Letter: Deeply Concerned by AIM/GATE Test Debacle

AIMby Shun “Sean” Yao

I am deeply troubled and frustrated by the recent AIM-test debacle.

On 9/27, DJUSD administered OLSAT, an AIM/GATE test for third-graders. OLSAT contains 65 questions, is 40-minute long, and students write answers in testbooks. DJUSD gave schools incorrect instructions by handing out scan-tron answer-sheets, which are inconsistent with testbooks and should not be used. For unknown reasons, some teachers gave students the scantron sheets, while others did not. Consequently, students of 12 classes had their answers invalidated because they filled the bubbles on scantron.

On Friday 9/30 at 10pm, DJUSD sent out a letter informing parents of those 12 classes that their children’s answers were invalid.

On 10/4, DJUSD sent out another letter informing the parents of those unfortunate students that their children will be retested with COGAT, a 170-question, 3-hour long, computer-based test.

As of now, parents were not given full details of the initial test debacle, and are not informed of the significant burden COGAT imposes.

I am deeply concerned by: (1) The lack of transparency from DJUSD about what caused the initial debacle. Administering a test is a fundamental task we expect our district to perform with competency. Yes, mistakes happen; nonetheless, the public deserves to know whether the failure was caused by structure or system deficiency, and how to prevent future failures. Did DJUSD call a teacher conference before the OLSAT test? Were teachers given a chance to review the instructions? (2) That DJUSD is trying to re-test with COGAT so quickly without public deliberation. The public, not the DJUSD, should ultimately decide what remedy is in the best interest of the students. That is, whether (a) re-testing those unfortunate students without first evaluating their initial OLSAT answers, (b) using a significantly more burdensome test format (170 questions vs. 65, three hours vs. 40 minutes, computer vs. paper), and (c) only retesting students who were given incorrect instructions, is the best we can do for our children.

With the imminent election, no doubt that this incident will be politicized. Nonetheless, we as parents are more concerned about the well-being of our children than any political agenda.

Editor’s note: the Vanguard asked the district’s spokesperson, Maria Clayton to respond.

Maria Clayton, the district PIO (Public Information Officer) stated:

“The situation that resulted in OLSAT-8 testing irregularities was unfortunate but the resolution, led by the AIM office in concert with principals and teachers districtwide, was immediate, comprehensive and well-communicated to employees and parents.  The district, after consultation with all 3rd grade teachers and the publisher of the OLSAT-8 determined that a retest was necessary for some classrooms. The district will administer the CogAT, a test previously approved and used for AIM-identification, to provide a testing option for any student whose scores were found to be invalid.  Families with students who take the CogAT will receive results by mail at the same time as families receive OLSAT-8 results.

Updated information about the AIM-identification process is available on the AIM website www.djusd.net/aim

This winter, staff will be presenting an update to the Board of Education, including the use of the OLSAT-8, CogAT, and other assessments used for AIM-identification.   That update will also review the recent dismissal by the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the complaint alleging discrimination in the AIM-identification process.  It is important to note that OCR determined allegations were ‘prospective in nature’ and information presented contained ‘no information showing harm has occurred or is occurring’. The district welcomes the OCR findings dismissing the charges and is committed to continue to work to refine the process on how students are identified for the DJUSD gifted program.”

About The Author

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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  1. Cindy_Pickett

    I want to add my voice to those who are frustrated with how the AIM program is being administered. The testing this fall, in addition to the debacle that occurred last spring with parents being uninformed/misinformed about the location of the various AIM strands suggests to me that there is a systemic problem.

    Regarding this fall’s testing, I get that testing mistakes happen. I’ve made them myself teaching classes at UC Davis. However, my first rule when a mistake has been made is that my students aren’t disadvantaged because of the mistake. My mistake should not negatively affect their outcomes.

    Finally, to add more context to why I am so frustrated. I spoke with a colleague earlier this month who has an AIM identified 5th grader at Willett that was placed in a regular 5th grade class this year (see note about last spring’s debacle.) This student was in a class with 31 other students. I happened to mention that my daughter’s 5th grade AIM class at North Davis only had 26 students. This parent was stunned because she was supposedly on a waitlist for the North Davis class due to lack of space. The parent immediately contacted the district office and was told, “Oh, yes, there is space. Your son can join the AIM class at North Davis.” WTH?! It is unclear to me that the class waitlists are being managed and the cost here was a student needing to switch schools a month into classes instead of at the beginning of the year. Perhaps not a big deal, but does lead me to question how the AIM program is being managed.


    1. Frankly

      The surprising thing to me is that anyone is surprised that the district lacks the behavior to be proactive at anything related to helping their customers get the best service (education) possible.  The lack of service is ubiquitous in public education.  That is why involved parents get the advantage for their little darlings… because they take care of the management of customer relations… basically by being the driver of service demands from the system.

      And then this trains the system to continue to be lazy about management and tracking because there are so many helicopter parents in Davis… thus damaging students that don’t have engaged parents even more.

