Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot topic: GATE in middle school

This from a reader:
I'm seeing some info on The SFK Files about middle schools, but I haven't found anything on how the new middle school assignments will (or will not) care for elementary school students who have been GATE-designated. The maps show feeder schools by geography, but what happens when a GATE-designated student's elementary school is supposed to feed into a school with no GATE program (e.g., James Lick)? Will GATE-designated students still be assigned to James Lick (as an example) or will they have the option to go to a different school like Aptos or AP Giannini instead? I'd be interested to know what people are hearing about this topic. Thanks!

59 comments:

  1. Re GATE at schools such as James Lick that do not have designated "honors" classes. You are asking about what is something of a debate at the middle and high school levels, whether or not to have separated classes or differentiated learning within un-separated classes.

    James Lick makes an intentional effort to address GATE students--the teachers do professional development related to this, and how to do differentiated education; there is also a parents-teacher group that focuses on it. And currently James Lick teaches math classes that are separated by ability, as it seemed previously that it was really hard to teach math in a differentiated way--it was either too speedy for some or conversely an experience of watching paint dry for those who were way ahead. All kids are expected to take 8th grade Algebra, but not all are moving at the same pace.

    But in classes such as social studies and language arts, there are ways to teach the content to all but raise expectations for GATE kids--longer papers, projects that dig a little deeper, and so on. It helps to have a critical mass of peers, which Lick certainly does. And for the SI kids at Lick, there is the added challenge of working (reading and writing papers in) a second language.

    Someone posted about her daughter's experience at Lick over on Rachel Norton's blog: www.rachelnorton.com (in one of the recent, long, threads about the new student assignment system and draft feeder patterns).

    Lick also has a wonderful, arts-rich curriculum including studio art, studio dance, theater, folklorico dance, and Blue Bear rock band; phenomenal teachers (really); and some great extras like 826 Valencia writing workshop on site and Beyond the Bell afterschool program. It's a wonderful community with lots of heart, and lots of GATE-identified have done well there.

    That is not to say that other schools that don't have honors programs are as intentional or equipped as Lick is to address the needs of GATE kids. This is something that has been built over several years there in response to the diverse student body.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I did a tour of middle schools last year and can tell you what I found out about what those middle schools did for GATE kids. I went to four -- Roosevelt, Hoover, Giannini, and Lick. Of these, only Roosevelt relies on GATE identification for putting kids into honors classes. Roosevelt has honors classes for GATE kids. If your kid is in GATE, they automatically get into honors classes. Otherwise, they are in gen ed classes. Otherwise, the rest don't use GATE at all. As noted on the previous comment, Lick integrates honors and gen ed kids into the same class. I personally like that approach. At Giannini, there are no honors classes in 6th grade. Period. Based on 6th grade grades, kids are invited to honors classes for 7th and 8th grade. Again, GATE doesn't matter. Hoover has separate honors and gen ed classes throughout, but is bases admittance to honors classes in 6th grade on STAR test result for 5th grade. If you are over X score, you are in honors; if you are not, you are in gen ed. So GATE doesn't matter there either.

    ReplyDelete
  3. happy GATE/honors parentAugust 26, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    The new MS assignment policy will shine the light on the inadequacies of honors (and art and music) programs at several of the district's MSs to which more vocal middle-class parents will now have their kids funneled. I'm hoping that the district's response will not be to eliminate honors classes altogether, although this would be consistent with the BOE's social equity mission.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 10:21 Happy Gate/Honors parent,

    Poster #1 here from 10:34 last night.

    I absolutely agree that GATE *and* arts programs are inadequate at several of the middle schools to which middle class famiiies will now be funneled. This has long been an inequity in the district and accounts for two reasons why east-side parents have headed west.

    Families whose kids are musically inclined may now not have access to a full band or orchestra program--which will have an impact on admission to SOTA for families who can't afford intensive private lessons. Similarly, many schools will not have advanced algebra and geometry classes for the highest-level math students, as Aptos and other schools now have.

