this at work in a 2013 opinion from the Fifth Appellate District in San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center v. County of Merced, et al. This case is instructive because a decision was made that “bore some relation” to the posted agenda, but was not itself posted on the agenda.

The court writes:

The Merced County Planning Commission (the Commission) posted an agenda that set forth, as one item of business for its upcoming meeting, the Commission’s potential approval of a subdivision application submitted by William Morris to divide 380.45 acres into nine parcels (the project). The agenda, however, failed to mention that the Commission would also be considering whether or not to adopt a CEQA document known as a mitigated negative declaration (MND) concerning the environmental impact of the project. At the meeting, the Commission approved the project and adopted the MND.

Thereafter, San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water (petitioners) filed a petition for writ of mandate against the County of Merced and the Commission (together the County) seeking to set aside the approval of the project and the adoption of the MND on the ground that the Commission’s adoption of the MND violated the agenda requirements of the Brown Act.

The County now appeals from the judgment, arguing that the agenda requirement was satisfied because the public would have implicitly understood that CEQA documents, if any, would likely be considered at the time of the project’s approval.

We disagree. As more fully explained herein, we conclude that the Brown Act was violated in this case because the Commission took action on the MND when that matter was not expressly disclosed on the meeting agenda. Accordingly, we affirm that portion of the judgment based on the Brown Act violation.

As we noted yesterday, the key in the Board action on Thursday was that differentiated instruction is a major change to the AIM program and was not agendized. Differentiated instruction can be defined as the manner in which a teacher modifies the core curriculum and designs strategies which addresses the unique needs of gifted students.

There is a tendency to see this as an alternative to a self-contained GATE program. Again, we are not arguing the merits of whether this approach is preferable, only that what the board voted on and approved marked a major change in direction that should have been properly noticed.

We note that the phrase “differentiated instruction” does not appear on the agenda. Superintendent Winfred Roberson confirmed that the agenda online is the posted agenda.  It is also important to note that the district does not have their counsel at most board meetings, meaning that district staff and President Alan Fernandes made the determination as to whether the topic was properly noticed.

Campaign Promises on GATE

As we move toward an evaluation of the issue on its merits, it is instructive to see where three of the board members came down on GATE prior to the election. Three of the board members were elected in November but Alan Fernandes, who was appointed in May of 2014, appeared during the candidate’s forum sponsored by the Vanguard, but did not respond to weekly questions.

On October 17, 2014 we asked: Have you been involved in the GATE/AIM Committee Meetings? If so, what has been your involvement? How do you view the current state of the GATE/AIM program, and what would be your interest in a future direction? Finally, how will you be able to balance the needs of the great majority of students that are not in the GATE/AIM program with that for GATE/AIM students?

Here were the responses:

Tom Adams: I have not been involved in the GATE/AIM Committee meeting. The needs of GATE/AIM-identified students can be balanced with the needs of the majority of students by improving program design and through the better use of existing resources. The Davis program should be evaluated for whether it is using current best practices, and the California Association for the Gifted would be the first place to seek information about best practices. More importantly, the AIM program should be an innovative program that is an exemplar. As I stated in the Vanguard’s Forum, my educational philosophy is summed up in the idea of universal design for learning. The district needs to shape its programs to meeting the needs of all students, including GATE/AIM-identified student.

Barbara Archer: I have not been involved in the GATE/AIM district advisory committee meetings. When I was a member of the Willett Site Council, we had a rep who reported back to the group from that meeting, and we discussed school climate issues related to the program.

Being part of a campus with a GATE/AIM track for 10 years allowed me to hear about the many perspectives on GATE/AIM from parents, teachers and students. I have also talked with many community members during the campaign – people with kids in the program, people with kids not in the program, people whose kids were in the program 20 years ago and middle-aged Davisites who were in the precursor to GATE/AIM – Mentally Gifted Minors.

Some parents believe that self-contained classes of AIM-identified students are the best way to educate their students. Some parents who have kids in the program are not wedded to the idea of the self-contained model. Some parents have AIM-identified kids and choose to do the neighborhood program because they do not agree with the self-contained model. Some parents believe that we must put equal resources toward all needs – GATE/AIM, high achieving, learning disabled, and students who struggle with academics to name a few groups. Some parents believe that the self-contained model is out-moded, and we should look into more current models for serving AIM-identified students.

What I believe is that that we owe it to our students to learn what other districts are doing to serve students working above grade level including examining current best practices and the advantages or disadvantages offered by flexible ability groupings. We must look at educational research and district data and consult with education experts to see if we are serving our students the best way we can. This has been a difficult community conversation, and my hope is that we can bring all parties to the table to discuss the future program direction.

