Davis School Board Unanimously Approves Revisions to AIM Program

Board Member Tom Adams questions Superintendent Roberson
Board Member Tom Adams questions Superintendent Roberson

By Nicholas von Wettberg

The parents stood in line, groups of four, awaiting the chance to voice their opinions about a hot button educational topic in the community of Davis, California. The time, now approaching 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, was of no real concern. They were there for a reason.

Inside the town’s City Hall Community Chambers, November 5, one by one, the men and women stepped to the dais and gave their two-minute-long comment to the five members seated representing the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) Board. Hearts were pounding and mouths were dry. Many of the speeches oozed with passion. After all, this was about fulfilling the future needs and potential of their children.

The meeting’s contentious main item for discussion, the recommendations of the AIM (Alternative Instructional Model) program, was scheduled to meet its fate – a culmination of a five-month-long process vetted out by the trustees, filled with spirited discourse on hardline issues like testing phase-in plans for qualification scores, assessment identification and verification, and the hiring of a differentiation specialist.

Superintendent Winfred B. Roberson, Jr., who said, “There was no shortage of opinions and ideas” on the subject, led the presentation, in which he provided an overview of the item’s five recommendations.

Jann Murray-Garcia presses for the revised model
Jann Murray-Garcia presses for the revised model

Prior to the public comment portion of the meeting, in which many were upset that the issue had become the centerpiece of the forum agenda, board members shared their questions with Roberson and his team, asking for clarification on a number of important matters that will assist in the academic and social lives of third graders attending one of the town’s eight elementary schools.

“Let’s not make it a qualification-based program, let’s make it a need-based program,” said Davis resident Jill Van Zandt, who believes the program is based on the assumption that some kids are outliers. “Let’s all stick around, get on board and support our teachers. Let’s go for it!”

In the words of Board Member Barbara Archer, a gradual change in time is what people are asking for. What’s most important, she stated, is the “development of the most successful criteria to assess their need for the program.

“I think if we are looking at the program as a needs-based program what is not fair is to put a student into a program who doesn’t need it…and I don’t view this as taking away choices away from any students. AIM is not a choice program.”

Ultimately, after all the involvement, a decision had to be made, and just after midnight – following a final round of general discussion – the board took action, approving all five items in unanimous fashion.

True to form, considering how divisive an issue it had been, and how many hours (22) were spent talking about it, the one point of contention even in approval was about the program’s cut off scores, and whether a 98-percentile cut off would benefit students, compared to phasing in the measure of assessment after two years.


Board member Susan Lovenburg brought a motion that would change the score from the 96th percentile after only one school year (2015/16), rather than the initial proposal which called for a gradual climb, thus eliminating the need for three sets of data.

As for the public commenters, some asked why the board was fixing something that was not broken to begin with, and sentiment was mostly on the side of not supporting the phase-in part of the item, although many expressed their fear of reduction.

Board President Alan Fernandes, who called the called the phase-in approach a “prudent course of action,” emphasized the need to keep an eye on the decisions being made and their relationship to the size and breath of the program.

In her statement, Board Vice President/Clerk Madhavi Sunder noted that “cutting the number of AIM classrooms will not cost a single dime,” and that the inordinate amount of attention paid on the program has redirected precious time and resources away from equally pressing educational/financial concerns.

These types of issues were distressing for her during the process.


“We have classrooms at Montgomery that are one hundred percent low income,” Sunder said in her statement. “We have a persistent achievement gap in which low-income children in Davis continue to score below proficiency.”

Lovenburg stressed how important it was for the community to be unified, in what she labeled “a movement,” and that, at its core, “parents want kids to be challenged and allowed to fulfill their potential.”

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  1. Frankly

    Information researched and analyzed.  All opinions given ample time to be heard.  School board demonstrates good leadership and makes a unanimous decision.  Issue is now over.  Decisions have been made.  Time to move on.

    Will this be the last VG article on this topic for a long while?   I hope so.

  2. Don Shor

    Sunder: “How does the 98% proposal benefit students who are in AIM, and who are not in the AIM program?”
    Superintendent: “I think that’s the wrong question.”

