Tuesday, May 03, 2011

More implications of academic redshirting

First read Implications of academic redshirting for how redshirting, holding kids back a year for kindergarten, can impact identification of giftedness.

California gives a small amount of money to school districts to help them provide appropriate schooling for gifted students. The federal government also helps, particularly for poor communities.

(This doesn't sound fair, until you learn that gifted kids are THREE times more likely than non-gifted ones to drop out of school early. This problem is especially acute in poor communities. NCLB has been catastrophic for bright kids left behind in schools struggling to raise their standardized test scores to avoid being closed down. Class time is often devoted to drilling for the tests, rather than the open-ended inquiry that gifted kids thrive on.)

Anyway, the districts themselves set their criteria for GATE (gifted and talented) identification. For MBUSD, the students must score in the 97th percentile on the OLSAT. RBUSD requires 95th percentile on the OLSAT but also accepts kids in the 90th percentile on the OLSAT but do very well in classroom or in the arts into the program. Another poorer district in the area is even more lenient. Is this cheating? Not necessarily.

MBUSD students, with their April birthday cutoff, are older than their peers in RBUSD. They have an edge on the OLSAT. The poorer district has a very high percentage of English-learners and parents with low educational attainment. They prefer to err on the side of providing more kids with more educational enrichment (and qualifying them for state and federal $).

MBUSD was sued for their higher than average test score requirement for GATE. I am not sure what decision was reached. But I learned something interesting when looking just at the test scores of GATE students for:
MBUSD has about the same percentage of GATE kids as the state average, ~10-15% while RBUSD identifies 10-24% of the kids in a grade as GATE.

The RBUSD GATE kids outperform their statewide peers slightly, but lag behind MBUSD GATE kids. The advantages of age, wealth, parental education and a more selective approach should come as no surprise.

But I do wonder if the winning candidates for the recent school board election are on to something. They said that RBUSD either burns kids out in the honors program, or they hold them back in the regular program. (No one is suggesting changes for the kids identified as needing extra help, the ones at the learning center.) They campaigned to make the curriculum for the "kids in the middle" more challenging so the kids on the cusp don't have to make such a stark choice.

I think it is laudable, but my wish is for a four track system instead of a three track one. Good luck finding the money in this climate.

From these posts, it looks like I am more concerned about the plight of GATE kids of well-educated parents. I'm sorry; I write what I know.

But, my volunteer work with the schools has put me in contact with kids that are from economically struggling families and whose parents do not have much formal education. I am very impressed with the ingenuity and hard work of the kids and the parents.

Peruse the CA STAR database, and you will find that RBUSD is a leader in providing challenging coursework to economically disadvantaged kids. Poorer districts often don't offer accelerated classes at all. While poor kids in RBUSD are less likely to be in the GATE program or in the accelerated classrooms, they are more likely to do so than in schools serving surrounding middle income and wealthy communities.

And the kids (mostly) rise to the occasion. I am proud to be in a community and school district that serves everyone's kids.

STAR test scores and external influences


  1. Anonymous09:25

    Doesn't MBUSD use Age and not Grade as the factor in determining OLSAT percentile?

  2. I don't know. Check the MBUSD website for their most current policy.

    The RBUSD policy is looser because, while they use the OLSAT national norms by grade-level, they admit kids with borderline OLSAT test results based on other considerations, including (but not limited to) young age for grade.


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