A Perspective on Recent School Board Actions

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

By Robert Poppenga

Last Thursday, as community member after community member spoke on the value of the AIM program to their families, we learned again a simple truth: many families move to Davis because of its superior public schools. As home to one of the best public universities in the world and to a highly educated population, our community is acutely aware that a quality public education begins at a very early age and is dependent on parents working closely and cooperatively with our elected School Board, School Administrators, and teachers in the trenches. The diversity of speakers was also impressive: all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds were represented.   A common theme of parents with children in AIM was that the program provided an environment in which their children felt understood and accepted.

Another truth emerged from the comments made: speakers felt blindsided by recent School Board decisions regarding the AIM program; decisions that don’t appear to have been based upon a fair and open process. Many individuals who were not present at last Thursday’s School Board meeting have also expressed concern over the lack of process and an apparent headlong rush to make significant changes to a longstanding and integral District program.   The rationale for rushing decisions regarding the AIM program remains unclear to many.   One apparent impetus for change, the AIM Report by UCD researchers, has not received sufficient public or peer scrutiny.   Although statements have been made that children already in the existing AIM program will be unaffected by any actions taken this year, the possibility of unanticipated consequences harming the program during the transition have not been addressed. For example, would the retirement of a current, well-qualified AIM teacher result in difficulty hiring a properly trained replacement given the intended phase-out of the program?

Restoring trust. Improving transparency in how the District conducts business. Opening lines of communication. Basing policy decisions on sound evidence. All of these were topics discussed at length by candidates during last year’s School Board race. They were discussed because of missteps by the prior School Board and the candidates universally agreed with a need for improvement in these areas.   Many community members were hopeful that the new School Board would set a different tone and find ways to work cooperatively with a variety of stakeholders to further improve all of our schools. Unfortunately, recent decisions regarding the AIM program and the AIM coordinator suggest that the need for restoring trust and instituting more transparent processes has not been embraced by all Board members and brings into question how the District can manage other substantive changes in the future.

If a majority on the School Board truly takes to heart the desire of the community for a new way of conducting District business, they should take a step back and develop a comprehensive and unbiased strategy to identify program options that fully meet the needs of all of our students, including those who are high achieving and gifted and talented.   Vanguard reader Don Shor, in response to Debbie Poulos’ AIM commentary of June 24th provided a detailed outline of how a school district could go about adopting a new program model. While the process was specific to gifted programs, there is no reason why it couldn’t be applied to any new program being contemplated.   Briefly, the steps involve 1) educator/parent partnering to examine an existing program and alternative delivery models, 2) spending time to understand what works or doesn’t work with the existing program, 3) visiting sites using alternative models to find out what works or doesn’t work with the alternatives, 4) determining resource needs for any contemplated changes, 5) weighing advantages and disadvantages of any change, 6) making a recommendation to the School Board and including a rationale, supporting evidence that a change is likely to be superior to the status quo, and a cost estimate, 7) piloting the proposed model and prospectively monitor its effectiveness, and finally, 8) deciding if the pilot was sufficiently promising to implement more broadly.

In my view two keys to success are 1) making sure that members of an educator/parent committee or task force are open-minded, unbiased, and have learning and achievement for all students as the primary focus and 2) ensuring that the community is kept well-informed throughout the process and has ample opportunity for constructive input.

The School Board should be a force for consensus building and compromise; this is the path toward greater community trust. Paraphrasing Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald’s comments in a previous Vanguard post on June 20th, it’s ok for the Board to admit that it made a mistake and that the issue (AIM) needs to be examined more carefully. She also acknowledged that conducting business “the Davis way” might take more time. However, if a well-reasoned, fair and transparent process is followed, irrespective of the issue being considered (e.g., AIM, junior-senior high school reconfiguration, later school start times, or PE requirements for athletes), the ultimate winners are our children and schools.

Robert Poppenga is a Davis Parent, a Professor of Clinical Veterinary Toxicology at UC Davis and ran for school board in November 2014.

 

 

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75 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    Restoring trust. Improving transparency in how the District conducts business. Opening lines of communication. Basing policy decisions on sound evidence. All of these were topics discussed at length by candidates during last year’s School Board race. They were discussed because of missteps by the prior School Board and the candidates universally agreed with a need for improvement in these areas.   Many community members were hopeful that the new School Board would set a different tone and find ways to work cooperatively with a variety of stakeholders to further improve all of our schools. Unfortunately, recent decisions regarding the AIM program and the AIM coordinator suggest that the need for restoring trust and instituting more transparent processes has not been embraced by all Board members and brings into question how the District can manage other substantive changes in the future.

    i think poppenga nails it here – it’s too bad he’s not on the school board.  the issue of trust is paramount here.

    1. DavisAnon

      I agree.  Davis got it wrong in the last election by not electing Poppenga. I did support him at the time as I like his focus on process, transparency and rebuilding trust, but I also completely underestimated how poor a couple of our newly elected trustees would be on the Board. They don’t seem to understand the concept of ‘public servant’. Almost makes you miss Nancy Peterson lol.

      1. ryankelly

        Well, more people supported other candidates and he didn’t win a seat.  The article is an opinion, similar to any commenter on this blog.  Just because he ran for election, doesn’t elevate his opinion above all others.

        He does zero in on the problem – Step “1) educator/parent partnering to examine an existing program and alternative delivery models” but, “1) making sure that members of an educator/parent committee or task force are open-minded, unbiased, and have learning and achievement for all students as the primary focus.”  Therein lies the challenge when dealing with parents who purportedly moved here for the GATE program (aka strong Davis schools) and threaten to pull their children out of the Davis schools and/or campaign against local school bonds if anything is done to change the program.  Anyone on the committee who doesn’t support and actively campaign for the status quo will be accused of evil wrongdoing.

  2. wdf1

    Poppenga:  Briefly, the steps involve 1)…

    Bob, it’s hard to see how many of these steps differ from the work of the AIM Advisory Committee.  It seems like you propose duplicating work that has mostly already been ongoing, up through step 6.  Step 7 onward requires some school board action/approval.  Evidence of this work and discussion comes from the release of the AIM Master Plan.  This is probably a key section of interest for ongoing discussion on differentiated instruction.  It would seem that Lovenburg’s motion was, in part, movement to begin enacting step 7.

    You state that these steps were suggested by Don Shor, but at one point recently, Shor seemed unaware if the committee was active, and hence may have been unaware of their ongoing work.  

    One point that you make that I think is valid is the issue of communication.  But that is also a challenging issue.  How do you get the public interested in and aware of the work of the AIM Advisory Committee?  From time to time there have been various public updates made in open school board meetings.