      This is another reason why we need to rid ourselves of this education learning style segregation model and move to a single school-of-one model where all students get customized instruction and help according to their learning needs.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        “. . . a single school-of-one model where all students get customized instruction and help according to their learning needs.”

        I would agree with this in an ideal world, one in which we don’t live, unfortunately. There are two reasons this will not work:  DJUSD does not provide the teacher training necessary to actually accomplish this laudable goal, despite the lip service paid to it by the Board majority. Secondly, although there are many, many excellent, devoted, and motivated teachers in DJUSD, the teachers union insists on the archaic protections of tenure which are not compatible with high quality performance standards.

        There is no reason at all to penalize AIM-eligible kids for any of the “reasons” that people like Lovenburg and her minions espouse. If it were solely a matter of considering the honesty and quality of the current board majority – instead of the amazing diversity of truly excellent teachers and programs that exist despite the aforementioned idiocy – I would vote no on the parcel tax. However, even a train driven by a drunken wacko has a better chance of arriving safely if it runs on well-maintained tracks. Thus, I will vote yes on that measure.

  2. SODA

    What isn’t clear from the District’s response is why the original 40 minute test was not readministeted to the students who were given the scantron sheets instead of the new test?

    Her response is that the AIM office responded immediately to rectify the situation. My understanding is that there is no AIM Coordinator so who constitutes the AIM Office?

  3. DavisAnon

    There really isn’t an AIM office anymore – at least staffed by anyone who knows anything about the program, let alone care about those affected. Thanks go to Lovenburg, Adams, and Archer for firing the longtime AIM coordinator, Deanne Quinn. Rather than paying for her 0.4 FTE position, there are now at least 3 administrators handling the program, and doing a pathetically poor job. This latest mess is negatively affecting hundreds of students and families.

    Lovenburg needs to be voted out – these repeated boondoggles are the direct result of her failed policies.

    1. JosephBiello

      That’s  the problem, the district is making kids take these tests and then not being careful about the process.   That was exactly the problem last spring when they removed an AIM line after placement had begun  despite the fact that all of the material handed to the parents said there would be 3 AIM lines.

      I agree with Cindy that errors do happen and I am not going to throw stones at others for making mistakes.  However, a lot of attention is spent in preparing teachers for administering the state mandated tests – why can’t some attention be paid to these tests?

      Then there is the question of how one compares COGAT results to OLSAT results – the former being a much longer test and was intended to be used to retest populations.

      What we see (last year and this year) is ad hoc policy making, changing rules in the middle of the process.  This has truly negative effects on the families who are trying to make the best decisions possible for their own kids.

      Finally, on a cynical note to Cindy, in particular – the AIM placement threshold is 98 percentile on OLSAT this year  (a dismayingly high bar).  I don’t know what the COGAT criteria are.  Furthermore, if the board’s decision last year is any indication, they will also require that any AIM class be filled to a certain capacity (they wanted at least 27 students per class).  This means that, with near certainty, based on the number of students above a 98th percentile in standard probability distributions compared to the number above 96th percentile, it is nearly certain (in the sense of probabilities) that the board will reason that no 4th grade AIM classes will exist in 2017 (and therefore, thereafter).


      I implore parents of the district to consider these two arguments.


      (1) The board majority has argued  against AIM by proposing “differentiated instruction in the classroom”.   Differentiated instruction is a nice idea in principle but  impossible in practice.   The more similar in reading/math levels that students are in the same class, the easier it is for a teacher to teach to all of them and bring them up together.  I say this as a math professor who often thinks about how best to bring up all of my student’s skills.

      (2) Most AIM parents just want their kids to not be bored in school.   Differentiated learning for most of our kids has been “since you are done with your week’s work on Thursday, just spend Friday reading a book”.    My kid reads all the time at home, why can’t we all have schools where the teachers are able to challenge all the kids?









      1. wdf1

        JosephBiello: Differentiated instruction is a nice idea in principle but  impossible in practice. 

        One of my kids had a learning disability and had a 504 and IEP classification that involved class modifications and differentiated instruction.  He and the teacher seemed to do okay with it all through school.

        The Montessori program at Birch Lane involves multi-age, multi-grade instruction, and differentiated instruction.  This is their FAQ describing it.

        Depending on enrollment, many elementary schools will run “combo” classes, in which a teacher will have half of one grade, and half of an adjacent grade so as to have enough students to make a full class of students.  That would involve differentiated instruction.

  4. WesC

    Given that Davis seems to have a very large number of “helicopter parents” who look at the program as the key to their child’s success in life and that the AIM program has been under much scrutiny, you would think that DJUSD would take a little extra time to ensure that the testing goes smoothly.

    1. JosephBiello

      @WesC – you make a broad generalization about AIM parents.  Actually, I would argue that most of us are NOT helicopter parents and most of our kids are pretty self motivated and independent.   I don’t know which kids you’re looking at, but from what I see they are the opposite of helicoptered kids.

