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Please forward and cross-post BOARD OF EDUCATION 2012 PRIMARY ELECTION ENDORSEMENT: For GT, Achievement Gap, Board

Independence Frederick Stichnoth, fred.stichnoth@yahoo.com March 31, 2012 I recommend that you vote on April 3 for: Board of Education At Large: Aryeh Shudofsky Board of Education District 2: Susan Byrne My preferences are based on the candidates positions regarding gifted and talented education and the achievement gap, and on their qualifications to contribute to Board independence. The candidates running for these positions are: At Large: Mr. Shudofsky, Lou August, incumbent Phil Kauffman, Morris Panner; and District 2: Ms. Byrne, Saqib Ali, Jeanne Ellinport, Fred Evans, Rebecca Smondrowski. Short Rationale Mr. Shudofsky and Ms. Byrne are the only candidates who support gifted and talented education. Mr. Shudofsky would attack the structural nature of the achievement gap by changing school assignment policy. Ms. Byrne sees that MCPS has been unable to cope with demographic change; not offering any simple program fix, she would use cost-benefit analysis to clarify and prioritize goals and select programs for their cost effectiveness. Mr. Shudofsky and Ms. Byrne lack experience that would improve the likelihood of their effectiveness on the Board; however, they seem to be sufficiently self-possessed and intelligent that they should hold their own as experience develops. Morris Panner seems to be both measured and skilled in analysis and negotiation; however, his knowledge of the system and views on important issues are underdeveloped. Mr. Kauffman, Ms. Ellinport and Mr. Evans are endorsed (and embraced) by Montgomery County Education Association, the teachers union and purveyor of the Apple Ballot. The Washington Post states that MCEAs influence is toxic: it distorts and perverts the political process. A Board comprised of union-installed members is unable to serve as an intermediary between parents and the MCPS bureaucracy; MCPS ability to craft local solutions to local problems is thereby compromised. MCEA endorsement is an independent, and sufficient, reason to vote against Kauffman, Ellinport and Evans.

Gifted and Talented Education I believe that MCPS should offer different services to gifted and talented students in local schools, as well as magnet schools, in accordance with newly-adopted MSDE Regulation COMAR 13A.04.07 and with MCPS Policy IOA. Mr. Shudofsky and Ms. Byrne are the only candidates who support gifted and talented education. Shudofsky, At Large. Mr. Shudofsky states: Its reassuring to see that, at least on a State level, theres recognition that all students need to be taught in an ability-appropriate manner. This legislation should go a long way toward reversing Montgomery Countys recent mistaken approach to gifted and talented education, and will potentially serve generations of students for the better. Without GT education, we will continue to under-prepare our truly gifted students, while pushing large swaths of average students beyond their abilities, cheating them of a quality education as well. The solution for our children should never be to teach to the median common denominator. We are failing our kids if we dont challenge them. Byrne, District 2. Ms. Byrne states: There is no educational approach that can flatten the bell curve. We must fit programs to students, not students to program. We should develop a service delivery model. MCPS administrators and support staff should receive training to enable them to provide the leadership and teamwork necessary for successful implementation with integrity and delivery of practice with fidelity. Shudofskys At Large competitors. August. Mr. Augusts only statement regarding gifted and talented education is that MCPS discriminates against students not in gifted and talented classes. Incumbent Kauffman. As an incumbent, Mr. Kauffman is in the best position to understand the GT debate. Nevertheless, for this election Mr. Kauffman makes no clear, consistent, statement of his position on gifted and talented education. He believes that MCPS over-identifies its population as GT, and that all students should have access to accelerated and enriched curricula. His response to the promulgation of the new MSDE regulation (in Appendix B, attached) is intentionally devoid of substance. As a Board member he has approved one-size-fits-all curricula: they serve all, but are accelerated and enriched for none. The Boards Committee on Special Populations (with responsibility for GT students) has not considered GT students. His performance and apparent current stance differ markedly from the strongly pro-GT positions on which he previously ran and was elected (see Appendix A, attached). Mr. Kauffman is endorsed by MCEA, which strongly opposes GT education.

