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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Meade

We are looking for parents, teachers, and students who support advanced and gifted education for Rochester Community Schools in Michigan. Please subscribe to Rochester SAGE to receive updates.

Also, please visit the "How to Help" link in the upper right.

Questionnaire: MI State Representative District #45 – Michael Webber (R)

July 28, 2014

Rochester SAGE sent a questionnaire to each candidate for State Representative District #45. Here are Michael Webber’s responses.
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1) Currently most gifted students in Michigan’s public schools are not being taught at their academic level. As a legislator, what bills would you draft or support to increase gifted education?
Every student needs to feel challenged in school, whether they are gifted or learn at a slower pace. We have to realize that one size does not fit all and that children learn at different levels. We should not hold back the children who are learning at a faster pace. I think some ways that we can address this is is through offering more AP classes and also continuing to partner with colleges and universities to offer college level courses for high school students.
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2) Gifted students make up about 5-7% of the population. Should taking a class in teaching gifted students be part of becoming a Highly Qualified Teacher? Why or why not?

I would leave that up to our colleges and universities who are training teachers at that level. Certainly I would not seek a state mandate for that type of class. I think teachers strive to be ready to teach all students across the spectrum. That would be my expectation.

 

3) Schools often claim lack of funding is the primary reason they can’t provide gifted education. Should the state allocate funds for gifted education? Why or why not?

Certainly the state can and should continue to look at how we fund public education. Currently it is done on a Per Pupil basis. I am open to looking at alternatives, but under the current Per Pupil formula I would not support additional funding towards these programs.

 

4) Should the state mandate identification or services for gifted and talented education in public schools? Why or why not?

I don’t think that the state should mandate identification in that I fear it would be too tied to a particular test and some students test better than others. The service part of it I think the state can work with local schools with regard to what services are being offered like AP courses and partnerships with colleges/universities.

 

5) Many parents of gifted children believe gifted charter schools are the best option for properly educating gifted learners. Would you support gifted charter schools? Why or why not?

I do support charter schools, home schools, online schools, etc. I am a product of our public schools, but again I do not like a one size fits all approach. I am proud to be endorsed by the Great Lakes Education Project who promotes many of these different alternatives along with pushing for rigorous standards in public schools.

 

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Publication of this questionnaire and responses does not imply an endorsement of a candidate.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE.  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

Questionnaire: MI State Representative District #45 – Joanna VanRaaphorst (D)

July 28, 2014

Rochester SAGE sent a questionnaire to each candidate for State Representative District #45. Here are Joanna VanRaaphorst’s responses.

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Joanna VanRaaphorst – Candidate for State Representative District #45 – Mother of two children who attended Rochester Community Schools and graduated 2008 and 2010.

 

SAGE

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you again my views on Special and Gifted Education. First, I must share that coming from an educator’s family (my late father was a middle school counselor, my late mother-in-law taught advanced high school science and my twin sister currently teaches 5th grade) I feel that ALL children are special and gifted each in their own way. Case in point would be my own two children. One excelled in math and science while the other’s English and social skills were always off the charts!

Two years ago, I spoke with the following people to answer your questions: Dr. John Schultz, former school supt., Barb Cenko, former RCS School Board member, Beth Talbert, current school board member, Dr. Zumsteg, the interim RCS Supt. and Carolyn Matzinger, 5th grade teacher.

Since then I have meet with Irene Larson, Assessment Director for RCS and Michael Berhmann, Director of Curriculum. I’ve also attended 12 various PTA/PTSA meetings.

1)    Currently most gifted students in Michigan’s public schools are not being taught at their academic level.  As a legislator, what bills would you support to increase gifted education?

I would be supportive of any bill, which help schools meet the individual needs of our children. This would include special needs children, children in poverty, and gifted and talented children.

 

2)    Gifted students make up about 5-7% of the population.  Should taking a class in teaching gifted students be part of becoming a Highly Qualified Teacher?  Why or why not?