    What would help is some more regular background reporting by the Vanguard to give some context for what is going on and what has happened.

     

    1. Don Shor

      Having now read the minutes of the AIM committee, I do not feel that they were clearly involved in the steps Bob cited from my previous comment. It’s also difficult to determine the extent to which the current board majority is using AIM committee recommendations, or even what their guiding principles are as they take action on AIM issues. Staff has been directed to determine resource needs for differentiated instruction, which is one component of step 4. I question your conclusion, to put it mildly. If they wish to give the AIM committee more direction, the board could certainly do that.

      Briefly, the steps involve
      1) educator/parent partnering to examine an existing program and alternative delivery models,
      2) spending time to understand what works or doesn’t work with the existing program,
      3) visiting sites using alternative models to find out what works or doesn’t work with the alternatives,
      4) determining resource needs for any contemplated changes,
      5) weighing advantages and disadvantages of any change,
      6) making a recommendation to the School Board and including a rationale, supporting evidence that a change is likely to be superior to the status quo, and a cost estimate,
      7) piloting the proposed model and prospectively monitor its effectiveness, and finally,
      8) deciding if the pilot was sufficiently promising to implement more broadly.

      To give credit to the original source of these suggestions, here’s a link: https://tip.duke.edu/node/725

      1. ryankelly

        I think that these are appropriate steps to move forward on any redesign of how we deliver GATE services.  Very logical, but I wonder whether our Administration has the time, energy and resources to accomplish this or anything close to this.

      2. ryankelly

        How would a committee be formed and who would want to be on it?  Anyone and everyone would be immediately labeled as pro-AIM or anti-AIM.    It would be professional suicide for educators or professionals in Davis and bringing in experts from outside Davis for even from UC Davis will be discounted merely because they are not part of the community.

    2. wdf1

      Don:  Having now read the minutes of the AIM committee, 

      Online minutes don’t go back far enough to evaluate development the Master Plan, which I take to be a standing blueprint of action.  I assume that earlier minutes might exist in hard copy, possibly subject to a public information request?

      I would invite you to look at the GATE/AIM Master Plan, which calls for, among other things:

      STANDARD 3.1 Differentiated curriculum is in place that responds to the needs, abilities, and interests of intellectually gifted and high achieving learners and facilitates the ability of each student to meet and exceed the core curriculum standards. This differentiation, which focuses on depth, complexity, appropriate pacing, and novelty, is but one part of the whole picture. The curriculum must also provide for the balanced development of critical, abstract and creative thinking, high level problem solving, advanced levels of research and curricular content, and products which are both appropriate and authentic, so that each individual within the program is able to learn in a manner uniquely appropriate to personal interest. 

      I wonder why so much fuss when this has already been mandated.

      1. Don Shor

        I wonder why so much fuss

        Probably because some people want to get rid of self-contained AIM, some people want to shrink it dramatically, some people want to have differentiated AIM at all schools, and the board hasn’t clearly identified its guiding principles as it takes actions that appear to be moving towards undefined outcomes. Maybe the fact that any change will affect hundreds of students and parents who are enrolled in a program that they presently like. Or maybe you were being sarcastic?

        1. wdf1

          No, I was not being sarcastic.

          So you believe these issues weren’t properly vetted in preparing the Master Plan?

          Eliminating self-contained AIM is neither politically nor pedagogically viable nor wise.  And I genuinely think all school board trustees want to keep the self-contained option.

          The AIM program will be offered the same for next school year as this past school year.  Personally I would like to see a credible differentiated instruction option offered the following school year.  District staff has been tasked with evaluating resources and parameters to determine what is possible.  That is appropriate groundwork to begin discussion for where to go next.

           

    3. Bob Poppenga

      I agree that the AIM Advisory Committee would seem to be the appropriate group for evaluating and recommending modifications to the AIM Program.  However, over the last several years it has not been as effective as it could or should have been due to a variety of reasons.  One straightforward reason (in my opinion) is that it is probably too big.  We could debate other possible reasons at length.

      It is my impression that step 3 is typically ignored for the most part by our District.  On an earlier post, you mentioned Rocklin’s GATE program.  I’m not aware that there has ever been any outreach to that District to learn more about how their program works (or doesn’t work).  The California Association for the Gifted office is in nearby Sacramento – were they ever contacted about helping to identify other Districts willing to share their experiences or offer advice?   I was on the Professional Development Task Force as part of the District’s strategic planning process in 2013-2014.  It made sense to me early on to spend time looking at PD programs in other successful Districts and not reinvent the wheel if an exemplary program was already established but, unfortunately, almost no time was spent doing this.  

      I agree that steps 7 and 8 are under the purview of the SB, but those really shouldn’t be stumbling blocks if the other steps are completed successfully. 

      It is probably true to say that the District has followed each of the steps in some form or fashion at some point in time over the years.  However, I think that the key would be to institutionalize the process so that whatever process is adopted it is followed consistently across the full spectrum of issues.  The proposed steps are not written in stone.  Merely trying to recruit and appoint appropriate folks to serve on committees or task forces would be an interesting process question by itself. 

      One significant limitation to the success of any process that is designed to look at complex issues (seemingly any educational issue!) is the individual and collective time commitment required to do a thorough job.  It takes significant time to look at other programs, to read and understand the strengths and weaknesses of evidence that supports or doesn’t support a particular position and, perhaps most importantly, communicate effectively (yes, I agree, that is a significant challenge).   

       
       
       

      1. Ingrid Salim

        It made sense to me early on to spend time looking at PD programs in other successful Districts and not reinvent the wheel if an exemplary program was already established but, unfortunately, almost no time was spent doing this

         

        Bob, I wonder why you say this?  I was part of the same Strategic Action Planning Group as you were, and my group spent the entire last half of the sessions exploring other programs, internationally and in the states.  We reported on them twice in the larger group.  And our work informed the final plan, which I helped write.  I am not sure how it is you formed your opinion, but it’s really quite misinformed.

  3. iWitness

    And I genuinely think all school board trustees want to keep the self-contained option.

    WDF1, what they said, regrettably, is that they want to keep the self-contained option only for those students who cannot be successful  in a classroom with best practices of differentiation.  That’s what they said.  It’s not clear where these troubled, at risk students will be found, or how, because none of the highly gifted will fulfill their potential outside the self-contained classroom.  They could all be troubled and at risk without a peer group large enough for friendships and emotional support and others to play with ideas with them.  (Parents who say their kids did just fine without self-contained classes don’t really have any idea how they would have done with them.  Sounds good, but only big studies can do that, big, reputable, peer-reviewed studies incorporating previous decades of peer-reviewed results.  Not individual experience of kids who did well enough.  Is that what we want in Davis?  Well enough?  Just fine?  Okay?