    1. hpierce

      You raise an interesting point… since superintendents have to count to three @ any given Board Meeting, perhaps we should move to have the Supe be an elected position, rather than appointed by a board… at least ‘confirmed’ by the electorate at or within 1 year of date of hire.  Called separation of powers…

  5. Napoleon Pig IV

    I suspect Lovenburg is not especially upset. The demolition of the AIM program has been one of the unstated goals of hers (and her minions) for quite a while now.

    There is only one truly competent member of the school board, and she’s in the minority. There is one other member who is at least not actively destructive.

    The upcoming election is an opportunity to improve the situation.

    1. wdf1

      NPIV:  The demolition of the AIM program has been one of the unstated goals of hers (and her minions) for quite a while now.

      Assuming you mean ‘self-contained AIM,’ I disagree.  Can’t speak for others, but I don’t think she’s [Lovenburg] looking to eliminate self-contained AIM.

      1. DavisAnon

        Well she’s certainly doing a great job of it.

        Let’s see what Lovenburg’s actions in the last year say about that…

        1. Succeeded at getting  Quinn ousted as AIM coordinator after trying for several years  (check)

        2. Made the motion that crushed the AIM program this year and led to almost no minorities or low SES kids qualifying  (check)

        3. Refused to consider leaving the program at 3 strands this year so minorities would have better access (check)

        4. Closed the only strand with 3 GATE-certified teachers AND the site with the highest parent requests for placement (check)

        5. When faced with these outcomes above, she refused to consider holding off cutting the program by raising cutoff to 98 for this year (check)

        If that’s what it looks like when Lovenburg supports a program, there is something very seriously wrong.

        1. South of Davis

          quielo wrote:

          > I spoke to Susan recently about AIM.

          > Her replies were well rehearsed but I

          > left with the impression she preferred

          > it to go away.

          I have never spoken with Susan, but many other DJUSD employees I have talked to hate the fact that we have an “education gap” with almost all the the children of the super well educated in town doing better in school than the almost all the children of poorly educated  low SES parents.  I hear DJUSD teachers complaining more about smart parents that are sending 10 years olds to SAT prep and MIT and Stanford Math Camps than they complain about dumb parents that let their kids binge watch Netflix until 3:00 am…

        2. quielo

          “we have an education gap”. Welcome to planet Earth where every school everywhere has an education gap of some kind. This is a big buzzword currently and if you know of any proven methods of ameliorating it please post them. It is also the full employment act for hucksters of all stripes as they trot out the educational equivalent of goat gland and laetrile clinics.  

          The challenge for parents who have average or better children is to ensure they receive a good education despite the fact that people like Susan hold their hard work against them and if given the slightest provocation will start spouting off on some book they read. The author of the book has never demonstrated that they can achieve anything but the Susans of the world will overlook that.

      2. JosephBiello

        Non-self contained AIM has never been discussed from what I can tell.  If you mean differentiated instruction, then please refer to my comments above regarding the ineffectiveness of this faux philosophy of instruction.

  6. ryankelly

    I’m so tired of hearing about this program and the angry, head on a pike response to every article.  I’m afraid that this response is now typical and has saturated local and national politics.

  7. Don Shor

    One wonders why they couldn’t just manually process the Scantron forms, using some staff time, rather than submitting all the students to re-testing. How many kids are in 12 classrooms?

    The new board is going to have to do a complete reset on GATE. It may take two election cycles to get to it, unfortunately.

    1. South of Davis

      Don wrote:

      > One wonders why they couldn’t just manually process the

      > Scantron forms, using some staff time, rather than submitting

      > all the students to re-testing. 

      If they just wanted the test results that would have happened, if they wanted to F with everyone and make every kid who just took a 40 minute test come back for “another” three hour test (hoping some won’t make it) they would have said it was not possible to to manually process the forms…

  8. shyao

    Hello everyone.  I am the original author of the letter published above, which has also appeared in Davis Enterprise.  Here are some updates:

    (1) I spoke with Pearson Assessment on the phone (800-328-5999, OLSAT8 specialist), and they have confirmed that (a) they do have test answers they can mail out, and schools can hand-score the scantron answer sheets; and (b) the 98% percentile of OLSAT8 is absolutely not the same as the 98% percentile of COGAT — that is, it would be grossly unfair to administer two different tests to two (random) parts of the same student body, and select the top 2% from each part, because one could quality to be top 2% under one test and disqualify under the other test.

    (2) Majority of the 3-rd grade parents I have spoken to have little idea of what happened, and what is going to happen next to their kids.  Especially the parents of those whose results were invalidated, they are not aware of the huge burden COGAT will impose on their kids (imagine an 8-year old having to sit through a 3-hour long, 170-question, computer-based test).  The district is not being very forthcoming, and clearly not inviting parents for feedback.  There is an AIM Advisory Committee  Meeting, originally scheduled on 10/31 (yes on Halloween) at 4-5:30pm, which seems to have been re-scheduled (date not yet known); and the next school board meeting is next Thursday 11/3.  I urge everyone to attend these meetings, and pass on the word to other parents.  We deserve to know what happened, what caused the problem, and what is in the best interest of the students.

