Sunday, August 26, 2018

Public Ed News

On gifted education:

From The Atlantic,  Do Parents' Views on Gifted Education Vary by Ethnicity?
Allison Roda, an assistant professor of education at Molloy College in Long Island, interviewed more than 50 white, black, and Hispanic parents at an unidentified New York City school to learn about their attitudes towards gifted programs. (Her sample did not include any Asian parents.)

She found that the white parents view applying for gifted programs and preparing their children to score well on the admissions test as hallmarks of good parenting.

While the black and Hispanic parents Roda interviewed had their children tested for gifted, none reported paying for tutors or otherwise preparing children for the test. For them, having to practice for the test meant your child wasn’t really gifted.

Despite the time and resources white families said they poured into preparing for the gifted test, they didn’t think it was an accurate measure of giftedness. On that point, families of color agreed. Black, white and Hispanic families also agreed that school diversity was important.
Are there "gifted" kids?  From The Guardian:
Bloom’s team looked at a group of extraordinarily high achieving people in disciplines as varied as ballet, swimming, piano, tennis, maths, sculpture and neurology, and interviewed not only the individuals but their parents, too.

He found a pattern of parents encouraging and supporting their children, in particular in areas they enjoyed themselves. Bloom’s outstanding adults had worked very hard and consistently at something they had become hooked on young, and their parents all emerged as having strong work ethics themselves.

While the jury is out on giftedness being innate and other factors potentially making the difference, what is certain is that the behaviours associated with high levels of performance are replicable and most can be taught – even traits such as curiosity.

Einstein, the epitome of a genius, clearly had curiosity, character and determination. He struggled against rejection in early life but was undeterred. Did he think he was a genius or even gifted? No. He once wrote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”
A host of stories from Ed Week on equity and hey! here's actual definition:
To facilitate these discussions, we used a common definition of equity, used by the National Equity Project: "Educational equity means that each child receives what he or she needs to develop to his or her full academic and social potential." We agree: Equity is about giving every student what they need, not giving every student the same.
A great blog article, Thank you Reed Hastings for Making Me More Woke, from one of the most dedicated education leaders in our state - Trish Dziko.   Trish started TAF (Technology Access Foundation), TAF Academy and serves as a charter school commissioner.   Reed Hastings started Netflix and is a major ed reformer from California.
The inability of white philanthropists like Reed Hastings to recognize Black and Latino talent is troubling to say the least and an example of why we must be critical. These philanthropists are gatekeeping when they use their money to mostly fund those who they feel are worthy, but in reality are frankly some of the least qualified to do this work with black and brown students. Because of their inability to see talent in other ways, these philanthropists are missing out on the very people who could be changing educational opportunities for black and brown kids at a faster rate. Makes me wonder if they really want change or are content with building another arm of the legacy of oppression.
On Testing
From NPR on the opting out movement:
Overall, experts say, there is very little evidence that standardized testing has been reduced on a nationwide scale. Federal testing requirements remain virtually the same. And despite some state policy changes and passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, opt-out activists and their sympathizers are still worried about the time students spend preparing for, and taking, standardized tests.

Take New York state, where roughly 21 percent of eligible students between third and eighth grade opted out of federally mandated standardized tests in 2016. That's about 230,000 kids who sat out.
The state education department says that number dropped slightly this year, to 19 percent, but the backlash against testing hasn't gone away.

So beyond efforts in individual states like New York, Washington and Colorado, what's the national picture look like? The answer, according to policy experts, is complicated.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, on a visit to Florida in March, said she believes testing time is an issue best left to states: "I think it's really a matter for the states to wrestle with, to decide how and how frequently the testing is actually done."
But again, I'll say - want to know how American public school students are doing?  We need one national test.

And in yet another "what is she thinking" Betsy DeVos moment, the Secretary announced that some federal grants may be able to be used for putting guns in schools.  There has been widespread concern for this idea.  I just smile because I think 99% of district who might consider this will ask their insurers and then abandon the idea.  I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that arming school staff would have a very big liability for both the staff and the school district.

I note that despite the efforts of the NRA to get I-1639, a gun control initiative, off the Washington State ballot this November, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that it would stay on. 
The court late Friday afternoon reversed a judge's decision earlier this month that threw out more than 300,000 signatures used to qualify Initiative 1639, saying the petition format did not follow election law.