    Every teacher has to differentiate for his students, GATE/AIM teachers as well as others, because no two students or clusters are alike.  Differentiation is not a cure-all for the highly gifted.  They are already different enough.  Think a classroom with 32 different levels!  Even obviously gifted students, let alone the ones hidden by risk factors, will not fulfill their potential without teachers who are also compacting curriculum, developing critical thinking skills in their students, and using other long-successful techniques they learned getting certification, and who have experience with bringing out the best in their gifted students.  Some of these teaching techniques may work to some extent for high achievers — in other ways than how they work with highly gifted students.  The goals and the tools are different.  How they learn is different.  How fast they learn is different.  WHAT they learn is different.

    Now that it’s the answer to everything, don’t let’s allow the Board to forget that differentiation works differently for very different children!  I suspect differentiation is the weak link in their thinking.  Otherwise, why would they condone clustering?

    1. MrsW

      …because none of the highly gifted will fulfill their potential outside the self-contained classroom.  

      How does DJUSD confirm and track this?

      1. wdf1

        iWitness: none of the highly gifted will fulfill their potential outside the self-contained classroom

        MrsW:  How does DJUSD confirm and track this?

        iWitness’ statement is a subjective one, as the followup posting indicates:

        A further reply to WDF1, who might ask how I “know” none of the gifted will fulfill their potential.  I was thinking about the emotional and relational support of the self-contained classes, not just the support of the teachers, but of the other students.  I have seen child after child blossom, wake up, find joy in GATE/AIM classes, and make lifelong friends.

        That’s fine, but the problem is that iWitness is passing subjective judgement on others, such as my own kid.  One of my kids was GATE identified, did not take part in a self-contained classroom, and I can say with just as much (subjective) authority that she fulfilled her potential nevertheless.  At the time the self-contained option wasn’t viable for her.  It would have been nice to have tried out a differentiated instruction option, but that wasn’t available at the time.

        1. hpierce

          Another interesting question, to which I have no answer, is what happens to kids who “need” the self-contained classroom, when they go into college?  When they enter the workplace?

          I grew up with kids in a G&T system (was one myself), and the fact is those kids generally excelled in elementary/Jr High, and in HS, even though G&T ended with 8th Grade.  Most excelled in college, but some had ‘nervous breakdowns’, and one committed suicide when they couldn’t live up to the expectations they, their parents and/or the system had ‘set’ for them.

          There are some truly gifted kids who find it hard to fit in with the general peers, and many contibuters are correct… they do think/process information differently than most.  That is real.  They need not only academic/intellectual challeges, but emotional and social support and education as well.  The latter is probably more crucial in the long run than being kept in “incubators”.  The Davis system needs serious work.  It should not be deleted, but needs reformation.

        2. iWitness

          The better question would be how does DJUSD intend to confirm and track this?  They never have done so before.  They have no credible evidence at all that they have tried to do so.  So people have the choice of imagining anything they want to about the success of the self-contained classes.  Because the Davis program is excellent, or was, the State certification of the program’s Master Plan here was extended without the need for review, from one year in many districts, not to three years in some districts, but to five years in only three districts in the State.  That’s, y’know, a pretty good program, which is starting to look like toast.  I did retrench a little on my claim, which I believe to be the truth, because it has been years since the gifted were last mainstreamed into non-self-contained classes and nobody seem to remember that.  But I knew these students over many years.  Yes, not all of them met their full potential despite being in self-contined classes.  One I know didn’t because of a progressive illness.  Others chose relatively easier career paths.  Satisfied?  See my comment below. A further reply to WDF1, who might ask how I “know” none of the gifted will fulfill their potential.  I was thinking about the emotional and relational support of the self-contained classes, not just the support of the teachers, but of the other students.  I have seen child after child blossom, wake up, find joy in GATE/AIM classes, and make lifelong friends. This is something I “know” only because I don’t believe there is any commitment to giving gifted students the  appropriate education for them by sprinkling them a few here or there, with some teachers who are philosophically opposed to differentiation.  One child in my family was in that person’s class.  And I don’t think that all teachers no matter how convinced of the benefits of differentiation and its possibilities will be able to do it, it’s adding an extra three or four reading, math, spelling, whatever groups to classrooms where there already are four to five of them when people bother to cluster.  And this staff and Board are not of a mind to spend time on the situation now, let alone in a couple of years.  I know from experience that my being in a very heterogeneous classroom all during public school didn’t keep me out of the college of my choice, or from doing very well there.  It was, however, soul-killing when it wasn’t laughable.  Five or six classmates survived with me, out of 200.  Many of the rest became fine people, gifted or not, but several of the top ten went down in flames immediately if not before graduation.  And there was a de facto advantage in that the teachers knew us personally and didn’t let us get away with less than our best.  But that’s not fair grading practice, either,  it is?

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t believe there is any commitment to giving gifted students the appropriate education for them by sprinkling them a few here or there, with some teachers who are philosophically opposed to differentiation. One child in my family was in that person’s class. And I don’t think that all teachers no matter how convinced of the benefits of differentiation and its possibilities will be able to do it, it’s adding an extra three or four reading, math, spelling, whatever groups to classrooms where there already are four to five of them when people bother to cluster. And this staff and Board are not of a mind to spend time on the situation now, let alone in a couple of years.

            Exactly. Thank you.

        3. iWitness

          Dear Mrs. W, I am not passing subjective judgement on others’ children, and particularly not your own.  I haven’t seen your kid.  I’ve seen my own and their friends through the years, and you can’t argue with other parents who say their children blossom, wake up, find joy and make lifelong friends, especially all those who came to the school board meeting to say exactly that.  But what you don’t know is all subjective, though it’s harder, in my experience, for highly gifted kids in hetero classes.  Experience can be subjective, but don’t you mean my experience isn’t valid?

           

        4. hpierce

          If a teacher in DJUSD is ‘philosphically opposed’ to diffentiated instruction, they should be ‘strongly encouraged’ (at a minimum) to find employment elsewhere.  Period.  End of opinion.

        5. wdf1

          iWitness:  Dear Mrs. W, I am not passing subjective judgement on others’ children, and particularly not your own.  I haven’t seen your kid….Experience can be subjective, but don’t you mean my experience isn’t valid?

          First, I think you attribute to MrsW a statement that I actually made, critiquing the subjective nature of your statement, “none of the highly gifted will fulfill their potential outside the self-contained classroom.”