    I really really hope the district realizes this and that parents push for redress. If they do--then that will be a good outcome of the feeder concept in terms of bringing more programming equity for all the kids (via middle class pushiness). Meanwhile, I can see why people are upset.

    My only point was that there are different ways of doing GATE. James Lick is trying to do it, and invests resources in it, and has a significant subset of kids who are a cohort. I think this is different than the lack of programs at some other schools. There are different ways to approach GATE is my point--but it must be approached.

    While hopefully the feeder system will serve to push some schools to bump up their offerings, this discussion is pointing out the limitations of the system. Even if every school were created equal--which we know they are not--there are different approaches across the district to GATE and arts education, and also differences in class size and school size. This is even apart from the language pathway issue! I think parents and kids liked having more choices at this level in the past, in order to find the right fit--smaller Roosevelt or Lick vs. larger Hoover; full band vs. strong arts rotation; and so forth.

    But hey, I argued for middle school and high school choice all the way through the process last year. I got half of what I wanted.

    ReplyDelete
  5. FYI -- I toured three "westside" schools and found disparities in their treatment of honors classes even within that cohort. At Roosevelt, GATE identification is the sole means to get into honors classes. No matter how smart your kid is, if he ain't GATE-identified (maybe because your elementary doesn't push the identification a lot), then he can't go to honors classes. Giannini has integrated classes for sixth grade. Based on grades in sixth grade, students get into honors classes for 7th and 8th. GATE doesn't seem to matter at all. Hoover has separate gen ed and honors classes, but students get into honors only if their fifth grade STAR test if above a certain number. Yes, Lick has integrated classes, but it is not like the westside schools uniformly have honors classes -- there are big differences.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 10:48--yes, so true. That is why I argued for middle school choice, because there are differences like that that can really make a difference for an individual child--even on the westside of town! Plus the arts curriculum is so variable, also special ed and inclusion, and class/school size. There are good options, but they are not uniform. I know we really liked having the choice to pick what was best for our child.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think over 50% of the kids at Giannini are GATE identified. Every class there will have a large cohort of GATE students.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Most Lick teachers are awful at differentiated instruction. There. I said it.

    It is easy to pay lip service to the concept.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The problem with differentiated instruction is that it works when a teacher is able to meet the needs of a large range of students, but many teachers cannot, and the students on both ends of the spectrum lose out when the teacher teaches to the middle.

    In high school, with the push to require every student to graduate having taken the UC/CSU requirements, there seems to be a movement to make everyone an "honors" student and eliminate the separate honors track. Students are given the option to "opt in" to honors in each class - essentially creating differentiated learning with in un-separated classes. As one of my kid's friends put it 'there are a lot more kids in the classes that aren't interested in school'. Not exactly a very motivating learning environment.

    If the comprehensive high schools continue to do this, they will see more families exit the district after middle school if their kids don't get into Lowell, a trend that has waned in recent years as Galileo, Balboa and Mission high schools have provided viable academic alternatives to Lowell.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mission high school is considered a viable alternative to Lowell? Please expand on this if you can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anyone considering Mission High (or really any school) should read this piece: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/08/mission-high-false-low-performing-school

      Delete
  11. Supposedly the honors track at Mission (like that of Balboa) is pretty good. Of course if the honors track is eliminated, that could change.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gate identified, middle schools with good reputations are in fact quite iffy. Specifically, I heard that non-Gate kids at Hoover can and do get into trouble (drinking, etc) and are viewed as 2nd level students. A document that Hoover submitted for their school site does show disciplinary problems with the 6th graders. Any insight on this?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry I meant to say:
    I hear that if your child is not Gate identified, middle schools with good reputations are in fact quite iffy. Specifically, I heard that non-Gate kids at Hoover can and do get into trouble (drinking, etc) and are viewed as 2nd level students. A document that Hoover submitted for their school site does show disciplinary problems with the 6th graders. Any insight on this?

    ReplyDelete
  14. The strategic plan’s first goal is access and equity.(Interestingly, the second goal is achievement. That tells you where their priorities are.)

