Commentary: Does District Really Need to Cut AIM Program in Half?

Adam a sixth grader at Willet brought the house down asking the school board to keep AIM program
Adam, a sixth grader at Willet, brought the house down asking the school board to keep AIM program

There has been a lot made about process in the issue of AIM program changes. From the start to the end of the meeting last night, the process has been baffling to me as an observer. It has been three and a half months since the board first cast their vote on June 4 to bring back the superintendent’s report on changes to the AIM program.

Every board member made it a point to praise the superintendent for his work to bring this item forth and, indeed, the superintendent deserves credit for the condensed timeline. And yet, as many in the public pointed out, that was achieved at a great expense of short-circuiting some process.

Board Member Madhavi Sunder noted that there were places where the board agrees. They agreed on the elimination of private testing – although the point was raised that if the board allows transferring students to take a test, the elimination of that might not produce the reduction in the program some might think.

She also noted that the board is committed to a streamlined process for identification, which includes an array of tests.

Board President Alan Fernandes makes a point
Board President Alan Fernandes makes a point

The superintendent issued a statement immediately following the meeting. Superintendent Winfred Roberson said, “This evening the administration put forward our recommendation for the best way to appropriately identify students for our AIM program.  I am confident that there is agreement among our community to meet students where they are as well as to the importance of  effective differentiation.  We look forward to continuing this discussion on October 15.”

Indeed, the Superintendent’s position on differentiation is one of those areas where I came away somewhat perplexed. He told the board that “differentiation is a philosophy, not a program.” He really could not specify to the board how it is expected to work.

Members of the public who spoke, including educators and former board members, worried that differentiated instruction could not work in class sizes of 30. Many argued we needed to cut classes by one-third, down to 20, in order to make it work.

On the other hand, the superintendent did address one perplexing issue for me. Many of the advocates for change believe that the AIM program should be for those student who are gifted but who underachieve in the mainstream classroom. High achieving students, they believe, would be better served through differentiated instruction.

Teacher Greg Brucker got a little animated at the end of public comment
Teacher Greg Brucker got a little animated at the end of public comment

However, the program that is set up does not attempt to distinguish between high achievers and gifted students. Instead it creates a bright line for 98th percentile achievement on the OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test). Everyone who achieves at least the 98th percentile would make the program, and those who do not might have an alternative route in through some form of retesting – where again they would have to achieve at the 98th percentile.

“There is no easy way to distinguish between high achieving students and those who are intellectually gifted,” Winfred Roberson said. And thus they create a system that does not distinguish between the two. Fair enough.

Those who have been reading my thoughts understand that I remain concerned that, given the limitations of the OLSAT, minority and underserved students might be underrepresented in this process.

The district is attempting to avoid this problem, first by looking into risk factors and re-testing students through tests like the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test and the TONI (Test of Nonverbal Intelligence). I am disappointed that the superintendent never attempted to address my question on the projected racial and ethnic breakdown of the AIM population under this proposal.

Board got a little silly at times as the hour got late
Board got a little silly at times as the hour got late

“Our AIM program is among the most diverse of the district’s programs,” Madhavi Sunder told the superintendent. She noted her concern about the HOPE (Having Opportunities Promotes Excellence) Scale, stating that, a decade ago, Jann Murray-Garcia had found that the teacher identification process at the time was not identifying enough minority students. “How can HOPE scale get around problems of implicit bias?” she asked.

Winfred Roberson said that we are looking to apply the appropriate test for students.

Ms. Sunder continued, “Are we going to give additional training on implicit bias?”

Mr. Roberson stated that the reason we selected the HOPE scale is it begins to mitigate for the biases. Clark Bryant added that the research is clear that getting the teacher input is vital in the process and the structure hopes to mitigate bias.

However, I was surprised to learn that the teachers in the district were not receiving on-going implicit/unconscious bias training. The last training was over five years ago. There would seem to be some consensus by the board that unconscious bias training would be something they might implement along with these changes.

