The District has made radical changes to Spectrum and, because I don't remember anyone talking about these changes, I think they may have made them without any report to the Board or the public and without any community engagement.
For years the eligibility criteria for Spectrum were pretty set. Students had to demonstrate both strong verbal and quantitative cognitive ability and strong academic achievement in both reading and math. The criteria were the same for grades K-7. The students first took the CogAT, assessments of verbal and quantitative cognitive ability, and then, if they had qualifying scores on both of them, they took academic achievement tests. For the past several years WASL scores were used as the academic achievement test, when they were available, despite the fact that it was just flat out wrong to do so.
Then, starting with the 2006-2007 school year, the District tried to address under-representation by liberalizing the criteria. First by offering a non-verbal cognitive ability test and second by changing the eligibility criteria by grade level.
For middle school students could qualify for LA Spectrum and math Spectrum separately so that students could be in one, the other, or both. This was a move to expand access.
For the primary grades, first and second, the District created "Spectrum Young Scholars". The eligibility criteria for this program was based entirely on cognitive ability without regard to academic achievement. This was a move to expand access to students who were less privileged and, despite native talent, did not have exposure to educational opportunities. This was also an effort to expand access.
This year the District has returned to the traditional qualifying criteria: both quantitative and verbal cognitive ability and both reading and math academic achievement for all grades K-7. Access has been restricted compared to previous years. Furthermore, the District is using the results from MAP tests as the assessment of academic achievement (a dubious practice) and only offering the CogAT to those students who meet the performance standard on the MAP. A further restriction of access.
Here is a web page that describes how the District will determine eligibility and a web page that describes the eligibility process.
I have seen no presentation to the Board or the public about these changes in the eligibility criteria, the process, or the assessments. Did I miss them? Did I forget them? Or were these changes made without notice to the public or the Board and without any community engagement?
Is there an advisory committee for Spectrum? I know that there is an advisory committee for APP. I also know that no one listens to their advice. I'm pretty sure that there is no advisory committee for ALOs.
For all of the attention that has been paid to advanced learning programs in the Strategic Plan, way more than historically when they were practically kept a secret, there is very little Board attention paid to the programs and, of course, no Board oversight.