    So why is it that SFUSD would have honors programs for some middle schools, but not others under the new SAS? Doesn’t this fly in the face of access and equity, goal #1? Access and equity was not intended to address overachievement, but underachievement. Goal #1 was intended to address the inequities at the bottom, not at the top.

    It is SFUSD's fiduciary duty to meet the academic needs of all students. The Board of Education is not going to get rid of honor/AP. Even they understand when their general council advises them of the legal ramifications of such action. If honors track in middle school were eliminated, what does that say about a school like Lowell, an honors school?

    ReplyDelete
  15. 8:58 am -- the middle schools (other than Roosevelt) really focus more on honors vs. gen ed distinction than on a GATE vs. non-GATE distinction. That having been said, your question is very, very valid -- in the schools with honors and gen ed classes, do the gen ed kids become second class students, kids who are not pushed and who get into trouble? Great, great question. It worries me a lot since my kid is definitely not honors material. That's why I find the Lick approach appealing. Are there any parents at middle schools that do separate honors from gen ed that can answer this question?

    ReplyDelete
  16. My daughter is a GATE-identified eighth grader at Lick and she is receiving excellent instruction from her teachers. She was identified as GATE through her language arts test scores in elementary school, but she went from "Basic" to "Advanced" in math in one year in 6th grade. In fact, 85% of her math class tested "Proficient" or above that year in a class that included many English language learners. Her excellent language arts, science, social studies and math teachers have the highest expectations for her, and have specifically asked her to complete extensions on her assignments. For example, if all students are supposed to write definitions of 12 vocabulary words, she is also supposed to write a story that includes five of the words. At the same time, she has been able to participate in wonderful art, dance, music, gardening, peer resources, and poetry classes through the Unified Arts program, and this year she will have a full year of studio art as well as a second elective. She has also been in two after-school musical theater productions, "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Annie." I have been thrilled with her academic, social and emotional growth at James Lick.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Is she in Spanish immersion? How hard did parents have to fight to get texts the kids could take home to do the assigned reading?

    ReplyDelete
  18. MS classes tend to be much larger than ES ones, which make it far more difficult for teachers to teach to students at very different levels of mastery of the material. Hence, separate honors and gen ed classes makes sense in the larger MSs, which typically have 36 students/class. The schools like Lick, that use differentiated instruction, tend to have much smaller class sizes (i.e. 25 students). If the BOE is moving towards eliminating honors classes at all MSs and HSs (which I personally feel would be a big mistake) they may need to consider reducing MS and HS class sizes to i.e. 25 students.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I thought they were leaning towards making MS honors classes more accessible. This is great news for motivated students who haven't been able to make the GATE cut-off in a particular subject but would rise to the occasion in a more challenging class.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If you are a native speaking Spanish speaker in an immersion program (or anyone in an immersion program) it is assumed you wouldn't be able to cut it in an honors track. That's why Spanish-immersion and Honors track are mutually exclusive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you say more about why you think immersion and Honors are mutually exclusive?

      Delete
  21. I'm the 8th-grade Lick mom. My daughter is not in Immersion. My impression is that there was a problem last year in getting supplementary books (like novels), not textbooks, for some Immersion classes. The state does not fund these books because they are considered optional. I believe the district provided them from a source of funds different from the money provided for textbooks.

    One of the things I love about Lick is that it is smaller and the staff really knows the students and focuses on meeting the needs of each one. The school can have smaller class sizes because it received QEIA grant money that requires smaller classes in the core subjects. I wish that every middle school in the district could do the same.

    I have an older child who went to a different middle school and was in separate GATE classes, and it was a disaster for him. Just because a student is GATE identified doesn't mean that he or she has the confidence or motivation to succeed in these sometimes stressful, competitive classes. I found the quality of instruction much lower at the other school than I have seen at Lick.