A hearty group stayed well past midnight with Joan Sallee, former school board member in the middle
A hearty group stayed well past midnight with Joan Sallee, former school board member in the middle

Another question that people asked was about the lottery and whether this plan will eliminate the need for the lottery. Superintendent Roberson stated that he hoped they will not need it, but they are not going to eliminate it. If there is more demand for the program and more students qualify for it than there is capacity, the lottery would be used.

Alan Fernandes said, “The existence of the lottery in my view seems to suggest that for those are unsuccessful in the lottery, we’re not meeting a need.” He said this “suggests that there are some people whose needs are not being met.”

Superintendent Roberson tried to sideswipe it, saying that “it means we don’t have enough seats.”

But Mr. Fernandes pushed the point, “For people who want to be in the program… For those who are unsuccessful in the lottery aren’t able to be in those classrooms that we believe are best suited for them.”

Mr. Roberson continued, “Having the lottery shows me there’s more demand for the program than we have seats.” And he acknowledged that it was, in Mr. Fernandes’ words, “a laudable goal to no longer have a lottery.”

That leads to what I see as the core and irreconcilable issue: the 98th percentile.

AIM-Sept-5

As I drove home last night following some text message exchanges and conversations in the parking lot, I came to the realization that the one issue that I was hung up about was the issue of the 98th percentile cutoff.

As Madhavi Sunder put it, “It looks as though this proposal seriously limits access to the self-contained program.” She asked for the educational or other rationale for raising the cutoff score to 98.

Superintendent Roberson would respond that they didn’t know the rationale for the 96th percentile score either. His report acknowledges that the scores in other districts range from 90 to 99 across communities. He reiterated that this was based on a number of conversations and he even acknowledged, “We are not married to that number.”

This is an issue that opponents of the proposal pounded away at all night long. The district seems inevitably to be moving toward a change that will cut the size of the program in half without having any educational basis for it whatsoever.

For me, I understand the desire and the need for changing key parts of the process that seem broken. Private testing is a way that people with resources can circumvent the identification process. Moreover, Tobin White in his report showed real concerns about an over-reliance on the TONI. I completely support those changes.

I am a little concerned about the implementation of differentiated instruction, but I think that can get worked through. Madhavi Sunder was supportive of the AIM Assessment Team, though she was concerned about the loss of the AIM Coordinator, but there seem to be ways forward from that.

Board member Barbara Archer makes her comments late in the evening
Board member Barbara Archer makes her comments late in the evening

The one area that I just leave with my head shaking is the lack of an educational rationale for raising the qualification and shrinking the program size to 63 to 73.

As Eric Hays, a parent, put it, “Why has the district moved to raise the qualification from something that was already above the average of that scale?” He noted the lack of rationale for that change and called it deeply suspicious that one school board member said that “I support AIM, just smaller.”

For him, this was size defining the program, rather than need defining the size.

As another parent noted, her daughter had ADHD and struggled in the mainstream classroom. She was given the WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) test, and now that she is in AIM, she is doing fantastically. She didn’t made a point of this, but her daughter had scored 97 on the WISC, and that means that under this proposal she actually never would have been admitted to the AIM program.

So here we have – albeit anecdotally – a case where someone who struggled in the mainstream classroom is doing well in AIM currently, but under this proposal, she would not have qualified for AIM having scored 97 on the secondary test.

Board President Alan Fernandes, perhaps looking for a middle ground, suggested to the board that they phase in the program over time to avoid the drastic changes. The board, at the late hour it was, was agreeable to having staff come back to propose an alternative timeline. From the conversation I am not convinced the votes are there to support it, although I was heartened to hear from Tom Adams some concern about going up to 98 percent and the equity of that.

I think there are a lot of improvements that this program offers with some tweaks, but the 98th percentile qualification issue and the reduction in program size without true educational reasoning leave me shaking my head.

If the board sees a phase in as a way forward, I suggest they start by just assessing a baseline change of elimination of the private testing with the new two-stage process, and assess where they are in terms of numbers and ethnic mix.