Panner. Mr. Panners position is unclear, in part because he seems not to understand the state of the debate. In response to MCEAs question regarding GT identification, Mr. Panner naively stated that I was not clear what benefit this designation provided or what detriment the lack of it provided. He interprets the new MSDE regulation (see Appendix B) as counter-productive social engineering: Still, we cannot expect people to back public education if they don't think it is designed to enable excellence. When we ask a program designed to help gifted and talented students address other worthy policy aspirations, we will accomplish neither. This statement gets to the heart of MCPS antipathy for GT education, but misunderstands the MSDE regulation. His position is under-developed and unclear. Byrnes District 2 competitors. Ali. Mr. Alis only comment regarding GT education is that the 37 percent identification rate indicates too lax a designation criterion. I would look at raising the bar. While this is correct, Mr. Ali shows no awareness of the debate, beyond identification, over curricula and service. Ellinport. Ms. Ellinport states that students who are not tagged as gifted are not given the same chances or resources as those who are tagged: identification can lead to discrimination against those who are not tagged. Opposing GT programming, she would be committed to ensuring equity and excellence for all students. In addition, the position of her endorser, MCEA, should be attributed to Ms. Ellinport: MCEA strongly opposes GT education. Evans. Mr. Evans is concerned that a student may be permanently labeled and not be able to move forward. He expressly equates MCPS GT education with old-time tracking. His stated position follows that of MCEA, his union endorser, which strongly opposes GT education. Smondrowski. Ms. Smondrowski correctly believes that Curriculum 2.0 eliminates GT education -- an outcome she welcomes. It is my hope that, because these curricula are not differentiated, the need for this testing will be significantly reduces [sic]. With all students in the same classroom, they would all benefit from the teacher giving instruction as if they were all identified as gifted and talented. Achievement Gap I believe that MCPS critical challenge is the closing of the gap in performance outcomes, educational opportunities and life chances between African-American and Hispanic and white and Asian-American, poor and rich, east-County red zone and westCounty green zone, students. This is a matter of social ethics and County social and fiscal stability. In the Weast era, the Boards whatever it takes rhetoric eclipsed its (in)action. Now both rhetoric and action are dwindling. MCPS is not doing anything, Councilmember Craig Rice asserted. Shudofsky, At Large. Mr. Shudofsky appreciates that poverty and a lack of integration into society are bound to repeat in future generations if not addressed at their

root. He sees that MCPS method of assigning students to schools according to neighborhood residence Balkanizes schools by wealth and causes disparities of resource allocation and outcome. He recommends that MCPS cross-populate schools. Byrne, District 2. Ms. Byrne notes Montgomery Countys complex and dramatic demographic changes. These changes, coupled with the economic downturn, declining financial resources and misapplied policy directives (NCLBI strongly disagree) outpaced [MCPS] ability to respond adequately. She would begin to address this challenge through cost-benefit analysis. While this may appear to be an insipid suggestion, nothing is more important to closing the gap than to clarify objectives, evaluate program effectiveness, and prioritize effective programming with cost as a metric: this is the necessary first step of whatever it takes. Shudofskys At Large competitors. August. Mr. August has said nothing pertaining to the achievement gap. Incumbent Kauffman. Mr. Kauffman believes MCPS made strides in meeting the academic needs of FARMS students by funding reduced class sizes in focus K-2 classrooms; he hopes that reductions can be restored as MCPS exits its budget crisis. Gaps should be addressed by still more high standards for all children, training for staff, and interventions for struggling students. However, Mr. Kauffman supports Dr. Starrs variability analysis, which discounts performance outcome expectations by schools demographic load. He touts school quality as a means to attract business and boost property values: goals out-of-reach and extraneous to red zone residents. Panner. Mr. Panner sees a threat to the system in a new and growing burden as poorer families, many of whom are non-English speaking, move into the County. The County is starting to struggle anddoes not know how it wants to deal with this challenge. He does not know either (except to offer hope and schmaltz). Mr. Panner fears that families will opt out of the system, doing what is necessary to secure a good education; he wants housing investments and settled expectations to be protected: his vision is restricted to the green zone. Byrnes District 2 competitors. Ali. Closing the gap is one of Mr. Alis top priorities. He repeatedly refers to MCPS two systems, contrasting the quality of education available in Bethesda and Chevy-Chase to that available to black and Latino students in Wheaton, Burtonsville and Briggs Chaney. He would beef up outreach and individualized attention to lower performing students from these poorer minority communities, but only after more money becomes available. Ellinport. Narrowing the achievement gap is one of Ms. Ellinports primary goals. She cites the huge increase over the last 12 years in MCPS FARMS students. Like Mr. Kauffman, she applies variability analysis, calibrating expectations to demographic load. MCPS has invested in elementary focus schools; when more funds become available, MCPS should increase investment in high-poverty secondary schools. She would serve