    “Have you surveyed parents?”
    “We always want to hear from our parents.”

    Issue is now over.

    Not at all.

  3. Napoleon Pig IV

    Issue over? Not by a long shot.

    Move on? Yes, to salvaging DJUSD via the next election.

    That would be the election in which Lovenburg is defeated and her minions, Archer and Adams, are left unsure what to do without a script.


    1. hpierce

      Someone seems like they need a time out.  The Board has acted.  Sense some “acting out” when someone did not get their way.  A  timeout seems to be in order.

    2. Grant Acosta

      What are you upset about 4th Pig of Napoleon?  David G and Debbie NP have established that the GATE/AIM program was never intended for gifted kids who would not be successful in the regular classroom.  It is a high-intelligence, accelerated program.  Simple.  So the district is responding to the needs of its highly-intelligent students by separating them from the merely “intelligent” students (after all, in Davis, every student is above average).  We can’t have them in the same classroom as the truly gifted students or they would hold the class back.   Isn’t that the same argument of why we can’t open the AIM program to all students?

      Surely you are aware that even in the AIM classroom, there is great disparity of ability.  If not, I could point you to some AIM-supporter comments from the last year.  There is fat to be trimmed (no pun intended).  So by raising the bar to 98% (don’t forget that this really means 93ish% when you consider that students falling within the standard error will be retested), the district is enhancing the academic potential of the super-gifted.  Isn’t that what AIM supporters want?  Or are they upset that their child might feel excluded or miss out on educational opportunities if they don’t get in?  Hmm… I think I know some folks who might sympathize with that feeling…


      1. Napoleon Pig IV


        It’s not a matter of “acting out.” It’s a simple matter of initiating the steps necessary to get rid of inept school board members. And, that involves a simple focus on the next election, starting now.

        Grant Acosta

        Your argument might hold water in a scenario in which an open-minded board considered all the evidence, including academic studies and the actual performance of the existing, appropriately diverse program and came to a rational conclusion that certain changes should be made for clear reasons. This is not what happened.

        At least 3 board members simply worked through a process to achieve a predetermined outcome based on their personal biases without regard to objective facts and with very selective community input. Sure, they were forced to listen to 1 to 3 minute sound bites from the public during legally required public comment periods, but otherwise they listened only to the people they were already in league with – those who wanted to shrink or even eliminate the AIM program.

        Yes, there can be legitimate questions about testing procedures, cut-off points, risk factors, etc. But, this board did a poor job of justifying any of its decisions on these points, just like the prior board failed completely to justify the lottery (another ploy to reduce the size of the program).

        Yeah, they won the first round. But, the good thing about a democracy is that there is always the next election. Of course, there are also charter schools and parcel taxes, but I hope we don’t have to go there in the long run.

        1. hpierce

          Let’s see, NP4…  can’t find the terms of office on the DJUSD site, but as I recall there will only be two seats up in 2016… Fernandez and Lovenburg.  No telling who will run for an additional term, if either, and unclear who else may run.

          If your “litmus test” for a candidate is that they believe GATE/AIM must be as it has existed, or should grow larger, is ‘sacrosanct’, no matter what, I know I will actively oppose those candidates, or consider a run myself (if all candidates offered to sign such a pledge… “GATE/AIM, right or wrong”).  Bring it.

          I’ll be looking for candidates who support GATE/AIM, but are open to balancing ALL the needs of the DJUSD community, including ensuring fairness in the selection/identification process..

      2. Sam

        “or they would hold the class back”

        I really hope that is not what they think is happening in the current program. If so, they are going to be really surprised when they learn that higher intelligence does not equal good grades and test scores.

  4. Cecilia EscamillaGreenwald

    The issue is definitely NOT over.

    I served on the DJUSD team to develop a strategic action plan for the district. A couple of kids served on the team along with us as did some teachers, staff and members of the community.