But I believe there are probably three and maybe four votes to go forward with full implementation this program. I just wonder what the true educational benefit is of that – and what the harm is to implement all of the changes everyone agrees with first, then take stock of where we are.

I guess I really do not understand what is driving the need to shrink the program in half if the other issues are fixed.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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53 Comments

  1. davisvoice

    Great article.  Captures the essence of the problem.  So I have a question: When Roberson said lottery will remain “if there’s not enough seats,” does he mean the 120 current seats or the 63-73 seats the district projects?  If he meant 63-73 seats, then the district clearly intends to reduce the program regardless of the need.

  2. ryankelly

    I find the discussions slightly distasteful.  The neighborhood program and the neighborhood teachers are continually being put down, though this is where the vast majority of our students are being educated.  I’m ready to support the removal of all AIM classes from neighborhood schools and moved to one location where they can have their little imagined utopia, so the rest of us can focus on our neighborhood schools and the support of best practices in differentiation – where kids can shine in the areas where they excel in a rich learning environment, without the continual reminder that they are not smart enough.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i don’t see anything distasteful.  david and his wife put their daughter in a non-neighborhood school so she could be in the dual-immersion program.  is that choice putting down their neighborhood school?  why is aim/ gate different?

    2. zaqzaq

      ryankelly,

      Your sensitivity meter is way off.  I have not seen attacks on the quality of the teachers in the neighborhood schools.   All of the different programs offered to students such as Spanish immersion, neighborhood schools, AIM, … all have teachers of different quality with each program having teachers that are stronger than others within each program.

      Feel free to stay in your little utopia of classrooms of 30-32 children using differentiated instruction which now appears to only by a philosophy where no training has been planned for the teachers.  It would have been nice if the district could have demonstrated that they implemented a plan that successfully used differentiated instruction using cluster groups for math with one cluster being the AIM math curriculum for 4th, 5th and 6th grades.  They were directed to do so by the board in 2013 and do not appear to have done so.

      I believe that the dirty little truth is that the district district could not make it work where clusters of students in the neighborhood classrooms completed the 7th grade math curriculum by the end of 6th grade like the AIM students.  This accelerated math is popular with many parents and is one clear indication that the AIM program is working for its students.  It would be nice for the district to demonstrate that they could accomplish this simple task before they move to reduce the size of the AIM program.

      1. fishtaco25

        Thank you for affirming that AIM-gate has mutated into a high acheivement program only available to students that get near perfect scores on the 3rd grade intelligence exam.

  3. Davis Progressive

    i think this piece gets to the heart of it – for everyone who said that the opponents of this are defenders of the status quo, the disagreements here boil down to narrow issues and the issue of program size and the 98 percentile requirement which is entirely arbitrary.

  4. Don Shor

    I am a little concerned about the implementation of differentiated instruction, but I think that can get worked through. 

    Differentiation as proposed has nothing to do with GATE. They might as well separate that discussion. There is no cluster grouping and additional resources are not being provided.

    I want to confirm my interpretation of what I heard last night, because I may have misunderstood the various answers by staff. Others who listened or attended, please let me know if my notes are correct as follows:

    No additional resources are being dedicated to differentiation.

    Teacher training is not mandatory or compensated, and time off is not being provided. The district could not answer as to how many teachers typically attend programs that are simply voluntary.

    Differentiation is not gifted-specific.

    Class sizes will not be reduced in implementing this.

    Though this was not addressed by questions, I have to conclude that nothing will identify any student in any ‘differentiated’ classroom as being gifted and possibly meriting the teacher’s attention. Will students who are identified by testing as gifted, but who choose instead to attend neighborhood schools, be identified as gifted to their teachers? How will teachers know for whom to differentiate?

      1. Davis Progressive

        but that’s replacement for the aim coordinator at the same fte, notadditional resources.  that was a huge problem identified last night by some of the teachers.

    1. SODA

      Agree Don….and the term and content of ‘differentiation’ is nebulous at best, especially when the Supertindent discusses it….

