I know that the letters of acceptance–and rejection–for the MCPS elementary school Centers for the Highly Gifted went out this week. How? No, it’s not just the e-mails from friends, letting me know the results for their own child. No, it’s not the anguished/peeved posts to listservs by parents wondering how their above average, straight A students could have been rejected.
Rather, I can see it in the search terms that are showing up on my blog. Down are the predictable “cleavage,” “pencils,” “bomb” (thanks to a highly popular term used in my RennFest post; a very attractive photo of pencils I once used; an unusual photo of a bomb, I guess). Up are various combinations of “mcps” “Montgomery County, MD” “highly gifted center” and “appeal.”
To those parents who have found themselves turning to Google about this gifted and talented stuff and landing here for the first time, I say, “welcome!”
And as I put myself in your shoes, I can’t help but get angry that so little progress has been made since I was in your shoes. Yes, MCPS now gives parents actual numbers and the mean scores of selected students in verbal, quantitative and nonverbal areas-a good thing. (Years ago, you just got a yes/no.) But I find it outrageous that parents are still not told what tests are used! This is like the doctor sending you a letter with some lab report numbers and a hearty, “Don’t worry, you’re fine.” What’s “fine?” In what way? Compared to whom? This stuff matters!
I find it that outrageous that after all these years the selection process is still not explained. I find it outrageous that parents still have to piece together what the appeals process is. And so I have to ask, why do parents continue to put up with this? Frankly, it’s insulting. It’s paternalistic. Why do parents allow MCPS to deny them full information in this and so many other realms of their child’s education?
As it happens, I am still trying to get a complete set of records for M. At this point I am about 7 or 8 phone calls deep with MCPS trying to find who might have her complete MAP-R records and the full results of her testing for the Center and Magnet programs. Why? Because I believe it’s my right. And because I want to demonstrate, if only for myself, what a disaster the current assessment/articulation/”delivery of services” for gifted students in MCPS is and has been. (Wouldn’t it be important for, say a neighborhood middle school, to know which kids tested for the magnets and at how high a level they are performing? For the parents to know what tests were used and the results, so they could effectively advocate for “services?”)
This is not rocket science, people. This is about writing words on a letter, writing words on a website, moving pieces of paper from Point A to Point B and someone actually looking at them.
So here’s a little “manifesto” I’ve put together. Let me know what you think.
- I have a right to know what testing instruments are being used in the 2nd grade global GT screening and when my child tests for Centers for the Highly Gifted and/or middle school magnet programs.
- I have a right to know how those tests are normed. I have a right to know my child’s scores as both raw scores and percentiles. I have a right to complete testing information and sufficient information to interpret the results in a meaningful way. I have right to know the decision process for entrance into these special programs–and the appeal process after the decision is made.
- I want the fact that my child took tests for the admittance to the Centers for the Highly Gifted and/or middle school magnet noted in my child’s file. (Note: No record in M.’s files)
- I want the results of tests for the admittance to the Centers for the Highly Gifted and/or middle school magnet programs included in my child’s file in order to inform instructional decisions, and to follow him/her throughout his/her school career. (Note: No records in her files.)
- I have a right to the full MAP-R parent report (not just a number pointed to quickly if I happen to attend the parent-teacher conference. The full individual student reports, as seen here on pages 7-9 of this .pdf) sent/given to me every time the MAP-R test is administered to my child. (Note: I was only able to talk the reading specialist out of it one year…MAP-R has never been shared with me as a matter of course. Meanwhile, here’s a helpful sample provided by the test publisher.)
- I want the cumulative MAP-R tests to appear in my child’s file and to follow him/her throughout his/her school career just as math assessment data does. (Note: There was NO MAP-R data in M’s file “permanent record.”)
I did share this with some friends. Here’s how one responded regarding the MAP-R:
They only care about targeting the kids at the cusp of making proficient. That is the sole reason for the MAP-R. That is why they paid for it in the first place, because MAP-R fall performance correlates strongly with Spring MSA performance, and it gives them data to anticipate what they are likely to expect. It is more crucial in schools where groups are at risk of not making AYP/missing targets. but again — the real purpose of the MAP-R is to catch those kids at the cusp, and target massive test prep to them. The ones who score high are assured of scoring advanced, so the school doesn’t need to do anything with those kids except hide their data, because otherwise parents will demand something other than incessant test prep.
And the last thing they would want to do is keep a record of it in the kid’s permanent record, so that you could see over time how little gains your advanced child is making (or, how much they are making – -entirely on their own!).