          Yes, your experience subjective experience is valid.  I hope that you allow that my subjective experience is also valid.  I give you the space to say and belief, “My kids are the most wonderful kids in the world” if you will allow me the space to believe the same about my kids.  You will get in trouble, however, if you use that belief to openly devalue the experiences of others, which is what your statement, “none of the highly gifted will fulfill their potential outside the self-contained classroom” does.

          For the record, I support a self-contained GATE/AIM option, but I also support a credible differentiated instruction option to serve not only GATE/AIM-identified students, but all students.  Both can exist.  It would add to the menu of options that are already available to students in this district: neighborhood schools, DSIS, Spanish Immersion, Dual Immersion, Montessori, Da Vinci, plus the numerous course options available at the secondary level.

        6. wdf1

          iWitness:  The better question would be how does DJUSD intend to confirm and track this?  They never have done so before.  They have no credible evidence at all that they have tried to do so.  So people have the choice of imagining anything they want to about the success of the self-contained classes.

          In saying this, I’m assuming that you’re referring to measuring whether students have fulfilled their potential or not?  I don’t think you can propose an agreed upon set of measures that says potential is fulfilled for students of these ages.

          To some it is about course grades and standardized test scores.  For others it is about having a variety of interesting life-building experiences, or it could involve being well-rounded, or being passionate about something, or developing social and leadership skills, or some combination of what I have mentioned.

          Included among these possibilities for fulfillment, is the ability to work (effectively) with people of different abilities, backgrounds, learning styles, and orientations.  There are parents of GATE/AIM identified students, some of whom are now in the self-contained program, who feel that a self-contained program is inadequate to meet that objective.  Again, I grant that a self-contained program is appropriate for some students, but that is a choice to be made by parents in consultation with their kid and school professionals.

          But quantitatively measuring the absolute quality of school instruction is a dead end.  There are measures that suggest where improvement should definitely occur, such as regular failing grades, it’s mostly not a good thing if students drop out of school without a diploma, if a student is too much involved in the disciplinary system, if climate surveys show notably high negative answers.

  4. iWitness

    A further reply to WDF1, who might ask how I “know” none of the gifted will fulfill their potential.  I was thinking about the emotional and relational support of the self-contained classes, not just the support of the teachers, but of the other students.  I have seen child after child blossom, wake up, find joy in GATE/AIM classes, and make lifelong friends.  It’s important,  especially for those who are at risk, to be in a class with others like them who are not.

    1. wdf1

      iWitness:  Differentiation is not a cure-all for the highly gifted. 

      I agree with this statement; but would point out that the self-contained option is also not necessarily a cure-all for all highly-gifted students.  Self-contained GATE/AIM works well for a number of students, as you have passionately pointed out.  A more prudent course is to have all reasonable options available to students.  It is reasonable to have a self-contained option, it is also reasonable to have a differentiated instruction option.

      There is a de facto differentiated instruction model that exists in the Montessori program at Birch Lane by virtue of having multiple grades in the same classroom.  Is it perfect?  Probably not, but there is evidence that families and students are happy enough with it that it can draw enrollments that are sustainable.

      Looking at alternatives for a differentiated instruction option that can serve GATE/AIM students is not unreasonable.

  5. Ingrid Salim

    As a long-time science teacher in Davis I have taught all ‘levels’ of students, including GATE almost every year.  Everything else not withstanding (process, trust, communication etc), the point of conflict between various community members centers around the percentage of students who have been, here, identified as ‘Gifted’ (note, Highly Gifted is not the denotation), and the fact that two thirds of those elect for the self-contained program.  There are many of us, parents, teachers, community member, not present at that last Board meeting but speaking out in other ways, who simply do not condone the labeling of 30% of our youth as ‘gifted’ in 3rd grade, and see detrimental effects to other courses and students of pulling 20% out of regular classrooms and into self-contained ones.  Folks can claim, subjectively, that their 3rd grader would not have reached his or her potential were it not for the self-contained GATE option, but that isn’t evidence.  Yes, the Gifted (stated as 6-10% of students, by the National Association for the Gifted) may need specialized instruction that is highly individualized — determined by their difficulty in a regular classroom).

    Those who have been identified as Gifted in Davis, from the perspective of this teacher, more often fall into a ‘high achieving’ category, making the ‘program’ (really, there is little that unites GATE classrooms in Davis — they are taught by different teachers in many different ways) more of a tracked honors program.  For many of us, the exclusivity of this approach is problematic.

    Why I agree with many posters that differentiation is complicated, with the presence of technology and much professional development around the implementation of Common Core, the timing has never been better for outfitting staff with the tools to differentiate.  Indeed, every class classroom should look like the ideal GATE classroom.  There is no child in the world who will not benefit from engaging, dynamic instruction, creative and meaningful tasks and some say in how all that happens.

    I urge all the proponents of the status quo to consider what justification they might make for labeling 30% of our children as Gifted, so very much higher than any other agreed-on number by experts, and what evidence they have that these children, by grade 3 (when they are tested and identified) are being under served in the regular classroom, and so NEED a self-c0ntained environment to succeed.  If the motivation is simply to maintain an elitist program, I’m not really sure there can be much dialogue.

    1. David Greenwald

      I appreciate your thoughts Ingrid – this is precisely why I think we have to have these kinds of discussions. I don’t have a problem looking at the 30% number, but my concern is looking at the OLSAT identification numbers and TONI identification numbers – if we reduce that 30% number are we doing it at the expense of diversity. I’d really like to get a better understanding of who qualifies, what their needs are, and how best we serve those needs.

    2. Don Shor

      You are correct, Ingrid, that when you use terms like exclusivity and elitist, there won’t be much of a dialogue. I urge you and others to reflect carefully on those terms and how they might be perceived by others. I’ve heard them a lot over the last couple of decades of this discussion.

      Folks can claim, subjectively, that their 3rd grader would not have reached his or her potential were it not for the self-contained GATE option, but that isn’t evidence….
      …what evidence they have that these children, by grade 3 (when they are tested and identified) are being under served in the regular classroom, and so NEED a self-c0ntained environment to succeed.

      Your post here calls into question the whole premise of self-contained GATE. You, and most, seem to agree that there is some percentage of kids who really need self-contained GATE. Yes? So how do we identify those kids?
      Overall, you, like some others here, seem to be advocating dismantling the current self-contained model and replacing it with a model where 90% of gifted-identified kids learn in the regular classroom with teachers who have been trained to accommodate them. And that some small percentage of kids remain in self-contained classes — somehow, somewhere.
      Until proponents of this model explain to me what test is going to identify those kids and provide sufficient critical mass of numbers that self-contained classes could be filled with those who need them, I don’t see how you can get there from here. Simply reducing the number of gifted-identified doesn’t do it. In view of that, I would say that the status quo serves the gifted-identified better than the direction the school board seems to be going. And other proposals simply haven’t been put forth with sufficient clarity to see how they would improve on the current system.

