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SSB 5354 passed out of the House Education Committee and now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.  That puts the bill one critical step closer to final passage. Unfortunately, the bill was amended by the House Education Committee and no longer contains the language requiring universal screening. We fear that without the universal screening requirement, when OSPI creates the report on equity that SSB 5354 requires it will point out that the districts who chose to adopt universal screening did better on addressing their issues than those districts who did not. There’s no need to delay this requirement. We know what the results will be.

What follows is the letter we sent to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that they schedule a hearing for SSB 5354 as soon as possible. If you’ve not yet shared your support for SSB 5354, please follow this link and choose the option to comment on this bill.

 

Members of the House Appropriations Committee:

SSB 5354: Concerning Programs for Highly Capable Students makes several targeted adjustments to existing law to correct problems that make Washington’s current highly capable program inequitable. As amended in the House Education Committee, perhaps the most important of those adjustments has been removed. Removal of universal screening will perpetuate existing inequities in the highly capable identification process and stands in direct opposition to the recommendations of scores of experts in the field. I urge you to schedule a hearing on SSB 5354 as soon as possible, and further that you restore the language requiring universal screening.

In recent years, Washington State has taken tremendous strides towards making access to highly capable services more equitable. Highly capable services are now recognized as basic education and are funded in the prototypical school model. Last year, the legislature explicitly required districts to prioritize the identification of low-income students but gave no direction on how best to achieve that goal.

The changes made by SSB 5354 reflect a comprehensive set of reforms that provide evidence-based guidance in support of increasing equity in our state’s highly capable programs. As passed unanimously by the Senate, SSB 5354 would also have required districts to adopt universal screening to ensure no student slips through cracks in the system.

The existing referral system misses too many students. This is not just a Washington state problem. It is a national concern. The research on this is clear.

The use of the nomination stage as the first step in the identification process is pervasive across the field of gifted education….In nearly all conditions, identification systems that require a nomination before testing result in a large proportion of gifted students being missed. Under commonly implemented conditions, the nomination stage can cause the false negative rate to easily exceed 60%. Changes to identification practices are urgently needed in order to ensure that larger numbers of gifted students receive appropriate educational placement and to maintain the integrity of gifted education services.[i]

Evidence that supports the use of universal screening in addressing issues of equity in gifted education programs is abundant. One study found that:

Without any changes in the standards for gifted eligibility, the [universal] screening program led to large increases in the fractions of economically disadvantaged and minority students placed in gifted programs. Comparisons of the newly identified gifted students with those who would have been placed in the absence of screening show that Blacks and Hispanics, free/reduced price lunch participants, English language learners, and girls were all systematically “underreferred” in the traditional parent/teacher referral system. Our findings suggest that parents and teachers often fail to recognize the potential of poor and minority students and those with limited English proficiency.[ii]

Recommendations on how to correct the existing identification system are equally clear:

  • Nominate and assess a larger number of students: Whatever the process is to determine eligibility, if you want to miss fewer students, formally evaluate as many as possible.[iii]
  • Adopt a policy of universal screening of all students in one or more grade levels for the identification process. Select assessment instruments that are culturally sensitive and account for language differences.[iv]

Our goal isn’t just to identify more students. Our goal is to provide students who are being systematically excluded from consideration for gifted programs with the education they need. As the Fordham Institute wrote in its report, “Is there a Gifted Gap?:”

Increasing the participation of qualified yet underrepresented students in gifted programming in elementary and middle schools would change the trajectories of these children and gradually lessen social and economic inequality.[v]

Their recommendation for how to close the gifted gap:

First, schools should employ universal screening practices to determine which children may benefit from gifted services. Such practices have been shown to boost participation of minority students and can be implemented at low cost….[vi]

It makes sense that we have staff at OSPI to help districts as they design and adjust their programs to make access more equitable. It makes sense to have staff at OSPI who can report what districts are doing in a timely fashion so we can build on what works, and change what doesn’t. It makes sense to have trained administrators and trained staff making the decisions about what needs to happen in their district. It makes sense that the people actually making decisions on placement for students have training on the characteristics of giftedness and the services that benefit these students. It makes sense to look at a broad pool of potential students, and to stop relying on a referral system that excludes some students for reasons other than need. It makes sense that we take down artificial barriers to participation, whether those barriers are thrown up during the referral and assessment process, or once a student is identified.

