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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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We’re proud to announce that SSB 5354 passed the Senate unanimously, getting a 49-0 vote on the Senate Floor. It is now before the House, where it will receive a hearing in the House Education Committee Monday afternoon, March 25th, at 1:30pm. That will be followed by executive session in the House Education Committee, now scheduled for 8:00am on March 28th. Should it pass out of the House Education Committee, it will advance to the House Appropriations Committee. In other words, the same process we just went through in the Senate.

Recall that companion bill HB 1641 was heard in the House Education Committee and received a unanimous Do Pass Recommendation in February. However, it failed to receive a hearing in the House Appropriations committee, so died. SSB 5354 is very much alive!

SSB 5354 was amended while in the Senate so no longer is identical to HB 1641. We need to strongly support the substitute bill which passed the Senate as, in many ways, it is a much stronger bill than the original. A comparison of the two bills is linked here.

The deadline for the Appropriations Committee is April 9. The last date to pass the floor is April 17.

SO-two things to do.

1 – The House Education Committee

We urge you to contact the entire Education Committee right after reading this email to urge them to support SSB 5354. Just copy and paste the entire address block below and send an email to the committee in only one effort. Remind them that they voted unanimously for companion bill HB 1641; SSB 5354 has only a few changes that enhance the core idea of equity. Please also ask them to recommend to Rep. Ormsby that funding be provided in the budget.

SharonTomiko.Santos@leg.wa.gov, laurie.Dolan@leg.wa.gov, dave.Paul@leg.wa.gov, mike.steele@leg.wa.gov, bob.McCaslin@leg.wa.gov, mike.Volz@leg.wa.gov, steve.Bergquist@leg.wa.gov, michelle.Caldier@leg.wa.gov, lisa.Callan@leg.wa.gov, chris.Corry@leg.wa.gov, paul.Harris@leg.wa.gov, christine.Kilduff@leg.wa.gov, vicki.Kraft@leg.wa.gov, lillian.Ortiz-Self@leg.wa.gov, skyler.Rude@leg.wa.gov, monica.Stonier@leg.wa.gov, My-Linh.Thai@leg.wa.gov, javier.Valdez@leg.wa.gov, alex.Ybarra@leg.wa.gov

2 – Your Own Representatives

Contact your Representatives if they are not on the above list. If you already know who your two Representatives are and have their contact information, please contact them as soon as possible and ask them to support SSB 5354.

If you haven’t contacted your legislators before, just follow the steps in the linked PDF: Contacting Your Legislators.

Whichever path you follow, be sure to contact your Representatives as soon as possible.

Thank you for making this effort for our Highly Capable Students!

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We have two (companion) bills on highly capable programs before the Legislature. SB 5354 and HB 1641:  Concerning Programs for Highly Capable Students. You can read the bill in its entirety here.

Getting a bill introduced is only the first step. 

Bills must get a public hearing in the policy committee(s) before the cut off date. Sometimes this is difficult to do. Over 1100 bills have already been filed this session with more to come and there will not be time to hear them all.

We want to be sure our bills get an early hearing in both the House Education Committee (HB 1641) and the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee (SB 5354). We ask your help in getting a hearing scheduled.

Below is a list of the members of the House and Senate education committees. If any legislator listed for either committee is yours, PLEASE email or use the hotline 1.800.562.6000 and request that they ask the committee chair to schedule an early hearing date. Be sure to give the appropriate bill number.

Not sure of your district or legislators? Go to https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

h_s education committees contact list.numbers

Please take this first step within the next 72 hours. Sooner is better than later.

There will be subsequent opportunities to advocate for these bills including one we’ll be sending out next week, but this is the first and most important. Without a hearing, the bills are dead and we’ll have to start all over again next year.

Thank you for taking this important step for our highly capable students!

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gifted education day proclamation 2019

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gifted ed day flyer 2019 - sb 5354 & hb 1641Download a PDF of this document here.

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The Senate Republicans passed their budget bill (ESSB 5048) last Friday, and the House Democrats are on track to pass their budget bill (HB 1067) this Friday. The bills have significant differences, and we expect some long and difficult negotiations between the two parties. There will be more opportunities for you to voice your opinion before a final budget is approved, but today is the best time to get involved.

The proposed 2017-2018 funding levels for highly capable programs in either budget won’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners. 

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served 63,551 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

In the past few days, we’ve also shared our analysis of the Senate bill, our analysis of the House bill, and what the adoption of either proposal could mean for gifted students.

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. Please contact your legislators today and request that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12
You can find and email your legislator using the District finder at http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder, or you can use the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Operators will take your message and transmit it to your legislator(s) so plan out in advance what you want to say, write it down, and then read it to the operator to be sure it says exactly what you want it to say.
 
Thank you for taking action to gain full, ample, and equitable funding for highly capable services. 63,551+ gifted students in Washington are counting on you!

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The proposed 2017-2018 funding for highly capable programs doesn’t even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. Neither House nor Senate budget proposal addresses the persistent and pervasive under funding of gifted education, and both will do harm to our state’s gifted learners.

Both House and Senate proposals aim to limit services to 2.314% of our state’s enrollment, or about 25,530 students. In 2015-2016, districts identified and served over 63,500 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.

Districts across the state have long had to supplement state highly capable funding with local levy dollars to be able to identify and serve the gifted learners in their communities. It’s common to see a district spend more local levy funds than they receive from the state for this program of basic education.

To take one example: The Puyallup School District will receive $206,671 from the state in 2016-2017. They will supplement that with $236,271 in local levy funds. Next year, the amount they will receive from the state will be essentially the same, but they will not be able to use levy dollars to fund basic education.

What would they have to eliminate from this year’s budget to stay within the state allocation?

  • They could eliminate their Young Scholars program which serves students K-2 and helps them to identify and develop students who might otherwise be overlooked.
  • They would also have to eliminate their AP Capstone program, the first comprehensive and coordinated program Puyallup has had dedicated to serving gifted students in grades 10-12.
  • Also on the potential chopping block:
    • all professional development on gifted learners
    • parent information nights for families of students who were referred for possible identification and service
    • mailings seeking referrals to the program, and notifying potential students of testing opportunities and the results of the identification process
    • the testing that they use to identify students referred for services
    • additional curriculum for students identified as highly capable
    • …and that still wouldn’t be quite enough

At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our identified gifted learners. To provide for improvements in the program that are essential to address issues of equity will require more. Providing the professional development necessary to build teacher capacity in the identification and service of gifted students costs money. Making changes to our referral and identification processes also has a cost. We request again that the legislature fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group:

  • Fund 5% of enrollment
  • Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
  • Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12

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