 

Highly qualified teachers are teachers who teach in their specific area of study. My understanding is a part of all current teaching training is being able to differentiate for children of various ability levels, including those with higher abilities.

 

 

3)    Schools often claim lack of funding is the primary reason they can’t provide gifted education.  Should the state allocate funds for gifted education?  Why or why not?

 

I am extremely concerned about school funding. I would like to protect the funding sources for all of our students. If we were able to increase overall funding for schools, I would support providing some monies to increase the teaching and learning of academically high ability students. However, I do not want to allocate funding for one group of students at the expense of another group of students. I think we need a stable and continuous source of funding for all students. More funding would enable class sizes to decrease, giving every teacher more time to address the needs of all her/his students.

 

Case in point was the recent REDUCTION of funding from the State (in June 2014) to RCS of over $500,000.

 

4)    Should the state mandate identification or services for gifted and talented education in public schools?  Why or why not?

 

I understand from my numerous education friends that identification of gifted and talented children needs to have a multifaceted approach. I would rather local school districts determine research-based identification and services for gifted and talented students rather than leaving this up to the state.

 

5)    Many parents of gifted children believe gifted charter schools are the best option for properly educating gifted learners.  Would you support gifted charter schools?  Why or why not?

I am supportive of a limited number of charter schools in low achieving and high poverty areas. I have five concerns with a charter school that only accepted children of a certain ability level. One, it is unconstitutional for a public school to turn away students based on ability. Two, as we have witness with the recent slew of articles about charter schools, I do not want any more created until there is better accountability of how our tax payers dollars are being spent. Three, I would worry that this type of school in a high achieving district like Rochester would siphon already limited dollars to our Rochester Community Schools. Four, I object to for-profit charter schools such as those supported by the DeVos family. Finally, I would be concerned that the identification process would be so narrow that a child who is both a special needs child and gifted would not be allowed in the school.

I know from my own children’s experience in our public schools here in Rochester that their education was enhanced greatly from interacting with children of all abilities. For example, my son was captain of the Stoney Creek Swim team and their members included two young men with Downs Syndrome who contributed to the team in their own special way. My son and his team learned valuable lessons from these teammates and built his appreciation for those who differed from him.

In addition, my children were able to take advanced classes (AP or Honors) in numerous subjects, as did many of their peers. Many of our students start college with quite a few college credits under their belt, including my own.   To me, this interaction with a whole host of children it is the best of all possible learning environment.

Finally, it is incumbent on parents of all students, to augment their child’s education. Just like many parents, my husband and I have taken our children to dozens of art and science museums, had them do homework and reading over the summer, traveled to many places to learn about other cultures, hosted an exchange student from France and in general supplemented their education.

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Publication of this questionnaire and responses does not imply an endorsement of a candidate.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE.  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

What if Special Education Students got Gifted Education Treatment?

July 25, 2014

Response to Intervention diagram from Edina Schools

Response to Intervention diagram from Edina Schools

Every Bell curve has two tails.  Every line has two ends.  In education, we have special needs students and gifted needs students*.  What if we switched the treatment for those groups?

First, we’ll guarantee every academically or creatively gifted student a “Free Appropriate Public Education”.  Special education students will have no such guarantee, but be subject to a patchwork of state laws and district policies.  Some states will have great laws for special education students.  Some will have none.  Some districts will have magnet classrooms.  Some will have a failed policy of differentiation.

 

Map of State Policy from the Davidson Institute

Map of State Policy from the Davidson Institute

MapStatePolicyLegend Read more…

Guest Post: Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses (for Parents of Gifted Kids)

July 18, 2014

Joshua Raymond:

You won’t hear any of these excuses at the future Rochester-area charter school for gifted learners – https://www.facebook.com/groups/NEOgifted/ – but until then, here are some great answers for when you don’t have Jim Delisle on speed dial!

