Board Policies Are Squeezing the Life out of AIM

AIMby Debbie Nichols-Poulos

This spring, only 82 students qualified for the fourth-grade AIM program, almost half of previous years. This lower number was due to the elimination of private testing and the way the TONI was previously used.

This year, students with learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, or those who have language, ethnic or socioeconomic risk factors, are far less likely to be identified as gifted. This year’s brand-new testing protocol surely resulted in under-identifying gifted third-graders.

At the last minute, the board decided to eliminate AIM classes at North Davis Elementary even though a majority of the qualifying students selected North as their first choice and some as their only choice. Why? North students are now at the bottom of waiting lists for Willett and Pioneer AIM strands.

What is the board’s rationale for cutting the program to only two strands? Does it believe only high-potential students in certain neighborhoods deserve AIM classes?

Students from Central and East Davis who still want to attend either Pioneer or Willett will have a hazardous bike commute, or they will have to rely on non-working parents who are able to car-pool, in order to get to these distant schools.

When I taught the fourth-grade self-contained class, the district always lowered the eligibility score to fill our classes. The board could easily lower the eligibility score to fill classes at North, Willett and Pioneer. Given the margin of error, there is no clear line at the 96th percentile. The new testing methods surely under-identified gifted students, so it would make sense to reach out to high-potential kids on the cusp of qualifying who could benefit from the program.

This would be an easy fix. But don’t hold your breath. The board majority is clearly getting its wish of squeezing the life out of this program that has served Davis schools since the 1960s. One way or another, they won’t rest until GATE is eliminated for every single gifted student.

I feel so sad for the entire contingent of GATE-eligible children in our district whose needs will not be met. There are going to be more lights out in Davis than those notorious street lights!

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77 Comments

  1. Misanthrop

    There is a degree of irony here that the two biggest advocates for killing the gate program are keeping what is left of it at Willett, the school that is easy walking distance from their respective homes.

  2. Tia Will

    I hope that someone will help me understand one aspect of the AIM controversy. My understanding is that this is a program that is designed to provide a more appropriate model for students who have special needs due to giftedness and the inability to function to their optimal capacity in a standard classroom.

    Then, from an AIM proponent we have the following statements:

    When I taught the fourth-grade self-contained class, the district always lowered the eligibility score to fill our classes.”

    I feel so sad for the entire contingent of GATE-eligible children in our district whose needs will not be met. “

    The question that I have is about the previous practice. Why is it that the district “always lowered the eligibility score to fill our classes” ? Is this in and of itself not evidence that the number of students who actually needed this program was being artificially inflated by the admission of unqualified students who perhaps did not need the program ?  Is the concern here really about not meeting the needs of students who genuinely “need” the program, or is it really about maintaining the program at sites of convenience for those who would merely like to see enough students enrolled to justify the desired locations ?

     

    1. DavisAnon

      While I can’t speak for others, for myself the issue is making sure that those whose needs are better met by AIM have the option to participate. The Board is determined to cut the size of the program and is refusing to acknowledge that many students who will no longer have access would have been better served by the educational approach of AIM. I think there are pro’s and con’s of having AIM at several sites. I would be absolutely fine if all AIM classes were at a single site as long as the district returns to looking at how to best meet the needs of each and every student.

      The ‘one size fits all’ approach they’re ramming into place is not helping anyone learn. They have yet to explain how their actions have improved education for even one child.

      1. Tia Will

        as long as the district returns to looking at how to best meet the needs of each and every student.”

        This remains the key for me. The whole AIM controversy seems to me to have centered exclusively around the perceived needs of one highly specialized group of students. I have no problem with this, unless the need is being exaggerated by the inclusion of students who do not meet this criteria.

        My question. Would any of you support accepting into a competitive lacrosse team ( example chosen because my son played varsity lacrosse) students who  did not qualify at tryouts simply to have enough names on the roster to justify the team’s existence. I know I would not have argued for this approach, even if it meant my son would have to participate in a club. I am open to a persuasive argument that this is not the same situation, but so far it is how I am seeing the numbers and filling in with students who do not meet criteria.

        1. David Greenwald

          To me there is a broader issue – meeting the core educational needs of as many students as possible. If AIM was doing that – why would we want it to be smaller? If AIM was doing that – why would we not broaden some of the techniques to the broader classroom? If AIM is not doing that, why would we not end the program all together?