    1. ryankelly

      A proposal for staff to hand score the scantrons is a much better one than tracking down the staff member who made the error and publicly shaming or firing them or using it as part of a campaign strategy against a candidate.

    2. JosephBiello

      Shun, be very careful to record everything you are told in the meeting.  I would go so far as to audio/video record.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the board majority cares about the negative effects their ad hoc policy has on the families.  They just want to eliminate AIM and they will find any excuse to do so.



  9. iWitness

    There’s nothing fair about using the Olsat on some and the CoGat monster on others.  The gifted program in Davis has been reduced to this?   The teachers who gave the Olsat before, surely most of them, should have questioned the materials, and the new teachers who had no Olsat experience should have been prepared to administer it correctly.  But it’s not their fault!  This is clearly an orphan program, Oliver.  You don’t get more gruel.   The GATE/AIM office?  —  a secretary who’s always new.    What administrator wants responsibility for the choice of the retest, instead of hiding behind the secretary?  Does the Board majority okay testing eight-year-olds with either a forty minute test or a three-hour test?  They’re busy.  (And if you think they stand  up for the other 70-80%, instead, dream on.  G/T’s always the canary.)

    YES, this is a political issue — we have our own local sharks lurking around the SNL stage. I know lots of people displaying those red signs on their prominent, well-located lawns; their own students biked to GATE and/or left SI for GATE because they’d “learned enough Spanish.”  How can they look at themselves in the mirror?   They know what Red Sign wants and support her?  The doctors, therapists, economists, physics and history professors, the Davis Alums of Silicon Valley club, biz whiz kids, those who build real machines that change the world, and don’t want grandpa’s sledge hammer — they grew up in your houses, Red Sign voters.  Many of those kids took summer enrichment classes at CSUS (w/wo financial aid) from Deanne Quinn.  Can’t anyone else do anything right around here?

    1. hpierce

      Your post is just pathetic… you admit the AIM process is political… apparently, you have no problem with that (I do, as I believe it should be fact-based), but apparently ‘your dog don’t hunt’ in the political area… I believe in G&T, AIM, whatever, for those who need it, as they do not do well in regular classes.  The program should not be ‘political’… it should be fact-based…

      We should talking about student needs, not parents’ wants… prestige, legs up for getting better grades because teachers want to show AIM students are ‘super-special’, etc. [yeah, that has regularly happened… what is with this over 4.0 BS anyhow?].

      Getting closer to thinking AIM should disappear, based on the iWitness account… at least for a ‘time out’ to figure out who we are trying to serve, and how.

      GATE/AIM is another form of ‘Special Ed’… it should be treated that way, focussing on student needs… not parental vanity… and shoot down those helicopters…

      1. Cindy_Pickett

        I am very involved in the Montessori program and I see that program as an “alternative instructional model” that works better for some children. It does not work for everyone, but it is an option offered by the district. By the same token, I see the AIM program as another model that is also better suited for some children. Those that enjoy the faster pace and need to be challenged do well in those classes. Why should either program be classified as “special ed” though to justify its existence? We don’t need to demonstrate that children do better in Montessori in order to avoid having the program cut. What we observe is that the Montessori students and parents are happy with the Montessori educational model, and it’s allowed to exist.

        Why is there a double-standard for the AIM program?


        1. JosephBiello

          Well said, Cindy.  The main question is, “are the kids enjoying and benefiting from their learning experience”.

          For me, that is “are they bored or are they challenged.”  There is also the question “are they frustrated or are they happy to be in school.”  This is the fundamental question that people are missing – it’s not about accelerating the kids, its about getting out of their way and accepting their own speed of doing things.

          I’m so sorry this is going down this year.


        2. Grant Acosta

          Curiosity question.  If the standard for the program to exist is that “students and parents are happy with the educational model,” than why have an AIM qualifying test in the first place?

        3. Adam Smith

          If the standard for the program to exist is that “students and parents are happy with the educational model,” than why have an AIM qualifying test in the first place?


          It’s interesting to think about what the enrollment and competition for AIM would be  if there were no qualifications or restrictions  for entry.      If such were the case, I think the number of parents requesting access to the program would decrease, and probably substantially.    In other words, if there was no exclusivity, and no suggestion that kids in AIM were any smarter than other kids,  I think many parents  could care less about it.

        4. quielo

          “why have an AIM qualifying test” That is Jose Granda’s position. Give everybody a chance. I recall from the DJU presentation that about a third of eligible students were not enrolled. How many who did not test in would do well?

        5. Marina Kalugin

          see my answers below….I address all the questions.

          furthermore, after common core, there was a mass exodus to the GATE classes and some of the parents of average students were upset, because now their were only lower level students left and the teachers time was  inordinately focused on the lower level and those who were bored out of their wits.

          When I came to the USA at the age of 6 1/2  there was tracking…and though some may not be happy with that, it actually worked well for those of us who were stifled in the low level of USA education…even back in those years of the 50s/60s…

          And, with such huge schools it worked out okay….