    A school cannot assume that it has fulfilled its obligation to meet the needs of GATE students just because it offers Honors. My older child would have been much better off at a school like Lick that meets children where they are and doesn't try to fit them into a model. Unfortunately, if a school doesn't have the resources, that is the only thing it can do.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I would take issue with the concept of immersion and GATE being mutually exclusive. My kid just started first grade SI and as the person who has spent hours and hours helping her with accomplishing above and beyond public school curriculum, I can say she is honors material. She can read at 4th grade English level, in addition to a well rounded foundation in math, music, grammar, and writing. Indeed the reason why we started her on SI was because she has excelled in other English subjects and there were not much a first grade class can offer her. So it's too bad that the district would hold a general tenet of mutual exclusion without making appropriate exceptions based on individual test results.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I would take issue with the concept of immersion and GATE being mutually exclusive.

    They are not--that's not what is being said. Please note there is a difference between GATE identification, which occurs in the third grade, and the concept of honors classes, which is a way of organizing how classes are taught at the middle school level. There are plenty of GATE kids at James Lick, which does not have honors classes--but as the poster above has said, does make an effort to teach GATE kids.

    If you are a native speaking Spanish speaker in an immersion program (or anyone in an immersion program) it is assumed you wouldn't be able to cut it in an honors track. That's why Spanish-immersion and Honors track are mutually exclusive.

    It's more subtle than this. Because immersion classes are generally very mixed in socio-economic terms, by design of the program, they assume that it would be hard to field an entire, mixed-language cohort of kids to teach honors.

    I urge those interested in learning more about honors versus non-honors to attend middle school tours. You can learn a lot from talking with folks at Lick, Giannini, Aptos, Mann--all with different approaches on this.

    To the person who asked if there was flexibility for honors, i.e., does it require a GATE designation. The answer is, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I believe Roosevelt relies on GATE to designate honors. Not Giannani--they have mixed classes for 6th and then place the kids based on academic performance on site. Aptos has some room for movement but starts honors in 6th. Lick and Mann don't have a specific honors program. At Hoover, SI kids are not considered honors, but seriously, those classes are fine--I've never really seen the difference in learning pace between them. The language addition itself could be considered an extension, and the kids work hard.

    ReplyDelete
  24. How does Hoover do honors (non-SI classes) - GATE designated or another method?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Re Hoover, I know that (like Aptos and Presidio, unlike Giannini) they start in the 9th grade. I believe GATE is the general marker for honors but that (like Aptos) they have some flexibility based on motivated student and performance.

    Got this from touring a year back though--someone from Hoover, please step up and correct me if this is wrong or has changed.

    ReplyDelete
  26. parent of Aptos honors studentAugust 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    This is what I learned from last year's tours RE: MS honors classes:
    Hoover: planning to have all 6th graders in gen ed, then, based on 6th grade test scores and grades, they decide whether each child should continue to honors or gen ed in 7th grade. I believe they also had a specific test to determine math placement.
    Giannini: honors vs gen ed placement determined solely by 5th grade STAR test scores.
    Aptos and Roosevelt: GATE identification leads to automatic placement in honors track in 6th grade.
    Presidio: honors placement is determined by when a student is GATE-identified. Those identified in 3rd grade (after 2nd grade STAR testing) would definitely be in honors classes; those identified in 4th and even 5th grade might be assigned to honors depending on the available spaces.

    ReplyDelete
  27. 8:00 pm -- good summary but you switched Hoover and giannini. It is giannini that mixes in sixth, and, based on grades, separates out honors for sixth and seventh. Hoover uses STAR results from fifth grade to determine who gets into honors-- they have a numerical cutoff.

    ReplyDelete
  28. 8:19 again -- here I am correcting someone else and now I need to correct myself! For Giannini, I meant that sixth grade is mixed and honors starts in seventh and eighth based on previous year' s grades.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Just an observation in the case of Presidio if the above comments are correct - seems quite incredable that a kid's placement in academic life would be determined by one test taken in 2nd grade (with only a "might be" aftet that). Wow!

