AIM Numbers Continue to Shrink, Lottery Instituted

A student speaking out in favor of AIM last September
A student speaking out in favor of AIM last September

The final AIM numbers are in, according to a brief presentation on Thursday night by interim superintendent Kevin French.

He said, “Retesting is completed. Families of students who qualified for AIM were notified and 72 Requests for Placement forms were received.”

Those numbers mean that there will only be two strands of self-contained AIM for incoming AIM qualified students.  Mr. French explained, “The number of requests did not meet the threshold to open three strands, so a lottery was conducted this afternoon.  Notification to families will begin tomorrow, April 8.  Two self-contained AIM classes of 29 students each have been formed.  They will be held at Willett and Pioneer in accordance with the Board’s recent strand placement decision. “

He noted, “There are currently 17 students on a wait list. We will have final names and numbers to the Board later this month.”

So not only is the program itself reduced from 146 to 72, but in the worst of both worlds scenario, there is still a lottery.  And the program size was cut in half without raising the cutoff to 98 percent.

As Alan Fernandes pointed out last fall, “The existence of the lottery in my view seems to suggest that for those who 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.”

He added, “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.”

The second part of this picture is the racial and ethnic composition of these 72 qualified students.  Prior to the lottery, they include only one African American student, and three Latinos (in a district where 20 percent of the overall population is Latino).

Back in March, Madhavi Sunder, the board president, asked her colleagues, “Are the racial demographics acceptable?” She suggested we put a pause button on the 98th percentile. Her colleagues first argued against that approach, and then argued that such a motion would be a Brown Act violation.

Barbara Archer would explain that she was “not ready to talk about the 98th percentile” issue. She also was not prepared to argue that the numbers of blacks and Latinos were unacceptable until the district has finalized numbers.

Alan Fernandes directly stated that he “doesn’t find the demographics acceptable,” but he did hear that the district is looking into ways to change it. He said he is not married to this approach and would be willing to support a change down the road.

Susan Lovenburg expressed concerns “that the protocol put in place hasn’t matched the diversity of the district as she hoped that it would.”

Two weeks ago, Ms. Lovenburg told the Vanguard, “I believe we are making good progress with reforms to the AIM assessment protocol, and I’m pleased we’ve been able to achieve some measure of consensus on the board in doing so. “

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She reiterated, “I do have a concern that the protocol is not yet identifying an AIM cohort that matches the student demographic profile of our district.  I reject the notion that some races or ethnicities have a higher incidence of giftedness than others.”

Alan Fernandes told the Vanguard that, while he is “generally pleased with the AIM reforms relating to the elimination of private testing, transparency of the identification process, and the expanded use of multiple testing measures,” he has continued concern “about underrepresentation of the Black and Latino population.”

However, he added, “I am no less concerned about the impact of the identification process and the program on this population of students than I was even before our School Board unanimously passed these reforms.”

He told the Vanguard, “I do, however, believe that it is too early to make final conclusions of the policy as it has not been fully implemented, but certainly if adjusting the cut off disproportionately and negatively impacts any student population I would consider changing the test cutoff to ensure a better outcome for all of our students.”

Barbara Archer told the Vanguard, “I am pleased the district created a replicable and thorough identification system. The board has not received final numbers yet with regard to student population in this program.”

She added, “The motion that passed 4-1 in June clearly set a new direction for the program – this program is for the student working at least two grade levels or more above their current grade level (as indicated by testing and teacher feedback) and who may need a self-contained classroom environment.  I believe our new system is identifying those students as best as it can, and I see the move to 98% as appropriate given this new direction.”

Tom Adams likewise was hopeful for the new process with regards to consistency and transparency, but he added, “As for African American and Latino/Latina students, this is an ongoing concern and we will need to have the most appropriate assessment for identifying all of our AIM students. The AIM Assessment Team ensures a variety of educators are involved in the identification of students.”

The question is, now that the final numbers show two strands, a lottery and continued underrepresentation of students from disadvantaged populations, will the district do any sort of course correction?

—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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74 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    She reiterated, “I do have a concern that the protocol is not yet identifying an AIM cohort that matches the student demographic profile of our district.

    ” he has continued concern “about underrepresentation of the Black and Latino population.”

    How come nobody seems concerned that white students are also vastly underrepresented according to Davis demographics?