students who may not be top scholars or ready to enroll in college by increasing Career and Technical education. Evans. Making long lasting progress to close the achievement gap is one of Mr. Evans top priorities. MCPS strategy of providing additional funding to reduce red zone elementary class sizes has been curtailed by financial challenges. He will look for creative solutions, such as after-school tutoring. Mr. Evans takes umbrage at the academic performance contrast between red zone and green zone schools: we dont have to make that assumption; high minority schools can work; highly diverse schools can be successful, and there are gaps in predominately white schools too. Smondrowski. Ms. Smondrowski believes MCPS does a good job of addressing the needs of students receiving FARMS and enrolled in ESOL, although there is always room for improvement. She would make improvement by augmenting the number and role of guidance counselors, training teachers to handle various social issues, and personalized or small group academic intervention. Board Independence The Board should be a political intermediary among the Superintendent and MCPS bureaucracy, the parents and students, and the unions, as representative of the teachers and other employees. According to Leading for Equity, Dr. Weast masterfully blur[red] the lines between governance and management by creating deep relationships with the school board, the employee unions, and other key stakeholders. As a result, the Board has subordinated itself to the Superintendent and the unions. We now have rule by bureaucrat experts, channeled largely by the Superintendents ambition and the unions interests. Outgoing Board member Laura Berthiaume stated: What the critics miss is who really controls the school system: the superintendent and the entrenched, unaccountable bureaucracy, who make almost all the real decisions. In fact, the board does not have even the power to insist on turning out fully literate graduates when the bureaucracy has these other rabbits to chase. From the administrations view, a teacher revolt would be a particular problem in a bureaucracy that prizes control.In the balance of power between the board of education and the bureaucracy, the superintendent and his staff hold all the cards. They outwit, outlast and outplay. This has reduced MCPS ability to craft local solutions for local challenges. Shudofsky, At Large. Mr. Shudofsky apparently lacks experience, which impairs his ability to negotiate a challenging institutional and interpersonal environment. Nevertheless, his self-possession, intelligence and seeming openness may allow him to assert new ideas, resist bad ideas and processes, and work with colleagues as his experience and judgment increase.