      2. The Pugilist

        “While I can’t speak for others, for myself the issue is making sure that those whose needs are better met by AIM have the option to participate.”

        This is the key point.

    2. KJW

      Given the margin of error, there is no clear line at the 96th percentile. The new testing methods surely under-identified gifted students, so it would make sense to reach out to high-potential kids on the cusp of qualifying who could benefit from the program.

      Is it simply a matter of filling class sizes up to a certain level?  If you have a target class size of, say, 25, and the 96th percentile identifies 20 students but moving to the 95th percentile identifies an additional 7, without a particular bright line from the 96th to the 95th, what is the issue with the eligibility shift?  “Unqualified students” seems a little strongly phrased, unless the eligibility score was lowered to absurd levels.

      In another year, the 96th percentile might identify 30 students with a target class size of 25.  In that year, the wait-list would probably come into play.

      Willing to be corrected with additional info, but based on the information presented here I don’t see much reason to question motivations.

      1. Tia Will

        KJW

        “Unqualified students” seems a little strongly phrased, unless the eligibility score was lowered to absurd levels.”

        We seem to be crossing posts. I understand the argument about meeting the needs of those who truly “need” the program. However, it seems to me that the lack of precision in sorting by test scores leaves ample room for both sides of the controversy to use this as an argument for their side. Since there is no definition for “absurd levels” the number becomes almost arbitrary and becomes a means not of identifying student need but rather identifying program number need.

      2. The Pugilist

        “I don’t see much reason to question motivations.”

        I see a lot of reasons to question motivations – look at words, look at actions.  The board and staff could never answer the one fundamental question: what is the educational basis for making this change?

        1. DavisAnon

          That is the question the Board has been asked many times yet they refuse to answer. I can only conclude they have no educational basis for the changes they have made. Even worse, they appear to be completely unconcerned about the negative effects of their decisions on the students they are charged with serving.

        2. Napoleon Pig IV

          I agree with The Pugilist on this. There are many reasons to question motivations when politicians (specifically, in this case, the Lovenburg-led board majority) misrepresent their intentions, evade answering questions, and otherwise act like they stumbled somewhere on the trek up the evolutionary pathway.

  3. ryankelly

    Now it is about attending their neighborhood school.

    How about putting all the GATE strands at Valley Oak?

    Only 66 students ended up requesting placement out of what, 82?  56 are now being asked to confirm again with 10 on a waitlist.  We’ll see if GATE is really that important for these families or do they just want their children in a classroom with the top students only at their neighborhood school.

    Debbie’s letter borders on hysteria.

    1. David Greenwald

      “Now it is about attending their neighborhood school.”

      I think as I understand it, it is more complex than this. First, it has to do with a basic fairness issue that they signed up at a particular school and then ended up on the wait list when that school was eliminated. Second, it had to do more with teachers than locale.

      1. ryankelly

        I see.  The District erred in telling the parents that there would definitely be a GATE class with a certain teacher at NDE.  Now the numbers of students requesting placement won’t support that and GATE advocates want the District to just add students that aren’t eligible, but at the top end of test scores, so NDE parents can get their desired teacher, with the desired students, at their desired location.  Then there is the GATE teacher at NDE that wants her GATE classroom to remain at NDE and seems to be heavily lobbying for this.

        This is what went wrong with GATE in Davis.  It ended up not being about academic need.  It was about association and opportunity.   It was an unfair system.

        I think many families are learning that their child’s needs can be met in their existing educational setting where they are already thriving and have connections in place.

        If parents want their children to remain at NDE, why not just request that the GATE students be clustered in regular classrooms and steps be taken to make sure their needs are met?

         

         

        1. ryankelly

          They have sent letters out to 56 families to see if they will accept placement at Pioneer and Willet.  That’s two classes of 28.  There are only 10 children on the waitlist.  I’m thinking that they are expecting families to back out and more children can be offered placement.

        2. wdf1

          ryankelly:  why not just request that the GATE students be clustered in regular classrooms

          Don Shor:  Gee, why didn’t the board think of that?

          Was that suggestion vetted in the administrative report/recommendation?  Has it been made to to school board?