    What has stuck with me through this process was that we had students telling us PLEASE do NOT get rid of the GATE program. I recall a student from DHS tell us that students of all abilities need to have their educational needs met and be challenged in ways that help them learn and grow. She was a part of GATE and was frustrated at all the misperceptions about students in GATE.

    What saddens me most is that the student voice has not been heard. It’s a concern when we get kids that are not challenged in school and then become disengaged in school because they feel that nobody is listeningm to them.

    JuSt like English Language learners and kids with math challenges need help, so too do the kids in GATE. Let’s set an example for kids by working cooperatively and peacefully through this processe, And let’s not forget to help kids???

        1. hpierce

          Had there been a proposal to eliminate it, I never saw it.  Some appear to feel/argue, that ANY change (except to expand) was the “camel’s nose in the tent” to eliminate it, but I don’t think there is even one vote on the board (ever) to eliminate it.  Paranoid?

          Or, true to your “stage” name, wanting to have yourself and/or like-minded folk become the absolute dictator(s) of DJUSD?

    1. davismom

      I would love to see a survey of GATE/AIM identified students who both did and did not participate in the program, or did not participate in elementary but did in junior high, and see their perspectives on the issue.  I suspect the opinions would vary as widely as those of their parents.

    2. Doby Fleeman

      What saddens me is that we have almost 30% (29.6%) of our 2014-2015 DSHS Senior class which is identified by the district as “Non-college bound” students.  These are 12th grade Davis High students who are apparently unprepared or not sufficiently motivated to sit for the SAT tests.

      Maybe that’s OK with most of the parents in the district.  But, clearly there are some who find this a troubling result, amidst  all the focus on the AIM/GATE programs, and the reality that we seem to have almost total radio silence when it comes to discussion of this “other” important sub-population of our young learners.

      Coincidentally, this number and percentage of students neatly parallels the 30% of the district students who are reportedly classified as “GATE-Identified”, and yet, what is the district doing to help address their unique circumstances and special needs?

      One imagines that relatively few of these “non-college bound” students is “GATE-Identified”.   If that is correct, it would seem to imply that the vast majority of these “Non-College bound” students are intermingled among the classes of “non-GATE Identified College-bound” students.

      Using the academic achievement results of the GATE/AIM program as reference, how might you go about determining the impact on the academic achievement potential for this remaining 40% of “non-GATE, College Bound” students as they and their teachers contend with this academically lower-aspiring cohort?
      In this context, perhaps part of the Boards’ actions may be attributable to an earnest concern for a more detailed review of overall program efficacy as the district elects to press pause on the AIM conversation?

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        I think your point is an important one and that this is an important issue. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in this board to effectively address the issue. Replacing at least one, and as soon as possible two more (those two at the head of the alphabet, the only place they are ever likely to truly lead), would help a lot!

        1. wdf1

          NPIV: It seems like Sunder was probably closest to representing  your position, but she voted with the majority in every one of the six votes.  How does that make you feel?  Do you also want to replace her?  Why or why not?

          1. Don Shor

            It was clear that Sunder and Lovenburg were working to get to a unanimous outcome. She made it very clear more than once that she did not support the general direction of the board’s decisions. She asked questions that got to the core issues, and got vague answers. Her amendment gave her, and presumably any allied board member, an opportunity to resume the inquiry and oversight in several months or a year when the numbers via the new selection process start coming in. In short: she voted with the majority, but did not concur on the course of action and was very critical throughout the proceedings.

        2. Napoleon Pig IV

          Alan Fernandes seems like a thoughtful and intelligent person. It’s too bad his term expires – might make sense to re-elect him if he’s interested in continuing to serve.

      2. wdf1

        Doby Fleeman:  What saddens me is that we have almost 30% (29.6%) of our 2014-2015 DSHS Senior class which is identified by the district as “Non-college bound” students.  These are 12th grade Davis High students who are apparently unprepared or not sufficiently motivated to sit for the SAT tests.

        You’re basing the almost 30% non-college bound students based on who hasn’t taken the SAT tests?