          Also, I do support the one room school houses….where there may be a handful of students for one teacher.

          The model of the one room is like DSIS….where each child studies on his/her own at ability appropriate work, and the teacher floats around helping the strugglers.

          It is not where students of different abilities but at one grade level are forced, like under common core, to be under the same “grade level appropriate”.. curriculum….especially in math that is a killer of initiative.

          The options right now in Davis do not support the middle of the road grade level child….they are more rare in Davis than in most districts…

          And, I have shared the reasons why now on many other threads in recent weeks.

          More choices, rather than less choices.

          The current majority, in their unknowing and need to control obsessively, have truly decimated this district in options…

          I mean the three women, including the incumbent, who voted for the decimation of the third tier of GATE   after making such other ridiculous 3/2 votes….liking getting read of Deanne…etc…

          I got out of the loop, and now find that Alan was actually on  the correct side of expansion of opportunities for all…but when the final vote was unanimous   (stupid idea of “consensus” at all cost…does NOT work…)  I became upset with Sunder and him also…..

          Later I was told the full scoop…

          Who has time to keep up with all of the interior nonsense?

          What is wrong with being on record as 3/2?

          Especially under such circumstances when I was already gearing up troops for a recall campaign…  😉

          Stay honest on the votes and your job may not be in jeapordy…


        6. Chamber Fan

          Nobody wanted to answer my question, although the secondary question here – why have limitations at all on AIM/ GATE spots is equally intriguing.  If there is no additional cost and the program helps students, why limit it?

          1. Don Shor

            Open enrollment is an interesting idea that the district might consider on a pilot basis. But generally speaking, the broader the aptitude range of those admitted, the less effective it is for those who need it. Having said that, I would support a process of application for GATE by any student, and a process for nomination to GATE, to be reviewed by counselors and the GATE committee. I think that could help with the demographics, and could help those students who miss the cutoff but would be likely to benefit.

        7. wdf1

          Cindy_Pickett:  Why is there a double-standard for the AIM program?

          Because there is a requirement for students to be defined as gifted, and because standardized tests are used to define that qualification.   There isn’t consistent agreement on the definition of giftedness vs. how to identify giftedness.  Standardized tests don’t do the job.  That’s why the argument exists.

          For the other programs, there isn’t a qualification standard.  If parents like the program, they could enroll their children.

        8. quielo

          “Why is there a double-standard for the AIM program?” Because “tracking” is a dirty word these days. However the problem still exists so AIM/GATE and other programs are an attempt to back into tracking without using the word.

        9. MrsW

          There are no entrance criteria for attending the Montessori program.  There are no entrance criteria that can be miss-construed as a competitive application process.

  10. Marina Kalugin

    OMG>>..this would never have happened under Deanne Quinn’s watch…
    unbelievable…. and these same teachers, who cannot follow instructions, and this same AIM office who didn’t properly train the teachers are “IN CHARGE”

    gimme a break….really?????????????

    Who is in the AIM office?

    They should be canned.

    In the meantime, this latest debacle is what happens when folks who think they know something are “in charge”…

    there was a time, when GATE please f@@@@@@@ use the correct terminology as most who arrive in this town have to figure out wth is this idiotic term of AIM?
    It was rightfully a “special ed” for those above the scale…and received extra funding for special training for teachers…..  but on another thread not long ago, I was told that it is no longer considered that and there is no extra funding any more…
    When my older son score number 2 on the OLSAT the one year, I was told by the school secretary, just because he got an acceptance letter doesn’t mean he will get in….my response   “how many in the class?”   she replies 30….I said “since he scored number 2 do you think he has a chance?”
    Back then there was only one GATE class per grade and the issue is, my friends and some “know- it- alls” who likely never studied ECE for Gifted children, that the OLSAT is one of the most discerning tests but not the correct test for all children….and when the district decided to be MORE inclusive, private testing was allowed.
    Children for whom English is not the native tongue, were not qualifying.
    The real issue is that those who think they know something, like the woman running for re-election after two other terms of running amuk, started making demands like  ” no private” testing…and limit the numbers of children who are allowed GATE even when they need it..
    Because, “statistically” there cannot possibly be so many children who qualify in Davis…it just doesn’t make sense says someone who claims to know it all.
    Did anyone notice how many national merit semi-finalists and commended students DHS had recently?
    How many schools in Sac, Oakland and so on would have that many out of a class of 500?
    Before Common Core, which is geared to help boost the lower quadrant to average…it was not so much of an issue….many who qualified chose to stay at the neighborhood schools…
    They would take supplemental course at SCC or though DSIS or correspondence or etc.
    Now, with the only options being suffer through “grade appropriate” remedial work or try to get into te GATE classes.
    The tests are based on National Averages.…not Davis averages…
    Why does this majority want to Exclude children who need this program?
    PS>  the third group, which was not allowed due to the female majority led by the female incumbent, had a very high minority %…
    PPS>  Vote for Bob and Alan…they can win….please, if you want your children to get the best education and for children and parents to have choice, that woman has to go…..
    I also like Granda, however he is too little too late again, and will not be able to get the votes needed to overturn the woman..