          1. Don Shor

            Three seconds of Googling would have made that option apparent to anybody reviewing gifted programs. Or a review of the San Diego school district practices. Or any review of the many discussions on the Vanguard, since we discussed it here numerous times.

        3. ryankelly

          Don, I think they are responding to the request for a self-contained classroom at NDE.  If the Board suggested just clustering GATE students as a solution, I can imagine the howls of protest.  The request needs to come from the parents, as they have rejected this as a solution before.

          1. Don Shor

            Yes, at this point that is what they are responding to. As we have discussed many, many, many times before: cluster grouping could have been used as a method for reducing the demand/need for self-contained GATE. At this point, I suspect the parents feel little point in proposing alternative models for GATE, since their concerns have been fully ignored to date. They are just reacting to what the board has done.

        4. wdf1

          Don Shor:  Three seconds of Googling would have made that option apparent to anybody reviewing gifted programs. Or a review of the San Diego school district practices. Or any review of the many discussions on the Vanguard, since we discussed it here numerous times.

          Waiting for your idea to be discovered is an ineffective way to advocate for your program.

          1. Don Shor

            You believe the school board and administrative staff are unaware of cluster grouping? Then you are basically saying they are incompetent. But for the record, it was mentioned in the Special Report to the Board of Education on Review of the Alternative Instructional Model (AIM), 2015.

        5. ryankelly

          Are they really putting all NDE students and students previously offered placement at NDE at the bottom of the waitlist?  It was my understanding that students were ranked and placed according to their ranking.  If they assigned students to NDE, then cancelled the class and moved students to the waitlist for the other locations, then I have a problem with that.  Poulos implies this, but where is she getting her data?

        6. wdf1

          Don Shor:  You believe the school board and administrative staff are unaware of cluster grouping? Then you are basically saying they are incompetent. But for the record, it was mentioned in the Special Report to the Board of Education on Review of the Alternative Instructional Model (AIM), 2015.

          I don’t participate on the AIM advisory committee.  I don’t engage the board or the staff on these issues.  So I don’t know what the history of discussion is on this idea.  But I thank you for pointing out that it has been mentioned at the board/administrative level.

          When I read letters to the editor, Vanguard comments, and hear public comments during school board meetings, it seems like AIM advocates have been arguing exclusively for self-contained classrooms.  I think that has tended to exclude clustering as a specific preference.  I think it might be perceived as differentiated instruction which a number of self-contained program advocates seem to not like.

          I like the cluster idea that you’ve brought up.  I think you have been the main regular advocate for considering it.  I think if a group of parents of AIM-identified students got up and said, we really want to have this cluster option, it would have a better chance to go somewhere.  If not, then I think the discussion will be understood only as either self-contained or differentiated instruction.

          1. Don Shor

            When I read letters to the editor, Vanguard comments, and hear public comments during school board meetings, it seems like AIM advocates have been arguing exclusively for self-contained classrooms.

            Actually, they’ve been arguing against dismantling GATE. That’s what the board proposed, and that’s what the board is doing. I have been told by GATE parents and teachers that the board and administration were not interested in their views.

        7. wdf1

          Don Shor:  Actually, they’ve been arguing against dismantling GATE. That’s what the board proposed, and that’s what the board is doing. I have been told by GATE parents and teachers that the board and administration were not interested in their views.

          I think there has been a lot of equivocation around the word, “dismantle”.  I don’t think the board majority thinks they are dismantling self-contained GATE because they would probably argue that there will still be self-contained GATE, therefore self-contained GATE is not being dismantled as a program.

          Self-contained GATE advocates respond that it is dismantling the program because it is a change from what existed before.  There were 4 4th grade strands, apparently there will be 2 4th grade strands, therefore the reduction means dismantling.  Nevertheless, to me the discussion of dismantling GATE seems to imply a discussion of self-contained GATE.  That includes this current article by Debbie Nichols-Poulos.  I don’t see any discussion of clustering being entertained.

        8. JosephBiello

          You know something, people.  Imagine if I changed my grading process in the middle of the academic quarter.   That would legitimately raise howls of protest from my students.

          Why do the anti-AIMers not understand this?  It is about our government abiding by its own rules.

           

           

        9. Michelle Millet

          You know something, people.  Imagine if I changed my grading process in the middle of the academic quarter.   That would legitimately raise howls of protest from my students.
          Why do the anti-AIMers not understand this?  It is about our government abiding by its own rules.