    1. David Greenwald

      If you believe that AIM is a program that is beneficial to the participating students, then all students are disadvantaged by the size of the program being cut in half.

        1. David Greenwald

          Whites are neither underprivileged nor underperforming at DJUSD. The new format is underrepresenting disadvantaged students, it is also reducing the number of all students who can participate. Both these points were made in the article.

        2. Barack Palin

          Then maybe you should quit complaining about the AIM program not conforming to the DJUSD demographics and only mentioning black and hispanic students when white students are also underrepresented by a large percentage.

          1. David Greenwald

            I don’t believe I said that the AIM program was not confirming to the DJUSD demographics. What I wrote was, “The second part of this picture is the racial and ethnic composition of these 72 qualified students. Prior to the lottery, they include only 1 African American student, three Latinos (in a district where 20 percent of the overall population is Latino).”

        3. Barack Palin

          And what is that, the Latino and black students that qualified don’t match up with DJUSD demographics and that’s why it’s an issue to you and the board members.  I ask again, why aren’t the underrepresented white students being mentioned?

          1. David Greenwald

            Asked and answered. Whites are neither underprivileged nor underperforming at DJUSD. T

          1. David Greenwald

            Susan Lovenburg: “I reject the notion that some races or ethnicities have a higher incidence of giftedness than others.”

            Do you disagree with her?

          2. Don Shor

            Seems that this was part of what the committee was supposed to resolve as they reviewed the students.

        4. zaqzaq

          David,

          You are lumping people into groups by race and missing individuals that are low SES or EL that are white or Asian.  There are privileged Blacks and Latinos in this school district.  Please take the race blinders off.

          1. David Greenwald

            You raise a point. When I first started looking at the achievement gap back in 2007, Jim Provenza, then on the school board, showed me data that showed that the Achievement Gap help even when you controlled for SES or parental education. So while there may be Blacks and Latinos who are from well educated households, they still, on average, perform less well than their white and Asian peers. To me that meant that race was itself a factor. I agree that there are low SES students who are underperforming who may be white or Asian, my hope is that by addressing the issues of identification, we catch those too.

        5. wdf1

          D.G.:  Asked and answered. Whites are neither underprivileged nor underperforming at DJUSD.

          I can’t see that race/ethnicity would be the primary indicator of being underprivileged.  I would say that parent education and income level would likelier be stronger indicators of achievement/opportunity gap concern, then maybe ELL status.  Their success rates (of students from lower SES & maybe ELL status) are indicators of potential social mobility.  The current trend, as I understand it, is that a student with parents who are not college educated is less likely to complete college. There is a higher trend of lower income and education levels among Latino families, but there are also Latino families who don’t follow that trend.

          From time to time I have seen statistics on family income and ELL status from among AIM/GATE identified, but never on parent education level that I know of, even though the district keeps that information on each student.

        6. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > Whites are neither underprivileged nor

          > underperforming at DJUSD

          I’m surprised to hear that all the white kids in Davis are privileged and high performing.

          1. David Greenwald

            TP is right. I’m not saying there are no white people from low SES. As I said previously, my solution to the issue that has been raised is fixing the identification testing and reevaluate size and scope of the program.

        7. wdf1

          DG:  You raise a point. When I first started looking at the achievement gap back in 2007, Jim Provenza, then on the school board, showed me data that showed that the Achievement Gap help even when you controlled for SES or parental education. 

          I think the bigger driver of results is parent education level, not race/ethnicity.  For instance.  If you agree, then I’d suggest not focusing first on race/ethnicity.
          My two older (adopted) kids can legitimately identify as Latino (both birth parents were Latino, they spoke Spanish (no English) for the first 5+ years of their lives).  For many years their ELA (English Language Arts) scores were below average especially when compared to white students.  As they reached HS graduation, their scores approached those of their white peers.  One has graduated from college and the other is about a semester away from college graduation.

          Although I’m very proud of both of them for being able to perform at a college level in English language given their background, I think their way was paved significantly by their mother and I having a college education.  We hang out socially with other college educated Latino parents in Davis, and our kids’ educational trajectory isn’t unusual among this group.  I volunteer with Latino kids whose parents are not college educated, and I can see where their pathway will likely have more challenges because of the education level of the parents.