    Thanks for the recaps- very edifying

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would be pretty pissed if I had a 5th grader who was recently GATE identified and my ES fed into Presidio. I think the old MS choice system was working just fine and allowed parents to select the school that would be the best fit for their kids.

    ReplyDelete
  31. seems quite incredable that a kid's placement in academic life would be determined by one test taken in 2nd grade

    This is a microcosm of the philosophical argument against academic tracking in general--that it is often based on an arbitrary distinction at one period of time that leads down one path or another. (Also that it is heavily influenced by factors such as SES as well--there are gifted kids whose knowledge base or English skills are not so broad as others who may not be as gifted).

    As you can see from the above, some schools are more rigid and some are more flexible in applying tracking. Seems like periodic assessments that allow kids move up or down the challenge ladder are a good thing--kids are not in the same place developmentally and cognitively all at the same time.

    Lots of us pushed to keep the middle school process more choice-based because there are so many differences among the schools and the lottery was never as harsh at that level either (much less sibling preference b/c only 3 grades).

    ReplyDelete
  32. Ya, but it isn't the case that identification for gate and honors is set in stone in second grade.

    Here's the SFUSD Gate Program Description

    "A new multiple variable system of identifying students for GATE started in the 2002-2003 school year. A site-based team considers a variety of factors in the GATE-identification process including teacher and parent recommendations, student report card, achievement test performance, and cognitive abilities test performance. Regarding test performance, in general, we look for students who score at the 90th percentile or above on the cognitive abilities test. A student must score Advanced for two consecutive years in reading, language arts or math in the CST test. The same rating in one year in two subjects will also qualify for one point for screening. Scores at the 85th percentile or above for two consecutive years on the CAT6 tests in reading, language arts or math, or at the 85th percentile or above in one year in two subjects will qualify for one point. Students who receive four of six points needed are identified GATE. A student CAN be identified in one academic subject only.

    Site-based teams identify third- through twelfth-grade students once CAT6/CST test scores are available. Once identified, a student is considered GATE throughout his/her school career through 12th grade

    There is no separate GATE curriculum. The Core Curriculum in each content area is differentiated using various strategies that provide additional challenge and opportunities for students to perform to their highest potential based on their academic needs and interests. Differentiated curriculum/instruction must be offered throughout the school day – every day. GATE students must meet core curriculum standards before differentiated instruction occurs.

    In middle and high schools Honors and AP classes are one way of addressing the learning needs of gifted students. Honors and AP classes are available for all students who are working at high levels beyond the Core Curriculum, not just GATE-identified students. There may be prerequisites for admission in these classes."

    Your comment-

    "Lots of us pushed to keep the middle school process more choice-based because there are so many differences among the schools and the lottery was never as harsh at that level either (much less sibling preference b/c only 3 grades)."

    Well Rachel Norton is one of your commissioners. Maybe she will change her tune when she sees what a mess they have made of the student assignment system.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I read Po Bronson's book NutureShock recently and it had a chapter on early placement into gifted programs with evidence on how misplaced these programs are. In particular the system in NYC was highlighted. A blurb about this from the NY Times:

    "New York's big scene comes in a chapter called 'The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten,' as the example of what not to do when it comes to school testing. Mr. Bronson and his co-author, Ashley Merryman, present the body of research suggesting that tests administered before kindergarten - like those that determine admission to gifted and talented programs in New York and elsewhere - are far from solid predictors of future academic success."

    ReplyDelete
  34. And that's why SFUSD doesn't designate kids as GATE until third grade...

    ReplyDelete
  35. We know a couple of former Lick kids who are at Lowell now. And while they were smart enough to get into Lowell, they say they felt woefully unprepared academically to do well there. They are doing okay, but not great. They say Lick was too easy and that their classmates from other schools seem "stronger" academically. They also were used to being stars at Lick with little effort and were shocked to discover how many other smart (and smarter) kids there are in SF.