To exclude any of these reforms risks perpetuating a point of failure. The removal of universal screening from SSB 5354 risks creating a gifted gap sized hole in our highly capable program. Together, these adjustments will make access to highly capable services more equitable. We hope we can count on you to help us ensure every student who needs highly capable services is identified and served with the education they need. I urge you to schedule a hearing on SSB 5354 as soon as possible, and further that you restore the language requiring universal screening.

Sincerely,

David Berg
President
Washington Coalition for Gifted Education

[i]   McBee, Matthew T., et al. “The Impact of the Nomination Stage on Gifted Program Identification: A Comprehensive Psychometric Analysis.” Gifted Child Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 258–278, doi:10.1177/0016986216656256.

[ii] Card, David, and Laura Giuliano. “Universal Screening Increases the Representation of Low-Income and Minority Students in Gifted Education.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 29 Nov. 2016, http://www.pnas.org/content/113/48/13678.full.

[iii] Peters, Scott J., et al. “Who Gets Served in Gifted Education? Demographic Representation and a Call for Action.” Gifted Child Quarterly, Mar. 2019, doi:10.1177/0016986219833738.

[iv] Gubbins, E. J., Siegle, D., Hamilton, R., Peters, P., Carpenter, A. Y., O’Rourke, P., . . . EsteparGarcia, W. (2018, June). Exploratory study on the identification of English learners for gifted and talented programs. Storrs: University of Connecticut, National Center for Research on Gifted Education.

[v] “Is There a Gifted Gap? Gifted Education in High-Poverty Schools.” The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, fordhaminstitute.org/national/research/there-gifted-gap-gifted-education-high-poverty-schools.

[vi] Ibid.

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In 2009, Washington State passed legislation that made highly capable programming part of the state’s definition of basic education.  The change was part of a package of reforms that were to be phased in between 2009 and 2018.  In 2011, the highly capable programming reforms took effect.  Many districts were unsure of how they were to proceed, however, because the regulations governing highly capable programming had not yet been updated.

Members of the State Gifted Advisory committee worked with OSPI to revise those regulations, and in early April of 2013, the revisions to the Washington Administrative Codes (WACs) took effect.  All districts will now be required to have a highly capable program, and that program is expected to offer a continuum of services for students from K-12.  OSPI has made available a webinar and a slideshow to explain some of the most important implications of these changes.  You can access both through the Highly Capable page on OSPI’s website at  http://k12.wa.HighlyCapable.

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Effective September 1, 2011, highly capable programming became a part of Washington State’s definition of basic education.  The changes to the Revised Code of Washington (RCWs) were passed by the legislature, and signed into law by Governor Gregoire.  To make those changes to the RCWs meaningful, there also needed to be changes to the Washington Administrative Codes (WACs).

Members of the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education, Northwest Gifted Child Association, the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted and many other groups concerned with the education of highly capable students in Washington State were involved in the process of revising the WACs.  Working with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Washington State Gifted Advisory Committee, suggested changes to the WACs were drafted and submitted for a public hearing.  The proposed changes can be viewed on OSPI’s website.

The hearing is to take place on November 28th, and written comment is due by November 19th.  More information is available on the Highly Capable page of OSPI’s website.

The WCGE was very pleased with the changes that resulted from this process, though there was one area of concern.  Together with the Presidents of WAETAG and NWGCA, we have submitted the following letter regarding our concerns:

The leadership of WAETAG, NWGCA and the Coalition are concerned about the wording in WAC, section 392-270-012. With Highly Capable Program services an integral part of basic education, basic education funds should be spent on Highly Capable Program services. We are concerned that the proposed wording of the section (may access basic education funds*) can be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

In viewing the wording of this section, it is necessary to remember that in: Sec. 2 (2) of 2776 reads as follows:

The distribution formula under this section shall be for allocation purposes only. Except as may be required under chapter 28A.155, 28A.165, 28A.180, or 28A.185 RCW, or federal laws and regulations, nothing in this section requires school districts to use basic education instructional funds to implement a particular instructional approach or service.