      Why would there be a differentiation specialist then?

      And why not a AIM coordinator?

  5. Mark West

    Historically, the GATE program was intended to address the needs of a small population of students who for the most part are highly capable, but not necessarily performing well and/or are disruptive in the regular classroom.  These students correlate with, but are not defined by, very high scores on the standardized tests, as those tests cannot identify the behavioral issues associated with this group of ‘special needs’ kids.  This is why classroom teacher input and one-on-one assessment are critical if we intend to identify the correct cohort of students for the program.  It is important to understand that the GATE program was originally never intended to be an advance placement or high achievement program.

    The GATE/AIM program in Davis has evolved over time into a high achievement program; a change driven primarily by the ‘wants’ of parents who misunderstood the purpose of the initial program. As a consequence, the AIM program as it currently functions, is no longer a ‘special needs’ program designed to meet the needs of a few percent of the student population, but instead is a ‘special wants’ program designed to fulfill the desires of parents to see their kids succeed.

    It is perfectly reasonable for the District and community to have a discussion about whether or not the kids in our schools are better served by having a high achievement program for those who desire it. That however should be a separate discussion from whether or not we are going to meet the ‘special needs’ of the small fraction (roughly 2-4%) of students who would benefit from the services of the GATE program as it was originally intended and designed.

    1. Frankly

      This sounds mostly right to me.

      Instead of “gifted and talented” we should be identifying the kids with special needs and structuring their education path to meet those special needs.

      The only part I see missing her is this low-granularity classification of needs.   Basically we are saying there are two types of kids: special needs, and “normal”.   And for those with special needs we are demanding differentiation.

      My belief is that there is a need for more classifications of special needs… that in fact ALL students have special needs… and hence all students benefit from differentiation.

      I say kill this GATE/AIM idea and start working on what we need for full differentiation.

       

       

    2. Don Shor

      whether or not we are going to meet the ‘special needs’ of the small fraction (roughly 2-4%) of students who would benefit from the services of the GATE program as it was originally intended and designed.

      The staff apparently believes there is no way to identify those students. IMO the new AIM committee could identify more of those students if it functions well. One question I have is how these students are going to come to their attention.

      1. wdf1

        I have wondered how many ‘special needs’ GATE students are currently kept out of the program because their places might be taken by high-functioning (high scoring on OLSAT) ‘normal’ students.

        1. DavisAnon

          This logic would argue that we should be expanding the number of seats to meet the needs of students.  So what is the rationale for cutting the program in half? Not once during that long meeting did I hear anyone explain how shrinking the AIM program would improve education for even one child.  Differentiation is an entirely different subject, and these two topics should not be combined as though they are somehow linked.

          Why did Roberson not address the potential for loss of access for underrepresented minorities to AIM?? I find that very troubling.

        2. Mark West

          “This logic would argue that we should be expanding the number of seats to meet the needs of students.”

          I was on the Site Council at Valley Oak during the period when the GATE program expanded from one class per grade level (4-6) and was split to a second site.  At the time the GATE teachers complained that with expansion, too many ‘high achievement (but non-GATE)’ kids were being added to the program and causing disruptions because they did not perform well with the GATE curriculum. Ms. Quinn made a presentation to the Council with the following key points.  GATE qualified kids perform better with a GATE designed curriculum, and of equal importance, non-GATE kids perform better when the GATE kids are removed from the normal classroom.  ‘High Achievement’ kids do not perform well with a GATE curriculum and are better off in the normal classroom.  Non-Gate, Non-High Achiever kids (aka – everyone else) perform best when the High Achievers remain in the regular classroom.

          If that information is still true (things do change in 20+ years), then what we should be doing is cutting back the GATE/AIM program by 90% (or so) such that only the 2-4% of GATE qualified kids are being served (rather than the 20+% currently in the program).

          The data presented at the time indicated that everyone else (the non-GATE kids) are much better served in the regular classroom without the disruption of the GATE kids.

