New Advanced Learning Policy Coming

The District will soon adopt a new policy on Advanced Learning to replace policy D12.00, Highly Capable Student Programs.

A draft policy was shared at the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee on August 13. Since the committee was seeing the policy for the first time at the meeting they were not prepared to refer to the full board for an approval decision. That's why you don't see it on the agenda for the Board's September 5 meeting.

Allow me to offer a little history and context.

  • Policy D12.00 has been around for a long time and no one, not in the District nor in the advanced learning community, has ever been happy with it.
  • The current policy applies only to APP and not Spectrum. It pre-dates the creation of ALOs so it doesn't apply to them either. The policy is keyed on the state's Highly Capable Students Program grant, and the grant is only for APP.
  • The current policy doesn't say anything about a Vision or a Mission for advanced learning programs.
  • The only enforceable element in the current policy is one that prohibits the creation of additional program sites except under some strict conditions.
  • The current policy has been a clumsy two-sided sword used by either the district or the community as an awkward weapon against the other. It was used successfully to delay a split in middle school APP in 2007.
  • The Board voted to suspend the current policy on January 29, 2009 when splitting APP. As part of that resolution, which was in the school closures vote, the Board also voted to direct the superintendent to review the policy and suggest revisions. The superintendent never did any work on the policy. This refusal to perform an action as directed by a majority vote of the Board, all by itself, was grounds for dismissal.
  • The Board and the superintendent were reminded on numerous occasions of the direction but never took any follow up action.
  • The Board started a project to review and revise all of their policies, but Policy D12.00, despite the Board vote, was not given a priority for review. The review of this policy was scheduled near the middle of Phase II. That's the current point of progress for the Board and so they are considering a revision of the policy now.
  • The draft policy comes from Dr. Robert Vaughan, Manager of Advanced Learning. It comes entirely from Dr. Vaughan with no input from any other source.
  • There was, for about six months this year, an Advanced Learning Programs Task Force. The Task Force was never asked for any input on the draft policy. The Task Force never volunteered any input on the draft policy. The Task Force was never told that the draft policy was in development.
  • The Task Force was dismissed in June.
  • Dr. Vaughan has said, at times, that he intends to re-constitute the Task Force. If he does re-create the Task Force in the fall, then he will have written, submitted, and guided this revised policy through Board approval during the brief window of time while the Advanced Learning Programs Task Force was dissolved.
  • Even if there was no intention to evade public input on the draft policy, the timing is suspicious.
  • It is unclear if the APP Advisory Committee provided any input to the draft policy.
  • There are no advisory committees for Spectrum or ALOs. Nor are there advisory committees for AP, IB, or any other programs or services under the Advanced Learning umbrella.
  • There is no draft version of the policy available anywhere for the public.
  • The draft policy says little, if anything. There is nothing enforceable about it. It mostly a string of aspirational statements. It says, in short, that the District acknowledges the existence and need for some kind of advanced learning and that the District is committed to collecting the state grant. It may be revised before a public version appears.


Anonymous said…
That's a policy ? That doesn't tell us squatoosh about anything. Very disappointing.

-spectrum mom
Shannon said…
"The draft policy comes from Dr. Robert Vaughan, Manager of Advanced Learning. It comes entirely from Dr. Vaughan with no input from any other source."

So, what on earth did the task force do? After all that fanfare about representation I thought they were working on the policy?
Anonymous said…
WOW! All of the people who spent all of those hours trying to come to a conclusion about the future of APP WASTED THEM? I would be furious if I had been selected - and I think Mr. Vaughan, who was ON that committee, has a lot of explaining to do.

Once again, the district had the opportunity to work WITH and FOR the community it is supposed to serve, as a collaboration, giving everyone a voice and trying to be equitable. . . yeah, I guess I shouldn't have thought anything had changed. Unbelievable.
confused said…
Without the existing policy, will APP be split yet again? Wasn't that one of the concerns?

It still isn't clear to me what the task of the task force was. I thought it was to look at all of advanced learning - APP, Spectrum, and ALO - but it seemed to come down to where APP will be placed come the levy vote. The levy planning seemed to leave out APP. There was room at Hamilton according to the district's initial numbers (which left out the APP population), even though it's currently about 25% over capacity, with no place to put portables. And north end elementary APP?
Anonymous said…
I was on that committee. Doesn't surprise me that nothing happened. Too bad a lot of people where really hoping to contribute to making a better program. We just might be sunk.

Anonymous said…
I'll know the district is serious about Advanced Learning when Dr. Vaughan moves on and someone else heads it up.

Conversely, I'll know the district is NOT serious about Advanced Learning when the latest initiative/taskforce/study/promise/aspiration comes from Dr. Vaughan.

Dr. Vaughan is not the direct source of all the problems in AL as far as I know---but he has not been effective, is not helping anything that I can see, and is eager to tell parents just how little power or influence he has. The forces that keep him in place are not interested in AL problems being worked on. So that makes him the canary.

He really does seems like a nice guy---a benign avuncular presence who tells stories from long ago---but nice and effective are not only not the same, but in some cases in opposition. I'd love to see him attain professional success in some other position.

- RollerCoasterFabio
Anonymous said…
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steve (undoubtedly not the usual steve here) said…
As we've talked about a little over at the APP blog, this has a draft of the new policy -- along with some crossing of swords over it between Sharon Peaslee and Dr. Vaughan.

Not that changing the (routinely unfollowed) policy will really change anything. So reluctantly I too will have to agree with RollerCoasterFabio.

McLaren Blog: Advanced Learning Programs

The math curriculum question went completely unanswered, of course. If I had enough hair left I'd pull it out.
Anonymous said…
RollerCoasterFabio is dead on, though he's kinder than I would be. Until Vaughan is replaced, expect more of the status quo. He has really let AL down, while being nice the whole time. However, he can be slippery as well and his contempt for parental input is palpable. He stopped listening long ago.

-Time for new leadership
Charlie Mas said…
Here is a link to the proposed policy.

Charlie Mas said…
From the policy:

"the district shall offer, within budgetary limitations, appropriate instructional programs to meet the needs of highly capable students of school age."

This is the only requirement in the policy, that there be some kind of program.

The entire second section, which begins "The framework for such advanced learning programs shall encompass..." mentions NOTHING that is specific to advanced learning. Everything in that section would be true for any student.

The third section commits the Board to approving the annual application for the state grant. So why would the Board vote on it if they are required, by policy, to approve it?

The policy says nothing and does nothing. It is completely pointless.
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Anonymous said…
Anon says "Banda is not a supporter of APP. Yes, you are sunk."

What are you basing this on?

Charlie Mas said…
I think it odd that Mr. Banda should tell the newspaper that he wants to expand access to rigorous programs when the Board, just last month, took away his authority to do exactly that.

The new policy 2200, Equitable Access to Program and Services, took away the superintendent's authority to place Spectrum, ALO, STEM, IB, international, Montessori, language immersion, and alternative programs and gave that authority to the schools.

It was, in fact, one of the stated goals of the policy.

So I don't know what he thinks he can do to "spread rigorous programs more equitably across the district", because that is outside his authority.
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