          When you reference Jim Provenza’s 2007 data, he uses what I think is the formal definition of achievement gap — standardized test score differentials.  I think a more robust definition definition of achievement/opportunity gap is “can they complete a post high school education program (undergrad degree, trade degree/certification) in 6-8 years.  There are very explainable ways in which Latino students from college-educated families can score lower on ELA standardized tests and still reasonably succeed.  If you focus on race/ethnicity first, then you miss that nuance.

  2. zaqzaq

    So Roberson lied again when at the March school board meeting he stated that a lottery would not be needed.  The deceit of school leaders seems to never end.  The lack of diversity in the program will be the excuse for the haters moving to get rid of the program all together.  Then they will go after honors and AP classes at the high school.  One way to close the achievement gap is to bring down the top which is easier than bringing up the bottom.

    I suspect that the board will act shocked when their next parcel tax fails and then go looking for a scapegoat.

    1. ryankelly

      So you admit that GATE was just an educational track starting at 4th grade for 1/3 of selected Davis kids.

      I think you are wrong. Davis kids of earlier generations excelled, did AP courses, went on to elite universities, and accomplished great things, without being in GATE.  They can do this now.

      1. Don Shor

        If GATE is their optimal placement, it is what should be provided to the student. The goal of the district should be to provide the best placement for every student.

      2. zaqzaq

        ryankelly,

        I concede no such thing.  I will note that your concession (more like a taunt) in the past that Archer mislead (lied) about her true intentions during the election concerning the AIM program only solidified my decision to vote against any future parcel taxes while she remains on the board.  I want to thank you for your insight on that issue.

        1. The Pugilist

          Does it make sense to vote against a parcel tax when all that will result in is further hurt for the students you are trying to help through AIM?

        2. zaqzaq

          Voting against the parcel tax is a signal that the public does not support the board’s performance.  Voting for the parcel tax sends the message that the public supports the board’s decisions and is willing to entrust them with properly allocating this tax revenue.  I simply decline to entrust individuals who blatantly lie to get elected with my tax dollars.   I did not state that I would vote against any parcel tax until the board reversed it’s new policy on the AIM program.  Instead I stated that I would not support a parcel tax while Archer remained on the board.  I have the same feeling towards Adams but less evidence to back it up.  If Archer had run on reforming the AIM program and won I would not be taking this position.

    2. iWitness

      Right, on your comment about the high school, zaqzaq.  “They” have already gone after our great honors and AP program at the high school ever since the PTA, that august body of the penny-wise, pound-foolish, brought in the maudlin docudrama Race for the Bottom twice, no less (and they think I am going to help them fund-raise?).   This made for tv docudrama purported to show the deleterious effect on students of parental pressure for the more demanding route, not even a bow to the fact that some kids just want to do these more demanding courses.   Now high-achieving high school students are limited to two per year, and students must apply on their own for exemptions to  take their  logical next courses simply because they are “higher level” courses too stressful for people almost old enough to serve in foreign wars to decide for themselves?  Why should PTA members assume, with eager administration help, that they know better what causes student stress than these students and their parents?  They can both save money taking courses that they are ready for in high school, with less pressure in college and at a more appropriate pace. What they are limiting is the breadth in courses that students really ought to be able to experience in college.  The PTA is just another arena for limiting access to appropriate classes for the gifted, at least on paper.  How Davis.

  3. Sam

    So, instead of analyzing the needs of the qualifying students to decide the best service to provide for their education they pulled out some ping pong balls to make the decision for them? I am not sure if that is the administration unwilling to do their job or concerned that if analysis does not produce the correct racial mix they will face criticism.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      This is the critical point here – by having a lottery, the district is acknowledging that they are not meeting the needs of some students in the district who are otherwise qualified per their measures to participate in this program.

      1. wdf1

        D.G.:  This is the critical point here – by having a lottery, the district is acknowledging that they are not meeting the needs of some students in the district who are otherwise qualified per their measures to participate in this program.

        But there is also a parent decision involved.  Not all families with an AIM/GATE identified student choose to participate.  Has everyone on that list committed to participate in AIM?  Based on past trends, what would be the rate of participation from among those students who are AIM-identified?

      2. zaqzaq

        Instead of reducing the size of the program and excluding children they could have a third strain and open it to the 95s.  That would better meet the needs of all children whose parents want them in the program.  As noted in the district’s AIM identification report many districts have a threshold lower than 96 with some as low as 90.  This viewpoint further solidifies my belief that the district is more focused on destroying the program than serving the students in the district.

