Sunday Commentary: Thursday’s Public Comment Illustrates the Importance of Proper Process

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It may be argued that Thursday’s public comment vindicates the school board’s vote on June 4, but I would strongly argue against that view. To me it illustrates why the public needs to be properly and fully noticed about major changes to public policy.

Let us not be deceived here – what occurred on June 4 was a major change to the GATE/AIM program. Interestingly enough, some of the changes would probably be supported by those favoring the current program. But any chance for consensus was destroyed by the perception of a heavy-handed approach by the board, particularly in the unceremonious dispatch of Deanne Quinn – a beloved figure.

Ms. Quinn stepped up for the school district at a low point where every dollar counted and was willing to retire and come back at just .4 FTE to run the program that she had run for two decades. She probably deserved better than to have her contract rejected by a 3-2 vote without comment.

That was one of the focal points for the public commenters – and that the board majority chose to use personnel laws to avoid discussing their reasoning for the decision only pours salt in the wound.

Marla Cook probably said it best when she said, “If what you wanted to do was change the program, I’d like to suggest a better way to approach it than a late night vote on an item somewhat on the agenda and one not listed on the agenda.”

She offered not just criticism but a way forward. She suggested the district take the entire next year to hold public meetings on the subject of AIM and differentiated instruction. These meetings, she said, should include those happy with the program and those “happy to have it gone.” She said, “Lead a productive dialog, listen to them all.”

Ms. Cook did not shy away from the elephant in the room either. She said, “For a while now the school board has been accused of playing to person issues – the volleyball scandal comes to mind – when the AIM committee suggested changes in the program five years ago we suggested raising the qualifying scores, offering training to all teachers… board members then looked away…”

But this was the big problem all along – the board has now pushed the ball forward well ahead of where at least the parents of GATE students knew it was going. People I have spoken to agree that things like private testing and identification methods should be looked at – but they also wanted to be informed of changes in advance and have a chance to have their say and influence on how the program changes.

This figured to be divisive and perhaps the board thought they could avoid this divisiveness. However, now they have generated distrust.

As Thursday night showed, they certainly got the attention of the GATE parents and, if not by the June 4 vote, then by dispatching of Ms. Quinn.

But now it gets interesting. It was easy for the board majority to pass the vote on June 4. There were few people in the room. The Brown Act specifically precludes a governing body from taking action on items that are not agendized. From our view, once the board moved from private testing to differentiated discussion – they crossed the line.

It’s a fine line but it’s an important line. It is easier to cast a vote when the room is empty. It is much harder to cast a vote when they have a room full of angry parents ready to breathe down their neck. And they may well do it – but public policy decisions of this magnitude should be different and uncomfortable.

Avoiding this discomfort breeds distrust and contempt – something that the board members who were elected last November steadfastly said they wished to avoid.

Christine Farnum expressed concern about the process. She said that she’s been paying attention to the school board meetings. “I was completely blindsided by these two decisions, didn’t expect them, didn’t see anything about them on the agendas or have any reason to expect that the process for eligibility would be so drastically changed and that the coordinator would be eliminated.”

She added, “I’m not the only person that feels blindsided and whose trust in this and the board has really been shaken.” “I know that GATE can be a divisive issue in our community. People feel like it creates a divide. These last two decisions have created a huge gap.”

Ms. Farnum speaks for many on this matter and it is a firm illustration of the importance of process and full notification.

While the June 4 vote brings up questions about the Brown Act and proper notification, the decision to reject the VSA (variable services agreement) over the recommendations of staff is a different matter. It was fully noticed on the consent agenda. And while Madhavi Sunder suspected something was up with that vote, the public did not.

The Brown Act is the floor for public notification. It is the legal rules that a governing body must adhere to. However, it should serve only as the very baseline. The Deanne Quinn VSA serves as a reminder that something can pass muster and yet not be the best public process.

The item was placed on the agenda for June 18 – after school had gone to summer recess. It was a consent item – which is reserved for routine and non-controversial or contentious matters. The district staff put it on there, recommending that the board approve another VSA.