Byrne, District 2. Ms. Byrne seems to have had some experience with school organizations in California, but likewise lacks experience as compared with other candidates. Her professional experience provides the analytical skill to understand organizational dynamics. She has substantial background knowledge in educational programs. She also seems to have the self-possession, intelligence and friendliness to allow her to make an independent contribution to the Board. Shudofskys At Large competitors. August. Mr. August likewise lacks local experience, though he has worked as an executive in at least one company that does worldwide educational consulting. He has been an intermittent participant in the campaign, and has offered few ideas other than e-learning and corporate internships, and seems out of touch with local debates. While friendly and intelligent, it is not clear to me that he would readily engage with Board personalities, bureaucratic agendas and parochial squabbles. Incumbent Kauffman. Mr. Kauffman has served on the Board since 2008, currently chairs its Fiscal Management Committee and is a member of its Committee on Special Populations. Previously he held MCCPTA leadership positions. He is intelligent, diligent and personally available. Yet he succumbed to bureaucratic ideology in abandoning commitments to GT, and reportedly instigated the desperate threat of suit against the County Council regarding Maintenance of Effort. He is embraced by MCEA, discussed below. Panner. Mr. Panner seems to be intelligent, measured, focused, skilled: the candidate I would like negotiating for me. He also foresees impending crisis (as do I) and understands that this could transform the Board to a more political function. However, his views regarding gifted and talented education and the achievement gap are underdeveloped and unacceptable. Byrnes District 2 competition. Ali. Mr. Ali sees the Board as dysfunctional, which he attributes to group-think. He gives as examples of group-think the threatened Board suit against the County Council, violations of the Open Meetings Act, and toleration of the dissemination of anti-gay flyers. (Squelching GT education also is a product of group-think.) Mr. Ali states that independence is his primary qualification for the Board; he describes himself as a maverick. (To prove that hes mavericky, he proposed that the Board be granted taxing authority: interesting, but not real-world.) He seems to learn quickly, but remains unfamiliar with many on-going issues. I am not comfortable that his maverick nature, lack of familiarity with issues, and uncertain commitment to political office at the school board level promise effectiveness. Ellinport. Ms. Ellinport seems to be a dynamic participant and salesperson and skilled in-fighter, who seeks control. I do not know how this would affect the ambience of the Board, where control is already spoken for. Paradoxically, Ms. Ellinport pursues this objective from within the embrace of the union. Evans. Mr. Evans is qualified by his long experience in the school system, in education more broadly, and within the community. He seems to have a calm and friendly

attitude that would allow him to work congenially with others. However, it is not apparent how MCPS benefits from a principal, let alone a second principal, on the Board. Mr. Evans clearly shares some of the group-think ideology (GT is tracking; schools of concentrated poverty can do well) that impedes MCPS progress. Mr. Evans has earned the imprimatur of the union. Smondrowski. Ms. Smondrowski has been seasoned in MCCPTA, working with MCPS bureaucrats. She does not seem inclined to stray from the controlling bureaucratic outlook. MCEAs Apple Ballot influence. Elections should empower parents to reinvigorate the Boards function. The efficacy of elections has been undercut by the unions. MCEA dominates the election process, as its Apple Ballot endorsement and campaign machine overwhelm parent awareness, involvement and voting. Washington Post editorials refer to the overweening power of the teachers union, the unions toxic influence in local elections, which distorts and perverts the political process. But theres a distinction between active and overweening, and the unions lopsided power in the county doesnt serve anyone well. Union-endorsed candidates to the Montgomery County Council, the school board and the General Assembly sometimes end up toeing the union line to the detriment of other county priorities or county workers. Outgoing Board member Berthiaume describes toeing the union line: I would not be in my seat on the Montgomery County Board of Education but for the Montgomery County Education Association.While it is true that all current board members have gotten their seats with some level of union blessing, I do not believe a single one of them calls the MCEA for marching orders. Like me, my colleagues act out of a sincere desire to achieve real policy goals. Most board members are favorably inclined to the union, understandable given that the union carefully vetted the candidates compatibility with the unions ideology before encouraging them to run, guiding their campaigns as far as possible within legal limits, clearing the field of competition and using its political power to steer endorsements. It is reported that Ms. Berthiaume, highly respected by parents as an independent voice on the Board, has now learned that what MCEA gives MCEA can take away. The union does not confine its interests to teacher compensation and working conditions, but imposes its ideology (as Ms. Berthiaume stated) to restrict the education I can expect for my child. This is an unwarranted incursion into parents proper domain. Mr. Kauffman, Ms. Ellinport and Mr. Evans have been embraced by MCEA. MCEA is leading the war against GT; Mr. Kauffman, Ms. Ellinport and Mr. Evans oppose GT.