      2. Mark West

        “The staff apparently believes there is no way to identify those students.”

        The Staff knows how to identify those students.  What they are lacking is a School Board with both the ability to explain the purpose of this ‘special needs’ program and the ‘cojones‘ to tell overly excited parents that their kid does not need the program.

  6. DavisAnon

    Don, your notes sound correct to me. It was not encouraging that the district has supposedly been differentiating for 4-6th grade math for two years but can’t tell us if it is happening or whether it worked.

    And how can Archer say AIM parents have no experience in the neighborhood classrooms? Where does she think those kids went to school from kindergarten to third grade??

  7. Grant Acosta

    David, I am a bit confused about your position.  You say you agree with the elimination of private testing and that the TONI may have been used a bit too generously, but you also seem to disagree with shrinking the program.  If 27% qualified through private testing and a substantial percentage through the TONI, wouldn’t you expect a drop by at least 35 – 40% even with keeping the OLSAT qualifying score at 96?

    1. David Greenwald

      Not necessarily. You seem to be assuming that none of the people taking the private testing will qualify through other means. The revised plan doesn’t eliminate the TONI, it just changes who takes the TONI and adds other test options. That’s part of my problem here – I don’t see the math here on how it all breaks down.

      1. David Greenwald

        BTW, I’m not necessarily opposed to shrinking the size of the program, my concern is that we don’t seem to be doing it for educational purposes, but rather arbitrary reasons.

      2. Grant Acosta

        Why would you pay for private testing if you qualified through other means?  I realize the revised plan doesn’t eliminate the TONI, but the tone of the proposal certainly seems to want to scale back the number of students qualifying this way (per UC Davis study), or did I read into that wrong?

        1. David Greenwald

          On the private testing: There is a certain number who transferred to the district who it appears will have other ways to be identified through the district. I don’t know what percentage of private testers that is.

          I don’t know the answer on the second part either. They have the risk factors that will allow people to take alternative tests plus those falling in the margin of error will as well. They will now have to score in the 98th percentile to qualify, but that’s still on the table.

          Again, I’d like to see how these changes would effect numbers, but my guess is if they kept the 96th percentile floor in place, the number would not be drastically lower.

  8. Don Shor

    Keep the 96% test threshold for OLSAT qualification, perhaps with the intent to increase it to 98% in 2 – 3 years.

    Establish the AIM Committee.

    Pilot the HOPE screening.

    Adopt the screening and re-test procedures for risk factors.

    Implement a referral process for teachers and parents, and an appeals process for parents.

    Establish true cluster-grouping for differentiated GATE at neighborhood schools. Offer that option to all students who are gifted-identified.

    Develop and implement gifted differentiation training for teachers who will have cluster-grouped gifted students in their classrooms.

    Expand seats available for self-contained GATE to meet demand if necessary. Abolish the lottery.

    1. ryankelly

      Create a AIM 4th-9th AIM school, with all AIM classes at one site, truly separate from neighborhood programs.

      Offer foreign language at elementary schools.

      Re-establish Honors English at neighborhood Jr. Highs.

      Establish Honors Science (with Math level admission requirement) at neighborhood Jr. Highs.

      Get rid of AIM courses at Davis High School.  Make the students mix at that point in Honors/AP courses.

      1. wdf1

        ryankelly:  Get rid of AIM courses at Davis High School.  Make the students mix at that point in Honors/AP courses.

        I wasn’t aware that there are AIM courses at DHS.  Is that correct?

        ryankelly:  Create a AIM 4th-9th AIM school, with all AIM classes at one site, truly separate from neighborhood programs.

        Something like that was actually suggested about 10 years ago in the district.  I think it was an idea that was suggested in an offhand way at a meeting, and then the idea went public in the Enterprise.  The idea was to make Holmes JH a GATE magnet school, displacing the non-GATE students.  It didn’t go over well at the time.

    2. fishtaco25

      Or DJUSD could take the sensible course, inline with a majority of school districts in CA, and stop segregating 20% of the student population with intelligence tests and labeling them gifted.  Offer differentiated instruction options to all students and end the gifted charade.