    ReplyDelete
  36. If a Language Arts class is based on studying literature (both novels and shortstories), then to say that the District doesn't need to supply those because they aren't technically "textbooks" is a load of crap.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Actual Po Bronston's chapter on advanced placement was not solely looking at the NYC system, but just using that as an extreme example. It was a general criticism of advanced placement in elementary school with evidence to back it up. Worth a read - the book is in the public library.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I've been meaning to ask the new principal at Paul Revere about GATE because it's in essence a middle school. I think if they can develop a program, it will help draw more, say, "clientele." It is the closest school for our daughter to attend in 2012, but without a GATE program I'm looking to a regular elementary forcing her to transfer at 5th. Why wouldn't a "college prep school" have a GATE prgram?

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think one of the major issues here is that the various middle schools take very different approaches to advanced classes and GATE. Some people like Lick's approach, some people seem to hate it. Some are fine with early GATE identification and others want it to come later. All fine and good - each of us have children that would fit into one profile better than the others. It is just that with feeder schools, there is a great deal of pressure by the kids to want to stay with their friends. I am talking to my 5th grader about looking at three schools, but of course he wants to go to the feeder school. I am sure this is not the best choice, though it is a fine school, for him. Will we end up there anyway? Probably.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "If a Language Arts class is based on studying literature (both novels and shortstories), then to say that the District doesn't need to supply those because they aren't technically 'textbooks' is a load of crap."

    It's not the district that doesn't classify them as textbooks, it's the state. Take it up with the Governator.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Re 8:05's comment on Lick student's being under-prepared for the academic rigor at Lowell.

    It is one of the issues I have with admissions to Lowell. It is (or was) possible to "game" the system a bit and strategically place your child in a middle school that will allow them a better chance to get into Lowell. It is tougher to get the grades necessary to make the Lowell cut-off from
    the Gianinni/Presido/Aptos/Hoover honors program than Lick or SF Community or Rooftop, but those that do will more likely be ready for the academic challenge. But really, is that fair? 2/3 of the admission criteria to Lowell is determined by grades (the other 1/3 is standardized test scores) and an A in one school is B at another. Ultimately, one kid gets in when an equally qualified student at another middle school doesn't, based largely on which middle school they attended. With the proposed changes to the assignment system for middle school, where your child ends up can have a big impact on whether they can qualify for Lowell.

    It doesn't seem fair. I don't know the right answer but it has to be addressed.

    ReplyDelete
  42. It isn't true that gate is identified only in 2nd grade.

    From SFUSD Gate Program ID

    A new multiple variable system of identifying students for GATE started in the 2002-2003 school year. A site-based team considers a variety of factors in the GATE-identification process including teacher and parent recommendations, student report card, achievement test performance, and cognitive abilities test performance. Regarding test performance, in general, we look for students who score at the 90th percentile or above on the cognitive abilities test. A student must score Advanced for two consecutive years in reading, language arts or math in the CST test. The same rating in one year in two subjects will also qualify for one point for screening. Scores at the 85th percentile or above for two consecutive years on the CAT6 tests in reading, language arts or math, or at the 85th percentile or above in one year in two subjects will qualify for one point. Students who receive four of six points needed are identified GATE. A student CAN be identified in one academic subject only.

    Site-based teams identify third- through twelfth-grade students once CAT6/CST test scores are available. Once identified, a student is considered GATE throughout his/her school career through 12th grade

    There is no separate GATE curriculum. The Core Curriculum in each content area is differentiated using various strategies that provide additional challenge and opportunities for students to perform to their highest potential based on their academic needs and interests. Differentiated curriculum/instruction must be offered throughout the school day – every day. GATE students must meet core curriculum standards before differentiated instruction occurs.

    In middle and high schools Honors and AP classes are one way of addressing the learning needs of gifted students. Honors and AP classes are available for all students who are working at high levels beyond the Core Curriculum, not just GATE-identified students. There may be prerequisites for admission in these classes.

    ReplyDelete
  43. 4:41. I am the parent of a James Lick 8th grader. While I suppose an ambitious 5th-grade parent could place their child at James Lick in order to give them an "in" to Lowell in 8th grade, I just haven't seen it done. In general the parents at James Lick are a pretty fun, laid back bunch. But why would anyone do that to their child anyway? If they don't have the temperament for Lowell, then giving them an admissions advantage will only backfire when they go to high school.