The unions intent to impose these candidates on MCPS stakeholders is an independent, and sufficient, reason not to vote for them. Sources Berthiaume, L.V. 2010. Who really controls the Montgomery schools. The Washington Post (July 25). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072304972.html Gazette.net 2012. Election 12 Voters Guide. http://www.gazette.net/section/vgmontschoolboard League of Women Voters Education Fund, Vote 411.org. http://onyourballot.vote411.org/search.do?q=Montgomery+Board+of+Education MCEA Candidates Questionnaire Responses. http://www.mceanea.org/2012 candidatequestionnaires.php Montgomery County Education Association. 2012. Questionnaire to Candidates for Montgomery County Board of Education 2012. (January 22). http://www.mceanea.org/2012candidatequestionnaires.php Stichnoth, F. 2012. MCEAs Apple Ballot 2012 BOE Candidate Questionnaire: Evaluation of GT, NCLB and FARMS responses (February 5). -----. 2012. Candidates Websites, Gazette Voters Guide and League of Women Voters Questionnaire: Evaluation of GT, NCLB and FARMS Positions (March 12). -----. 2012. Board of Education Candidates Forum, March 16, 2012 (March 17). -----. 2012. Summary of Board of Education Candidates Forums: March 26 and 29, 2012. Ujifusa, A. 2012. Focus remains on closing achievement gaps. Gazette.net (February 29). http://www.gazette.net/article/20120229/NEWS/702299512/1124/focus-remains-onclosing-achievement-gaps&template=gazette The Washington Post 2010 In Montgomery County, the teachers union and its toxic influence (February 5). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/02/04/AR2010020404421.html. The Washington Post 2011 Union bullying in Montgomery County (March 30). http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-smear-campaign-in-montgomery-countyagainst-rebecca-smondrowski/2012/03/30/gIQAZN63lS_story.html Candidate Website

Ali (D2) Byrne (D2) Ellinport (D2) Evans (D2) Smondrowski (D2) Barclay (D4) Seckinger (D4) Kauffman (AL) Panner (AL) Shudofsky (AL)

http://www.aliforeducation.com/ http://suebyrne.org/ http://www.jeanneellinport.org/Home.html#.T0ftuXkxzNU www.friendsforfredevans.com (inaccessible 3/10/12) http://rsforboe.x10.mx/ www.RebeccaOnBoard.org www.philkauffman.com http://www.morrispanner.com/ www.facebook.com/ShudofskyAryeh

Appendix A: Incumbent Phil Kauffmans Prior Election Responses Response: 2006 1. Last Spring, the MCCPTA adopted a resolution requesting that MCPS add as soon as possible to the middle school Curriculum Guides a sequenced and systematic higher-level gifted and talented curriculum for Reading/Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Mathematics. Would you support the development and implementation in the local schools of such a curriculum? Why or why not? Yes, I would support such a curriculum. Currently, I believe there is too much inconsistency between and among middle schools relative to the delivery of accelerated and enriched instruction to students that are capable and want the benefits of such instruction. While I believe most schools offer a GT curriculum for Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics, only some schools offer homogeneous honors Studies and Science classes while others do not. Some attempt to provide differentiated instruction in heterogeneous classrooms, but do not do so effectively due to a lack of staff development in the area of differentiation. Some middle schools make no attempt to provide acceleration to capable students. With a sequenced and systematic GT curriculum, all schools would share a common expectation to meet the needs of GT students. 2. How do you reconcile the needs of certain children in the local elementary and middle schools for an accelerated and enriched educational program with our community demands for equity, a quality education for all children, closing the achievement gap and meeting NCLB adequate yearly progress? NCLB establishes AYP targets that, over time, are expected to eliminate the achievement gap by mandating the attainment of proficiency in reading and mathematics for all groups. MCPS, like all other school systems, must put systems in place to meet these goals. However, it cannot and should not be at the expense of children who easily meet proficiency objectives, but instead are capable of more advanced work. MCPS has an obligation to meet the needs of these students as well. Equity, to me, means meeting the need of all children, including GT, special needs, those in the middle, non-English