        There are many colleges who admit students as freshman without taking either the SAT or ACT  (source).  Also one can enter California community colleges without taking an SAT or ACT and then transfer to a CSU or UC campus.  A technical/vocational program, post high school, also doesn’t require students take SAT or ACT.  This website indicates that the DHS class of 2015 self-reported that 92% planned to go to either a 2-year or 4-year college.  That’s pretty typical, and has been slowly inching upward over the years.

        I suggest not getting sucked into thinking that 30% not taking the SAT is somehow a sign that our education system is falling apart.  This (concluding that the U.S. has a crappy education system) happens all the time when standardized test data is mis-analyzed, and the mis-analyses are ultimately probably the biggest disaster to our education system.

        1. wdf1

          I would assume that if a student, in the latter part of the senior year, says that he/she plans to go to college, then at least for a 4-year college it means that there is an acceptance letter.

        2. hpierce

          wdf… disagree… know a lot of folk to intend to go to college, mostly four-year ones, who take a year off after 13 years of school, to get clear what their true goals are.  Wish I had taken a year off.  Meant I spent 4.7 years in college,as I didn’t really know what I wanted after clearing the HS Grad hurdle.  Many have to work a year to afford college.

        3. Matt Williams

          wdf, I didn’t read Doby Fleeman’s comment the way you appear to have read it. His observation wasn’t “that our education system is falling apart” but rather that we appear to have a hyper sensitive focus on 30% of the student population, and seemingly no focus at all on the remaining 70%. He appeared (to this reader at least) to be arguing for an inclusive, holistic approach to educating 100% of the DJUSD students rather than an exclusive, targeted approach to educating only 30% (or less) of the DJUSD students. If Doby is correct, it wasn’t Doby who labeled the 29.6% as “non-college bound” it was the district. The information you put forth in your third paragraph above seems to argue that the district is somewhat cavalier about how they label their own students. I doubt that was your intention, but “92% planned to go to either a 2-year or 4 year college” is a whole lot different than “29.6% of our 2014-2015 DSHS Senior class which is identified by the district as “Non-college bound” students.”

        4. wdf1

          hpierce:  wdf… disagree… know a lot of folk to intend to go to college, mostly four-year ones, who take a year off after 13 years of school, to get clear what their true goals are. 

          I was going to add another paragraph to the above comment (6:50), describing the phenomenon that you describe, but decided to stop where I did.  I don’t disagree with your assertion.

        5. wdf1

          Matt Williams:  If Doby is correct, it wasn’t Doby who labeled the 29.6% as “non-college bound” it was the district.

          Where did the district determine that these are non-college bound students?   I don’t know where that number would come from other than the percentage who doesn’t sit to take the SAT, which according to Fleeman,

          These are 12th grade Davis High students who are apparently unprepared or not sufficiently motivated to sit for the SAT tests.

          I take issue with the assertion that 12th graders who don’t take the SAT tests are in general unprepared or not sufficiently motivated.

          1. Don Shor

            If they’re heading toward trade school or the military, they would have no reason to take the SAT. I don’t think either of my kids took it.

            Based on their public comments, I’d guess the Board will now focus on the achievement gap. That discussion will likely be lengthy and unproductive. If I had my way, rather than focus on ‘college-bound’ I’d like to see the schools focus on ‘future-preparedness’.

        6. Doby Fleeman


          Without judgement, just curious, but after 13 years – you weren’t even curious about how you stacked up against your fellow students?

          Mistakenly, perhaps, but I had thought this was a conversation between folks who were passionate about academic achievement.

        7. hpierce

          To partially answer your question Doby, I graduated tied for ninth in a class of 435 in HS (yeah,I was a ‘slacker’);  I took the NMSQT; I took the SAT.  I was awarded a NMS scholarship (which helped make college @ UCD a doable thing).  Didn’t do so great on the SAT… can’t remember (too painful) if my score was 1580 or 1590 (out of 1600 possible)[had a terrible cold the week before, and my sinuses were still clogged].

          But I had been more focussed on HS and grades than I was on what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.  THAT’s the main reason I think I should have taken a year off… considered it, but then might have lost my scholarship.