Regarding balancing needs of all our students, I think it would best serve our students to make sure that all children have an enriching education regardless of ability level.

Madhavi Sunder:  All children should thrive in school, learning to their full potential. I think all children are “gifted” and that all of them are gifts. I do not like the language of “gifted and talented” education, which comes from the state, and support the changed name of our Davis program to AIM (Alternative Instructional Model).

The AIM program is a means that the DJUSD has used since at least the 1980s to serve some of the children who are not being challenged adequately in the regular study. In fact, challenging students at their level is the very essence of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s suggestion that we should promote a growth, not a fixed, mindset. Placing a child in a classroom where the work comes easily relative to one’s peers only confirms the child’s view that his or her success is natural, confirming a fixed mindset. We want each of the children in our schools to be challenged so that they will ultimately grow.

I have participated in the district’s AIM advisory committee meetings. There and in countless conversations with members of the community, I have heard concerns about AIM. There are concerns about the size of the program, stigma placed on children not in the program, the lottery, private testing, and the all-or-nothing option that seems to exist, because our regular-ed programs do not offer consistent or adequate differentiation to meet the needs of AIM learners in their classrooms.

We ought to have more effective ways of meeting the needs of diverse learners in the regular classroom. We need to keep class sizes small and provide professional development to teachers in differentiated instruction. We may consider coordinating schedules so math and/or language arts would be taught at the same time, allowing for clustering within a grade. For some children a self-contained model may still fit best; but offering viable alternatives to kids and families will likely lead to a smaller self-contained program, which in turn may mitigate some issues of stigma. It is also time to reconsider the score cutoffs for the program and the controversial lottery. Private testing must be made available to families on a need basis (contrary to popular conception, under current rules a child can only take one private test, not multiple).

I am open to thoughtful changes to the program that are piloted and well tested.

Change in Thinking

One source told us that there is a key finding in a report by Scott Carrell, Michael Kurleander, Marianne Page and K.A. Kramer from the School of Education and Department of Economics at UC Davis. Their presentation is, “How Does the AIM Program Affect Student Outcomes in the Davis Joint Unified School District?”

Overall their finding was, “We find no evidence that the AIM program has any effect on students who do not qualify for AIM.” They add that, for the most part, their estimated effects overall are small and not statistically significant. However, “We find significant negative effects for Hispanic students.”

The departure of students for the AIM program lowers the test scores of students left behind. The 4th grade English Language Arts CST scores drop by 1.7 points on average per students while the math CST scores drop by 3.9 points on average.

The thinking is that this finding may have pushed two of the board members in favor of the motion.

Again, our view is to have as full a public discussion as possible on this issue and we believe the process on Thursday was not conducive to that discussion.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

34 Comments

  1. aaahirsch8

    There are both technical and substantive concerns about the alleged breaking of the Brown act.

    We can leave the technical issue to the lawyers if the act was violated…..the Vanguard’s article does a good job explaining previous court cases.
     
    But we should also discuss if any Substantive damage to the decision making process occurred that would be remedied with a “re-d0” of the vote.  If an item is not noticed appropriately, and stakeholders are not present, the following are the real damage to the public process can occur:   
    > All facts and concerns are not available to the board before they make a decision is made.
    > The actions of board members voting are not witnessed and there are not accountable for their decision. 

    Given that the meeting was reported by two news organization and is put on Cable and the board website (can anyone think of any other school board in region that has this much visibility) certainly the reasons and discussion about this issue was very visible and the board members voting will be held accountable if the public rejects the decision. I have heard that there were twenty advocates–ten from both sides—at the meeting on this issue so it not like it advocates were not present to witness–and testify.  

    As to the argument that not all sides and concern were heard and all information was not available to the board, one must ask the following questions.
    What facts and perspective are not known after years of discussion?
    > What view and fact were not represented by the ten advocates of the status quo side that still need to be heard? 
    > What viewpoints have not yet been aired publicly after at least one election campaign where this was discussed?
    > What information or perspectives do supporters of the status quo have not yet shared with the current board? Has school district or other things impaired them from sharing this view point?  
    > What information does the current board not yet have to allow it to make a good decision?  

    Given that one of the board member is an advocate of the status quo–and made it one of her core issue with her supporters during the election, why does she think she has not been effective in provide those perspectives to others after all this time?  
    ET: 
    > Is this discussion about the Brown act violation a substantive one –i.e. about improving the visibility and quality of the decision making process or just a technical parliamentary tactic by one side to embarrass the other side…

    > Is this a good government issue or just political maneuvering?

