Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Advanced Learning Testing Updates

The district's Advanced Learning office reports this (bold mine):

However, shortly after the Advanced Learning Office posted the calendar, staff learned that an existing district database that had been expected to aid scheduling could not be used. As a result, staffers were required to create a new database, entering all referral forms by hand. This unanticipated process has caused some scheduling delays. Additionally, a district server glitch inadvertently blocked a number of notification emails before the first October testing date. For these reasons, not all families could receive the email notification of their school’s testing date in time. 

If this is the case for your family:
  • Your child will receive a new test date. Any families missed on their school’s designated testing date will be rescheduled.
  • Look for an email by Wednesday. When a new date is scheduled for the student, families will receive a reminder email no later than the Wednesday before, listing time, date and location. 
  • Missed rescheduled tests can be made up. We recognize that this is short notice, so please know that if your family has a conflict for any reason, Jan. 23 is the test makeup day for all students. We are committed to ensuring that ALL students referred by the Oct. 8 deadline are tested.
Also, please know that the deadline to receive Teacher Rating Scale Forms has been significantly extended due to the database-related delay. Families do not need to contact teachers; Advanced Learning staff will send forms to teachers for each referred student.

The district is grateful for your patience as we work to schedule all referred students for testing.

This all makes me sad because it was not just one thing.  There were multiple issues.  Did the IT office not clearly understand what AL needed to do and its timeframe? Or did IT communicate to AL that AL couldn't use the database (which seems weird and silly.)  

The saddest thing?  That the district continues to spend most of the time and resources of AL in testing and retesting.  Not delivery of service to students.  And, that it continue to not bother the Superintendent or most of the Board one whit.


Anonymous said...

There's a classic Far Side cartoon with 'little johnny' pushing against a set of doors labeled with the instruction 'pull'. Above him hangs a 'school for the gifted' sign.

How ridiculous is it that HCC is a shambles of a program and yet the district spends all its time testing to get into the shambles of a program. All its time testing and it can't get the testing right.


Anonymous said...

Huh. Seems like someone should have confirmed that the existing database was convertible before assuming it was a workable idea. That's pretty basic. Unless the original was constructed with something proprietary, it's pretty odd that it couldn't be converted.

And isn't this yet another large scale email glitch a while ago?


Momma Snark said...

I assume this testing cluster-cuss will also affect when parents receive results. Is this true? For those of you with experience, when should I normally expect to find out how my child did?

Anonymous said...

We did several years of testing (back when you could not maintain status, since we were not at an ALO school, so not going meant signing up for testing again the following year.), and it never just went smoothly. One time we received another child'd appointment date (we were the emergency contact. They also received ours.). One time the district lost the paperwork- thank goodness our school secretary remembered our application and went to bat for us. One time the child got a zero score and then was classified as Spectrum (when at the time a zero would have qualified them for nothing). We usually received results in January, but lately it is after open enrollment, so you apply as though you got HCC. Especially with the extra round of testing, I would expect some time in April. Just decide as though you got in. Maybe check the app blog for the last couple Februaries to get an idea. Typically they send out schools around the same time, so if you know other people at your school testing, you'll all probably get them in a similar time frame.


Anonymous said...

Momma Snark-

I wouldn't put your snark away, you may need it. In the olden days, the testing was pretty straightforward and all results were mailed out by the end of January. Appeals were done in Feb. and things were pretty well settled by the beginning of March. Who knows for this year?

Now it's a new and exciting process each and every year. What has happened that now we are required to re-invent the wheel every year?


Anonymous said...

We tested our kids in 3 different years in the 2009-2012 period, and everything always went smoothly, including one makeup test that Advanced Learning arranged to give during a regular day at that child's elementary school. Results arrived exactly when promised, at the end of January, as noted by oldie.

Colin Pierce said...

I think the question here needs to be what is the real purpose of this testing in the first place? If we have high quality advanced curriculum available, why don't we make that the default curriculum for all students instead of gatekeeping access for a select few?

The effect of this testing and self-contained classrooms in Advanced Learning is to create a de facto segregated private school within SPS. As outlined here ( and elsewhere, the CogAT creates significant racial disparities in identification of giftedness, and those disparities only grow when paired with the MAP. And the department apparently does not even track data for low-income students. This effectively means we are spending lots of time and money to legitimize the exclusion of low-income students of color from advanced learning opportunities.

Could we better allocate the $1.375 million and 5 staffers currently being used to determine which students we should deny access to high quality curriculum? Certainly, and its best use would perhaps be to provide incentives and supports for schools to serve a demographically proportional cross-section of their populations with Advanced Learning, or perhaps to train teachers in more effective ways to differentiate instruction in their classrooms.

Many proponents of self-contained AL use an analogy to special education to support their case. But just as it's been determined that we're underserving our SPED students when we keep them in self-contained classrooms, we are underserving everyone else when we keep our high quality curriculum behind a velvet rope.

Anonymous said...

Colin, I believe HCC receives the same crappy curriculum as everyone else. They just receive it faster.


Colin Pierce said...

HP, I think you've coined the new motto of the HCC...