    PPS>   The only sane way our of this mess is to

    1) hand score the scantron answers…and see who would qualify on that basis…

    2) allow all children in those classes to be retested at the cost of the school district…

    computer tests are also inherently discriminatory as not all children have them in the home and likely those are the ones who are of minority or poor backgrounds.

    allow, parents to chose the tests or the facilitators and have the school district pick up the tab

    3)  allow parents and children of all classes to be retested on other tests and privately, because now some children have already had 2 tries and it is not fair for those who haven’t

    4) contact Deanne Quinn if you have any questions about which test may be appropriate for various children…even a child who may lack the ability to communicate properly or fill out an answer sheet may be very highly gifted and Deanne is the only expert whom I personally know still in the area who can advise on such matters.

    5) feel free to email me for Deanne’s contact info, if you need it..

    6) Bring Deanne back as this kind of nonsense will only continue under the current “leadership”….

    and after how many dozens of thousands of dollares were just wasted on the US Education Board investigation also due to the agenda of the incumbent woman?

    Good LUCK





  11. Marina Kalugin

    Some good comments….common core…if you are average or above you will be bored…

    the only other option right now is GATE.

    the high achieving will also thrive.

    Open the doors, instead of exclude….


  12. Marina Kalugin

    exclusivity?  prestige?  what pathetic reasons that those who don’t understand the value of the program throw out to bash, crash and reduce enrollment for those who qualify

    As a parent who saw the immense value of the program for children who really needed the challenge, I have worked very very hard decades ago for the expansion of the program for all who “qualify” and want to be in the program.

    Again, back in the day when there was state funding, then the US standards of “what is a GATE child?  had to be held up.

    Those who are the majority of this current board, who don’t understand such things, were all into the PC definitions etc and listening to parents whose children are not gifted complain of the number of students who need and want that program…  and that is only because the only alternative for the children who whatever reason didn’t “qualify” is the dumbed down and excrutatingly stupifying  “appropriate grade level for all, regardless of ability”  “common core” curriculum.

    Then, those folks thought that an untrained AIM “secretary” could handle what it takes a highly educated teacher of decades of experience, not only with additional annual research credits in the complicated curriculum and latest methods for challenging GATE children, but who has lived the life of a GATE mother for as old as her gifted child is, who is in his 40s now.

    Mine are in their 30s now…and I still am faced with challenges related to some issues that the very highly gifted still present even after getting their engineering degrees with honors.

    As a parent, one never ever stops trying to do what is best for a child.

    I see others were using the S>L name…. in an election year one really tries Not to use the name of the one who one is not supporting.

    Others will see that name, and not remember that it is Not an endorsement…

    Vote for Bob and Alan- the other guy doesn’t have the wide name recognition and is on the unpopular side of the H issue.  All of the men in this case are much sharper on the topic of GATE than the incumbent woman but only 2 of them can beat out the woman running.

    Please vote wisely, as it will be much harder to get rid of her just after an election, however the 3 majority has been devastating for this district.

    The fact that the union is happy with that incumbent lady doesn’t prove much…

    Typically union leadership is of those who are not so successful in their jobs and have time to “lead” and “fight” for those others who also are not getting the best reviews and parental support. Not always, but often in such types of situations…

    Interestingly enough, the union refused to assist Deanne.   After decades of paying dues to those creeps, their attorney told her she didn’t have a case.

    By the time she got competent attorney assistance, the one year statute of limitations were over.

    In the meantime, that truly nice but totally incompetent and in way over his head super was running amuk also…thankfully he left right before the recall campaign could be started against him and the majority of those who hired him, and canned Deanne….and  boy does she have a case…

    Now it must be federal however.

    Please vote and vote wisely ….

    Please participate….once I retire, I will be moving out of this country, but heck the wifi there is way  better than in Davis   🙂

    I will help in whatever way I can to oust the majority on the board, and also to expand the GATE to all children.

    Please contact Deann to find out which tests to demand for YOUR child….We spoke at length last night and she is still willing to help any child and their parent for whom this district has failed and is still failing.

    Those whose children were failed and have now made it out of the district, can join a class action law suit.  That may be the only choice if the woman incumbent is returned to the DJUSD… however it is now the chance to just vote her out by voting for Bob and Alan.

    All of this may disappear, as the powers that be think I go offtopic when I make such suggestions or share such stories….but hopefully enough of you will see this and heed my words.

    Please share with your friends, and email lists, etc…






  13. quielo

    “common core, which has proven to be a disaster to children of average or above intelligence”


    Sounds like a new movie starring “The Rock”. Dwayne Johnson saves the children from common core through unrelenting battle against the forces of evil. Maybe he will shoot the gun out of someone’s hand?