      1. David Greenwald

        I don’t think using the term segregation is helpful to this discussion. Whatever changes we make should have a solid educational basis. I didn’t come away last night with a very firm impression of what differentiated instruction options would look like, and the educators I have talked to, even those not very enamored with AIM have told me that it won’t work well without smaller classes.

        1. fishtaco25

          Let me clarify.  I said segregate, by which I meant “to set apart from the rest”, in this case based on a 3rd grader’s intelligence.  Amazingly, that is what DJUSD still does.  The vocabulary associated (gifted, talented, abstract, reason, alternative…) with this program have helped it mutate and grow into what it is currently.

          The district can change the euphemisms that define this program, but in its current form GATE/AIM identifies “abstract thinkers” with high analytical skills using a multiple choice intelligence exam, for which there are pay-for test preparation programs, and offers those children a spot in a separate classroom for a period of up to 3+ years.

        2. hpierce

          Maybe the word “segregation” has a ‘history’ that makes you uncomfortable, but having a group in a ‘self-contained’, ‘tracked’ trajectory is a segregation of the larger herd.  Segregation is a perfectly good word, and perhaps better than “culling” or trying to perfect a ‘master race [of intellectual gifts]’.  Before Davis, my experience with G&T programs was that the districts down-played the program and made every effort to “integrate” those students outside of the subject matter areas (foreign language, arts, athletics, industrial arts, etc.).

          There is a definite need for the AIM/GATE program for some students.

          There is a crying need to make sure EACH student, AIM-identified or not, is challenged to not only learn facts and skills, AND THINK.  Except for a few college programs/jobs, the world doesn’t really give a damn about whether you were in a “AIM/GATE” program, but rather what you know, what you are capable of learning, what you DO with that knowledge, and your ability to think through situations that come up where all your previous knowledge and training cannot find an answer.

      2. Don Shor

        Or DJUSD could take the sensible course, inline with a majority of school districts in CA, and stop segregating 20% of the student population with intelligence tests and labeling them gifted. Offer differentiated instruction options to all students and end the gifted charade.

        You don’t believe there are any students who need self-contained gifted instruction?

        1. hpierce

          The “charade” seems to be that some of those who support ‘self-contained gifted instruction’ (and I DO support it) see it as sacrosanct.  Some apparently feel irrationally threatened by ANY attempt to modify it.  Almost a holy icon to be adored and worshipped.  And anyone who questions the status quo is a ‘heretic’ or a demon.

  9. Frankly

    Interesting reading about the resistance for charter schools and voucher programs in many school districts throughout the country.  The desire of the parents is to move their kids to another “self contained” program that works better for their kids.  But the education establishment demands that these kids stay captive in a system that does not work for them.

    From my perspective, GATE/AIM is the insiders game to get the same “better fit” for their kids.

    I know some of the people here demanding self contained GATE/AIM are also quick to oppose charter schools and vouchers.

    It is clear that regular school does not meet the needs of some kids, so why advocate for carve-outs in one case and then oppose it in other cases?

    I can’t come up with anything else other than hypocrisy or greed to explain that contrast.

    How about this?  Fire half of the education system administrators and cut the pay of those remaining.  Then use the savings to implement differentiation.  And yes, teachers will have to work harder to do this… maybe work 11 months of the year instead of 10.

  10. Grant Acosta

    It would be good if you checked into the private testing data, because my instinct tells me that the vast majority are not transfer students, but students who didn’t quite get the score they needed.

    As for the 98% number, I believe it was stated pretty clearly last night that there is NO substantial research-based evidence for setting the cutoff score at ANY number.  I was of the mistaken belief that the mission of the AIM program was to serve the relatively small percentage of students who would not succeed in the regular classroom, but after reading the district’s mission statement on the AIM program, I can see the charge has evolved into including high-achieving students.  If this is the case, then perhaps 98% is a proper choice to “weed out” the really gifted from the wanna-be gifted.  If this is not satisfactory for you, perhaps you should inquire with the numerous other districts that use a 98% cutoff score.