There is nothing illegal about the process – items go on consent all the time and get pulled. But it certainly did not give the hundreds, if not thousands, of parents any warning that something was going to change.

The consequence of that action reverberates into future decisions and the trust of the community. One hundred and five minutes of public comment on Thursday probably represents only the tip of the iceberg.

Board President Alan Fernandes firmly believes that the actions taken on June 4 were not final actions but rather the first step in the process. That belief is likely shaken a bit by the board decision on the VSA, but I think there is a more fundamental problem and it comes out in the tone of the comments from Thursday.

The public believes – or at least a percentage of the public believes – that the school board tried to sneak major changes through the back door, late at night and at the end of the school year, when parents were thinking about graduation, vacations and summer activities for their kids.

The board is talking about a discussion in July and a special meeting in September, but really, the damage is done. The community is divided and a sizable segment has lost trust in the school board.

I thought this was the very thing we wanted to avoid most of all.

Alan Fernandes, for one, warned the community last November that rebuilding trust is critical because, without trust, the community is not going to continue to support parcel tax expenditures that enable the school district to fiscally stay afloat.

“My top priority as a board member is to restore the public’s trust,” Mr. Fernandes stated last November. “The school board needs the confidence of the community to effectively develop and implement policy and procedure for the schools.”

Already some have mentioned a potential opposition or reluctance to support a future parcel tax. That perhaps goes too far in the direction of cutting off our noses to spite our faces, but it does show where this could be headed.

If anything good can come from this, perhaps it is not too late for the board to back off their vote in the face of the Vanguard’s Brown Act complaint and take the route that Marla Cook laid out – bring the stakeholders together and have a plan that everyone can work with.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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.

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41 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Thursday’s Public Comment Illustrates the Importance of Proper Process”

  1. zaqzaq

    The previous school board looked stupid during Vollyballgate.  The school board and district lost the trust of the public that it could properly function.  With four new members this school board has done the same thing with the AIM (GATE) program.

    There are vocal opponents to the AIM program that use inflammatory terms like elitist, tracking and segregation to attack it.  Even after these attacks this program is popular with parents and yearly has a waiting list.  At least one family sued the school district when their child did not get into the program resulting in the implementation of the controversial lottery system.  Many of the parents of the children in the AIM program feel that their child will be harmed if the program is changed.  Many of these same parents have friends with children in other school districts that describe the pull out GATE program in those districts as a joke confirming their belief in the current program.  Many of the teachers in the program feel strongly that this program is the best way to serve this student population.  Any change to the program, whether in the dead of night or with proper notice to the public, will create controversy.

    This school board has lost the trust of many parents and the public with the way it has handled the AIM program this month.  They will feel the wrath of members of the public who feel that the AIM program was,is or will be important to the success of their children.  Maintaining the trust of the public is important when the school board regularly asks the public for money through additional parcel taxes.  Davis is a community where the parents are intelligent and active in their schools.  My message to the board is that this issue will not go away over the summer or in the dead of night.  It will be back with a vengeance.  There is nothing scarier than a mama bear or lion protecting their cubs when they feel threatened.  That is what  is happening now.  They are moving to reduce access to this program and that scares many parents.

  2. PhilColeman

    A proposed employment contract (VSA) involving a low-level school employee is up for renewal. This employee’s performance is monitored and a continual basis, written performance reports are routinely prepared by the employee’s supervisor(s).

    This packaged information of performance and appraisal is passed up the chain of command, two to four additional levels of review and analysis. Each of those higher levels of supervision and monitoring can offer supportive or opposing comment to the original review. as appropriate.

    The school CEO, the final administrative authority, the one who serves at the pleasure of the School Board, gives his final stamp of approval for renewal of the VSA contract and its placed as a routine item on the Board Consent Calendar. Despite the shared recommendation of approval, in secret session the Board majority rejects the recommendation, thus terminating the employee.

    School Board members perform a part-time job. Essentially, they are part-time workers who convene periodically to render broad-based public policy decisions furthering the welfare of the School District. They are the epitome of “Big Picture” people, or so one would assume. Hundreds of employees, managers, and administrators oversee the day-to-day operation of the school district. Their exposure to the daily workings of the district far exceed the oversight of board members by many multipliers of numbers, depth, and intensity.