    1. wdf1

      As is the case with many issues, I think there are very legitimate criticisms of Common Core.  But there are also some good points about the program.  I find in comments opposing Common Core, Marina Kalugin’s, for instance, a lack of specificity in criticizing the program, just that the whole thing is bad.  The problem with that approach is a loss of opportunity to make specific improvements over the previous situation.  In completely rejecting Common Core, then we go back to rehashing old arguments and criticisms.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        Good points. The concepts behind Common Core are good. The implementation is highly variable, especially the textbooks. The math books are especially bad, but many teachers are doing a decent job of teaching around their defects. It makes sense to move forward on the basis of what is good while working rapidly to eliminate and change what is really bad. Unfortunately, these changes move very, very slowly and our kids grow up quickly.

        1. wdf1

          NPIV:  The math books are especially bad, but many teachers are doing a decent job of teaching around their defects. 

          Can you or someone else please explain why the Common Core math curricula (or textbooks) are especially bad?  I don’t see it.

          I have a minor in math — took three semesters of calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, computer math — and have been the go-to parent for all three of my kids whenever they had questions on their math homework.  One of my kids went all the way to calculus in high school before Common Core, and one of my kids is going through the Common Core sequence now.

          If there are weaknesses in Common Core math in DJUSD, I’m not seeing it.  In fact, I think the math curriculum has improved under Common Core vs. what existed before.  The CC math books offer more variation and interesting ways to explain concepts, whereas the old series was more limited and conventional.  If I had to go through and take my math courses all over again, I would actually choose the CC math version rather than what I had.

        2. wdf1

          Criticisms of Common Core:

          1.  There is an excessive focus on content and cognitive skills and not as much focus on social/emotional development and non-cognitive skills.  This is especially notable and criticized in the lower grades.  Common Core prescribes a number of content benchmarks for kindergarten, for instance.  There is a point of view that suggests that kindergarten shouldn’t be focusing on content, but should have a heavier focus on social/emotional development.  Finland, a country with a reputation for very good grade school education, doesn’t even begin their grade school instruction until age 7.  Here’s one article about this criticism:  Is the Common Core killing kindergarten?

          2.  There continues to be a heavy focus on what can be tested with standardized tests vs. non-testable skills and traits — creativity, ability to work with others, to appreciate delayed gratification, aesthetic judgement, ability to present oneself (speak, communicate) in public, etc.  This is a continuation of the first criticism, about a lack of focus on social/emotional development.

          3.  Many states already had strong curricular standards prior to CC.  In some cases CC standards were weaker than the state standards they replaced.  But some states had especially weak standards, and were seen as getting around No Child Left Behind requirements for state defined proficiency in math and English.  In many respects, California was considered to have good rigorous standards under NCLB.  Massachusetts was known to have especially good state standards; CC standards were probably weaker for that state.

        3. Frankly

          and have been the go-to parent for all three of my kids whenever they had questions on their math homework.

          Because their teachers were incapable of the same?  What about the kids that don’t have a parent with a college degree having minored in math?

        4. wdf1

          Frankly:  Because their teachers were incapable of the same?  

          Because teachers are allowed to challenge students with problems that may not be immediately obvious.

          Frankly:  What about the kids that don’t have a parent with a college degree having minored in math?

          I volunteer to tutor students after school who need help.  What do you do to help school kids in Davis who don’t have the benefit of a parent with college education?

      2. South of Davis

        wdf1 wrote:

        > Here’s one article about this criticism:

        > Is the Common Core killing kindergarten?

        Thanks for the link, but after reading about the lady with a kid who is the youngest kid in Kindergarten complaining about how he does not get enough play time is seems like an easy solution would have been an extra year in Pre-K.  I was also one of the youngest kids in Kindergarten and I know from personal experience that kids have to work a lot harder when they are in class that is mostly ~6 months older and some kids are a year older.

        The hatred of Common Core is one of the few things that many of my super liberal (Waldorf is too conservative so they home school) and super conservative (the conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools are too liberal so they home school) friends have in common, but I have yet to get any of them to give me a SPECIFIC thing they hate about it.  I tend to like the Common Core changes and even after spending hours reading articles by both the left and right that hate it I can’t find anything real specific “What exactly is work sheet style teaching, and can you give me the name of a specific teacher at a specific school doing this?”  or “If you want more play in Kindergarten do you also want more play in 1st grade?”

  14. quielo

    Just noticed this on SFGATE today. It’s where Susan will take us if we give her enough time.

    The school district’s current sequence of math courses makes Algebra 1 a ninth-grade course, even though private schools and many other public school districts offer students the option of taking algebra in middle school, putting them on a track to take calculus senior year.
    Frustrated parents have accused the district of dumbing down math, leaving advanced students bored and behind their peers enrolled elsewhere. Parents petitioned the district last year, submitting more than 1,000 signatures to restore Algebra I to the middle school curriculum.
    Yet district officials have stood firmly behind a policy that keeps all students together in math through middle school, eliminating the tracking of students into classes based on their level of academic ability, which often separates white, Asian and wealthy students from their low-income, Latino and black peers.

    1. wdf1

      quielo:  It’s where Susan will take us if we give her enough time.