          Joseph- there are conflicting policies in place, no matter how the district proceeds it is going to have to break one of its rules. If they allow more kids into the program than they are changing the process of how they let kids into the program, if they allow for smaller class sizes than they are changing their class size policy. If they waitlist kids this year than they break their policy of only forming a waitlist after 120 kids qualify.
          They have to break one of their rules, they don’t have a choice. You just don’t like the rule they picked to change, and I agree with you. I think that every child that qualifies for AIM should be guaranteed a spot in the program.

      2. JosephBiello

        Hi guys, I’m one of the parents.  I’d like to point @ryankelly to the letter that I wrote – it’s in the Vanguard with a lot of comments.

        Unfortunately, so much of the issue is clouded with historical anger.  There are feelings of betrayal by the pro-AIM camp and feelings of “why do you want more” from  the anti-AIM camp.

        I wish people would be focused on the simple issue of a process that was changed in mid-flight.    This is really the most concerning aspect of this problem.  The question of how AIM goes forward is secondary and should not be addressed at this time.

        I would also point out that the AIM placement procedure was changed on the DJUSD website on April 15, far after the lottery was done.  The previous process letter (which was there until the 15th) I’d like to attach to my comments., but can’t seem to do it.

         

         

         

         

         

         

        1. Tia Will

          JosephBiello

          It is about our government abiding by its own rules.”

          I totally respect your point of view and your apparent sincerity. However, I do not believe that you are looking at this as objectively as you believe that you are. If this were truly just about “our government abiding by its own rules” as you say, then you should also object to accepting more children who did not meet the declared standard as this would also constitute “breaking its own rules” and yet you advocated for this as a solution unless I misunderstood you.

        2. ryankelly

          Joseph, The number of eligible students changed and became unsustainable. Eligibility included parents requesting placement, which some declined to do.

          Professors change their grading mid-quarter all the time – grading on a curve. Students at UCD can’t get into classes that the are eligible for,  have the prerequisites for, because a class is fully enrolled and the student can’t be accomodated.  They are offered course sustitutions, or have to wait to see if someone drops the course or hope there are enough students on the waitlist, funding and a room large enough to offer another section of the course.  They may not get into the class they want, with the instructor the want, or the schedule they want.  Under-enrolled courses are cancelled at the last minute or merged with other sections and students just have to go with it.

          You are a professor, so I would expect you would have some experience with this.  Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

          1. Don Shor

            became unsustainable.

            ‘The district redefined “unsustainable.” As noted in the letter, there are smaller class sizes in other programs in the district*. It was the district’s decision that there must be a certain minimum number of students.
            I urge you to read the comment on the letter by Melissa Flamson: http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/aim-parents-appeal-to-school-district-for-fairness/
            This is an administrative bungling of a bad policy. It just gets worse each step of the way. The board knows what is the right thing to do in this situation. We’ll see if they do it.

            * An additional AIM strand means 24 (or 22) students per classroom if there are 72 (or 66) AIM-eligible children. While these numbers are on the low end of Davis school district classrooms, they are not the lowest (for example, two Montgomery Elementary fourth-grade classrooms have 22 and 23 students, respectively). If this is too low for the district, more students can be added from among students who were at the threshold of AIM admission under these new standards.

        3. ryankelly

          I read her letter. She declines placement for her child stating she’s happy with the neighborhood school.  Then she complains about the fallout of so many students declining placement.

          1. Don Shor

            Lest anybody think ryankelly has given an accurate summary of the comment:

            Thank you, Joseph, and everyone who signed. My daughter is in 3rd grade and is AIM eligible, but after weighing all of the pros/cons we decided to stay at our neighborhood school, Birch Lane, which we love.

            We are very frustrated with the administration/political issues surrounding the AIM project, which did color our decision to some extent. The paperwork that we received in the mail about it included the wrong submission deadline, but also incorrect information about what schools would be available, since the board keeps dropping classes. We learned at the AIM meeting that Korematsu, which would have been our first choice had we applied, was no longer available. We were assured, though, that the three other classes would still be available. Given the numbers of eligible students, all of the students should have gotten in. Instead, after everyone had already applied the school board dropped the North Davis class, as well. They wait listed some of the kids, including a friend of my daughter’s, and assigned others to schools farther from their homes and neighborhoods.