      1. hpierce

        Not “dismantling” (word chosen because it’s either status quo, or nothing to you, as appears to be the case with many?), but “changing” (neutral term), or “reforming” (my vision).

      2. MrsW

         I would say that the status quo serves the gifted-identified better than the direction the school board seems to be going. 

        On what basis?  What have  you seen from DJUSD that confirms and tracks that the gifted ARE being served? Where is the evidence that gifted non-white non-asian students who enroll in the program are sticking with the program, once enrolled? Can we agree that graduating from high-school is a lowest-common-denominator sign of Public-school related achievement? Have you seen a comparison between graduation rates of AIM and non-AIM students?

        1. Ingrid Salim

          Or would not be served in a regular classroom setting?

          Actually, this comment begs another issues I’ve seen popping on Vanguard:  the term differentiation is being thrown around in odd ways, from the filing of a Brown Act Violation over the inclusion of a 20 year old educational concept that most teachers use in some form or another, to vague references of how it is or isn’t possible.  I’m wondering what peoples’ (especially non-educators) idea of differentiation actually is, and how they think a DJUSD ‘GATE’ classroom (elementary or secondary) is actually different from any other today on any campus?

           

          1. Don Shor

            I assume that the board directive to staff “developing a plan for the district which fully implements differentiated instructional practices in classrooms,” since it was in reference to AIM, involves training teachers how to expand their current curriculum offerings and teaching practices to better serve students who have identified as gifted. This presumes, since Board is directing staff to do this, that it is not presently being done in a systematic way with respect to those learners — though it may well be, as you indicate, “a 20 year old educational concept that most teachers use in some form or another.” Thinking back on my child’s fourth grade class, the teacher was working very hard to deal with a half-dozen students who had emotional issues, special learning disabilities, and behavior problems, and was probably attempting to implement special practices for those kids. Working as a classroom volunteer, I could see the range of what she was dealing with and what a challenge it was. Learning differences were very clear, and 3rd/4th grade definitely seemed like the time to identify it formally. Meanwhile, the faster learners were not getting what they needed.

      3. Ingrid Salim

        I was a bit confused about your comments, Don, on éxlusivity’ or élitist’?  These are just definitions, are they not?  GATE is a program that has excluded all students except those identified in our district.  Because the program excludes, it is exclusive.  As pointed out by others in this conversation we offer a number of intellectual, art, music and sports opportunities that are exclusive as well……but not until 9th grade at the earliest.  The exclusivity become elitist, in that others desire to be part of the program but are denied.  Again, just definitions.  Not even judgment, as there are plenty of circumstances in life where those are appropriate categories.

        It’s not that we would now teach the 90% of GATE identified kids in the regular classroom.  We would first redefine what we mean by GATE (and for that, there are many resources of other districts and institutions which advocate for Gifted human beings).  I would contend that a far fewer percentage of currently identified gifted students in Davis are actually what experts would agree constitutes gifted.  I’m happy to hear evidence from national experts on this, but nowhere have I seen students in these numbers identified.  The highly gifted student, however, whose experience in the classroom will be the first clue that they need a different setting, would also need a smaller class size, and the teacher would need a smaller ratio in order to individualize to the degree that would be necessary.  I have no idea whether district staff is realizing this, too, but there are not enough of these kids in the general population to warrant a regular FTE ratio.  The premise is that there are plenty of currently GATE identified students who do not meet national standards for GIFTED, and do not need a self-contained classroom to have their needs met. The other premise is that there is somewhere between 3 and 10% (estimates vary depending on the source) who really are quirky, highly gifted human beings and will not be served well in a classroom of 32:1.

        Honestly, we could use the same testing protocols we’ve been using, but with higher cut-offs.  That’s one of the issues around this entire concept: the olsat measures how successful a child is in school, which can be very useful, but not necessary indicative of giftedness; the olsat is designed so that 2% of the population score at 132 or above, the usual cut-off used in other districts.  The scores are normed to a bell-shaped curve after that, but there is no written correlation of scores and abilities.  Every district is free to set their own score, or percentage of children they wish to identify.

        I want to be personally very clear:  every classroom should serve all students, unless a student has needs that simply can’t be met.  Every classroom should look like the ideal GATE classroom (and not all GATE classrooms look like that now, and many non-GATE classrooms do).  No parent or colleague I’ve spoken with has any wish to see bored, unchallenged, non-growing students.  We are just convinced we can do it in our classrooms, to the success of all.

        1. Don Shor

          I was a bit confused about your comments, Don, on éxlusivity’ or élitist’? These are just definitions, are they not?

          That depends entirely on how they are used.

        2. wdf1

          I think the term elitist carries some baggage that isn’t helpful for constructive conversation.  The perception (of elitism) may be there to some, but I don’t think it’s the intent of most of the participants.

    3. iWitness

      Ingrid, you are the one capitalizing Highly Gifted, not me and highly gifted is often the denotation.  You haven’t been following the numbers in this discussion if you missed the 50% gifted in La Jolla, and the figures for San Diego.    Thank you for quoting to me the proportion of students whom the National Association for the Gifted thinks need specialized instruction, etc.  But that’s an organization that I respect too much to accuse of making that a mandatory cut-off nationwide, without the possibility that more  gifted–“impacted” districts with higher percentages could ever exist.  Davis is one of those.  Also, in other districts around the country, children are often tested and identified gifted and highly gifted in second grade.

      My motivation is to maintain a broadly diverse, egalitarian program, it’s to see that all gifted children have the best education for them, just as all children should.  I believe that for the highly gifted that’s a self-contained program because in a regular classroom they will twiddle their tiny thumbs for years if not forever, or till they drop out, get their GED and go straight to college, no thanks to our high tax rates which our administrators at least can certainly afford easily.  Self-contained classrooms with prepared teachers are the most cost-effective solution to educating inside and outside them.

       

       

    4. Frankly

      Ingrid, I have read and re-read your post here and each time I have a stronger sense that “Ingrid knows best.”

      This, especially, caught my attention:

      Why I agree with many posters that differentiation is complicated, with the presence of technology and much professional development around the implementation of Common Core, the timing has never been better for outfitting staff with the tools to differentiate.  Indeed, every class classroom should look like the ideal GATE classroom.  There is no child in the world who will not benefit from engaging, dynamic instruction, creative and meaningful tasks and some say in how all that happens.