          Is that a sufficient answer to your question?

          1. Don Shor

            A significant number of my employees over the years, mostly young adults in their 20’s, have been returning to school after a couple of years off, going to community college with intention to apply to a four-year university. In every case I can think of, it’s made them better students to have taken some time and gone out into the work force for awhile.

        8. wdf1

          Don Shor:  Based on their public comments, I’d guess the Board will now focus on the achievement gap. That discussion will likely be lengthy and unproductive. If I had my way, rather than focus on ‘college-bound’ I’d like to see the schools focus on ‘future-preparedness’.

          You seem to think that ‘achievement gap’ doesn’t have much to do with ‘future-preparedness’?

          1. Don Shor

            I think it’s unlikely that the board or administration response to the achievement gap data they will be provided will help students be better prepared for their futures.

            I think more vocational training would be the most practical and productive thing Davis schools could do. The college focus overlooks a significant number of kids. Every seventeen year old should have a job skill.

  5. Frankly

    We elect representatives to make decisions.  The process was rigorous and adequate.  The decisions have been made.  Sure, if you don’t like the results then support your new candidate in the next election.  But the School Board looked at this and considered all data, information and opinions and made a decision.  Move on.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      Indeed Frankly, I agree – move on to the next election while gathering data, evidence, and facts to help persuade intelligent people like you that the process was, in fact, not rigorous or adequate. Democracy eventually works if we work at it.

  6. hpierce

    Re: Don’s 9:51 comment…. I wholeheartedly agree with Don’s comment, particularly, “If I had my way, rather than focus on ‘college-bound’ I’d like to see the schools focus on ‘future-preparedness’.”  And, I’d clarify, for all aspects, not just academically, not just for “career”/monetary ‘success’, not just for relationships/family, but for being contributing to society in many ways.  Including social awareness/volunteering. The combination of things (sometimes called “life”) is what we should be preparing our kids for.

    And, to meet the goal of preparing kids for “life”, GATE/AIM, ESL, language immersion, ‘industrial arts’, general education, arts/music, “et cetera, et cetera”, are ALL appropriate tools/programs.

      1. hpierce

        Gotta (and will) buy a lottery ticket!  Never would have predicted that comment!  If I win over $10 k, will donate half to DJUSD, to enhance ALL the academic/other programs for supplies.

        Surprised it took you this long (based on my previous posts) to realize I’m towards the middle of the “bell curve” on the need/importance of GATE/AIM, but along the lines of being at the first std deviation towards insisting there is a strong program, not necessarily in the previous form.

        Your recent comments have tended to “push” me back, to consider going towards the center of the curve.  Still at the 1st deviation after I read your response to my post.

        Have a good evening and weekend.

  7. Misanthrop

    My problem is that the outcome was predetermined by the majority who never tried to find consensus and thus they never found consensus leaving the smoldering ruins of discontent to be rekindled anew at some future date.

    Arguing that Sunder voted with the majority misses the point that she did so while reserving her right to revisit the issue when new information becomes available. That her right to do so was dependent on her voting with the majority under the rules of the board cannot be ignored by those touting her acquiescence.

    One other point that I find particularly offensive was the often repeated blaming of the need to revise the program because of the achievement gap. Blaming a dispute between the haves on the have nots is so distasteful. The idea that we are changing the gate program to help the neediest children is nothing more than a shameful exploitation of the children on the lower side of the achievement gap to rationalize the goals of one group of privileged families on the higher side of the gap. If the board majority was truly concerned about the achievement gap they would have spent the last 8 months working to actually help the lowest achieving students instead of fighting over whether the top two percent or the top four percent of students are worthy of  a specially designed curriculum. Please spare us the sanctimonious appeal that somehow this decision is going to benefit those at the bottom. That dog won’t hunt.

    1. Grant Acosta

      Did you not hear Roberson’s rationale behind the changes?  It was to “narrow the cognitive band”, i.e., make it easier for those at the top of the intelligence spectrum to get their needs met.  I don’t understand why AIM supporters aren’t dancing in the streets over this decision.