        1. David Greenwald

          Someone else asked, why not just have three classes of 24 – I have asked that of the district. I’m baffled by why you would put 17 people on the wait list rather than change the size of the class.

        2. Sam

          I can understand the District not wanting to lower the class size because of cost. What I can’t understand it the unwillingness to assess the needs of the students in the District to determine if there are another 12 third graders that would benefit from AIM. Is it that hard to ask the current teachers if there are students in their class that may have scored below the threshold because of reasons beyond their control?

          1. Don Shor

            It would be very easy for them to fill three strands of GATE. They would just reach back further into the pool of students if necessary, or re-evaluate some that didn’t quite make the cutoff. But they will not choose to do that, because it would require relaxing the new test threshold and it would undermine their consistent goal in this process: reducing the numbers in GATE.
            There should be no waiting list.
            There should be no lottery.
            They are failing to provide each student the optimal placement that they, the district, have identified. So the trustees and administration are failing at their most basic duty.

  4. Tia Will

    “The number of requests did not meet the threshold to open three strands, so a lottery was conducted”

    I am clearly missing something here. Ms. Sunder has repeatedly stated that the AIM program does not cost the school district appreciably, so additional cost should not be an issue. And then we have the statement above. If the program is not more costly, then why is it that all children who truly need the program and desire to utilize it cannot be accommodated ? Why is there a need for a lottery if the program cost is the same ? Is it a space concern, or a qualified teacher concern ?  Just what is the limiting factor that this year means that we cannot accommodate the true demand if that is indeed what is reflected by the new number of applicants ?

    1. iWitness

      Tia, it’s certainly not a lack of qualified teachers when a program is sliced in half and half of the AIM teachers are tossed back with those who either didn’t have the energy to take GATE inservice and take GATE courses online, or just didn’t have the energy to develop their skills.  The teachers at North and Korematsu are available as of last night.  We can just hope they don’t take their experience to some other district, one that cares about inservice instead of lip service.

  5. ryankelly

    If all of the families who were GATE identified had requested placement, there would be 3 strands.  It seems to me that staying with friends in their neighborhood school or at Cesar Chavez for both the students and their parents might have been more important than the perceived need for a separate self contained GATE program. This is how GATE used to be.  It turned into something else, driven by the desire to belong to the “in” group. People should be focusing on making differentiated instruction work.  There should be enough of a diverse student body at neighborhood schools to allow clustering, etc.

     

    1. Don Shor

      The district has provided no evidence of their commitment to differentiated instruction. They have not introduced clustering. They are simply decimating GATE and putting nothing in its place. You are just rationalizing the bad outcome of a bad series of decisions.

      1. ryankelly

        So you think we should continue to do nothing to improve neighborhood elementary programs and better implement differentiated instruction?  We should demand the status quo and use it as a campaign strategy to reinstate academic tracking of 1/3 of Davis children – is that what you want?  Do you really think that only GATE identified students should be offered differentiated instruction?  Your bitterness is blinding you to solutions that would benefit every Davis student.

        1. Don Shor

          So you think we should continue to do nothing to improve neighborhood elementary programs and better implement differentiated instruction?

          Gosh, ryan, did I say that? Did I even imply it? No. Nor any of the rest of your nonsense post. I’m not going to argue with straw man rhetoric.
          GATE was a successful and popular program. The district could have made GATE even better. We all had long discussions here about how they could have done that. Nothing they have done has made gifted education better.
          You continue to rationalize bad outcomes from bad decisions.

        2. ryankelly

          Yes, you have implied that – or at least implied that it won’t work or that it will never happen.  I don’t see how wanting to put more focus on improving the neighborhood elementary program is “rationalizing the bad outcome of a bad series of decisions.”

          1. Don Shor

            So you think we should continue to do nothing to improve neighborhood elementary programs and better implement differentiated instruction?

            No, I have never said or implied that. That is just nonsense. A complete canard.
            The board can certainly work to implement differentiated instruction. They can mandate training for all teachers as a good starting point. But they didn’t do that. And there is no credibility to the notion that the board will do followup, monitor the differentiated instruction, or even monitor the outcomes. How well did the board and administration implement differentiated math instruction?