            We know how tough it was making the decision of whether or not to change schools and join the program. The program does offer a lot of unique and promising learning opportunities and these kids and their families had decided that it was the best fit for them. To have that yanked away at the last moment is so disheartening! The school board really seems to be sending the message that they are not supportive of this program or these kids. It seems like time after time the decision is to reduce instead of enrich the program.

            There is supposed to be another entry point where kids who opt out or are stuck on the wait list can enter in 7th grade. We think the academic advantages at that grade level are very pronounced, and would like to have our daughter join at that point. However, we’ve been told that the odds of getting in if you opt out of the 4th grade entry are not great, and that there were some pretty unhappy parents this year who found out the hard way. Again, it seems like a missed opportunity where these students could become engaged in the promise of the program and are instead shut out by the current policies.

            The school board has another meeting tomorrow night to address this. I hope that they will choose to reinstate the class at North Davis Elementary and support all of the students who are in need of these classes. If not, the message I am getting is that the board does not support AIM students, and that when the next election comes we should not support the board.

        4. wdf1

          Don Shor, quoting from somewhere else:  While these numbers are on the low end of Davis school district classrooms, they are not the lowest (for example, two Montgomery Elementary fourth-grade classrooms have 22 and 23 students, respectively). If this is too low for the district, more students can be added from among students who were at the threshold of AIM admission under these new standards.

          The district (or rather Montgomery Elementary) gets extra money from the state because of having a higher number and concentration of students who are deemed “higher needs” — some combination of ELL (40%), free/reduced lunch (55%), a lower level of parent education level (source).  One favored remedy for helping students in such situation is with smaller class sizes, which additional state money for such students allows for at MME.  If there were equivalent numbers of such students in the AIM/GATE program, then there would definitely be money available to run small class sizes like that.

    2. DavisAnon

      Well it really doesn’t make much sense to put strands at the furthest edges of town. Valley Oak was a good option as the area contained many of the lower SES households and made it easier for these kids to access AIM. I would have no problem with placing all four elementary strands back at Valley Oak. Bike routes to Pioneer are not safe for a 4th grader trying to cross town. This is why the two Valley Oak strands were placed as centrally as possible (North Davis & Korematsu) when VO closed.

      1. wdf1

        DavisAnon:  Valley Oak was a good option as the area contained many of the lower SES households and made it easier for these kids to access AIM.

        Did the Valley Oak strands have students from lower SES households, in particular from families with lower education levels?  If so, what was the level of participation?

        1. wdf1

          Data has been available for a while on free/reduced lunch status.  Family education level is definitely available now.  I know that the information (education) has been collected for years, but I don’t know if it has been a part of the student database during the Valley Oak years.

        2. wdf1

          Don Shor:  But it has not been collated with respect to the GATE program, right? Ever?

          I haven’t ever seen a demographic profile of parent education level.  At various times I have seen data on demographics of GATE/AIM participating students with respect to race/ethnicity, ELL, and free/reduced lunch status, sometimes as part of board presentation and discussion.  The Davis Excel website had that information about the demographics of GATE/AIM identified students, but that website isn’t working for me at the moment.

  4. Misanthrop

     “My understanding is that this is a program that is designed to provide a more appropriate model for students who have special needs due to giftedness and the inability to function to their optimal capacity in a standard classroom.”

    One of the problems is that DJUSD has never explained who the program is designed to help and coupled that with a way to identify the target students. Is it for bright struggling students or just bright students in general? This was never decided and as a result the program serves both. Scoring high on the OLSAT doesn’t only identify bright students that are having social, emotional or behavioral issues.

    “When I taught the fourth-grade self-contained class, the district always lowered the eligibility score to fill our classes.”

    Interestingly it is the students who fall into the ranks of those who are just below the cutoff who get the most out of being in a gate program, who show the greatest retained progress when placed. That is why not filling the third class by inviting kids with lower scores is so disheartening because it shows that the board either isn’t acting in the best interest of these kids or that they don’t know what they are doing. Pick your poison school board. See the story below:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/upshot/why-talented-black-and-hispanic-students-can-go-undiscovered.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

     

    1. Frankly

      Interestingly it is the students who fall into the ranks of those who are just below the cutoff who get the most out of being in a gate program, who show the greatest retained progress when placed.