      1. Misanthrop

        Thank you for helping me crystalize that it was the railroad of a process,  scapegoating and lack of solution everyone could live with in the end that I find troubling.

        Personally, I liked your idea of self selection that you wrote about earlier. It seems that neither side wanted to go there for various reasons that limited the ability of the community to adequately address the testing barrier instead making the cut off a political football that is sure to be revisited ad infinitum.

        1. wdf1

          GATE identification by means of standardized test measuring cognitive performance is widespread so as to be the standard for GATE identification.  I would be interested in self-selection, but I don’t think others are willing to go there.  It means abolishing GATE identification.

      2. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

        If all this was to “narrow the cognitive band” so that people who are 98 and 99 can be taught better, that is simply unbelievable. That claim does not hold water. Where were the AIM parents of 98 and 99 asking for the program to be reduced so that their kids could be taught better?  And where were the teachers saying that the program wasn’t helping the kids at the top enough? And where were the studies showing this?

        No–the simple reason that the cutoff was moved from 96 to 98 was to make the program smaller.  It was not to improve the education of kids at the very top of the tests.

        Do you really think that that was the reason for the change?

        1. Grant Acosta

          Do you really think an AIM parent or teacher would go on the record stating they believed the cognitive band ought to be narrowed?  Recall Roberson said after conversations with teachers, principal, and community input, he came to the conclusion that 98% was best.

        2. hpierce

          Please remember, that the existing “band” is based on percentiles NATIONWIDE.  Not DJUSD population.  Is it surprising that if the “testing” population nationwide, includes orphans at a NA reservation, “inner city” students, home-schooled folk in Alaska, mandatory testing in districts FAR below Davis’ socio-economic, parental education parameters, 30% of DJUSD students fare so well as a “percentile”?  Doesn’t surprise me.  I’d expect that.  Normalizing to a nationally administered test, without knowing the variables, seems bogus to me.

          My thought is that the test scores should be “normalized” to California, Yolo County, and/or DJUSD results.

  8. Misanthrop

    What process? This was a predetermined outcome in search of a process to provide the patina of legitimacy. Results for whom? I’m more concerned about the achievement gap. I’m sure there are some students who aren’t thriving and are at the high end of cognitive ability and I’m concerned about them too. In an ideal world every student is appropriately challenged but does it really matter enough to occupy 9 months of administrative time deciding how our most privileged students are placed with a bitter community fight to exhaustion over a cut off of the 96th or 98th percentile? U.C. has a place for students in the top 12%. CSU for the top 30%. At the end of the day the vast majority of DJUSD students will go to college. I thought one of the most ironic moments of the entire debate was Barbara Archer lamenting, I think back in July, how much time was being spent on this instead of the achievement gap without what seemed to be any recognition that she was driving the train by putting AIM on the agenda in the first place instead of focusing the board’s and administration’s focus on the much bigger, more vexing and consequential problem of the achievement gap.

  9. Scheney

    I think that the District has a plan for a more understandable process for  GATE identification.  Madhavi’s concerns seemed to focus on maintaining diversity in the AIM classrooms.  We’ll need to wait until the District finishes the retesting to see what this year’s class will look like to see if they can maintain that diversity.  I’m sure this will come up again next year.

    1. sos

      Given that AIM is intended for a particular type of learner, diversity shouldn’t be the target, but rather making sure that biases inherent in the identification process do not exclude some students who actually are that type of learner. If the AIM program has the same diversity as the regular classroom, great. If not, to engineer the admission process to attain diversity is simply serving political correctness and not the needs of the students. The new identification parameters offer a far more transparent and extensive program for identifying these students, and by all means, we should evaluate this after a year. But to use the diversity of the current program as a standard requires a complete evaluation of that standard. Those students currently in the program through retesting for risk factors have to be team evaluated to verify proper placement. If the results show proper placement, we’ll know the current program diversity is a legitimate benchmark.

      1. Barack Palin

        If the AIM program has the same diversity as the regular classroom, great. If not, to engineer the admission process to attain diversity is simply serving political correctness and not the needs of the students.