      Why should differentiation be so complicated?  In my management experience developing new employees to high levels of confidence and competency I would say the job is “challenging” but not “complicated”… and it is certainly rewarding… especially given the alternative.  Sure young students are more challenging with their myriad of unique problems and undeveloped frontal lobes and lack of emotional control… but really they are just smaller version of the same given the labor pool we in business have to deal with.

      My dream is that public education becomes a school of one for every student.  Every student is special needs and each needs a custom education plan/path to foment engagement and progress.   And I know you are correct in suggestion that today is a good time to embrace this approach.

      If, instead, we are going to draw the line at some assessment standard and create a self-contained program for students above the line, then we need to have many more assessments and lines and also give those students a self-contained program.  A single self-contained program only for those with academic gifts would be a exclusionary reward for them having the luck of academic gifts.   I think you hit on points that to many this just doesn’t sit well.

      From my perspective any academic separation is an indication that the system is broken and we are just applying a patch.  Frankly (because I am) think the Davis public schools already do a good enough job challenging the more academic-gifted students and also taking care of those struggling the most.  It is those kids in the middle… often brilliantly artistic or creative… but lacking those academic gifts from our rich academic parental gene pool… more often left behind and disengaged.

      My preference would be to scrap AIM/GATE and integrate full individual student differentiation in the classroom.  It sounds like we are already moving in that direction.

      1. Don Shor

        My preference would be to scrap AIM/GATE and integrate full individual student differentiation in the classroom.

        That would be extremely harmful to the students who need self-contained GATE.

        1. Frankly

          Completely disagree with this… especially “extremely”.

          So, is it the fact that these special student must mingle with all those lower students that causes this extreme harm?  You think we need to pull them away from all this academic riff-raff in order to provide them an adequate education?

          1. Don Shor

            No, and please don’t impute those attitudes to me. They need classes directed by teachers who have been specially trained to deal with the learning styles and behaviors of gifted kids. Just as students identified for special ed need teachers and settings designed for their learning styles and behaviors. Overall those things don’t occur in a regular classroom.
            My opinion, and our experience, is that this is most critical at the elementary grade levels. Fourth grade was a disaster for one of my kids. Special Ed + self-contained GATE were both necessary. Getting teachers to adhere to the IEP was a challenge. Getting less-trained teachers to properly provide differentiated instruction to GATE kids, normal learners, and special ed kids will be very challenging and I think the ones likeliest to get short-changed will be the GATE kids. Why? Largely because of attitudes like what you expressed in the way you phrased your question.

        2. Frankly

          Ok, so your point is that this small percentage of kids that are special needs because they are gifted academically requires that we dedicate the most highly-trained teachers to them and the lesser teachers get to teach all the rest?  And you don’t see this as elite and damaging to the rest?

          You, and wdf1, have previously blasted my criticism of the Davis schools as being less than adequate for my two bright but not academically-gifted kids as being my problem not supplementing their education to fill the gaps.

          So why not put this same demand on parents of kids with academic gifts?

          1. Don Shor

            Not “the most highly-trained teachers.” Teachers who have special training for that particular group.
            Thanks for repeating your “elitist” insult. No, it is not damaging to the rest to teach children at the level at which they learn. It is better for all of them.
            The other teachers are not “lesser.” Frankly, I am going to ask you point-blank to stop using provocative rhetoric constantly on the Vanguard. I, and many others, would appreciate it if you would discuss issues without resorting to this type of language.
            When my child was flunking out of 4th grade, I intervened to try to get the best placement to deal with the situation. I would urge any parent to do the same. Had your child been flunking, I suspect you would have done the same. That turned out to be, in the case of this child, GATE + Special Ed. My other child didn’t need any intervention or special accommodations.

        3. wdf1

          Frankly:  You, and wdf1, have previously blasted my criticism of the Davis schools as being less than adequate for my two bright but not academically-gifted kids as being my problem not supplementing their education to fill the gaps.

          More than once you have said that Davis schools should have technological-based education, individualized instruction, and project-based instruction, and how that sort of thing would have benefited your kid(s).  I pointed out to you that the district has much of what your looking for as part of the Da Vinci Charter Academy and Davis School for Independent Study.

        4. Frankly

          Da Vinci Charter Academy and Davis School for Independent Study.

          So the “regular” school, these two, King High School and AIM/GATE…. this covers every student need in your mind?

        5. Frankly

          Thanks for repeating your “elitist” insult.

          My frank point that it is perceived as elitist, and you would do well to consider that instead of getting defensive.

          1. Don Shor

            No, I don’t consider GATE to be elite. I’m not responsible for the misperceptions of others, but I can certainly point it out when others perpetuate that belief. And it’s happened twice on this thread alone, adding to the dozens of times I’ve heard that — and worse — from non-GATE parents over the years.

      2. wdf1

        Frankly:  So the “regular” school, these two, King High School and AIM/GATE…. this covers every student need in your mind?

        Da Vinci and DSIS addressed major criticisms that you were making.  There is always room for improvement.  Differentiated instruction will require an investment in professional development.  That kind of money wasn’t available during the Great Recession, and is now only becoming available.

    5. lotaspark

      I have become increasingly frustrated as people seem to think that because a high number of Davis children become “gate-identified” it means that the testing for the program is inadequate and somehow that also means that the program is not of any value to the children in it. While on a district committee last year, I was handed a breakdown of the levels of education parents at each school in the district had. Do you know that at Willett 50% of parents have a masters degree or above? Only 2% just had a high school diploma. The high level of education here is unheard of in most communities in the country, but that doesn’t mean it is not true or that those parents didn’t benefit personally or professionally by getting that specialized education. The Davis community is not a typical California town. Most people choose to pay the ridiculous amount it costs to live in Davis to give their kids a superior education to what is currently being offered in other cities. An education that offers a lot of choices so that parents can help meet their child’s individual needs.

      I spent two hours a week volunteering in my child’s 2nd grade class where he was blessed to have amazing teachers. Even with their patience and gift for teaching, they spent the majority of the day trying to deal with the kids with discipline problems, the children identified as Special Ed, and the handful of kids who didn’t speak a word of English. When it came time for the conference, I was informed he was doing fine since he understood what was being taught and wasn’t a trouble maker. Just because he was surviving didn’t mean he was thriving, being challenged, or engaged in the class at all. In fact he started to hate school because of this! 3rd grade was a repeat of 2nd grade. A friend of mine who is currently a teacher explained to me the issues the teachers are facing. We as a society have dismantled Special Ed, instead turning towards inclusion, we got rid of ESL (English as a second language) and hoped the kids would learn it during class (meaning that the instruction being taught while the child was learning the language was lost), we eliminated almost all forms of discipline the teachers could use, and we started grading the teachers and the schools based on the test scores of the students. Since teachers’ and school funding depend on those scores,  it behooves them to work with the lowest scorers to try to raise their grades and not spend time with the advanced and/or gifted students because they were already receiving scores that hit the state’s norms.