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Is this a good government issue or just political maneuvering?”

      i see it as both.  the brown act is important to insure that the public is informed and involved (if they want to be) throughout the process.  the most important part of the process is actually this part which frames the debate.  is it political maneuvering?  i think so.  not sure, but it seems suspicious to me.

  2. Bob Poppenga

     
    Here are my two cents worth – ok, five cents worth.  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 manuvering to acheive 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 “regular” 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 espeically 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.  As folks will note, in the spirt of being open and transparent, I decided not to use a pseudonym for my reply.

     

     

    1. wdf1

      Poppenga:  Lastly, differentiated instruction should be utilized in every classroom (self-contained AIM or otherwise).  

      Have you changed your position on differentiated instruction?  In January 2013, in response to ongoing board discussion at the time about differentiated instruction and AIM/GATE, you said this in an op-ed for the Enterprise:

      One proposal being put forward is to change to a differentiated instruction model in which students with a broad spectrum of academic abilities are grouped together with the hope that all students’ academic needs can be met.

      The fallacy of the proposed model is that it is unlikely to work and proponents have presented little evidence that it can work, particularly without significant increases in district resources. It seems to defy logic that a single teacher, responsible for 30 or more students, can effectively address the academic needs of all of their students through differentiated learning.

      source

      1. Bob Poppenga

        Dear WDF1:

        I AM skeptical that differentiated instruction can fully meet the needs of a large classroom of “students with a broad spectrum of academic abilities”.  I think that skepticism is apparent in my post today.  Also, keep in mind that in 2013 the District had no real professional development program for teachers.  That is hopefully changing for the better, but I still don’t see any mechanism in place for assessing how effectively individual teachers might use differentiation techniques in the classroom.  I’m willing to see how it might work in a prospective, well-thought out pilot study (voluntary for parents/students) before diving in head first and hoping that the water is sufficiently deep.  I believe that my post today also suggests compromises/solutions that address many of the criticisms of the current program, but still recognizes the unique educational and social/emotional needs of a significant subset of our students.

  3. MrsW

    As we noted yesterday, the key in the Board action on Thursday was that differentiated instruction is a major change to the AIM program and was not agendized. 

    I am going to have to take your word for it that talk of differentiation triggers the Brown Act because based on my experience, that premise is flawed.  I have spent hundreds of hours as a parent volunteer in both GATE and non-Gate classrooms through and including 6th grade.  I observed differentiated instruction in both GATE and non-GATE classrooms, year in and year out.  I also saw high performing math students from the non GATE classroom brought into the GATE classroom and sent to Junior High for Algebra.  What I NEVER saw, was a GATE student who would have “has his needs met” better with a non-GATE English curriculum, brought into a non-GATE classroom.

    1. wdf1

      Vanguard:  As we noted yesterday, the key in the Board action on Thursday was that differentiated instruction is a major change to the AIM program and was not agendized.

      MrsW:  I am going to have to take your word for it that talk of differentiation triggers the Brown Act because based on my experience, that premise is flawed.

      Differentiated instruction (or ‘differentiation’) has been a regular part of DJUSD board discussion about AIM/GATE going back more than 10 years.

       

       

      1. Don Shor

        I’m beginning to think we need to define our terms more clearly. It was very clear that the PAGE group was advocating that DJUSD adopt “differentiated instruction” to replace self-contained GATE.
        Has the district ever specifically discussed it that way?

        1. MrsW

          I have only heard differentiation discussed this way —  the importance of improving communication on how differentiation successfully takes place in the non-GATE 4-6 grade classrooms.

          I speculate that improving communication about differentiation, is the first step to addressing the scenario wherein a student applies to the GATE program purely for academic reasons, but ends up placed in a non-GATE classroom.  It should not be anxiety producing for students and their families who fall into that group, but now it is.

           

  4. Sulla

    I read the San Joaquin Raptor case.  An attorney fees case, the Appeals Court agreed with the trial court that the Brown Act was violated because only one action was noticed, but two separate motions (One to approve the development, the other to approve the modified negative impact under CEQA) were approved.  Consequently, it does not seem on point.  On the DJUSD agenda was the notice to “Approve [the] Staff Recommendation to update the AIM Master Plan”.  Such approval is always subject to an amendment offered by a Board Member.  One item, one action.

    Is the real reason for the allegation of a Brown Act violation because a certain Board Member was caught flat-footed and not prepared to offer a counter amendment or a counter argument?  In the sausage factory of legislation, this happens all the time.

    Whatever is your opinion on the AIM (formerly known as GATE) program, the issue turns on an ancient rule of jurisprudence: “Si somnum,  perdes” [You sleep, you lose].