    What divine power does at least 3 members of the School Board possess that allows them to overrule the shared judgment from trained supervisors and administrators, folks who see the employee at work every day? If these senior subordinate employees are so inept in their judgment of work performance of school district employees, perhaps the Board should proceed forthwith to terminate every employee who endorsed this particular VSA contract renewal.

    But an even more fundamental question remains unaddressed, despite it having been raised in the earlier sordid DJUSD personnel action. Why does the Board feel the necessity to inspect and approve every employment contract from low-level and part-time employees? It is in their job description only because they choose to have it there.

    1. SODA

      Agree Phil, as I was reading your comment, the same thought surfaced for me. This was brought up during the volleyball discussion also. Why don’t they discuss POLICY and change the time consuming, even if on consent, duty of approving 99% of these.  Thanks for the reminder!

    2. Jim Frame

      What divine power does at least 3 members of the School Board possess that allows them to overrule the shared judgment from trained supervisors and administrators, folks who see the employee at work every day?

      No divine power required for this circumstance:  a hugely popular program with rabidly supportive parents who all want their kids to be identified as “gifted and talented” and treated to elite instruction, despite the fact that few if any other school districts have such a large proportion of students so identified.  (As in Lake Wobegone, in Davis all the children are above average.)  What district employee wants to incur the wrath of such a vocal parent contingent, when it’s so much easier to remain employed by keeping one’s head down and not do any heavy lifting?  It’s circumstances like these in which leaders are needed, and if leadership isn’t coming from staff it has to come from electeds.

      1. Don Shor

        A very popular program with supportive parents who want the best for their kids. Makes you wonder why the board would seek to dismantle it.

    3. hpierce

      The same divine power that CC council has and has had to ignore years of warnings from public works staff, including those most knowledgeable, their supervisors, the department head, and the CM about not enough resources for street maintenance.  That goes to ‘god-head’.  Other than that, I see no analogies.

  3. hpierce

    Anticipating that a criticsm of this question will be “dinstinction w/o difference”, I’ll ask anyhow:

    Was the vote on the VSA a ‘motion to approve’, which lost 2-3; or a ‘motion to deny’, passed by 3-2?

    Depending on the answer, I could see, on a ‘motion to approve’ having two strong advocates, but possibly one or more nay votes being “unsure, so won’t vote ‘yes'”.  If it was a motion to deny, it is clear that were three unambiguous votes to terminate the VSA.

    1. Tia Will

      hpierce

      Wow. I don’t see this as a distinction without a difference at all. I think that you have asked a really significant question given that board members are being accused of all kinds of nefarious motives here. I sincerely hope that someone knows the answer to your question.

      1. PhilColeman

        I don’t think this is hair-splitting either. The answer(s) would give insight to the concealed thinking and discussion that went with this ruling. For that reason alone, the vote and how the vote question was phrased is likely hidden from public scrutiny as well.

      2. hpierce

        For you and Phil… scroll down a bit… the truth will set you free… or, if you trust not me, see DJUSD meeting video stating around 0:55:30.

    2. iWitness

      Alan Fernandes voted against the majority on June 4 stating that he wanted to wait until the question of what would happen to the program was better examined before eliminating the head of the program.

       

  4. Tia Will

    David

    Thanks for this very clearly written explanation of the issues. I think that you inadvertently ( or deliberately) answered all of the questions that I had posed. I am in complete agreement that the process here was flawed. I do not believe, as some clearly do, that there was any nefarious intent, but I do believe that there should have been full  public discussion of all aspects of the pros and cons of this program prior to the item being brought forward.