The proposed revision to the WAC is misleading when it says that “districts may access basic education funds and highly capable categorical funds.” Since RCW 28A.185 is the section on Highly Capable Programs, it is exempted from this section of the law. Therefore, districts can and should be expected to use basic education funds for Highly Capable Programs.

We suggest that the second sentence of the new section be changed to read:

“School districts may access highly capable categorical funds in addition to basic education funds to provide appropriate highly capable student programs and services”.

This will clarify for districts that they are to use basic ed funds for HCP services.

We find all the other proposed revisions to be in line with the RCW 28A.185.

Irene Greve, President
Washington Coalition For Gifted Education

Charlotte Akin, President
Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted

Marcia Holland, President
Northwest Gifted Child Association

* WAC 392-170-012 Funds. For highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is
access to a basic education. School districts may access basic education funds and highly capable categorical funds
to provide appropriate highly capable student programs and services.

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THE ROUNDUP

The Governor has signed the 3rd supplemental budget for this biennium and HCP funding to the districts is maintained. In the initial budget for this biennium, funding for the arts program at Centrum was cut and funding for Destination ImagiNation and Future Problem Solving was eliminated, cuts which were not restored in the 3rd supplemental. These opportunities for students have been an integral part of the Highly Capable appropriation since it began in 1985.

There was no legislation regarding Highly Capable Programs other than the budget.

GOING FORWARD

Including Highly Capable in basic education is a major reform. It follows that there are implementation issues to be followed and resolved. We are currently working on:

• Restoration of funding for Centrum, Future Problem Solving and Destination ImagiNation.

• An increase in HCP funding to the districts.

• The WACs are being revised to bring them in line with HCP’s new position in basic ed. Gifted advocacy groups will be reviewing the changes and providing comment when they are made public later this year. All indications are that progress is being made to bring the Washington Administrative Codes (WAC) into line with the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

• The McCleary funding decision recognized HCP as a part of basic education so we will be following the court’s continuing jurisdiction of legislative actions to be sure adequate funding is provided. We will be watching the new Joint Select Committee which will report to the court.

• For successful advocacy, we need the backing of the large Coalition membership state wide. This is why we need you to plan to be in Olympia for Gifted Education Day on February 8, 2013. With the November election we will have a new Governor and new legislators to educate about the needs of gifted students and the value of highly capable programs for both our individual students and for the economy of the state. Please make plans to join us there.

BY THE WAY…

Speaking of elections, both candidates for Governor have released their education platforms for the campaign. Attached are summaries from the League of Education Voters and the Partnership 4 Learning. They are provided as information only and do not constitute an endorsement of any candidate.

You can do your part by looking carefully at the education statements of the Legislative candidates in your district and asking them specifically about their position on Highly Capable Programs in candidate forums, town meetings, etc.

AND FINALLY

BE SURE TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS AND SAY THANK YOU FOR THEIR EFFORTS TOWARD FULL FUNDING OF K-12 EDUCATION. THEY DON’T HEAR A THANK YOU OFTEN ENOUGH.

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TVW has a recording of Gayle Pauley’s testimony before the Quality Education Council available for viewing. Her testimony is at the very start of the video.

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Gayle Pauley, Director in the OSPI who oversees highly capable programming, has delivered the proposal of the Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group to the Quality Education Council.  The full text of the HCPTWG proposal is available to view here.  TVW is broadcasting the QEC hearing live — we’ll look for a recording of the event to become available later.

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The Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group has concluded its major deliberations. Their recommendations will be presented to the QEC on Tuesday, November 16. Although the agenda has not yet been posted, we have been told that Gayle Pauley will be making the presentation at 1:00 and has an hour and a quarter to do so.  Check the QEC website for the agenda to verify the time.

This meeting of the QEC will be webcast live by TVW and will be archived for those unable to watch during the day.

The Coalition will make a short presentation in support of the recommendations.

Neither presentation is in final form as of right now but copies will be sent out when they become available.

Meantime, don’t forget to contact your legislators regarding funding. Highly Capable Programs are clearly on the “chopping block,” there is the possibility of a special session in early December to deal with the second supplemental budget, and there is the biennial budget to consider. The time to act is right now. See our last message for details on how to do this.

Thank you for your continuing support for our gifted students.

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