            From the start of this discussion, “differentiation” has been the default excuse, the go-to false solution, of those who seek to dismantle GATE. Differentiated instruction is certainly a good thing. The training for teachers who will now be teaching gifted students needs to be specific to gifted education. It needs to be thorough, and it needs to be effective. It needs to be provided to every teacher who will now be teaching students that would have previously been in self-contained GATE. That isn’t happening. That won’t get followup, as far as we can tell.
            Put whatever focus you like on the neighborhood elementary programs. Dismantling GATE does nothing to improve them. So that’s an irrelevance to this discussion, just like the mantra of differentiation is. But to accuse the opponents of the board’s decisions as being bitter, to accuse us of not wanting to improve the schools, is simply denigration and a series of straw man arguments.
            The board has done harm to specific students. They need to correct that. But I am willing to bet they won’t.

    2. Don Shor

      If all of the families who were GATE identified had requested placement, there would be 3 strands.

      Obviously not, unless I’ve misunderstood David’s article.

      1. ryankelly

        There were students identified to warrant three strands, but out of the these students, only 72 requested placement.  If all of the identified students had requested placement, there would have been three classes of 29 students or 87 students.  I think there were more students than 87 identified, so there had to have been a substantial number of students who declined placement.  It is my guess that these students did not want to change schools and leave friends or are happy with their present school or program (i.e. Cesar Chavez).  It is my guess that these students will choose to participate in the GATE program when they get to Junior High School, but we will have to see.

    3. zaqzaq

      ryankelly,

      Once again you live in a dream world where the district has effectively implemented differentiation and clusters in the school district.  They are not ever really trying.  They did not include the requirement in the last teacher contract and have not made the differentiation training mandatory.  If they had implemented an effective differentiation program before decimating the AIM program the public reaction would be different.

      1. ryankelly

        So….you think that we shouldn’t work to better implement differentiated instruction?

        I know you are a bitter person over this, but I don’t see the value in doing nothing to improve our neighborhood elementary programs.

        1. DavisAnon

          Ryankelly, you’re calling someone else a bitter person? Should I refer you to some of your prior comments? Of course parents are bitter. Through their irresponsible actions, the Board is clearly telling this group of parents that the education of their child is of no concern to them. They slashed a well-functioning, cost-effective program and replaced it with air. Actually not just air, as they added new admin FTE so the “new” air is far more expensive than the old program was.

          That Board majority couldn’t care less about trying to implement differentiation in any significant way. You are deluding yourself if you think they will follow through on that. Sunder even proposed a motion to the other trustees that would delineate for parents what could be offered to meet these students’ needs in terms of differentiation, and they all refused.

          Now this Board expects these same parents to support the parcel tax? My guess is that many would rather save the money and put it toward outside activities or private school to actually educate their children. Archer needs to look in the mirror and consider her role in this when the parcel tax fails to pass.

          If Lovenburg thinks she’s going to have any support for re-election from this contingent, she’s sorely mistaken. She has screamed for years that she wanted the GATE program to be tiny and she wanted the GATE coordinator gone. Lovenburg got her wishes, but now she needs to be held accountable for the damage she has done to our community.

          The Board redefined ‘needs’ for the program (and in a very race/SES-biased way that only opens us up to lawsuits) and now STILL refuses to meet the needs of those identified students.

        2. ryankelly

          There is so much I disagree with you here.  Starting with finding fault for saying that someone seems bitter, then agree that they are bitter.

          I’ve put forward several solutions – allowing 3 small classes of GATE, allowing 2 large classes of GATE, opening up the extra seats to students who did not qualify on a first come, first serve basis or holding a lottery.   I’ve said that we should focus on improving and supporting differentiated instruction in the neighborhood schools – something that would benefit all children, but that is rejected.

          Re: the parcel tax – you have no idea how many people vote to tax themselves to support the education of Davis children who do not have school-aged children.   The threat by GATE parents to vote against the parcel tax in retaliation in an effort to harm the School Board is frankly a selfish action that will only harm teachers and students in the District.  They don’t have my support for this.  If cutting the 7th period at Junior Highs and other enrichment programs for all Davis kids so they can take $400 and spend it on private school for their child is something they think is the right thing to do, I can’t see trying to convince them otherwise.

          Lovenberg has based her actions on her own study of research in the industry and interaction with the community, staff and educators.  She has been consistent – you might call it screaming, but I have never heard her raise her voice nor given a shrill answer.  You might disagree with her, but she represents a substantial part of the population in Davis.  She is an elected official and people can vote against her at the next election if they want.

