Supporting and advocating for appropriate education for the gifted and talented of Massachusetts


 

Thank you to all of our MAGE Advocates!


At the November 28th Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting in Malden, Board member Katherine Craven spoke of the priorities included in the Governor’s FY19 Budget request, which the Board would advance to Secretary Peyser. 

Katherine Craven stated:

"We think that having a budget study going back to the Ways and Means Committees about resources needed to do something for Gifted and Talented students across the Commonwealth would be a good thing." 

The Board voted to advance the list of priorities, INCLUDING the gifted budget study provision! This is good news!! 


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world." Margaret Mead


Supreme Court Interprets the Scope of the Free Appropriate Public Education Requirements in the case of Endrew vs. Douglas County School District


 On March 22, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court (sometimes referred to as Court) issued a unanimous opinion in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S. Ct. 988. In that case, the Court interpreted the scope of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Court overturned the Tenth Circuit’s decision that Endrew, a child with autism, was only entitled to an educational program that was calculated to provide “merely more than de minimis” educational benefit. In rejecting the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning, the Supreme Court determined that, “[t]o meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP [individualized education program] that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Court additionally emphasized the requirement that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” 


For Q & A released on this case by the US Department of Education Dec 7, 2017, see: Endrewcase2017.pdf



Your Voice Needs to be Heard!

While Massachusetts has a great reputation in education, it's based on the percentage of students at the proficient level for each given grade. This system has no requirements for addressing the needs of advanced or gifted children. Educators do not need to acknowledge that many of our students sit in classrooms day after day repeating material they already knew before stepping into that grade.

Our state needs to understand that the "one-size-fits-all" model of education is not serving the need of our children! To this end we are endorsing House Bills 2050 and 2051.


Highlights of these bills are included in the postcards shown below.

Support these bills!

Find your legislators at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Write a letter (or have your child write a letter). OR

Request postcards to send to your legislator from katharina.elbert@yahoo.com

Be sure to include your address and signature!


H2050 postcard 9-11-17.pdf


H2051 postcard 9-11-17.pdf



Legislation


We currently have two House Bills pending in the Committee on Education; these were presented by Harold P. Naughton of Clinton:

  • H. 2050 An Act providing public school students opportunities to reach their full potential This bill calls for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to:
    • report on the  students capable of achieving above grade level,
    • provide a full time staff member within the DESE with responsibility for advanced learners,
    • establish a professional development program for educators across the state to provide knowledge about the recognition, needs and strategies of advanced and gifted students.
    • include in the requirements for educator certification, training in strategies for effective education of beyond-grade-level and gifted and talented students
    • request plans for accommodation and intervention for these students
          The full text of this bill can be found at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2050


  • H.2051 An Act to document learning readiness, achievement and growth of public school students This bill calls for an effective mechanism for monitoring the actual progress of individual students' mastery.

         The full text of this bill can be found at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2051


         The intent of H.2051 is for assessments to capture the level and progress of students who are one or more levels above or below their grade. This would ensure continuous progress through the standards and would identify the actual learning needs of students in public school classrooms. The use of adaptive tests in other states has shown that 10-30% of students are capable of work beyond grade level. In addition, students more than one grade level below may make substantial progress in a year, yet their learning is not measured with MCAS tests.


         These bills are especially important for students in our under-served populations, whose giftedness and talents often go unnoticed.

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How many students are we advocating for?

 

An estimate of 17.4% is based on 2 facts:

1. The Mass. Dept. of Ed website states that 17.4% of students in MA are identified as Students with Disabilities. 

2. The normal curve is symmetrical.

3. Therefore, statistically, there should be 17.4% of MA students who would fall into the various categories of Gifted Education as well. With 953,748 students, that's more than 150,000.

 

If you go to http://www.nagc.org/theoretical-frameworks-giftedness, you will see that Francoys Gagne from 1985 suggested that 10% of humans were gifted. That would be 100,000

You can read more about his work at http://www.gigers.com/matthias/gifted/gagne_dmgt.html it's not very long.

 

Linda Silverman, who specializes in the "profoundly gifted” says that they are 2.5 to 3% of the population. See item 1(a) here https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/09/28/443193523/who-are-the-gifted-and-talented-and-what-do-they-need. That's

25,000 to 30,000 that are “profoundly gifted”.

 

Even if the state will not acknowledge that the normal curve is symmetrical, if at least 5% of the population is gifted, that would be nearly 50,000 children. If any other group of 50,000 children in the state were not getting the education they needed, there would be an uproar.


Whether students are labelled gifted or not, there is evidence that many students are capable of performing above grade level. In a 2016 Johns Hopkins study, the authors estimate that 20-40% of elementary and middle school students perform at least one grade level above their current grade in reading, with 11-30% scoring at least one grade level above in math. The article, How Can so many Students Be Invisible? Large Percentages of American Students Perform Above Grade Level, can be found at http://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/StudentsinvisiblemastheadFINAL.pdf  With policies that promote programs to challenge our above-grade-level students, the impact could reach as many as one-third of our PK-12 school children.


If you are interested, this is a good website for the history of the study of human intelligence. http://www.intelltheory.com/map.shtml 

 

Although this is written in "legal-eze" you may find it interesting. It's from the U.S. Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg72.html

 

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MAGE Educators and Parents meet with leaders in the

MA Department of Education's Center for Educational Options


Two separate meetings at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden were held in early October. These discussions with three staff members highlighted several topics: (1) Professional development and how important it is for teachers to understand the needs of gifted children, (2) Social emotional issues, (3) Personalized learning and differentiation, and (4) No-cost policies, such as acceleration. Although there are limitations, some steps can be taken in conjunction with ongoing initiatives of DESE. This collaborative work will continue, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with the the Center for Educational Options.



MAGE parents presented at the MA Board of Education meeting in Malden on March 28th and April 18th

By telling their personal stories, MAGE parents informed DESE board members about the unmet educational needs of our Gifted and Talented children in Massachusetts. 

The Boston Herald followed up with a story, which was added to the NAGC NewsSource. Many thanks to those who spoke at the Board meeting.

Our voices need to be heard!

For the full story go to: http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/nagc/NAGC040517.php

and scroll down to Massachusetts Parents...