      Now you’re into hyperbole.  In JH in Davis, students are placed into whatever level of math they can handle.  It’s hard to say that there is any fixed math course for any particular grade level.

      1. quielo

        “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally” They are doing this in another town just down the 80 freeway and I would submit that the school board there has characteristics in common with Susan L. That being the case I believe “literally” that this is her direction.

        1. Don Shor

          The same school district has basically put GATE on hold, using Common Core as their excuse. This has been a controversy there for a couple of years now. There is a strong contingent in the area that wants to avoid anything that might be construed as tracking, in the name of diversity. I do think that is the direction some in Davis want to go: all classrooms all-inclusive.
          I love the quote at the end: “There’s no one out to hurt kids,” Carranza said. “At some point, they’ve got to trust their school.”

        2. quielo

          Great link Don. Despite what wdf1 thinks we need to stay vigilant. LAUSD was the same way. They would take the first three weeks every year and spend it on review whether the kids needed it or not. It was just policy. Then they would force them to eat this nasty crap every morning under a program call Breakfast In Classroom. If you didn’t want your kids to eat sh*t there was no way to opt-out. They had done a deal with the SEIU to serve crap to all kids to protect the jobs of the people working in the central sh*t factory.  My kids had fresh healthy nutritious food every morning.

  15. Misanthrop

    This latest Gate snafu is totally FUBAR. I wonder if the district is embarrassed yet?

    As for Common Core the problem isn’t with the standards its with the poor products being distributed by the curriculum development and testing companies that are one and the same like Pearson and McGraw Hill. In other words the same people writing the tests are also writing the curriculum workbooks so if you want to have your school do well on the test you have to buy the classwork materials from the same vendors. Its a racket.

    Yesterday one kid came home with a math worksheet on order of operations. The worksheet showed how to resolve each term individually in order. The example took up four line. Yet on the problem set there was no space  to work out even one line and only a place for the answer. I looked at it and asked myself who produced such poorly conceived materials?

      1. DavisAnon

        From the DHS catalog link posted by wdf1 above, it looks like the new Common Core pathway gets kids through one year less of material than the old pathway. Before the kids who started with Algebra in 7th would finish with Calc BC in 12th (without skipping classes), but now they would only make it to Calc AB.

        That does sound like possible “dumbing down” of the curriculum and could be very problematic for STEM kids who will be expected to have completed Calc BC before college (most school districts didn’t change their pathways when they switched to Common Core). I wonder what justification DJUSD has for slowing down the math curriculum??

        1. MrsW

          The DHS catalog describes opportunity, but it doesn’t describe actual education.

          Based on tables I’ve seen showing actual enrollment in calculus senior year, as well as anecdotal information, I believe that the vast majority of DHS students stop taking math after their sophomore year. GATE students who were accelerated into 7th grade algebra lead this pack as math drop-outs.

          This is the math story I think everyone should be concerned about.  As a person in a STEM field, I would like to see all DJUSD students enrolled in four years of high school math, not two.

        2. wdf1

          DavisAnon:  From the DHS catalog link posted by wdf1 above, it looks like the new Common Core pathway gets kids through one year less of material than the old pathway. Before the kids who started with Algebra in 7th would finish with Calc BC in 12th (without skipping classes), but now they would only make it to Calc AB.

          In the catalog link I posted there is an accelerated path that leads to Calculus BC in 12th grade.  On the ground I am well aware that there are several CC 2/3 sections in 7th grade in the district that lead to that end if a student goes to completion.  Algebra I material is covered at the end of CC2 and CC3.

        3. hpierce

          Yet, as a professional who is very competent in Geometry and Trig (both used frequently in my line of work), have been given the cold shoulder trying to volunteer as a tutor, or presenting a small unit as to why those subjects might open doors to future career opportunities [and how GPS works for navigation of cars or while backpacking]… probably because I’m not “credentialled”, altho’ I believe I could pass the CBEST standing on my head, with a head cold…

        4. quielo

          “I would like to see all DJUSD students enrolled in four years of high school math”. Disagree. There are many pathways for students and many do not involve math. However it should be available unlike SF.

        5. MrsW

          Opportunity is an interesting concept. “Engagement” is also interesting. A greater number of students stop being engaged earlier than needed. Some parents/people think AIM adresses that. It doesn’t

  16. Misanthrop

    “All the Common Core textbooks I have seen in the district have been published by CPM — ‘College Preparatory Mathematics.’”

    I checked the kid’s folder its Envision Math copyright Pearson. I often find the materials to be lacking in one way or another. I share it with the teacher and she seems well aware of the shortcomings. Still its aligned with the Sbac so its marketing value is more about scoring well in the high stakes testing environment than on facilitating the learning process.

    1. wdf1

      Misanthrop: I checked the kid’s folder its Envision Math copyright Pearson.

      Okay.  Then I think you must refer to elementary textbooks.  CPM is JH level texts.

      You have no argument from me on the standardized testing issue — Pearson producing both the textbook materials and the standardized test. I also think that’s an ethical problem.

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