    4. zaqzaq

      ryankelly,

      I agree that the school district and proponents of differentiated instruction should have been focused on making it work BEFORE modifying the AIM program.  Instead proponents of differentiated instruction attacked the AIM program as a means of achieving differentiated instruction.  Had a successful differentiated program of instruction with effective clusters been instituted more parents of AIM identified might have kept their children in neighborhood schools.  Instead you have a school district dismantling the AIM program and paying lip service to differentiation.

      So the children and their parents are motivated solely to have their children belong to the “in” group and be labeled as nerds.  It sounds like you are a bitter parent whose  child did not qualify for AIM.

       

       

  6. Don Shor

    So now we have begun to quantify the direct harm done to students by the board majority’s decision to slash the GATE program.

    First we know that several dozen students who would have benefitted from GATE placement have been denied access to the program by the decision to arbitrarily change the test threshold. We don’t know the exact number.  But we do know that there are 17 students for whom GATE has been identified as their optimal placement, and those students are now denied access to the program.

    When the district fails to make the student’s optimal placement available for arbitrary and capricious reasons, that is simply a failure by the trustees to do their job. Cutting the program had no rationale other than the simple goal of reducing the numbers. Cutting the program was the end in itself. It was not better for the students. It was not better for the district. And now we can say clearly that the trustees have harmed specific students by their decision.

    This is malfeasance. At the very least they need to open a third strand. There is no justification for failing to do so.

    1. The Pugilist

      Good post.  And really the harm is that 75 students will not be able to participate in the program.  I don’t understand the logic here – if we think the program is helpful – why not open it to a wider group.  If we do not think the program is helpful – why not eliminate it.  The middle ground in this case makes little sense.

  7. MrsW

    “Davis Parents” are not born, they’re made.  For over a decade, I have been told by the DJUSD powerful that the AIM program is “demand based”.  Personally, I think past-practices created an artificially high demand, but this year? What a bunch of BS.  There has to be a way to provide a seat for each child who qualified.

    1. ryankelly

      There was a seat for every student who qualified, until a substantial number declined placement.   They could open GATE classes to any student who wants to attend to fill the rest of the seats on a 1st come, first serve basis or take applications from any student who wants to attend and do a lottery for just those open seats.

  8. David Greenwald

    Spoke to DJUSD spokersperson Maria Clayton, she told me that due to “natural attrition” there was no way to have three classes even at a smaller size like 24 given those numbers.

    1. MrsW

      Did Maria Clayton give you any sense, what the smallest and the largest numbers would be, for DJUSD to support three classrooms?  Presumably 87 students would be optimal (3 x 29 students).  What if there were 88 qualified students?  Would the 1 extra child get a seat?  Would DTA have to approve any additional students over 29 in a classroom?  What about 75 students (3 classrooms of 25 each)?

      1. ryankelly

        So people want GATE students to get small classes of 14-25 students?   Why not ask that all students be accommodated in 2 classrooms with 36 students each and hire an aid to help in the class?

        Would the 1 extra child get a seat?

        In this scenario, the extra child would likely get a seat, because the 29 can be an average.  There could be one class of 30.

        The School Board can overrule this and allow 3 classes.  One will have only 14 students or all three will only have 24 students each. Will everyone be happy with that, including Davis teachers?

        Or they could allow 2 classes of 36 students.

        1. DavisAnon

          They could also revisit their new identification procedures. They have given no evidence that this new approach is any improvement at all over the prior (which had been vetted and modified over a couple of decades).

          If they wanted to shift the identification to address their concerns, there was a measured, logical approach they could have taken. Ways to broadening the test panel options  and improve the district’s ability to use the most appropriate tests was studied all last year by the AIM advisory committee with a proposal made to the Board last June. They dismissively blew it off and chose to go their own way. They have no evidence to back their decisions, which is why they refuse to even consider taking a second look at what they’ve done.

          It’s full steam ahead with the wrecking ball before the next election, regardless of the negative effects for these children and families.

        2. MrsW

          They could do that if the teachers were willing to take on 36 students.

          The BOE and DJUSD administrators know that they will not hire a teacher to teach only 14 students (or 15 or 16 or ??? how few?).  Hence, they must have predicted that this scenario might occur.  If the program were truly “demand based” or “needs based,” before today I would have thought that they’d have a number of options: They could have had an agreement in place with DTA beforehand, in which class sizes might be larger. They could have had a plan to augment class sizes with high achievers for specific subjects, at specific times of the day, like math (differentiation). They could have had a plan to augment class sizes with children who scored just below the OLSAT cut-off point.  But, instead, they chose to deny 14 students placement.  Why?