speakers, minority students, FARMS, students in Red zone schools and those in Green zone schools. If we judge schools by focusing on proficiency alone, there will be no incentive to provide appropriate instruction to students who are capable of acceleration. Schools should be accountable for how they meet this challenge. 3. Do you believe that teachers receive insufficient training in differentiation? How can the BOE and MCPS assure that sufficient training is provided? I believe that there are efforts to provide training to staff in differentiation methods. However, I believe that this is still a work in progress and much more needs to be done. Certainly, to the extent schools provide instruction in heterogeneous classrooms, it is a challenge for any teacher to craft lesson plans that provide differentiated instruction and not teach to the middle. One of the responsibilities of the BOE is to expect accountability in areas such as this. The BOE should ensure that MCPS establishes measurable performance goals for the training. These goals should establish a timeframe in which all teachers that require such training actually are trained and also measure the effectiveness of the training protocols. The BOE should then receive appropriate reports detailing the attainment of those goals. Fall 2008 Mr. Kauffman made this response to one of the questions posed by Dan de Vise, Washington Post staff reporter, which served as the basis for the Washington Post, Montgomery Extra, October 31, 2008 pre-election article With Focus on Weast, Hopefuls Face Off for School Board Seats, pages 2, 12. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/10/29/AR2008102902283.ht ml. 2. Which do you think is a preferable teaching strategy in a regular neighborhood school: teaching children of all ability levels in the same room with differentiation, or grouping them by abilities into different classrooms and thereby minimizing differentiation? If you have a different opinion in different subjects (reading, math, etc), I'd like to know. Also, if you'd favor one approach in class-size-reduced rooms of fewer than 20 students and another approach in "regular" rooms of 20 plus, I'd like to know. Also: Do you think MCPS should continue to identify children for giftedness, or should that permanent ID be abandoned in favor of identifying gifts on a situational basis, as is done in Fairfax? Phil Kauffman I believe that grouping by ability is the preferable teaching style. However, much depends on the neighborhood school. In a school with few at-risk children, which I identify as poor and non-English speakers, a heterogeneous classroom with differentiation might be acceptable. In that classroom there might only be a few below-grade students, whereas the rest of the class is at or above grade level. Those below grade level students might benefit from peer modeling. However, in a school with mostly at-risk students, I dont believe that including just a few students that perform above grade level will serve any benefit to a

classroom of mostly at or below-grade level students. Furthermore, it could limit the instruction provided to those above-grade level students. While some teachers are capable of providing differentiation to many levels in a heterogeneous classroom, many are not, and it is a burden on teachers to develop multiple lesson plans for the same classroom. Personally, I do not like the gifted and talented term for the label that is required to identify certain students by Maryland law. I would prefer a more targeted approach that better identifies individual childrens strengths and abilities in individual disciplines. A student that is capable of acceleration in math may not be in reading. However, the GT label does not differentiate between these abilities. Moreover, I believe all students, whether labeled GT or not, should have access to an accelerated and enriched curriculum that is appropriate for the needs and abilities of each child. In spite of its shortcomings, the GT label is a tool that identifies certain students for accelerated and enriched instruction that might otherwise be missed. Similarly, the HAPIT tool, now used in MCPS secondary schools, identifies students that have potential to be successful in honors and AP courses. The challenge is to ensure that these tools are accurate predictors of future success. It is important that all students have access to higher level courses and curriculum and I support MCPS efforts ending the gate keeping that kept many capable students out of those courses. However, I do not believe mere enrollment in these courses is enough. It is of equal importance that students are successful and the necessary supports are provided to ensure that success. Appendix B: Candidate Responses to Question on GT Regulation Stichnoth question: The Maryland State Board of Education approved on February 28 a new regulation pertaining to gifted and talented education. (The Proposed Regulation is attached. It was approved without change, but has not yet been officially published.) How do you see that new regulation influencing the future development of MCPS' gifted and talented program? What is the Board's role in guiding the development of the program under the regulation? Phil Kauffman: It will be the Boards responsibility to ensure that Policy IOA, Gifted and Talented Education, is fully in alignment with the new regulation and the Superintendent develop whatever programming and reporting that may be necessary to comply with the state mandate. Morris Panner: Thanks for this. I have been following this.