    What this reminds me of although there are obvious differences is the issue of the MRAP. We have a situation in which what is perceived as a “major change” whether it is in reality or not is enacted prior to the opportunity for public input. This might fly completely unnoticed in some communities, but that will not be the case in Davis. On the very first public comment on the MRAP, many spoke against its acquisition. I spoke against the process of introducing it to the community with no prior opportunity for public ( or even council input). Within our community, this is a losing proposition. We are engaged, intelligent, and yes, opinionated and will not easily give up without a thorough vetting of all points of view. In my mind, this is as it should be. It would appear that this did not happen in the case of AIM/GATE. I am sure that if after a complete vetting, major changes were voted for by the board, there would be many very disappointed and even angry parents. But at least they would not be able to criticize on the basis of something being “snuck past them”. This was an opportunity lost.

  5. Tia Will

    Already some have mentioned a potential opposition or reluctance to support a future parcel tax. That perhaps goes too far in the direction of cutting off our noses to spite our faces, but it does show where this could be headed.”

    I think that the fact that this issue keeps coming up illustrates that this is not just one person saying this before the school board as a poster implied yesterday on a separate thread, but rather a real consideration. I also think that this is a very flawed thought process.

    So let’s take that example of a “mama bear or lion” protecting her cubs when she feels they are threatened. For me, the best way for the mama to protect her young is to directly confront the threat, not to stop bringing home food for her young because she thinks this will harm someone else or because she thinks that other cubs may get some of it along the way. Her cubs still need food and cutting off the supply will not help anyone.

     

  6. sos

    You can’t discuss the board action without discussing the history that drove that action. There is a history of community disagreement going back more than a decade, with periodic escalations of the discord. Each time, previous boards refused to engage in any meaningful discourse, and the end result was always the same…parents behaving badly until everyone quit and went home. The last escalation ended with an AIM parent committing fraud against other AIM parents who refused to sign the AIM petition. But one thing did come from the last escalation…the agreement from both AIM and non AIM parents that we should seek input from the education experts at UCD. The report makes us look like fools, and resulted in the board directing the district to come back with an admission process that addressed the issues. It’s fine to debate the rashness of the boards action, but you also have to discuss that 70% of AIM students failed to qualify for AIM. Any discussion of the boards action has to begin with a discussion of the unacceptably high failure rate of the districts admission test.

    1. iWitness

      SOS, was input from the education experts at UCD ever solicited by agreement of AIM (or any) parents?  The education experts at UCD have been nothing but critical of the GATE/AIM program for nearly its entire existence, in the face of mountains of research that it  works from other Ed schools.  Gifted education is not UCD’s strong suit.   The experts tried hard (?) but found the subject way too easy.  They used our children’s data, sadly the wrong children’s data, the ones who weren’t even in the end IN the program.  So of course they don’t show impact positive or negative on anyone.  Who are the fools when citizens have questions the experts can’t answer?

      Yes, many students fail to qualify for AIM with the first test. When you test everyone with a group test because it’s cheapest, you miss students who need AIM most. Minorities and children with problems that would affect their success (on testing) are currently retested at no extra cost, when their scores fell within the test’s published margin of error.  Some of these students had high math scores but because of known risk factors, their scores were depressed.  I’m for giving every child who needs AIM and qualifies for a second chance, a second test.  They’re tested as eight-year-olds!  You don’t see mass exodus because they can’t do the work in AIM.  Ask their teachers, who know them, if these kids are unqualified, or lobby for a better test.  And pay for it.

  7. Don Shor

    From the Enterprise:

    Roberson said the AIM office is closed, as is customary during summer, and will reopen on Aug. 12. He also indicated there likely will be a special school board meeting to discuss gifted education on July 9. Details regarding the time and location of that meeting will be posted once they are confirmed.

  8. hpierce

    Confused… my question was on the nature of the VSA vote, not the ‘outcome’.  Think my question remains unanswered… was it a positive motion to approve, which failed, or a motion to disapprove, which passed.

  9. sos

    iWitness, during the last dust-up (a few years ago), AIM parents specifically asked for the board to seek input from UCD Education department. The UCD Education department does not have a history of being critical of GATE, to the contrary, they have had past involvement in the testing structure. While Ms Quinn represents that retesting is for students who were disadvantaged on the OLSAT, the facts say otherwise. The majority of students who are admitted through retesting are Asian or white, the median OLSAT score of retested students is in the 70th percentile, and given the high rate of acceptance of retested students we could expect more than 60% of students to qualify if all students were given equal opportunity (retested).

