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    #182168 - 02/14/14 05:55 AM Advocating and a big meeting coming up
    jholland1203 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/13
    Posts: 61
    Hi Everyone,

    It's been awhile since I've been on. To give a short update we got DD1's report last month. She was diagnosed with ADHD and tested gifted. Psych wants to retest in a year. To give time for the ADHD to be managed and feels her scores would be significantly higher. According to psych we are looking at definitely HG and possibly PG. With that said DD is in 1st grade working at a minimum 3rd grade level. I knew this based off things she has been doing at home.
    I have attempted to advocate for her at school in getting her a more challenging curriculum. In our district a gifted program doesn't begin until 4th grade. Therefore, the teachers are left to provide a curriculum based off the child's needs. We've had a few meetings with the teacher some about this and others not. She agrees DD1 is very bright but continues to says she is not performing. When I explain that she is underperforming, likely due to boredom and if given a more challenging assignment she would likely perform, she doesn't do it.
    We had another meeting this week with counselors who have advised us to set up a meeting with counselors, teacher, principal, school psych and admin to come up with a plan.
    I would love suggestions and advice on things we should maybe expect in a meeting like this. As well as if others have advice on things to advocate for. I feel very much in the dark and that I'm swimming upstream with the school system right now.

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    #182175 - 02/14/14 07:58 AM Re: Advocating and a big meeting coming up [Re: jholland1203]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4922
    Quote:
    things we should maybe expect in a meeting like this
    Lots of good advice has been shared on other threads recently as it seems several families are facing rather unnerving in-person or virtual meetings. Some of the crowd-sourced tips were -
    - Research your state laws. This information is often found on the state department of education website. You may wish to print and put this in an advocacy ring binder to refer to over the years as the legislation may change over time.
    - Research the school or district policies and practices. This information is often found on their website. You may wish to print and put this in an advocacy ring binder to refer to over the years as the policies/practices may change over time.
    - Have any test results and other pertinent facts available to share (milestones, reading lists, other accomplishments/achievements)
    - It is good to have them speak first. If asked to speak first, you may simply wish to thank everyone for attending and summarize that you are all here to share information and ideas about how to best meet your child's educational needs... and that you would like to hear from them.
    - Agenda
    - Know who is in the meeting, and their role(s)
    - Stay calm
    - Know what you are asking for
    - TAKE NOTES including 5Ws ( Who-What-Where-When-Why-How ) of differentiation, so you can summarize in an e-mail afterward [Some families announce they plan to record the meeting and then do so, rather than taking notes.]
    - Use active listening (rephrase what has been said, and put it in a question form) to clarify understanding
    - Be open to receiving the school's data/observations.
    - Listen to any proposals they may make, ask appropriate probing questions, such as how a proposal may work, how the proposal may help your child, the schedule/frequency of service delivery, etc
    - Do not be forced to make a decision if you need time
    - Summarize next steps & time frames, and/or need for a follow-up meeting
    - Thank everyone for their time & interest
    - After the meeting, write a summary which may include points of agreement, decisions, next steps, timeframes for implementation, etc. Share this letter of understanding with the meeting attendees, possibly by e-mail.

    Quote:
    DD is in 1st grade working at a minimum 3rd grade level. I knew this based off things she has been doing at home.
    Do you have lists of these things, to share with the school so they may compare what they see at school with what you are seeing at home?

    Quote:
    I have attempted to advocate for her at school in getting her a more challenging curriculum... the teachers are left to provide a curriculum based off the child's needs
    There may need to be agreement as to what the child's needs are.

    Quote:
    advice on things to advocate for
    This depends entirely on the child. Reading? Bringing books from home? Math? Using an online program? Cluster grouping with intellectual peers of similar readiness/ability? Visiting a higher grade level classroom for one or more subjects?

    What have you done so far to advocate... are you familiar with these resources...

