Here is a letter from the principal to the community, published on the school web site.
From the letter:
For those who do not know, cluster grouping is a method of grouping gifted students (gifted being identified as students who score in the 98th - 99th percentile on a cognitive ability test) into clusters of 6 students in one classroom that also include high achievers and above-average students. The remaining students would be clustered so that the highest achieving students and lowest achieving students are not in the same classroom. With that as a guide, Wedgwood is developing plans to move from having self-contained spectrum classrooms to integrated classrooms using an interpretation of this model. We are already doing this in 1st grade, albeit more heterogeneously than what the research we based our 1st grade model on suggests.Do you see his confusion? We are following the model, only we aren't. We're developing a plan, only we've already implemented it. We won't mix these two groups of kids, only we will.
The letter continues:
Because Wedgwood is such a high achieving school overall, staff feels they can meet the needs of all students by developing an integrated model similar to the cluster grouping model outlined above but a bit more flexible. This would allow us to integrate the student community more so than it is now. Staff met on Wednesday 11/30 to discuss the move and we decided that we will need more time to outline the logistics and steps for implementation before writing a formal plan for families to reference. During our meeting, teachers expressed that they needed time this year to plan and prepare and would like more professional development on how to differentiate for advanced learners.Yes, more confusion is in evidence. The staff says that they can meet the needs of all students but that they need more training on how to meet the needs of all students. We will follow the rules of the model, but we will break the rules. We need more time before we can describe what we are doing, but we have already started doing it. We can't describe what we are doing.
The letter finishes in a similar, confused and self-contradictory style:
There are a wide range of opinions about the implementation, the decision making process for adoption and what will happen next. Based on the comments, I am hearing three overarching themes from all community members:So he keeps hearing three basic questions, but he can't answer any of them, which means that he decided to move forward without the answers to fundamental questions. How is that good? He says that they don't have a plan, but they are moving forward at full steam ahead.
Once staff has had another opportunity to meet as a group, we will focus on these questions and others we have generated. We will then bring our answers to the community in the form of a written plan. At this point, we still intend to move forward with the process of integrating all classrooms over a three year period that started this year with 1st grade.
- What is cluster grouping and what will it look like for Wedgwood Elementary?
- How will students be grouped and how can you be sure students will be challenged academically?
- Why are we doing this and how could you have involved more families in the decision?
The letter references a survey. Here is a link to the survey results. Here is a critical question from the survey:
13. How concerned are you with your student participating in a cluster model?These percentages only reflect the responses from the 88% of survey takers who did not skip the question.
18.9% - Very concerned (I would consider removing my student from Wedgwood)
19.3% - Somewhat concerned (I do not like the idea, but I would want my student to stay at Wedgwood)
26.3% - Indifferent (The change does not matter to me one way or another)
35.5% - Supportive (I am glad to see the change)
The actual results were:
16.6% - Very concerned
17.0% - Somewhat concerned
23.2% - Indifferent
31.3% - Supportive
12.0% - No answer
Not exactly a mandate. There are more folks either somewhat or very concerned than supportive. There are more people who are indifferent than anything else.
Here are another couple questions from the survey:
11. Do you feel that the Wedgwood community will be served in a cluster model?
12. Do you feel that your student will be served in a cluster model?If the 35.5% of folks who support the model are going to be regarded as a significant group that should be heard, then shouldn't also the 35.8% and the 39.3% who feel that the cluster model will not work?
I don't know what is going on at Wedgwood, but it appears that no one else knows either.