Monday, February 13, 2017

Advocacy Request

This information comes from Northwest Accelerated Learners group. I haven't personally had time to think through the consequences of these requests yet:

February 15 is the last day to submit public comments on the Washington State Plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I urge you to submit comments on the failure of the plan to include using Title I and Title II funds to serve the highly capable population. Below I’ve provided information you can use in your comments. Feel free to reply if you have questions.

Here is the link to the ESSA comment form -
Help shape Washington's education policy by providing public comment on the ESSA Consolidated Plan draft.

Add to the plan allowing use of Title I to fund universal identification

ESSA permits states to use Title I funding to identify highly capable students. The Washington State ESSA plan needs to allow schools to use Title I funds to implement measures such as universal screening to identify students in need of highly capable services.

Universal screening, such as giving a whole grade level a 30-40 minutes screening test, has been shown to improve access for disadvantaged groups. In the absence of universal screening, selection processes miss highly capable students who are low income, disabled, ESL, or who come from certain ethnic groups. According nationally recognized experts, up to 35% of the highly capable population has a learning disability or other disability in addition to being highly capable. Early universal identification, such as in 1st grade, engages highly capable students in critical early grades. Late elementary universal identification, around 5th grade, provides access for students who did not test well at a young age, for reasons that can range from language acquisition to unaddressed disabilities.

Add to the plan use of Title II to fund teacher professional development to keep kids in school and out of prison
ESSA requires states to use Title II funding to provide professional development to teachers to identify and understand the unique educational needs and challenges of the highly capable population.

Most teacher education programs do not educate teachers in how to identify or serve highly capable students. Educators, like the general population, tend to expect highly capable students to “look like” the inaccurate and exaggerated stereotypes portrayed in movies and on TV. Providing teachers with research-based information on needs and characteristics of highly capable students helps them identify and serve them.

The Washington State ESSA plan needs to be amended to include a plan for providing this required professional development. Doing so is an essential step in stopping the school to prison pipeline and redirecting up to 20% of our prison population to productive workforce (and ultimately reducing our prison population by 20%).

Background on Highly Capable Funding
In our state, highly capable program funding pays for (1) the costs of identifying students who are in need of highly capable services and (2) professional development to aid teachers in serving this challenging population. Currently the state provides only 15% of the funds necessary.

Highly capable programming was added to basic education because two things are known about this population: (1) low income, minority, and disabled highly capable students are underidentified and (2) unidentified highly capable students typically perform poorly in school and "check out" unless and until they are adequately challenged. The conundrum of this population is that it shines when the work is hard, and falters when the work is easy.

How poorly does this population fare when underserved? Underchallenged highly capable students underachieve, and even drop out of high school or college. The presence of highly capable individuals in the prison population is 4x that of highly capable individuals in the general population. The highly capable face unique social and emotional challenges during the school years because their interests are out of sync with those of age mates. In the worst cases, they can become antisocial. Estimates are that 4 out of 5 school shooters were unidentified or unserved highly capable.

Additional Resources if you want to know more
Here are a couple of good resources on Highly Capable and ESSA:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the name of the 2015 legislation that revised and reauthorized the federal K-12 education law known as the Elementary and ...

3 Q: Now that the new law has been passed, what should advocates be doing? There is much education and advocacy to be done to ensure that state and local education

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the links. From the Q/A, two new requirements of districts as it relates to ESSA and gifted/talented:

1) Districts (“local education agencies” in ESSA) must collect, disaggregate, and report their student achievement data at each achievement level [include information on students achieving at the advanced level, not just proficient and below], as the states are required to do.
2) Districts that receive Title II professional development funds must use the money to address the learning needs of all students. ESSA specifically says that “all students” includes gifted and talented students.

* For the first time, ESSA specifically notes that districts may use Title I funds to identify and serve gifted and talented students.
* Districts may use their Title II professional development funds to provide training on gifted education-specific instructional practices, such as enrichment, acceleration, and curriculum compacting.