    ReplyDelete
  44. SFUSD website

    A new multiple variable system of identifying students for GATE started in the 2002-2003 school year. A site-based team considers a variety of factors in the GATE-identification process including teacher and parent recommendations, student report card, achievement test performance, and cognitive abilities test performance. Regarding test performance, in general, we look for students who score at the 90th percentile or above on the cognitive abilities test. A student must score Advanced for two consecutive years in reading, language arts or math in the CST test. The same rating in one year in two subjects will also qualify for one point for screening. Scores at the 85th percentile or above for two consecutive years on the CAT6 tests in reading, language arts or math, or at the 85th percentile or above in one year in two subjects will qualify for one point. Students who receive four of six points needed are identified GATE. A student CAN be identified in one academic subject only.

    Site-based teams identify third- through twelfth-grade students once CAT6/CST test scores are available. Once identified, a student is considered GATE throughout his/her school career through 12th grade

    There is no separate GATE curriculum. The Core Curriculum in each content area is differentiated using various strategies that provide additional challenge and opportunities for students to perform to their highest potential based on their academic needs and interests. Differentiated curriculum/instruction must be offered throughout the school day – every day. GATE students must meet core curriculum standards before differentiated instruction occurs.

    In middle and high schools Honors and AP classes are one way of addressing the learning needs of gifted students. Honors and AP classes are available for all students who are working at high levels beyond the Core Curriculum, not just GATE-identified students. There may be prerequisites for admission in these classes.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Maybe because they want their child to attend on of the best high schools in the country?

    ReplyDelete
  46. The hard thing for the school district is that, with the choice system, the middle schools have evolved in wildly different ways. You can see that in the comments on this board. Yes, the elementary schools too evolved in different ways as well. But the new assignment process, as designed, restricts middle school assignments to a much greater degree than elementary ones. For all intents and purposes, where your kids goes to elementary school will determine which middle school your kids goes to. It is so odd because its not like there was an incredible push among parents for this, but this is what we now have to live with. What will happen over time is that K selection will very much become a K through 8 decision (other than for those who really don't think they are going to stick around til middle). And that will drive changes. Some middle schools are going to get better (definitely Lick and Aptos, likely Everett); some are going to get worse (definitely Roosevelt); some are going to be unfortunately quite ethnically undiverse (definitely Giannini and likely Marina). The hard part is for those of us whose kids are going to middle in the next couple of years. Those schools will not have changed in time for many of us. I understand the issue about honors versus gen ed, but, at the end of the day, it seems to me that this is not a deal-breaker. The bigger questions are: do you want your kid to go to an ethnically undiverse school?; do you want your kid to go to a school with a large percentage (40% plus) of challenged kids?

    ReplyDelete
  47. No honors is definitely a deal breaker. What you are saying is it is OK not to have challenging courses as long as the school is diverse. That may be your opinion, but many don't feel that way.

    ReplyDelete
  48. To continue on 9:51's thoughts...

    There are special programs that some middle schools that others do not have. I know many parents who wanted Giannini for their music program but whose elementary school does not feed there. There are those middle schools that work with 861 Valencia’s writing program and those that do not. Some, like Aptos, have a great art program, others do not. Now the kids are essentially locked out or will find it difficult to get into some of these programs and not find anything comparable in the school they are being feed. Also, for the incoming middle school kids for the next few years, since their elementary was a not neighborhood school, the middle school is not necessarily neighbor either (in light of the fact that the neighborhood designation seemed to be the push behind all of this change).

    ReplyDelete
  49. No honors is definitely a deal breaker. What you are saying is it is OK not to have challenging courses as long as the school is diverse.