    Of course a full public hearing will occur before the School Board takes any final action.  I am sure that between now and then, the opinion of the public on this matter will determine the final action of the Board.

  5. ryankelly

    A vote did not go one Board member’s way, so the next step is to attack the process.  This seems to be a common strategy in Davis.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a local attorney sues the District.  Sunder was clearly caught flat footed and hadn’t had time to rally her supporters.   Her few questions were poorly veiled accusations of researcher bias and lack of credentials and was painful to watch.  I think that the researchers defended themselves well.

    i don’t understand the Brown Act violation.  I read an announcement in the paper, logged onto the DJUSD website and read the report, then logged on to watch the streaming video of the meeting.  The Vanguard seems to take issue with a Board member coming to the meeting with a motion already formulated and 3 others agreeing with her.  I don’t see how a do over will change the outcome.  I suggest that people read the report.

    The changes would not affect students entering GATE this year, nor the students already in the program.  This would affect testing for the 2016-17 year.  The program is not being dismanteled.

     

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      “i don’t understand the Brown Act violation.  I read an announcement in the paper, logged onto the DJUSD website and read the report, then logged on to watch the streaming video of the meeting.  The Vanguard seems to take issue with a Board member coming to the meeting with a motion already formulated and 3 others agreeing with her.  I don’t see how a do over will change the outcome.  I suggest that people read the report.”

      my reading of the report is that the report differed from the motion on key points specifically differentiated discussion.  i don’t think the vanguard takes issue with a pre-formulated motion, that happens all the time.  also i thought the vanguard made it clear that it did not believe it would change the outcome, but rather wanted to have a full discussion before making a policy decision.  seemed reasonable to me.

      1. ryankelly

        So….the violation of the Brown Act occurred when the motion to direct staff to develop a way to implement differentiated instruction and not the testing issue?  If so, then I’m all for more discussion on what it will look like to have differentiated instruction for high achieving students for the subjects in which they excel.   I think the motion is directing staff to look into this and bring it back, so I am assuming that there will be an opportunity to discuss this further.

        1. Davis Progressive

          you don’t do a motion and have a discussion over something that is not agendized.  they could have asked staff to come back with a proposal without violating the brown act.

        2. wdf1

          I again post the agendized item:

          VII.b. AIM Master Plan Recommendation (7:25 p.m.) 

          Requested Motion:

          Approve staff recommendation to udpate the AIM Master Plan retesting policies in order to provide fair and appropriate opportunities for student AIM identification, one or more retesting options to be used in circumstances for which the universal testing may have hindered performance.

          Additionally, the Superintendent is seeking Board input regarding the priority topic(s) for the 2015-16 school year

           *Review and Update the Screening Process (implementation of Risk Factors)

               *Additional limitations on private testing (clarified and/or new language)

               *Adjustment of eligibility score (considering the impact on underrepresented)

               *Impacts of the Lottery/Placement Procedures

               *Number of sites 

               *Junior High School AIM program/High Achieving program

          Here is Trustee Lovenburg’s motion, as amended by Trustee Fernandes:

          To provide more equitable access to the AIM program I move to eliminate the use of private testing to qualified students beginning with students who would first be admitted to the program for the 2016-17 school year. 

          Further, direct the superintendent to have staff review and recommend assessment protocols to be implemented in screening students beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.  

          The focus of assessment will be to identify students whose needs cannot be met in classrooms which fully implement best practices of differentiated instruction.   Assessment will take into consideration multiple measures. 

          Recommended changes will be reflected in the AIM Master Plan to be approved by the board prior to implementation. 

          Further direct the superintendent to develop a plan for the district which fully implements differentiated practices in all classrooms.

          I don’t see improper noticing of the public.

          1. Don Shor

            That depends entirely on what Susan meant by

            which fully implements differentiated practices in all classrooms.

        3. wdf1

          and I’m looking at

          to be approved by the board prior to implementation. 

          which was Fernandes’ friendly amendment to Lovenburg’s motion.

          This was board direction to staff to come back and tell us what such a program would look like in the district, not a direction to begin implementation.  For all we know, the staff may come back and reveal that the alternative (what happens when private testing is ended) really sucks, or the alternative may actually look better than was originally feared.

           

  6. hpierce

    Now that the “Brown act” card has been played, perhaps all Board members should voluntarily disclose if they have children who were/are in GATE/AIM, and/or if they have close friends who were/are.

    Also any board members who lost out in the ‘lottery’ for their children, or those of their close friends.

