Excerpts from Our October Newsletter
A Message from AGATE’s Co-Presidents
The school year is underway, and AGATE events have started. Please join us to ensure that all Port students receive an appropriate and challenging education designed to help them achieve their fullest potential.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our annual membership drive. AGATE needs you! Click here to become part of a community of parents and guardians who are advocating for advanced learners and enrichment opportunities for all.
The weather cooperated for our first “Connecting over Coffee” of the year on September 22nd. We had a great turnout at Blumenfeld Park and a productive discussion. Our next coffee is October 15th at 10AM – join us to meet other parents, share strategies and resources, and discuss challenges.
We have spoken with Dr. Meoli, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and we have been reassured that virtually all 4th and 5th grade PEP testing has been done, and core group will start as soon as the district finishes evaluating the data. Sixth grade PEP core group has started, and Weber will have more enrichment through the library as well. PEP core group will also be part of the curriculum mapping that is happening throughout the district this year. Push-in PEP has begun, with two new PEP teachers — one to replace the departing Dr. Conway and another teacher added. Each of the five elementary schools and Weber has a PEP teacher.
In our conversation with Dr. Meoli, we also communicated parent questions about the NWEA test. Dr. Meoli said the plan is to administer the test three times this year, which will make it a more effective measure of progress. He noted that it is a test designed to identify and address deficits, so while it is used in the PEP criterion, it is not a test based on an enrichment model. There is a presentation from 2015 about the NWEA on the district site, which can be found here.
Finally, AGATE still needs liaisons for each school – especially Daly and Schreiber-and we are also looking for one or two website directors. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Keiserman and Rebecca Hughes Parker, AGATE Co-Presidents
Gifted Education in the News
Building Better G&T Education (Daily News, Oct 2, 2021) is a thoughtful opinion piece about how New York City can expand the identification of gifted students in NYC and improve gifted programming, instead of eliminating it. The authors outline a number of recommendations, including this one:
Focusing on acceleration, not enrichment. Enrichment is a deeper exploration of school topics typically in line with student interests. That can lead to learning gains for all students, and is absolutely something that the DOE should include. However, the vast preponderance of research shows that enrichment alone does not meet the needs of most accelerated learners. When they can advance at a faster pace, they should be allowed to.
Improving Opportunities to Develop the Talents of Gifted Students (Forbes, Sep. 27, 2021) features an interview with Joyce VanTassel-Baska, emeritus professor of Education and Founding Director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary. She is also the author of a report on gifted and talented education in the Port Washington school district, which was released in 2017 and can be found here. Dr. VanTassel-Baska details comprehensive recommendations for policymakers at all levels, including this one:
At the local level, school districts and schools need policies that are facilitative of students moving at their own pace through the curriculum, allowing for flexibility in course requirements as well as the timeframes for completion of years of schooling, and flexibility in where learning takes place…Alternative grouping approaches should be employed, as appropriate, to accommodate efficient and effective learning environments. Inquiry-based instruction should be the rule, not the exception, that features problem-based learning episodes and project-based opportunities. Teaching gifted learners at higher levels of abstraction in order to accommodate big picture thinking, as well as detailed understanding, should be a goal.
Join AGATE for Upcoming Events in October
- BOE Curriculum Committee Meeting: Friday, October 8, 9:00 am. Zoom here. Livestream here.
- Board of Education Meeting: Tuesday, October 12, 8:00 pm, Schreiber Auditorium. Livestream here.
- Caffeine with Mike: Wednesday, October 13, 9:45-11:00am, KAM Annex Boardroom (Daly)
- BOE Policy & Personnel Work Session: Wednesday, October 20, 9:30 am. Livestream here.
- BOE Community Forum. Wednesday, October 20, 7:00 pm, Schreiber Auditorium. Livestream here.
- AGATE’s Connecting over Coffee, Friday, October 15, 10:00 am, Blumenfeld Park. Bring a blanket to sit on! In the case of inclement weather, we will send out a Zoom link and make the meeting virtual. (Note that this is a new date.)