      Thank God for the AIM program. It was the first time my son felt understood during his quest to find out the answers to the world’s problems, was actually encouraged to think outside the box, and wasn’t made fun of because he was “a nerd” for wanting to learn as much as possible. He ended up completing the 4th grade having gotten to the 6th grade curriculum. There is no way that this could have happened in a “traditional” classroom as there are too many kids with too many needs that differed from his own. It is ludicrous to think that parents choose AIM because they want to be “elitist” or segregate their kids. Are parents called that when their child is enrolled in Special Ed, Spanish immersion, or the Montessori program? Of course not! Like every other parent who has their child’s best interest at heart, we are trying to find a learning solution that best fits our child’s learning style and needs. So before making the AIM program a case of “us” vs “them” realize that every parent is just trying to do right by their children and give them the opportunity to be the best that they can be. AIM is just one of the many programs offered in Davis to do that. Unless we get rid of Spanish immersion, Montissori, and Special Ed and determine that “all” kids should be in the “traditional classroom” since one teacher is sufficient to meet all their needs, we should be happy as a community that we can offer one more program that benefits the children of Davis.

  6. MrsW

    What strikes me about this discussion is that it is a series of stories.  The program’s success is “measured” by swapping personal experiences and deferring to expert opinions.  There are no numerical measurements, even rudimentary ones like graduation rates, to inform the discussion or provide another line of evidence.  No trend analysis has been performed.

    Under these conditions, it would seem that collecting as many stories as possible would paint the most complete picture of the AIM program. Here is another story for your consideration–I harp on graduation rates because at least three of our youngest child’s 6th grade GATE classmates have now dropped-out of high school. I find this alarming. These are brilliant minds who will contribute wherever they land–but it’s not academia. And the families of those students who dropped out, heard what we heard when our GATE child was failing eighth grade, ninth grade, and tenth grade. When we appealed to administrators and AIM teachers, what we heard was “we have the experience and training to work with GATE children, but between keeping the high achieving students engaged and attending 504 meetings for the other low achievers,” we “don’t have time” to even try to reach your child.

      1. MrsW

        Why do you think those students dropped out of school?

        I have two hypotheses as to why their academic, social and emotional needs were not met by DJUSD, despite being in the GATE program–why the GATE program did not have an inoculating effect.  My first hypothesis is that the GATE Master Plan has never been adequately funded or implemented.  My second hypothesis is that the program, as actually practiced, cannot fulfill its mission with respect to capturing human capital that has historically been wasted (for lack of a better term) because by junior high, they are no longer program’s target market, if they ever were.

         

         

        1. Don Shor

          they are no longer program’s target market, if they ever were.

          I certainly agree with this. By junior high it was obvious that DSIS was the best option for my GATE child. It’s too bad that didn’t work for the kids you know.

        2. MrsW

          To try and be complete.  I asked two of the kids “why?” and my child asked to the third’s sibling.  The first said that school had been easy before junior high and when it got hard, he didn’t want anyone to know that he now had to work at it.  The second, who was on track for a National Merit scholarship, told me that he didn’t like being considered a “nerd”.  The third’s sibling said he didn’t like to be told what to do. My understanding is that the first two reasons are classic.

          Agree about DSIS!!! DSIS was right for our kid too, and, again anecdotally, I think they’ve kept a number of AIM/GATE kids in school.

        3. wdf1

          MrsW:  I have a hypothesis that these issues related to disaffection and dropping out could affect students of any intellectual/cognitive ability.  We tend to measure cognitive/intellectual ability as a sign of educational success, to the exclusion of everything else.  It creates a kind of dysmorphia unhealthy self-identification akin to various pathologies of body self-image — thinking one is too fat or not thin enough, or not buff enough to the point of being detrimental.  I think of it as academic anorexia — that one’s GPA or test score can never be high enough.  Or at the other end of the spectrum, thinking that one isn’t academically competent enough to be worth anything in school.  Or another variant, maybe a student is academically brilliant, but academic work may not be a personal passion.  The increasingly intense focus that our schools have on cognitive, intellectual, and traditional academic performance leaves out many other key aspects of life and maturation — social/emotional growth, artistic/creative development, and various soft skills.

          There are plenty of growth and developmental benefits that can come from participating in a range of extra-curricular activities, such as performing arts (music, art, dance), athletics, newspaper, yearbook, vocational/technical arts, cheerleading, visual arts, robotics, quiz bowl, debate, student government, service-oriented organizations, junior ROTC, Junior Achievement, FFA, etc.

          If there were more credible effort made to encourage, even obligate participation in a broader range of these kinds of activities, students would be happier and more successful overall — not dropping out, moving more quickly into a productive trajectory, fewer discipline issues.  Maybe a smoother transition from elementary to junior high.  Under the status quo regime of educational accountability as measured by standardized tests, there is no short-term payoff to focus on extra-curricular participation, especially if districts are under pressure with test benchmarks.

          As it is now, these activities are not particularly encouraged, or made accessible.  Students who have a lot of academic drive may avoid extra-curricular activities because it interferes with study time.  I know of two different very talented students who dropped out of high school band and orchestra because it was not an AP class and they couldn’t get an extra grade point for the class.  Instead they signed up for another AP class to try and get their GPA as high above a 4.0 as possible.

          And there are serious access issues to many of these extra-curricular activities.  For instance, most athletics is de facto pay to play.  In order to fully participate on school teams, one must have started out on one of various private clubs, like Little League, Aquadarts, AYSO or Davis Legacy, Davis Hoops Basketball, Davis Volleyball Club, etc.  It’s hard to imagine that DJUSD would care to invest in early athletics/physical activity programs to develop students to play at a more competitive level in secondary school.

          A traditional strength of American public education has been the wide array of non-academic, extra curricular activities schools have offered.  In recent decades we have become so uptight about not scoring as well as Korea or Finland on standardized tests, that it has been easier to justify dropping arts, athletics, voc/tech, and plenty of other things that might make school more interesting.

        4. Frankly

          wdf1, you remind of a person that has right foot on the gas and his left foot on the brake, spinning hard and making a lot of smoke but unwilling to travel to the destination you seemly want to visit.

        5. wdf1

          Frankly:  Ironically, that’s exactly how I would characterize your position, especially with respect to using standardized tests (the status quo, by the way) to measure what is important about education, and yet you want education to be more than what it is today.