    This is unfair. Some parents here have kids who for various reasons don't qualify for honors classes--but they still want their kids to be challenged, not to be tracked into remedial classes, and to have the possibility of moving up a challenge ladder if their skills or developmental abilities shift. Some kids may have gifts in math but not in English and vice versa. Mixed classes, if taught well, may offer that possibility. Rigidly defined honors classes may preclude that possibility. I know of many families that have sought out Lick because of its approach.

    Which gets back to why parents have generally liked choice at the middle school level--because the offerings in terms of both arts and approach to academics are so variable. There's no one-size fits all.

    ReplyDelete
  50. My casual observation of kids from honors track like Presidio and Hoover vs. differentiated Lick kids is that the honors track has a comparably significant amount of homework. For example, two hours per night plus weekend homework seems the norm for honors. I don't know that what they are learning is particularly different, deeper, or more advanced per se than Lick. Does anyone know?

    However I do think the rigor, persistence and discipline required for the workload in honors trains students to focus. And I think there is value in that when you consider for example that solving a single math/engineering problem at Caltech can take 8 hours. Also the honors kids seem awfully confident about their capabilities because of their hard work, for whatever that's worth.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Well, it looks like, from Rachel Norton's webblog, that the whole middle school feeder idea is going down. Question is now as to what the new system will be? Will they do the "weak" residential preference that they have now for elementary, with CTIP1 getting top preference? Or go back to the old system for middle school? What a mess! I'd like to know what the folks opposed to the new middle school assignment system want instead? Since they are running the asylum now, can they please tell us what system they want in place? With details, girls!

    ReplyDelete
  52. The middle school plan has not been voited on yet by the school board. Rachel is only one vote, so her opinion on her blog only represents her view at the moment that she wrote it and how she may or may not try to influence the others on the board. It may be going down or it may stay intact - that has not yet been determined. Please, all concerned, let your opinioned be known. Often, the loudest voices win.

    ReplyDelete
  53. What it sounds like from Rachel's blog is that she's leaning towards DELAYING the implementation of the new MS feeder pattern by one year to get more parent buy-in but that it will eventually happen.
    Although she doesn't mention this, instituting the MS feeder patterns opens up the district to lawsuits from SpEd parents whose default MSs don't have appropriate inclusion programs. Although this may be part of Rachel's enchantment with the feeder plan (puts pressure on the SFUSD to beef up SpEd inclusion programs for MS students), I would guess that the rest of the BOE may be wary about the possibility of costly litigation and/or inefficient use of district resources.

    ReplyDelete
  54. 12:44 -- regardless of whether it is delayed or killed, it means that fifth grade families right now don't know what the system is going to look like. So, I ask the question again to my friends at McKinley who have apparently succeeded in keeping this system out for this year: what assignment system DO YOU WANT for fifth grade families now? The old one? If so, I can't wait until McKinley parents end up getting something far worse than Everett, like Denman. I will enjoy every post you put on here sweating through the wait pools. You all deserve it for screwing this up!

    ReplyDelete
  55. 12:44 And too bad for your 5th grader that s/he won't automatically be placed at Hoover.

    ReplyDelete
  56. 4:30 -- I'm assuming your comment was directed at me, 2:46, not 12:44. Actually my kid was slated to go to Horace Mann under this new assignment system. And unlike the rest of the crowd at my school who seem terrified of that possibility, I was actually really excited about it. Lots of money is going Mann's way. Lots. Class size is limited -- 22 max. Grade size is small. And with a large group of parents with means coming in, I thought that it could be like Miraloma was six years ago. That's now all dead. Without a guaranteed core of parents, Mann is not going to turn around. So you all can apply to Hoover, Giannini and have your kids all pile into classes with 35 kids and grades with 400 kids. I'm glad your kid can thrive in that. But I was hoping to see some of these smaller middles turn around.

    ReplyDelete
  57. 4:40 I think Mann could still turnaround and be a great school if the district adds excellent Spanish and Mandarin Immersion programs likely to attract kids at Starr King, Webster, Buena Vista, etc. And this wouldn't seem as coercive to parents as the MS "feeder" idea.

    ReplyDelete