    1. hpierce

      In David’s apparent view, we should not raise the bar, except for making sure that minorities/at-risk students are included irrespective of tests.  OK.  Let’s just be honest about that, if that is what folk want to do.

      In my G&T classes in the late 60’s/early 70’s, blacks and hispanics were there, but NOT in their ‘proportional’ #’s.  But then again, it might not have been statistically revalent, given the number of the # of students in those categories.

      1. David Greenwald

        I want to be clear that my view is that if we are going to raise the bar – we have good reasons to do so. My objection is to the lack of explanation of the need for the change, than the change itself.

      2. hpierce

        But David, wherever the bar is set, you have repeatedly indicated that there should be ‘work-arounds’ to make sure that “under-represented” are represented… ‘minorities’, whether from racial, socio-economic, and/or other “groups”.  Please just be honest about that ‘filter’.

        1. David Greenwald

          I disagree with your characterization of this issue. As the district writes, “the test has been shown to reflect a higher level of success for white and Asian students.” They also noted that they hope that future use of the HOPE scale “may mitigate for the inherent biases associated with other assessments.” Research has established that the OLSAT is biased against minorities such as blacks and Hispanics. Based on that, the district proposes “the use of risk factors to screen for additional testing is critical to mitigate for the inherent biases that exist in each assessment.” These aren’t “work-arounds,” these are more appropriate tests for “students who did not qualify on the OLSAT.” “For students with risk factors related to language or culture, the TONI may be administered. For students with economic risk factors, the Naglieri may be administered.”

          So my view is that based on the acknowledged bias of the OLSAT – not by me but by researchers – there need to be more appropriate assessment tools.

          Based on that, why is it necessary to state: “Please just be honest about that ‘filter’.” Please explain what you mean by that?

        2. hpierce

          Perhaps I mis-understood, but…

          Can you share your ‘0ff-blog’ e-mail again [mis-placed it]… am thinking we could better communicate about my perception of your views, and your responses, without either of us worrying about how others view the discussion…

    2. fishtaco25

      The test is too easy for the most intelligent students. Most Davis students that qualify max out at 99%. The move to 98% excludes the students that guess incorrectly on more that one question.

        1. hpierce

          Thank you fishtaco… will drill down more… my personal experience was a ~ 45 minute interview and testing (circa 1965).  But that was the old “IQ” testing, which we “know” is wrong… and in a district about 4 times larger (then) than /DJUSD (now).

        2. wdf1

          fishtaco:  The data that you point to on the davisexcel page (percentile data by demographic breakdown in 2013) does not breakdown the percentile scores by test taken.  The district report on the AIM proposal does break down the numbers by test taken, but not by percentile. Far more Hispanic/Latino students made qualifying scores on the TONI test rather than the OLSAT.

          But what is misleading is that program diversity is suggested by GATE identification numbers rather than GATE/AIM participation numbers.  That would be like Stanford University claiming to have a diverse student body based on the demographics of students who were sent acceptance letters rather than by students who actually enrolled.  Trustee Sunder made a similar claim about the program a couple of years ago, possibly from the Davis Excel report.

          I have seen the district elementary music program make targeted efforts at reaching out to Spanish speaking families — interpreters at parent meetings, making Spanish language robocalls to Spanish-speaking families.  Those are examples of strategies that could be used, in addition to translating any documents.

    3. David Greenwald

      “I was of the mistaken belief that the mission of the AIM program was to serve the relatively small percentage of students who would not succeed in the regular classroom, but after reading the district’s mission statement on the AIM program, I can see the charge has evolved into including high-achieving students. ”

      I think whether it’s 96 or 98, it serves a relatively small percentage of students. The district claims it cannot really distinguish high achievers from gifted students – a number of people are skeptical about that claim, but that was their claim. The question for me at least is really, what is the driving need to change the cutoff?

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