        3. ryankelly

          David is reporting on the staff report, which looks like they are responding to the low numbers of requests for GATE placement for previous Board decisions re: the size of the GATE program and the rules regarding class sizes set by policy and union agreements.  The solutions you offer would have to be exceptions to these policies and approved by the Board and agreed to by the union.  This has to be done at a meeting and the meeting hasn’t occurred yet.  No decision has been made and there is still time.

  9. DavisAnon

    Ryankelly, I meant you were unlikely to promote constructive conversation by just calling people bitter (at least twice on this page) rather than asdressing the reasons for their frustration.

    As for the parcel tax, I am not supporting or denigrating anyone’s voting choice. I know many longtime residents with no kids around here or with school-aged grandchildren in Davis who are wit’s end with the Board’s actions. These actions have far-reaching effects beyond the classroom  – property values, quality of life, economics. Davis residents pay more and more tax dollars that pay to educate increasing numbers of non-Davis students who do not pay parcel taxes and displace Davis students in their own classrooms. The district is mismanaging the dollars they have been given.

    I believe that excellent public education is what makes our country strong and should be a top priority. I do not want Davis education to be degraded by a lack of dollars, but neither can I condone the irresponsible actions of this Board by giving them more of my hard-earned dollars. I have actively campaigned for prior parcel taxes, and I do not know yet how I will vote. But I do know this is the first time in my decades of being a Davis voter that I have ever questioned  supporting passage of a parcel tax, and I’m not alone in this. Given the narrow margin that allowed the last one to pass and the continued destructiveness of the Board, I think is the year the parcel tax may fail. That will not be my fault; that fault will lie with the Board and administration.

    Finally, as to Lovenburg. I meant screaming in terms of frequency not volume. She has repeatedly stated she wanted a significantly smaller AIM program but then ironically refused to acknowledge that to David Greenwsld when he recently questioned her about it.

    1. DavisAnon

      Not sure how, but this landed in the wrong place. It was in response to Ryan’s reply to my comment above. Please forgive my inability to navigate the page on my phone.

  10. Misanthrop

    Archer said “this program is for the student working at least two grade levels or more above their current grade level (as indicated by testing and teacher feedback) and who may need a self-contained classroom environment.  I believe our new system is identifying those students as best as it can, and I see the move to 98% as appropriate given this new direction.”

    Really? Two grade levels ahead? Since when? One of the problems is that there was never any resolution as to who this program should serve. Is it the kid who is too advanced or the kid who has trouble functioning socially? This question was never resolved but simply defined as the 98th percentile on the Olsat or some other tests and surveys. The problem is that first they needed to figure out who they were serving and then determine how to identify those students. So we are left with the obvious that they wanted a smaller program and that is what they have. If that meant they needed to differentiate every classroom in the district so be it. If it meant firing the coordinator who had dedicated her career to this district and these kids, not a problem. If that meant efforts at providing a diverse classroom ended on the cutting room floor having our gifted children learn in a classroom that looks like California isn’t really an issue. If it meant a lottery system that nearly everyone hated and felt unfair rather than add kids on the margin to fill a classroom, oh well too bad. They seem content and unwilling to do anything other than shrink the program. And I love hiding behind the Brown Act when convenient but ignoring it when inconvenient.

    As for the gate parents not supporting Lovenburg you forget that the anti-gate parents are going to support Lovenburg. So we will have a referendum of sorts on this issue. That is too bad because there are many other issues of concern with the governance of the district that should be considered as we “move on” to the next board.

  11. Napoleon Pig IV

    zaqzaq and others have made this point quite clear, but just to add a little odor to the issue:

    The creation and use of the lottery represents an attitude and approach to education in Davis equivalent to the quality of the product that results from passing pasture grass through the digestive tract of a horse.

    Roberson misled many people during his tenure – on many topics. It’s equally clear that Lovenburg and her minions, Archer and Adams, are cut from the same cloth.

    Use of the lottery this year has confirmed my (and others I know) intention to vote against the parcel tax.

    If, or when, the “leadership” of DJUSD improves, we will gladly vote for a new parcel tax.

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