Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Change in HS gifted classes

From the Tribune:


According to the article, anyone with a 3.0 average, 90% attendance and an 80 in the non-gifted course for a subject will be able to enroll in gifted classes.


Questioner said...

The article has a quote that A+ believes the change will help keep families in the district. But, it's hard to say. The change may attract some and have the opposite effect on others.

Questioner said...

Will there still be PSP classes? It seems like PSP and CAS are basically being combined, which could result in classes more demanding than PSP has been but less demanding than CAS has been.

Curious George said...

Questioner, your 8:25 post hits the nail right on the head.

The requirements mentioned in the article would seem reasonable for a PSP class, not a CAS class.

Over the years, there has been a significant decline in the once-fantastic PSP program.

This has been mainly due to safety reasons! Many students - and their parents - now choose PSP not for the academic challenge, but because a PSP class is rightly seen as a safer and more orderly class.

I would estimate that perhaps 40% of students now in PSP are not PSP level, but are there for the above-mentioned reason.

So over the years, the academic quality of the PSP student has declined. And since PSP teachers are at least informally judged on the percentage of students passed, there has been a watering-down of PSP standards.

I fear this new initiative will be the beginning of a like decline in the CAS program.

Questioner said...

We had been hearing for years that the district wanted to end the CAS program, a move that would have been unpopular.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The newspaper article says, in part, "Students from those (High Schools) schools are bused, once a week, to The Gifted Center in Crafton Heights for classes.


The thread is about high school students.

Meanwhile, the PPS Gifted Center only serves students up to grade 8. There are no high school students getting on a bus and going to the Gifted Center.

PPSParent said...

I wondered about that comment -- or is there some weird HS gifted program offshoot out there?

I have no problem with this idea with caveats:

-- class sizes need to remain smallish
-- students can be removed from the class if they are disruptive to learning (regardless of how "smart" they are)

and most importantly:

-- there is recognition that some of the kids getting 80s in their "regular" or PSP classes will be getting lower grades than that if they move into more demanding classes. Likely for some, Cs or Ds in classes that are harder.

That last one has a huge impact on "Promise Readiness" and is the one most likely to drive the lowering of expectations in the classes.

Pace likely will slow, review will increase, topics covered will likely shrink, either overall or the depth in which they are covered, assignments will be shorter/easier/require less original thought and more multiple choice and short answer formats.

Anonymous said...

Mark, kinda makes you think the media should find a parent or two to be fact checkers.

Questioner said...

From above:

"Pace likely will slow, review will increase, topics covered will likely shrink, either overall or the depth in which they are covered, assignments will be shorter/easier/require less original thought and more multiple choice and short answer formats."

- Why would parents (and advanced students!) have no problem with this? Is the current pace too fast/are current topics covered too broad?

PPSParent said...

I wasn't clear -- I wasn't saying that those were pluses, but that those were likely EFFECTS of the change. Though if it is only at schools that weren't offering "gifted" classes, I guess there's nothing there to change.

Been There said...

Classes that anyone with a B average are assigned to simply will not prepare students for an MIT or a Cal Tech. It cannot be done.

Children with IQ's in the top 1% or .01% are different. These are children who read at a 12th grade or college level when they are in the 4th grade. For their core classes they need lessons and classroom discussion that is well beyond what PPS "B" students can handle. Otherwise, they tend to shut down and put their energy into something else. They may even end up with poor grades. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

So basically gifted is just a decent student now?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't returning PSP to its previous level of rigor make sense?

Questioner said...

To Anon 4:23- it sure sounds like it.

To Anon 4:42- probably the issue is enrollment. In many schools there just are not enough students to fill CAS classes, and it sounds like the same type of classes need to be offered everywhere (except for classes relating to a special theme like sci tech or IB). It's a lot easier to fill up a combined CAS/ PSP class.

Anonymous said...

Curious George is right, Mark is right, PPS Parent is right plus many more.

The curiculum for PSP and Main Stream the (Core) is exactly the same. At least for Social Studies

Smoke and Mirrors

PSP are just better behaved, but that has been going down hill also, even at our best High Schools, what left of them.

Teaching Crap, I miss writing my own lessons.

Anonymous said...

If the CAS program is cut, there goes Allderdice.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:23, the term for kids getting into CAS without the GIEP is "talented" (I think). The benefit is obvious where a school has a low number of GIEP kids. Several years ago I recall a class of 3 kids in 10th grade CAS at Langley. At bigger schools will expanding CAS to PSP kids mean more than one class of CAS per grade level? It seems likley. And will the number of kids per class allowed under CAS quidelines continue to be enforced? Perhaps parents who attended meetings at schools where the first year rollout will occur know these answers and can share? Brashear, are you out there?

Anonymous said...

The number of kids per class allowed is not just a CAS guideline it is a state requirement and no it is not being enforced.

Questioner said...