    1. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

      AIM supporters of the program did not ask the Board to seek input from the UCD Education Department. A UCD Education Department professor volunteered assistance at a Board meeting. The Administration supported this. Some members of the Board who supported the AIM program asked that the UCD Education Department look at all the school’s special programs, not just AIM, thinking that would be unfair to single out one program.

      The UCD education researchers wrote a letter supporting Archer and Adams in the fall campaign. http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/letters/two-are-especially-qualified/  They did not support the only two UCD professors who were running–Popenga and Sunder.

      Can you tell us when the UCD education department had “past involvement in the testing structure”? There was someone at Sac State, who was involved, but he was not one of the people doing the studies here.

      1. iWitness

        Whites and Asians do represent the majority populations in Davis.  There is more representation in AIM of the overall composition of Davis’s population than in the other parent-choice programs and that’s the best any program can do in a town like ours.  Please don’t give me an argument to that, SOS, you just don’t know the facts.  Majority and minority groups alike can have students with less than perfect verbal skills and other risk factors.

        Thank you, VoiceOfReasonInDavis.  But I bet that despite our attempts to stay within the realm of reality, SOS and others who find it useful will make SOS’s version a future “truth” by constant repetition.

  10. hpierce

    Well, had to answer my own question by vewing the tape of the meeting:

    Facts:  Adams requested the VSA be removed from the consent calendar.  When the item was considered, it was a motion by Alan, seconded by Sunder, to approve the VSA.  The motion failed 2-3.

    Conjecture… did Alan move, as a courtesy?  Normally, the member who made the motion to remove would make a motion, or the Chair would wait to see if another member made the motion. Had Sunder made the motion, would Alan felt a need to second, as a courtesy – so as not to have the motion fail for the lack of a second?

    Sunder kept calling it a “firing”.  Alan was very clear that not re-approving a VSA is not a “firing”.

    I’m clear in my own mind what the above indicates, but I’ll let others draw their conclusions.

  11. hpierce

    “She probably deserved better than to have her contract rejected by a 3-2 vote without comment.”

    Untrue, or misleading on two counts.  Truth is a new contract was NOT approved on a 2-3 vote.  Also, Adams, Sunder, and Fenandes made comments.

    So much for “reporting”.

  12. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Thanks for going after this missing bit of information. It may not make a difference in many minds. But I believe it is worth knowing what actually happened.

  13. Adam Smith

    Yes, what actually happened is that multiple layers of administration recommended approval of Quinn, who has overseen a much lauded gifted education program.   The majority rejected that recommendation, without comment (other than Adams, who spoke of the need for a full time employee, without explaining why the current level of staffing is inadequate). And other than Sunder (according to Sunder via Quinn) no other board member reviewed  Quinn’s personnel records.

    I believe those are the facts.  Most else in this discussion is conjecture.

  14. ryankelly

    David, If the Board does as you suggest and drops the part of the motion that directs staff to implement differentiated instruction, what are we left with?  Private testing no longer accepted by the district and no alternate given to parents.  From reading the minutes of the AIM advisory committee, parents are having their children privately tested starting in kindergarten, before the OLSAT is given by the District in 3rd grade.  The only limitation, I think, is that their children can only be tested once a year, not just once.  I wonder how many famlies prepare for testing – classes, tutors, coaches, etc.

    I understand that Junior Highs have dropped offering Honors English, and all high-achieving students are placed in GATE classes regardless if they are tested and identified as GATE students.  Then it is all GATE classes, or all regular program.  No placement just for English, for example.  There is no honors track in Davis anymore.  It is now called AIM, until High School, when AP classes take over.

    So where does this leave true GATE students who are in the AIM program, but not high-achieving and the high-achieving students that are not able to win a seat in AIM?

     

  15. ryankelly

    iWitness – there is a lack of trust in the community that the testing, re-testing, and pre-testing process is being done correctly.  If re-testing using the TONI were offerred to all students, it is estimated that roughly 60% of Davis students would qualify for AIM.  Would you support that process?