      Well then the program is clearly not testing/measuring the right things then.

    2. Don Shor

      it is the students who fall into the ranks of those who are just below the cutoff who get the most out of being in a gate program,

      They are the most likely to be “twice-exceptional.” Those Debbie Nichols Poulos describes as

      students with learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, or those who have language, ethnic or socioeconomic risk factors, are far less likely to be identified as gifted.

      … are less likely to be placed in GATE now, and are the students who would show the greatest benefit from it.

      A student who tests at 99%+ already probably won’t show a lot of  ‘improvement’ on any test that measures aptitude after being in GATE. But it’s kind of a waste of that student’s time to be in a regular classroom.

  5. Michelle Millet

    We only have 82 gifted 3rd graders in this town? That is embarrassing. We need to lower the bar for what we consider gifted so we can include more kids in that category. I have an idea, lets lower the cut off to 50%, think about how many gifted kids we would have then.

    1. Misanthrop

      When there was private testing the bar was down in the mid 80’s percentile on the Olsat. At that point the district could have eliminated the test altogether and only given the Olsat as an advisory measure. They could have opened the program up to anyone who wanted it. This likely would have upset some people who feel that the program should be only for the top two percentage but that is not what the program had become anyway. Instead the board decided to rachet up the qualifying score without providing a way of identifying who among the 2% they were trying to identify. The problem is that there was never any consensus on whom the program should serve and therefore no consensus on how to identify them.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Yes. I agree this is a problem.

        What other special education program in the district tests every kid to see if they qualify for a special service? I can’t think of any. When a child is identified as having speech concerns they are tested to see if they qualify for speech therapy. They don’t test every kid. Kids who are having issues functioning in a classroom setting are identified as needing “special” services, whether it be speech, reading, OT, etc. Why is this not true for our AIM program. We are proactively looking for kids to fill slots in this program. Why don’t we just do what we do for every other special program and identify kids who are struggling in a traditional classroom and only consider them for AIM?

        1. Mark West

          “Why is this not true for our AIM program”

          That is the way the program used to run back in the 70’s, with the classroom teachers making the recommendation, followed up by one-on-one testing by a trained professional.  That is the only way that these students can be identified properly. Unfortunately, there are always those who will not trust the teachers to identify their dear Johnny so the District had to come up with a method to screen everyone. There have been problems with properly identifying the right kids ever since. The District started down the ‘slippery slope’ in the 90’s when they expanded from one strand to two, which started the process of morphing into a high achievement program that we have now, instead of the high quality special education one that we started with.

  6. DavisAnon

    Cluster grouping has been listed in the AIM Master Plans for more than a decade (likely two). This is not new. The district has long been encouraged to cluster group AIM identified students in classes but a few rare exceptions, has refused/failed to do so.

    1. wdf1

      DavisAnon:  Cluster grouping has been listed in the AIM Master Plans for more than a decade (likely two). This is not new. The district has long been encouraged to cluster group AIM identified students in classes but a few rare exceptions, has refused/failed to do so.

      How do you personally feel about the concept of cluster grouping?  Have you talked about this with administration/trustees?  Seems like it can be sold to the board majority as a kind of differentiated instruction, which is a concept that they embrace.

    2. ryankelly

      DavisAnon:  Well, when we had 25-20% of our students in self-contained AIM classes, there was not much opportunity to for clustering.   When the number of GATE identified students in self-contained GATE classes drops to a smaller percentage, then it would create an opportunity to cluster high-achieving and GATE  students who have declined placement in the self-contained program in the neighborhood schools.   We are talking about making sure that there are a handful of high-achieving peers in classes.  This would aid in implementing differentiated instruction as a there would be clear ability grouping in a class.   This was talked about by me, heavily by Don Shor and others, but it was pretty much dismissed on this blog as unworkable, couldn’t or wouldn’t be done, tried and failed, etc.

      1. Mark West

        The GATE program was intended to meet the needs of a very small subset of students who think and learn differently than the rest of the population.  This subset amounts to roughly 2% of the population (not 20%) and is likely only large enough to support one, or at most two, classrooms per grade level in Davis. The GATE/AIM program has not met the needs of this subset of students for quite some time as it has morphed into an advanced placement/high achievement program. The two concepts are distinct, with unique curricula, and are not interchangeable.