      1. hpierce

        Not a “conflict” per se… not legally… however, ‘disclosure’ is important.  It should not affect who votes how, but can serve to illuminate ‘why’.

  7. sos

    I’ve been to 3 board meetings in the past 3 months, where the board openly discussed the AIM admission process with both UCD education professionals and general public (including the AIM coordinator and AIM teachers). As a result of this process, the board has taken a vote to not allow private testing and directed the district to evaluate assessment protocols. Instead of arguing whether the board has the legal right to do what they did, how about a discussion of why they did it? Where is the discussion about the legitimacy of an admission process in a program where 70% of the students failed to qualify on the district OLSAT, with an average score of 75%? Where is the discussion about the legitimacy of testing some students once and others multiple times (re-tests are 70% Asian or white students)?  If you think this is legitimate, why? If you think it’s not, what’s the alternative? Not engaging in (civil) discourse about the problems forces the board/district to simply move ahead.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i’m not arguing on the issue of the retests.  it’s not that the board doesn’t have the legal right to make the change, the question is whether that meeting was noticed for that type of decision.

      but substantively, as i noted above the olsat produces a gate pool that’s 92% white and asians.  the toni on the other hand, increases the share of hispanics and blacks greatly.

  8. sos

    The TONI is a verbal test for students who would possibly qualify on the OLSAT (97%), if not at a disadvantage in writing…it is intended for situations such as dyslexia and blindness. It is being improperly used and the UCD education department report concluded that the increase in minorities qualifying is not the result of disadvantage on the OLSAT, but improper use of the TONI. Most of the students admitted with the TONI are Asian or white, and some students admitted with the TONI score as low as 2% on the OLSAT…do we really think that student is an advanced learner?

    1. Davis Progressive

      seems like the toni from the chart i linked to generates: 43 white, 31 latino, 12 percent asian, and 8 percent black.  the question is not whether the student is an advance learner, it’s whether they are a gifted student who may be disadvantaged in a traditional classroom.

  9. sos

    You bring up another issue people need to discuss…is it a gifted program or advanced learner/honors program. They are 2 very different students, 2 very different programs. The UCD report concludes advanced learner/honors, the number qualified suggests the same. From my experience, most AIM parents now say advanced learner/honors. It needs to be discussed because it can’t be both.

    1. Davis Progressive

      it makes a big difference for me.  i’m not in favor of an advanced learner/ honors program.  i am in favor of a program to support gifted students some of whom may actually be underachievers.

  10. ryankelly

    It has been discussed.  The desire to have an “honors” program starting with 4th grade is such a strong desire that parents (enabled by the District) cling to the GATE program as a way to achieve that.  (I’m sure that if the program started in kindergarten, this would have support.)  I think the broader community needs to discuss whether we want to divide our children into educational tracks starting at age 8.  The administration and the Board also need to address how to serve the truly gifted students in the district, first by admitting that these students are not being effectively served.

    1. Don Shor

      I think the broader community needs to discuss whether we want to divide our children into educational tracks starting at age 8.

      At least in our experience, that is when the differences that required intervention became apparent.

  11. ryankelly

    Don,  I’m not talking about intervention for students in need of intervention.  It is the dividing students in to tracks, whether they need intervention or not, sending children into an honors program vs. regular program at age 8.

    1. Don Shor

      I don’t know about calling it ‘honors’, but it is pretty clear by 3rd grade whether or not a child is learning at a faster pace. Faster learners benefit from separate instruction. When they don’t get that, they can become disruptive and bored, and their learning suffers. They aren’t getting what they need. This was my experience and that of one of my kids. There’s a reason tracking begins at that age. Are you actually questioning whether children should be tracked based on learning pace and aptitude?

      1. ryankelly

        Don, did you read the research report and/or watch the School Board meeting?    The researchers concluded that the AIM program as it is now is not a GATE program, but rather an honors program.  The AIM program has conflated gifted intelligence with high-achievement and acceleration.

         

  12. sos

    I think it’s very clear that the AIM program is a “faster learner” program and I agree with Don that we need to address the needs of these students. A classroom that moves too slow for a student is just as problematic as a classroom that moves too fast. But a separate classroom invites gaming of the admission process, inflexibility that doesn’t accommodate students who are advanced in one subject but not necessarily in another, a regular classroom with a higher percentage of students who require an inordinate amount of teacher time, and GATE students still left without a program designed for their    issues. Differentiation can be difficult, but I know it works because it was done at North Davis under Judy Davis. Differentiation for reading, writing, and math began in first grade, and stepped up to a rotating classroom between 3 specialized teachers in 4th grade. Almost no students left to join GATE because the NDE program was so popular.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for