Re: "there goes Allderdice"- here's a prediction- look for some sort of special exemption or super CAS class at Allderdice.

Questioner said...

But confusion and uncertainty until things settle down will have an impact.

Anonymous said...

Well, the article does say this is only happening at three schools.

Anonymous said...

Never mind, it does say all of them the next year. Though we do know their track record of changing things a bajillion times.

IB Teacher said...

IB is a lot like this. It's a program open to anyone willing to work hard, gifted or not. Have we traditionally had a lot of gifted kids in our program? Yes. But we've had success with non-gifted students who show potential and understand what they're getting into. Part of our success, however, is that the program enjoyed a reputation for challenging classes and students avoided them if they didn't want to do the work.

Interesting that no one at central administration asked any Schenley teachers for their input on this. They have quite a bit of experience with this issue. Interesting, but no surprise.

Questioner said...

It would be interesting to know if they asked for the opinion of ANYONE who could not be counted on to support the proposal.

anony said...

Recent history shows us that teachers typically adopt a "we will make it work" attitude with any new process or any alteration to an old process. That has been my experience and observation in the schools where my kids attended.

anonymous2 said...

anony -

Teachers always have to do that -- what other choice do they have? It doesn't matter how bad the change is, there's only so much they can say or do about it. They are given the curriculum, they are given the classes they get, they are written up and focused if they don't follow instructions.

Just because good teachers can make something work, doesn't mean it's any good, let alone better for the children!

Anonymous said...

This is the end of CAS plain & simple.

Old Timer said...

I cannot imagine parents of CAS kids at say, an Allderdice, watching the program get eliminated and then saying, ok, fine...they'll simply take regular Allderdice classes.
The district has some strange people calling the shots these days and parents should know that many have personal agendas.

Anonymous said...

Cate Reed from Broad is doing the "Gifted" changes/

The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2003
Pittsburgh Public Schools

3. Thomas Sumpter, Pittsburgh School Director, District 3: April 2009 Thomas Sumpter is a member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education ... He is a Broad Felow in recognition of successful completion of The Broad Institute for School Boards
The Broad Residency Class of 2007-2009
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.P.M., Heinz School of Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University 
M.A., Teaching, New York University 
B.A., History, Loyola College
The Broad Residency Class of 2008-2010
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.P.P., Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
A.B., Molecular Biology, Princeton University
6. EDDY JONES The Broad Residency Class of 2007-2009
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.B.A., The Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University 
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
The Broad Residency Class of 2010-2012
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
B.S., Marketing, University of Maryland 
M.B.A., University of Michigan
The Broad Residency Class of 2010-2012
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
B.A., English, Tufts University
M.B.A., Boston College

The Broad Residency Class of 2008-2010
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.B.A., Harvard Business School
B.A., Economics, Northwestern University

Anonymous said...

Wow. I didn't realize we had so many Broadies these days. The names beyond Cate Reed are not familiar to me. Anyone know which positions these people have?

Anonymous said...

If you click on their names it lists their current position, but I am unsure how up to date it is.


Anonymous said...

Wondered where Bill Gates sends his kids to school. If his kids are anywhere near as smart as him, would he be happy with CAS classes planned?

Sounds like private school. From http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2011/03/bill-gates-his-own-kids-and-class-size.html
We're lucky to have Gates — he both means well and uses his means well — so I don't want to get too personal here. I bet he senses deep down as a parent that pushing more kids into classes isn't what's best for students. His kids' private-sector grade school has 17 kids in each room. His daughter's high school has 15. These intimate settings are the selling point, the chief reason tuition is $25,000 a year — more than double what Seattle schools spends per student.

PPSParent said...

"We're lucky to have Gates — he both means well and uses his means well — so I don't want to get too personal here."

Evidence for any of these statements in the field of education reform? Please post it here!

Unlike his other endeavors (like vaccinations in Africa), the education reform has been run horribly. Not research based (see small schools, in our district see K-8 format, oops, now 6-12 format on less than the one study that K-8 had going for it).

Anonymous said...

It would be wonderful to learn about ONE REASON, educationally, why we might be "lucky to have Gates" since "he means well" suggests that his intent is good, however, the outcomes have been hugely counterproductive if not disastrous.

Ill-conceived programs, flawed products and droves of non-educators were attached to the acceptance of his "means"--rendering the "means" useless and wasteful.

Please cite ONE advantage to the Gates money (beyond a national spotlight on Mark Roosevelt and the Broad Foundation).

Old Timer said...

Gates has pinpointed teachers as being the problem with education today. Period. End of story. His money that "we're lucky to have" benefits the district in no other way than to put teachers under the boot heel of Broad-leaning administrators. Lucky, you say?
Gates has recently commented that teacher pensions are a huge problem, as well.
I would say that if any parent out there has a child interested in becoming a teacher, perhaps you ought to have them look into other fields.
Lucky? Hardly. It sounds like the man has a 'jones' for teachers and is spending his money to that end.