Best Gifted Programs In Washington State – The disproportionate percentage of white students in gifted programs has become a hot topic in Seattle in recent years.
Children in the ability group learn more, if at all, in different classes – and often in different schools – from their academic peers.
Best Gifted Programs In Washington State
The program was originally intended to serve elementary school students in the top 1 percent by district for ability. Today, HCC serves 9 percent white students and 7 percent Asian students in grades 1-8.
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Only 1 percent of black students and 3 percent of Latino students in elementary and middle schools are in the program.
A program book for one of Seattle’s first gifted programs – the forerunner of a gifted group.
Superintendent Denise Juneau is now planning to dismantle the HCC program and serve most of the eligible students in neighborhood schools, instead of classrooms.
“It’s probably a very fragmented system,” he said, adding that it’s time to make it fair for more students of color to have access to programs.
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We’ve sifted through notes, charts and reports from decades past to see how past trends can help inform the next circuit. Here’s what we learned.
There was a time when students who passed ahead of the grade level would often skip one or more grades.
But in the 1950s, a growing body of research promoted a different model: keeping top students with peers, and tailoring the curriculum to meet their needs.
The paper outlines the new revisions to Horizon and the IPP aimed at defying the plans. Horizon awarded students who scored in the 95th percentile; IPP for those who scored in the 99th percentile?
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Psychologists and educational researchers have found that this approach often provides a more appropriate environment for growth than placing students with older children.
In the late 1950s came another major driver of gifted studies in the United States: the launch of Sputnik raised concerns that Soviet technology was superior to that of the United States.
The National Defense Education Act of 1958 provided funds to identify gifted students, including efforts to strengthen the math, science, and language skills of the next generation.
Three years later, the Seattle school board adopted a “Teacher Education Policy” that stated the district’s responsibility to provide each child with learning opportunities that “challenge his or her greatest potential” and “fit his or her individual needs.”
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In 1963, the legislature provided funding for job grants. Seattle Public Schools used the money to introduce a new program, Accelerated Primary, “with the goal of serving the individual needs of approximately 2.7% of the city’s gifted students.”
Students selected for the program in grades one through three attended special classes at seven schools, then returned to their home schools in grade four.
Accelerated Primary was popular from day one, according to district records. “Parent interest was high and parents were very cooperative,” reads the report.
At the time, the district was several years into its first attempt at desegregation: a small busing program for middle school students.
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A parent committee tasked with finding best practices in gifted education and providing recommendations to the district insisted that desegregation could and should apply to gifted programs as well.
“If there is successful identification of all gifted children, the grouping of gifted and talented students will not lead to segregated classrooms,” the committee wrote in its 1975 report.
Critics of Seattle Public Schools’ current job offers argue that eligibility for HCC is based largely on standardized test scores (eligible students now score 95 on the test) to discriminate against children of color and English language learners.
They say standardized tests — often accused of being culturally biased by white students — are an inadequate measure of children’s minds.
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Even nearly half a century ago, parents called on districts to use comprehensive measures of students’ abilities to create unique and gifted programs.
“Parents are concerned about overreliance on numerical scores” on standardized tests, the parents wrote, citing research that has shown limitations on the “adequacy of the [IQ] test for a child’s language, social background, and cultural background . . . “
“The district must begin to aggressively pursue the development of additional testing tools and cognitive strategies for use with linguistically and culturally minority students,” the committee wrote, citing the work of Ora Franklin, the black principal at Leschi Elementary School, which has. . successfully identified many children of color to the gifted school program.
If the district has adopted other testing tools or reporting methods to achieve diversity in its gifted classrooms, we were unable to find records.
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By 1978, the district’s forest program was progressing. Students in all grades are bused across the city, between north and south, to different schools.
To make busing more attractive to white families, the district installed magnet programs — known as “choice programs” — in schools that once served mostly students of color. One of these options was a new talent program: Horizon. And for the first time, the district used race as an admissions factor.
The program aims to serve students in the top 5 percent of each group, as determined by IQ and achievement tests.
A year later, the district introduced the Individual Progress Program, or IPP, for students in the top 1 percent by race or ethnicity on standardized tests. (Full disclosure: I had IPP in the 1980s and 90s.)
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The district said the validation process is important in addressing test bias that prevents otherwise high-performing students from enrolling in a course that legitimately demonstrates their ability.
It was also a mechanism intended to keep the new grant programs in line with the school board’s mandate that election programs not deviate from the so-called “majority/minority” balance in the school district.
In 1984, despite its public policy of disfavor, Horizon served mostly white children: the program had only 32 percent of students of color, even though they made up 50 percent of the district.
A school district attorney at the time wrote that the system “requires parental persistence and time availability, allows for multiple reviews,” and the results of student interviews, and that some schools even enroll students in Horizon classes without the required testing. The lawyer wrote that this practice “allows gifted programs to grow in popularity as” white programs.
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Some in the district have given reasons for fewer teachers of color in Horizon classrooms, and have called for more staff of color — including school staff, who often provide the face for the school to work with parents.
To increase the percentage of students of color in Horizon, along with IPP, in 1984 the district strengthened testing protocols, began screening all students for giftedness, and began conducting gifted testing at school during the school day.
In the first year of the change, the number of children of color enrolled in the district’s state grants rose 6 percent. But some white parents have criticized the change, saying it makes it unduly difficult for white students to learn, and risks “distorting” the curriculum to recruit students of other races.
Shortly after the district challenged its status of the gift vouchers, White’s parent filed a state and civil rights complaint requesting an investigation by the US Attorney’s Office. The parent, a lawyer, later filed a lawsuit against the district, claiming that it had committed unconstitutional discrimination.
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The case was thrown out, and was in the appeals process when the state threatened to eliminate gift aid funding if Seattle continued with its current model of only looking at test scores and student race in determining gift eligibility. The district ordered the district to consider each student’s economic, social, cultural and other environmental factors – not just race – if it wants to continue receiving grants for the gifted.
The district relented, and in 1987 revised its system to recognize the best students from different backgrounds. Not long after, the district dropped the Horizon program, leaving IPP — later renamed the Accelerated Progress Program, and now the Highly Capable Cohort — as the district’s only gifted program where children learn in segregated classrooms.
Today, HCC — a program designed to serve a small percentage of high school students, one part of the district — has expanded to include 7 percent of all students in grades 1-8. What hasn’t changed in four decades: Criticism that the district over-represents white students and under-identifies students of color, especially black children, for the gifted program.
Superintendent Dennis Juneau is now calling for the current system to be removed, arguing that high school students should be able to study alongside their international education peers in their local schools. He said that a small percentage of students who work far from their peers can still benefit