The justices said "there is no legislative mandate that the secretary must decline to certify and present to voters an initiative based on failure to comply with the requirement that a 'readable, full, true, and correct copy' of the initiative appear on the back of every petition."

In July, the campaign for I-1639 turned in the final batch of more than 360,000 petition signatures collected to the secretary of state's office. They had needed about 260,000 to be certified.


Grouchy Parent said...

Allison Roda's study on parental views of gifted ed only involved 52 parents, none of them Asian American. And she looked only at families interested in one elementary school in New York City (NYC has 1,700 public schools and over a million students). Would it have killed her to include a couple of Asian American parents?

In her 500-word synopsis, she uses the word "segregated" three times. She describes an elementary school with a "segregated gifted and talented program." Does that mean students attend different G&T programs based on their race? Or that only one race of students (I guess not Asian Americans!) are eligible for admission? The use of the term "segregated" is problematic because it reinforces the idea that admission decisions for the gifted and talented program are based on skin color, which is the opposite of what is going on. Admissions are based only on a test and do not consider race at all, which is what has caused the “segregation.”

She describes White parents as "advantaged" but did not consider family wealth or educational background or any other type of advantage and so appears to be measuring "advantage" solely based on race? But then she appears to conclude that White parents are more victimized by overly anxious parenting than Black or Hispanic parents. So, she kind of implies that White parents are more likely to be neurotic suckers (I'm paraphrasing) and then calls that an advantage. Huh?

She says, "the White advantaged parents in this setting get swept up in the test-prepping fad because everyone else is doing it." But her whole point is that Black and Hispanic families mostly are not doing test prep. In NYC, about 50% of students are Hispanic and 30% are African American (so, that's 80% of families who are mostly not doing test-prep). So, when she says White families do it because everyone else is doing it, she is completely writing off Hispanic and Black families. Along with Asian families, I guess, that she wrote off before she even started. So, when she says “everyone” is doing it, she apparently means at the most 20% of families?

New York City schools use the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) and the verbal test items from the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). Their handbook for applying for G&T recommends that families prepare for the tests. They even include practice questions in the actual application booklet. They instruct parents, "Review the practice questions with your child to learn about the types of questions they may see on the test and to help prepare them for the test-taking experience."

She already knows what she wants, though, because after talking to 52 parents, she says New York City should get rid of district gifted/talented programs altogether and instead institute “school-wide G&T magnets instead.” Does that mean she wants everyone to stay at their assigned school and be served there? In Seattle we know that keeping everyone at their geographically assigned school increases “segregation.”

In general, believing that Hispanic and Black families (80% of the school district she’s talking about) are part of “everyone” should be a prerequisite for anyone doing any work in the schools. Also, if you’re going to talk about ethnic views of G&T programs, you should not exclude Asians. Also, if the district instructs parents to prep their children, it doesn’t make any sense to be upset when they do what they were told to do.

Anonymous said...

IQ differences are real and we need to acknowledge them.



z said...

The big takeaway is in the Guardian article.

"Eye-opening spin-off research, which looked in detail at 24 of the 3,000 individuals being studied who were succeeding against the odds, found something remarkable about what was going in at home. Half were on free school meals because of poverty, more than half were living with a single parent, and four in five were living in deprived areas.

The interviews uncovered strong evidence of an adult or adults in the child’s life who valued and supported education, either in the immediate or extended family or in the child’s wider community. Children talked about the need to work hard at school and to listen in class and keep trying. They referenced key adults who had encouraged those attitudes."

Yes, there are gifted kids (and adults) that have abilities that cannot be accounted for in any other way. But in general, it takes someone, usually one or both parents, to be both a strong advocate for education, studying, learning, and they need to be a good role model as well. Life-long learners, readers, people who value knowledge themselves.

When you see a parent or family like this, the children usually follow a similar path, and their "gifts" come to fruition. If there is no parent or nearby family of this mindset, then it's unlikely that the children will value their own education and put in the time and/or effort needed to be successful in school.

We're living with the unfortunate fact that schools and teachers are generally successful with students that want to learn. There's only so much you can do with kids (and families) that aren't all that interested.

Anonymous said...

"We're living with the unfortunate fact that schools and teachers are generally successful with students that want to learn. There's only so much you can do with kids (and families) that aren't all that interested."

Equity discussions don't usually touch on this point, since it brings up uncomfortable cultural discussions...


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