        The smartest words that will be stated on this thread all day.

        1. MrsW

          Over a large enough population for statistics to be valid? No, there is no reason.  However, when populations are very small, as in our African American or our Pacific Island populations, using statistics is not valid.

          For example, let’s say we have 2 out of 100 students are African American.  That’s 2% of the student population (actually high for Davis).  Here is an abuse of statistical reasoning:  If both students test as gifted, 100% are gifted.  100% > 2%, so our African American students are more gifted than other places!  If 1 student tests as gifted, 50% of our students are gifted!  If neither is gifted, 0% < 2% and we must have an identification problem.  

          In other words, a similar distribution is not expected for small populations. if you’re only working with 2 students in each grade, you would expect to have 100% identified one year, 50% another year and 0% a third year. That is what we should expect.

          1. David Greenwald

            You raise a good point about the expected statistical distribution of small populations. But there is a huge flaw in it, as I understand it through my statistical training, if these were random errors, we would expect African Americans and Latinos to be both over and under represented at different points in time. However, that’s not what we see. What see is a consistent under representation of blacks and Hispanics suggesting that the errors are not random, but systematic.

        2. MrsW

          What see is a consistent under representation of blacks and Hispanics suggesting that the errors are not random, but systematic.

          I agree, your observations are true nationwide and with large enough populations to “see” statistical trends.  And historically, in Davis, identification was “0” almost every year! Not what you’d expect! Remember, however, that Ms. Quinn’s efforts to make Davis’ identification distribution “match” population statistics didn’t result in sensible numbers, either.  As Dr. Murray-Garcia observed, Ms. Quinn’s methods were reporting identification that matched to the 0.1% percentile or something like that–nonsensical statistics and also not what we’d expect.

          This is a case where social scientists who use statistics could really help DJUSD’s School Board and Administrators!  What are reasonable numeric metrics for evaluating our success with small populations?  Should we also have non-numeric metrics to help us evaluate our concerns?  Personally, I think we should throw out statistics and count individuals.

      2. Don Shor

        If not, to engineer the admission process to attain diversity is simply serving political correctness and not the needs of the students.

        Actually, I think the purpose is to avoid lawsuits.

        1. MrsW

          Lawsuits may have motivated DJUSD to act, but it’s not why I care.  I care because I believe that AIM does serve some student temperaments very well and it is likely that a student who would benefit from AIM is not in the AIM classroom.

      3. wdf1

        Based on AIM/GATE identification under the old process, the demographics of AIM/GATE identified students was argued to be more diverse than nearly any other program in the district.  But as far as the demographics of the population who actually participated in AIM/GATE, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students is surprisingly low.  I have suggested that the district/AIM program hasn’t really tried to do adequate outreach to the Spanish speaking population.  I don’t get the feeling that anything will improve in this regard (outreach in Spanish).

        1. sos

          Or could it be that many of the parents of Latino/Hispanic students identified through retesting, believe their children are being used as sacrificial lambs to avoid the lawsuits Don spoke of? It would be an easy question to ask.

        2. wdf1

          I don’t think most Spanish speaking parents understand what the AIM/GATE program is to begin with, and what that program means relative to other services they might need, ELL services for instance.  That their kids are AIM/GATE identified (even retested by the district) is mostly meaningless. The district definitely cares about programs (math & English) that might impact how well higher needs students score on standardized tests, and they will go out of their way to see that parents know that information, but beyond that I don’t see the district doing very much. They don’t aid very much, if at all, with outreach about Montessori, Da Vinci, DSIS, AIM/GATE, music, athletics, robotics, etc.

          1. Don Shor

            And if it’s a choice between a program they don’t know much about vs. their neighborhood school, they would be more likely to keep the student at the neighborhood school. We’re only speculating, but it wouldn’t be that hard for the district to find out why parents opt out of GATE.

        3. wdf1

          Don Shor:  We’re only speculating, but it wouldn’t be that hard for the district to find out why parents opt out of GATE.

          If they will communicate fully with the parents in Spanish.

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