In Their Own Words: Susan Lovenburg’s Comments on AIM

Susan Lovenburg speaks as her colleagues look on
Susan Lovenburg speaks as her colleagues look on

By Susan Lovenburg

I also had some notes from the schools I visited, I will just say briefly it was Da Vinci, Willet, King High and North Davis. I think all of the issues that were surfaced in those conversations, have been surfaced already.

I think there is support for the recommendations but there is also still some concerns and I’m going to agree with Tom that the main bone of contention seems to remain the 96 versus the 98 – which I also consider a huge amount of progress. This is certainly not where we started the conversation. That to me is – we have come a long way.

I just want to say right out of the bat, I can support the implementation of the 98 qualification score next year. But I also would value us finding a way to move together in these changes. That’s also an important criteria for me.

I have to say, Trustee Sunder, I worry that that may not be possible based on your comments but it certainly would be an interest of mine if we could get there.

(She said she was cutting out half of her remarks).

When I sort distilled down everything I heard and have heard from parents throughout these conversations – I said this on September 17th, parents want their children to be safe and fully engaged in the school environment and to be challenged to meet their full potential. That’s what it comes down to in every conversation that I’ve had.

I’m a parent, I want the same for my children. I understand those values. I really do feel that parents goals are our goals in our district.

I’m going to read the mission of the Davis Joint Unified School District again, because I think we own this – we own it as a district, we own it as a board, we contributed to the development, the community was involved – it’s what we said we stand for.

The mission of the DJUSD is to be a leading center of educational innovation, which ignites a love of learning and equips each student with the knowledge, skills, character and well-being to thrive and contribute to an evolving and increasingly-connected world.

I think that the questions which come… people have said why the change. I agree there’s no right score, there’s no perfect test. I think the 98 aligns more closely with the intent of the June motion but I also think that the fundamental problem that I personally am wanting to address – this isn’t a conversation about serving AIM or gifted students, it’s not just a conversation about serving students or closing the achievement gap, this is really a movement to serve all students.

I feel like the system that we have currently doesn’t set high expectations for all of our kids. It sets differing expectations for all of our kids. I think whether you call that labeling or tracking, it is what I have felt to be fundamentally the problem that I want to try to address. I want us to set high expectations and have rigorous academic challenging programs for all kids. There really is that focus on all kids.

So that’s where I’m coming from and why I think this has been one of the most important issues that the board has addressed in my entire tenure on the board, not just in the last year. Trustee Sunder, it’s not just that all the other issues that you brought forward were not also important issues but this is fundamental to who we are and how we serve kids – to me it is the most important thing that we can do.

I have already spoken to why this is the right time to implement change. It aligns with the Common Core. We have resources available to support it. We don’t just have pockets of good practice already in place, we have champions for a movement to spread these practices throughout our district.

They’re already at it – Leslie Whiteford tonight and many other teachers that I visited and I know you all have had an opportunity to discuss and talk with too. Laura Anderson, I think, left. But any number of teachers in the district who really want to take this and run with it and could do so much more with our support.

Winfred mentioned this in his comments – the direction we’re looking at, it aligns with our strategic plan, it aligns with our Local Control Accountability Plan and it aligns with our mission. So all of those things speak to me as the right reason to move forward with change.

I do want to revisit the issue of metrics… I think we have those metrics, they are identified in the LCAP, differentiated instruction is in the LCAP. But specifically for me, what am I anticipating changing for the better as the result of the reforms that we’re putting in place certainly achievement. It’s not all about achievement by any means, but progress on achievement tests for all of our students and by subgroup.

I really do mean that – I anticipate progress in achievement for all of our students. School climate and connectedness – I anticipate and will be looking to see if we achieve, decrease in incidents of bullying and improved indicators of positive school climate.

Finally one that’s important to me too is student stress. I anticipate and will look to see if achieve fewer referrals to crisis counselors and to counselors by students who are struggling with anxiety with issues of just being stressed.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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7 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    ” I agree there’s no right score, there’s no perfect test. I think the 98 aligns more closely with the intent of the June motion”

    so there is no right score.  how does 98 align with the intent of the june motion that she wrote if she agrees there is no right score?

  2. Anon

    I have to say, Trustee Sunder, I worry that that may not be possible based on your comments…

    Very snarky and unprofessional comment IMO.  School board members should be able to agree to disagree on issues without sniping at each other.

    I think the 98 aligns more closely with the intent of the June motion…

    In other words, 98 aligns with the DJUSD’s desire to downsize the AIM program by half.  Who is being served here, by this decision, DJUSD or the students?  So far, we have heard no educational justification for changing the cut-off to 98 instead of 96.

  3. ryankelly

    I read in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning that SF is struggling with a similar issue there with 30% of SF students being identified as gifted and most white, wealthy or Asian.  They have paused identification for this year entirely – no 3rd graders will be identified this year – while they work out how to better identify their gifted students.   They are removing the GATE courses at the middle school level (6th-8th) and moving to differentiated instruction and cluster grouping until students enter High School.

      1. ryankelly

        With private elementary school tuition around $25,000 per year per child, only the wealthy would be able to access that option. The fact that many wealthy families are already choosing private school means that private school placements are competitve.   Are you saying that School Boards should make their decision with catering to the wealthy in mind and they should design public school programs around mimicking a private school environment – selective and competitive?

        1. Don Shor

          Are you saying that School Boards should make their decision with catering to the wealthy in mind and they should design public school programs around mimicking a private school environment – selective and competitive?

          Did I say that?

      2. ryankelly

        That seemed to be the implication, but for families that have their children in public middle schools in S.F., they are unlikely to flee, unless they flee the City altogether.

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