      1. ryankelly

        A significant portion of the community – people who have asked for reform in the past, people who have read the research reports, people who voted for non-pro-AIM candidates, GATE families who didn’t make it through the lottery, families with underachieving GATE identified students that are not served well by the current program, people without kids that are appalled by the alarmist rhetoric of pro-AIM parents…

        That wasn’t my question though. Would iWitness support universal the expansion of the use of the TONI that may identify up to 60% of Davis students as “gifted?”

        1. Don Shor

          Since the TONI is used as a backup for students identified for secondary assessment due to economic status, health concerns, disability, primary language other than English, etc., your hypothetical is pointless. Is somebody proposing that the TONI be used as a universal test?

          I see by reviewing the AIM Advisory Committee minutes that they reviewed the various tests for their pros and cons during a fairly recent meeting. I didn’t search enough to find what their recommendations were to the board or whether the board even considered the AIM Advisory Committee’s discussions.

          If the issue is testing, the Board should focus on testing. Everything they’ve done so far leads to the conclusion that testing is not their primary concern.

          people who have asked for reform in the past, people who have read the research reports, people who voted for non-pro-AIM candidates, GATE families who didn’t make it through the lottery, families with underachieving GATE identified students that are not served well by the current program, people without kids that are appalled by the alarmist rhetoric of pro-AIM parents…

          Which category are you in, ryan?

      2. ryankelly

        Why does it matter which specific category I fall into?  It is such a weird question.

         

        The White research paper indicated that the TONI was being used inappropriately for risk factors (children of divorced or remarried parents, as a specific example) that it wasn’t designed for and virtually every student that was retested using this test was scoring in the 99th percentile.  If every student was offered retesting using this test, the results would be that a very large portion (60% or more) of our population would be GATE identified, so why have a separate program with a lottery where only a third of these children win a seat.  Why not have every classroom have “AIM” curriculum and have GATE be only the children who are true GATE students who do not thrive in the AIM environment.   This is where differentiated instruction comes in.

        1. Don Shor

          But they’ve added Slosson. http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/aim-program-sparks-long-late-discussion/
          So your hypothetical is irrelevant.

          Why does it matter which specific category I fall into?

          It matters because you have strong opinions about what programs should be available to students in the district. As do I. Mine are based on my experience as a GATE parent (and a “GATE” student myself — actually seminar in SDUSD). But it seems there are a lot of people in Davis who have very strong opinions about what other peoples’ kids should be doing in school. If you are or were vested personally in the GATE program, it gives me a better appreciation for where you’re coming from.

          Based on my experiences, I strongly believe that a self-contained GATE program is essential for a significant number of students. I also suspect that there is no test or combination of tests that will uniquely identify that supposed 3 – 5% of what you like to call “true” GATE students. And I suspect that reducing the program to that number would make it very difficult to fill any self-contained programs at various grade levels. So as it stands right now, I see the status quo as better than any of the alternatives, and I see the board muddling toward an alternative that would not serve anyone well.

    1. iWitness

      Okay, ryankelly.  You need to ask at the District when it reopens what the approved tests are (were) that were (are) used by the people who do (did) the private testing.  Some States test children for GATE at seven instead of eight, and some even earlier. In Davis we don’t even believe they can be identified before they’re eight.  It’s sort of optional, I guess.

      At each age the test scores are keyed to the age (and maybe the gender/age) of the child.  To stay in the same percentile, the scores go up along with age.    The scores represent not what the children learn, but their innate ability to learn it.  The SAT is an aptitude test to measure how well a student will do in college, yes?  A 1200 in ninth grade isn’t different from a 1600 in twelfth.  At 18 you’re supposed to know more than you did at 14.  1200 may not be the right number, but you get the idea?

      I think those parents who do a run-up to third grade testing are kidding themselves.  Children that young can’t practice taking a private test, they can’t remember and the tests change. (If they can, they deserve to be in AIM.  It’s like photographic memory, very rare.  My mother had it.) It’s not soccer, you can’t train. Practice in this case doesn’t make perfect.  They should practice their tiny violins, that really does help, apparently opening other paths into the mind like, oh, a second language.   I know a tutor but the child, whom I met once, was older; it can’t hurt especially in a family learning English together, which was the case.  And my experience, too.  In Davis that can easily expand, overnight, by word of mouth, into a whole army of the tutored (read, undeserving) children and parents with more money than…  La Jolla parents.