There are two pressing problems in public education today. 1) The legacy costs associated with aging pension and benefit recipients. This problem, shared across the nation, is so dangerous because it threatens the ability of our public institutions to meet historical obligations and invest sufficiently in the future. 2) There is a danger that those who can will opt out of the public education system because it does not meet their needs. We need to focus on enabling all communities to have a truly excellent public education experience. I worry that this proposal starts to dilute the focus on excellence. I agree that we need to ensure that all groups are given an excellent experience and that we focus on students with special needs and challenges. As a parent of a child with special needs, I am very sensitive to this. Still, we cannot expect people to back public education if they don't think it is designed to enable excellence. When we ask a program designed to help gifted and talented students address other worthy policy aspirations, we will accomplish neither. Public education as an institution in Montgomery County faces a slow but steady erosion of support, similar to what happened in DC. We need to make sure we don't let that happen, since our public schools are one of our core assets as a county. Aryeh Shudofsky: Its reassuring to see that, at least on a State level, theres recognition that all students need to be taught in an ability-appropriate manner. This legislation should go a long way toward reversing Montgomery Countys recent mistaken approach to gifted and talented education, and will potentially serve generations of students for the better. Meanwhile, the Board of Education has two major roles to play in the face of this new legislation. The first is to set a course for what this program will look like; the second is to ensure that subsequent testing and programming is being utilized appropriately. Both of these things should be done with an eye toward negating the initiatives shortcomings. Its a mistake for a legislative body to provide guidance as broad and ill-defined as this. Not because other bodies arent capable of crafting procedure, but rather because its a shirking of responsibility, and doing so runs the risk that the intended benefit is never realized. Whos to say what a process for identifying gifted and talented students means, or what different services in order to develop the gifted and talented students potential will look like on a practical level? Why not define these critical pieces of the reform? In addition, its crucial that these tests and programs do better than strive to expand the percentages of students that score at advanced levels. If we only look to label more students as gifted, arent we simply lowering the bar for what it means to be talented, thereby reducing the benefits of advanced programming? And why should a process for appeals be created? Must we provide an avenue for a parent who wont accept that their child isnt gifted to fight for a retest?

These are hurdles that the Board needs to overcome in implementing this piece of legislation. Its a good start, but with a lack of clear guidance the execution of this new programming must be done with great care. Susan Byrne: Maryland's new COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education regulation provides the minimum standards necessary to design and implement effective programs and services to support this special population. The regulation is flexible and does not dictate details, providing great latitude and opportunity for MCPS to craft programming that models national standards of best practice. Because so little is directly prescribed by the state, influence of the future development of GT programming within MCPS will necessarily come from more local stakeholders. This is an opportunity for MCPS to form a key partnership with families of GT students and their service providers, who are necessarily more closely involved in their education. In guiding the development of MCPS GT programming under the new regulation, the Board's role will be to provide direction and policy for student identification, programs and services, professional development, and reporting requirements. It is particularly key that the identification process be effective. Enlightened professional skills and experience are needed to execute an effective identification process. While the new regulation aligns with the state's GT teacher certification regulation, and teacher training is critical, I am concerned that MCPS administrators and support staff also receive training to enable them to provide the leadership and teamwork necessary for successful implementation with integrity and delivery of practice with fidelity. The Board and MCPS administration must also ensure that GT programming effectively identifies and supports students who are gifted in areas other that STEM or those targeted for funding through Bridge to Excellence or Race to the Top, such as arts and physical skills. The Board's role and mission require such leadership and oversight as well as equitable allocation of funding to benefit diverse student populations and needs. Every student should have access to a challenging education. There are numerous studies that document the benefits that accrue to all students when teachers extend the strategies and programs that work for special needs populations. This is to be considered an investment in the improvement of MCPS education for all students. The BOE should conduct a "gap analysis" of MCPS GT programming against known best strategies such as those published by NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) and CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) and identify effective programming to fill the gaps. Jeanne Ellinport: As with any State and Federal regulation, it is the Board's role and responsibility to align programming and reporting in order to comply with the regulations. The Board, along with the Superintendent, will need look at possibly developing programs and new reporting methods to ensure that MCPS Gifted & Talented Education meets Policy IOA.

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