Originally posted on Free Spirit Publishing Blog:

By Jim Delisle, coauthor ofThe Gifted Teen Survival Guide

Delisle_Jim_FSP AuthorWhen it comes to understanding and serving gifted kids, school administrators run the gamut from awful to awesome—and I’ve worked with both types. The awful ones may talk a good game about how every child’s needs are met through individualized instruction, but the follow-through is lacking (or nonexistent), and the commitment to gifted kids as an important subset of learners is given little more than lip service. The awesome school administrators can actually point to specific programs and classes where gifted kids are grouped with each other regularly and tout the fact that only teachers who have professional knowledge of and experience with gifted kids instruct these intellectually able learners.

When you find that your gifted child’s school is being led by an awesome school administrator, your job as a parent is easy: Mention how particular programs or projects benefit…

View original 1,042 more words

Northeast Oakland Gifted Academy Interest Meeting

July 17, 2014

New School Clip art_full

Are you a parent concerned that your gifted child is not having his or her needs met in the schools?

Are you an educator interested creating a classroom where high ability students learn at their own pace and level?

Come join other parents and educators as we explore interest in creating a K-8 gifted academy in the Rochester area!  This school will use proven methods to educate gifted learners and help them achieve their potential.  Through collaboration of educators, parents, and students, we will design a school built to serve the gifted population often overlooked in traditional schools.

This K-8 charter school will provide a free public education with a focus on gifted and twice exceptional students!

Your voice is vital to the creation and development of this school.  This is a school for you, by you, involving you!

When: July 31, 2014, 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Where: Rochester Hills Public Library, Multi-purpose Room, First Floor
Who: Interested parents and educators
Questions: Email NEOgifted@outlook.com

Join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/NEOgifted/

Please pass this along to anyone you think would be interested!

This program is neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Rochester Hills Public Library.

The need for ability will be kept to a minimum.

May 27, 2014

You don’t have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better. – Stephanie Tolan
Since we believe that all of our children are winners, the need for athletic ability and the competitive “urge to win” will be kept to a minimum.

 

Is this sentence, found in a flyer regarding Field Day at North Hill Elementary in Rochester Hills, MI, indicative of the reasoning that keeps gifted programs out of most public schools?  Have our schools adopted the mantra of “Since we believe that all of our children are gifted, the need for academic ability and the competitive ‘urge to excel’ will be kept to a minimum’?  Sadly, this appears to be the case and it is harming all children.

It is understandable how this attitude harms the child who is strong in an area.  We remove her chance to shine, explore her strengths, and understand her unique abilities.  We teach him that his natural ability doesn’t need to be accompanied by hard work and that succeeding beyond artificial standards is neither expected nor rewarded.  We actually rob her of one of the best chances to build self-esteem, because self-esteem is not built from easily succeeding where others struggle, but knowing that with struggle, you are able to overcome difficulty and succeed.

What is more insidious is the harm this attitude causes to all children.

Read more…

One Simple Reason YOU Should Care About Smarter Balanced Assessments

May 14, 2014

Measurement of Student Proficiency

 

You may be thrilled your state is moving to Common Core.  Or you might detest the Common Core State Standards.  Either way, if you are a parent of a gifted student or a struggling learner, you have an important reason to want the Smarter Balanced assessment implemented.

The Smarter Balanced assessment can help measure growth.

The Smarter Balanced test will adapt to your child’s academic level as she takes the test.  If she is answering correctly, the questions become tougher and rise in grade level.  If she is answering incorrectly, the test will pose questions from a lower grade level.  At the end, the student is provided two scores.  One measures proficiency in that subject.  One is the equivalent grade level in that subject.  Subtract last year’s equivalent grade level from this year’s and determine how much growth was made.

Your current assessment only provides proficiency and only in a narrow band.  A student who far exceeds expectations for that grade cannot be accurately measured as they are above the ceiling for standardized proficiency exams.  A student who is far below grade level also cannot be accurately measured as the test isn’t designed for him either.  A written standardized test by necessity cannot test outside a narrow band.  It is not adaptive. Read more…

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