      I have the minutes of the AIM AC and because people who spread greatly amplified information on false premises are getting on my nerves, I may go through them to learn exactly who claimed that parents are private-testing starting at K.   Then I’ll know whether it’s true or pure political spite.  Just because it was said by a parent or even a teacher at the AIM AC doesn’t mean you can believe it.  There are two sides there and each thinks the other is lying (yet we still got a consensus the Board didn’t even look at).  It’s a bore, especially since I think you already know who it is.

      Sometimes it’s the teachers who refer the ones who score poorly on the group test for the TONI or the private test.  Or NOT.   A lot of those 60% you don’t think should be in AIM have high math scores on the OLSAT that indicate there’s more there than meets the eye in the rest of the child.  Others have problems you seem to think are irrelevant to their learning or are in the margin of error of the test.  They should be retested with something that tests their creative thinking, cognitive and spatial ability.  The TONI does this, and it’s cheap.  I’d love the District to spend more money on testing for AIM, and I’d love to be 22 and that naive again.  I’ll go with Don’s comment below on your question.

      1. wdf1

        iWitness:  I think those parents who do a run-up to third grade testing are kidding themselves.  Children that young can’t practice taking a private test, they can’t remember and the tests change. (If they can, they deserve to be in AIM.  It’s like photographic memory, very rare.  My mother had it.) It’s not soccer, you can’t train. Practice in this case doesn’t make perfect. 

        I cited this elsewhere, but the district’s description of the OLSAT test gives the strong impression that it is something that one can develop or train for.  Wouldn’t you agree?

  16. Don Shor

    Here are the GATE-identified percentages for the two elementary schools closest to UC San Diego. In SDUSD they use “seminar” for those who test at 99% and “cluster” for those who test at 98%, apparently using the RAVEN test.

    La Jolla Elementary School: 51.1% gifted-identified, 12.8% in seminar.

    Curie School (University City): 54.1% gifted-identified, 5.9% in seminar.

    So, no, Davis schools are not unique in having a high percentage of gifted-identified students. Demographically Davis and La Jolla/north San Diego have a lot in common. And UCSD is a big influence in the makeup of the student bodies of those two schools.

    1. ryankelly

      I looked at what San Diego is doing.  They appear to “cluster” most GATE-identified students together in regular classrooms varying between more than 25% GATE-identified (They deem this model “Diversity”) and some more than 50% GATE identified (Model: Traditional) depending on the number of students attending that school who are GATE identified.  This is the program at all 100 of their elementary schools.  I assume that this solves the problem of high-achieving students not having high-achieving peers in regular classrooms.

      16 out of the 100 elementary schools in San Diego have what is called “Seminar” programs, students who test in the 99% range.  Each of these 16 schools has one strand (one 4th, 5th and 6th grade class).

      I am going to assume that San Diego is using differentiated instruction for the vast majority of its GATE-identified students. Even with the two schools you identified – La Jolla and Curie – only a small percentage of GATE identified students are placed in the “Seminar” program with the rest, I’m assuming, clustered in regular classrooms.

      1. Don Shor

        The San Diego program would be worth considering in DJUSD. I think those two schools in particular have a lot in common with Davis, as did the ones I attended (my elementary school in La Jolla is gone now). For Davis to consider it, they would need to discuss it with the community in great detail. I think Marla Cook’s comments the other night were on target. It would probably be best to do a pilot program and see how parents, students, and staff respond, and what the outcomes are. That’s a 2 – 3 year process, I’d guess. A pilot program could even be a magnet program, perhaps at Montgomery to build up the enrollment.
        There’s a lot the board could be doing on behalf of improving gifted instruction while retaining self-contained GATE. But they aren’t doing it.

  17. Davis Progressive

    i can see justification for removing the toni but if you are left with the olsat, you are left with 85% of the aim students being white or asian.

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