         

  7. hpierce

    ok…read the Emptyprize forum… one letter, signed by many, advocate “opting out” for AIM testing… ok by me… don’t be surprised tho’ if even fewer students are GATE/AIM identified… so who is squeezing the life out of AIM?

  8. Michelle Millet

    I have a 3rd grader and a 6th grader. So I have known many friends who have been faced the decision of whether to enroll their child in the AIM program over the past 5 years.  Many have opted out with the reason being that they don’t want to be around the parents of AIM kids. I’m not sure if AIM supporters realize the damage they are doing to the program. While I am sympathetic to the circumstances they find themselves in it is hard for me to support them when they take such a hostile approach, I imagine that other members of the community, especially ones with no skin in this game feel the same.

    1. Don Shor

      I can’t think of any other program that has been subjected to such an ongoing full-bore assault over many years by anonymous critics, local columnists, and elected officials, with parents subject to derision (‘their little darlings’ seems to be a popular snark) and accusations of elitism, segregation, and more. We called it GATE-hate years ago. And I’m sure it percolates down into the attitudes of kids in school.
      But you’re right. The parents are the ones hurting the program. Sure.

  9. Tia Will

    Don

    We called it GATE-hate years ago. And I’m sure it percolates down into the attitudes of kids in school.

    But you’re right. The parents are the ones hurting the program. Sure.”

    I know from first hand experience about 15 years ago that this was a two way street. My own daughter was taunted by neighbor children for “not being as smart as they were” because they were in Gate and she wasn’t. All the children involved were high achievers but she was a repetitive target of their elitist attitude. I know for sure where they got it, because their mother made multiple attempts to get me to have my daughter tested ( and retested) so that she would get a “better education”. Just because you made your decision on a rational basis and did not pressure others does not mean that all Gate families did the same.

  10. DavisAnon

    Nor does it mean that all AIM families had their children tested (and retested) privately. I did not. But you can’t imagine the amount of hate that has been thrown at me and my children simply because I chose to put them in the program…and it has only worsened in the last few years.

    The AIM program has been a lifesaver for our family, but we have all learned a painful lesson in how cruel friends, neighbors, and teachers can be around things they don’t even understand. It’s been heartbreaking to explain the hate to my kids at times, but they have also learned the cost and importance of standing up for what matters to you.

    AIM parents are very tired of feeling there’s a target on them and their children. I wish the hate would stop. But if I have to tolerate hate so my children and others like them get the education they need to stay interested in school and in learning, then that is what I’ll do.

      1. Don Shor

        GATE has not “created” any divide. You and others apparently cannot tolerate it. Change was not needed. There were certainly ways the DJUSD gifted program could have been made better for the students who benefit from gifted education, but nothing they did made it better. Not for the kids in GATE, not for the kids who would have been in GATE, not for the district as a whole. The changes made have accrued no benefits to anyone, and have increased the “divide” that you and others perceive.

        1. ryankelly

          I fully support GATE self-contained classes for students who need it.  I just don’t think that 1/3 of our students need it and research showed that students who didn’t qualify were being placed into the program and the program took on the form of educational tracking in our District, rather than the special education program that it was intended to be.   This is what was intolerable.   You think that no harm was being done, but there was.

    1. Tia Will

      DavisAnon

      AIM parents are very tired of feeling there’s a target on them and their children. “

      I completely agree with you that you should act to further your children’s education. My sole point was that the vitriol comes from both sides, not exclusively from those who actively oppose AIM. When statements such as the one I quoted are made, it does not seem that you  acknowledge that other children and other parents can also be the targets of hostility when they speak their minds or in our case when my children did not accept the inherent “superiority” of our GATE enrolled neighbors.

  11. hpierce

    Am struck that now with the potty wars and AIM/GATE, the word HATE comes up… so if someone disagrees with me, or disapprove or don’t “celebrate” how I live/decisions I make, they HATE me?  If I disagree with folk’s fact or opinions, or if I don’t “celebrate” the way they act/live, am I a “hater”?  Never thought of that…  if that’s the metric, the VG is full of “hate speech”.

    1. DavisAnon

      Do you really think I can’t tell the difference between those who behave hatefully toward me or my children and those who simply don’t agree with choices I make?

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