        6. Frankly

          Funny how we agree on so many things and yet disagree.

          On standardization tests… your argument is that they are not helping as much as they are disrupting the alternative which you see as being better.  My argument is standardization testing is far from perfect but better than the alternative as previously demonstrated and with no substantive proposals on the table to do anything different than what has been previously demonstrated.  I demand modern reforms, and you say “show me the evidence that it works”.  I show you data from business that develops millions of workers and satisfies millions of customers, but you say that isn’t the same and does not apply to students.  I also say “there is a fast field of historical data that backs my claim that the education system as a whole is far from adequate… even crappy in a lot of places… and so reform is justified” and you say… if only we would rid ourselves of the standardization testing things would be good enough.

          1. Don Shor

            I demand modern reforms

            And we both repeatedly show you how those have been implemented in the Davis school system.

        7. Frankly

          And we both repeatedly show you how those have been implemented in the Davis school system.

          Including demand for carve outs for “gifted” students because the existing school cannot meet their needs. Right.

          1. Don Shor

            GATE, Special Ed, Spanish Immersion, Dual Immersion, Da Vinci, DSIS, King, Montessori…
            What’s your sudden thing about gifted education? It hasn’t been one of your targets before. Is this just an opportunity to bash schools in general, or do you have some actual specific issue with it? Do you have some experience with gifted programs?

        8. wdf1

          Frankly:  Including demand for carve outs for “gifted” students because the existing school cannot meet their needs. 

          The argument for self-contained vs. differentiated instruction tracks along similar lines as discussions about mainstreaming in the area of special education.  Another child of mine was identified for special ed., but it was very important to his psyche that we try a “mainstreaming” approach.  From a different angle, the special ed. community talks about equivalent models of self-contained vs. differentiated instruction.  I think it’s a deadend to take sides in an either/or debate.  There are definitely students who are better served having a self-contained option. Better to make both available and have the variety to try out.  In Davis there is enough demand for both of these models.

        9. wdf1

          Frankly:  My argument is standardization testing is far from perfect but better than the alternative as previously demonstrated and with no substantive proposals on the table to do anything different than what has been previously demonstrated.

          In my opinion, standardized testing is not even ready for prime time.  One of the biggest mistakes that we have made in education is putting as much faith as we do in standardized test scores.  The longer I watch education discussions and news, the less faith I have in the high value we place on AP, SAT, ACT, STAR tests, OLSAT, TONI, and PARCC and SBAC (the last two being Common Core standardized tests that will start appearing more frequently in the news) and the list goes on.

          If you would hire someone in your line of work based mostly on a standardized test score, then do share why.  If you would hire someone based mostly on a standardized test score, then it would probably be unnecessary to interview that person, or you might let your secretary do it if at all.  You would likelier hire someone based on how well they present themselves to you in an interview, social skills, a certain breadth of past experience, indicators of work ethic, motivation, creativity, personality traits.

          If education is about preparing students for the “real world,” then what is “real world” about a standardized test?

           

        10. Frankly

          What’s your sudden thing about gifted education? It hasn’t been one of your targets before. Is this just an opportunity to bash schools in general, or do you have some actual specific issue with it? Do you have some experience with gifted programs?

          Let’s use a hypothetical.

          I have a group of new young employees that I hire and then test them and then I carve out the group those that test as “gifted” and give them special instruction, special projects, special development techniques, special, special, special…   Remember that they were all hired at the same level and have the same end performance goals to graduate to the next level in their careers.

          I would probably be hit by lawsuits.

          Now how about I take the approach that every single employee is unique and I use situational leadership and differentiation to give each one of them what they need personally to develop and be successful?  And in the end their successes will likely be defined differently.

          Which one of these approaches sounds more right to you?

          What amazes me is the seemingly blind dichotomous logic for grouping kids into special groups while demanding a socialist system that makes every adult equal.

          My thinking on this is that you and wdf1 primarily connect with the academic world and are pursuing your self-interest while railing against the economic world that you feel connected for pursuing their self-interest.

          My thinking is that young people need copious one-on-one customized / differentiated development because we cannot afford not to and because they are in our care and don’t have life experience nor decision rights, and that the adults can and should be grouped primarily because we cannot afford to care for and adopt infinite differences of people that have personal rights and decision authority.    My thinking is that you have it backwards.

          1. Don Shor

            you and wdf1 primarily connect with the academic world and are pursuing your self-interest while railing against the economic world that you feel connected for pursuing their self-interest.

            Huh?

            What amazes me is the seemingly blind dichotomous logic for grouping kids into special groups while demanding a socialist system that makes every adult equal.

            Who the heck are you arguing with here? You think I’m a socialist? Where are you getting this stuff?

            Which one of these approaches sounds more right to you?

            Neither. One of my children needed self-contained GATE (and special ed). The other didn’t need either, and excelled in a normal classroom environment.

        11. wdf1

          Frankly:  My thinking on this is that you and wdf1 primarily connect with the academic world and are pursuing your self-interest while railing against the economic world that you feel connected for pursuing their self-interest.

          Weird thing to say, Frankly.  It’s as if you really didn’t read what I was saying.

          My thoughts posted above were on the excessive focus on academic outcomes at the expense of other non-cognitive outcomes, non-cognitive outcomes which have as much bearing or more on the real world, such as getting hired for a job, a point I was making here.

          After your apparent oversight, maybe I really should go back on my position and hammer away at the lack of adequate reading skills in adults like yourself?

          1. Don Shor

            It was an extremely weird thing to say. Apparently I’m pursuing my self-interest in the academic world by running a store.

    1. MrsW

      When our dog was a puppy, I took a class from Dr. Sophia Yin at UC Davis, that included a lecture on her research–how mammals are motivated.  Fast forward to when my child was struggling in school and….well, Frankly’s article sums it up. A clearer understanding of human (mammal) motivation would improve school effectiveness, I think.

  7. MrsW

    I have a hypothesis that these issues related to disaffection and dropping out could affect students of any intellectual/cognitive ability.

    I think that’s true and not a hypothesis!  I think your examples are right on about the kind of dysmorphia unhealthy self-identification, as well as what is going on in our culture and what we should rethink and resist.

    But part of what is sold to parents who enroll their children in the DJUSD AIM program, is that the program will reduce the amount of underachievement observed in the gifted population, including the drop-out rate, which is purported to be higher in the gifted than the general population, especially those of lower socioeconomic status*.  It is also used as a major justification to the community, for why DJUSD tracks students at 9 years old and why they should accept the in-school administrative inflexibly and social consequences of segregation.

     

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifted_At-Risk

     

     

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