    - Davidson Institute for Talent Development offers a database of resources including a guidebook “Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People” http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Resources_id_14781.aspx

    - Some districts encourage parents to prepare well for the notoriously brief parent-teacher conferences, and being familiar with this may also help parents prep for an advocacy meeting. The Davidson Database (http://www.davidsongifted.org/) lists several resources for "parent teacher conference", including:
    1) http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10296.aspx
    2) http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Resources_id_12628.aspx
    3) http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10286.aspx
    4) http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10050.aspx

    To prepare for advocacy, many parents undertake activities like these...

    - Read school policies. These are often found on a school or district website. Look for information related to identification, and any description of programs/services they may offer to gifted pupils. Print these pages to add to a folder or ring binder of papers that you will bring to meetings and keep as your paper trail. As the years pass, you may wish to tab your binder by year, adding new versions of these policies as they are updated.

    - Read your state laws about gifted education and special ed which may come into play due to her ADHD diagnosis. Print these and place in your advocacy folder or binder. You may wish to look at Wrightslaw, also the National Center for Learning Disabilities for IEP and 504 info. Here is a recent post

    - Look at lists of gifted characteristics. Make a checklist or inventory noting which of these characteristics/behaviors you see in your child. You may wish to include specific examples. Place this in your advocacy binder.

    - Create an inventory of kiddo's milestones, skills, accomplishments, achievements to-date. Arrange the list by date... for example, when she knew the alphabet, first read, did math, inquired about certain things. Be sure to indicate what was child-led, initiated by child, done of their own interest & motivation. Include the child's current interests pursued at home, attention span, etc. Place this in your advocacy binder.

    - Create a list of books read, by date. For emerging readers, be sure to indicate any books which were read aloud to the child, or co-read with the child, as opposed to being read independently (with questions on certain words, discussion about the book, etc). You may wish to look up the lexile or reading level of the books which she chooses and reads independently. A spreadsheet format may be convenient for documenting your DD's reading list. Place this in your advocacy binder.

    - Learn the grade level outcomes at the school. What is a child expected to know and demonstrate at the end of each grade? Place this in your advocacy binder.

    - Comparing the inventories/checklists you created with what is taught at each grade level, what grade level do you observe your DD performing at? Document this and place in your advocacy binder. It may be math, 2nd grade... reading, 3rd grade... science, 2nd grade etc. Meanwhile she is in 1st grade.

    - Gathering this data helps you guide a discussion if a meeting should flounder or seem at an impasse. For example, rather than feeling that the meeting is family Vs. school, you might ask if you might all look together at the data and see what it may indicate.

    Wishing all the best for you in the meeting, so that significant progress is made with the school and meeting your DD's educational needs.

    PS: No longer homeschooling??

    Top
    #182176 - 02/14/14 08:00 AM Re: Advocating and a big meeting coming up [Re: jholland1203]
    mnmom23 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/11/09
    Posts: 701
    Definitely ask for the school's end-of-year testing for her current grade as well as for the next grade up (and maybe for the next grade up still). Sometimes only the school's own tests will help in showing teachers that there really is a need for higher curriculum. With outside testing there is just too much wiggle room for teachers to make excuses and say that their curriculum is so much more challenging than the norm and that your child couldn't possibly need more.

    Also, are there emotional compenents of your DD's experience to which you can point to show that the current situation isn't good for your DD? Especially elementary school educators tend to focus on a child's emotional well being above all else (including learning!). How is your DD feeling about school in general or about herself as a learner?

    Can you get a written statement from the psych about your DD and what type of educational environment the psych would recommend? If your DD is HG and possibly PG, then the standard starts-at-fourth-grade gifted program probably won't be the only accomodation that she will need. It may be a great program that she will love, but it probably won't be enough. A letter from the psych might help you establish that.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!
    _________________________
    She thought she could, so she did.

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    #182186 - 02/14/14 09:56 AM Re: Advocating and a big meeting coming up [Re: jholland1203]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    You've already gotten great advice - I have just a few things to add.

    Originally Posted By: jholland1203
    With that said DD is in 1st grade working at a minimum 3rd grade level. I knew this based off things she has been doing at home.


    I found it helpful to look up my school district's curriculum guidelines when advocating (I was able to find ours online, on our school district's website. Our state also has published curriculum goals for each grade on the state department of ed website). Once you have those, you have a set of concrete objectives you can compare your dd's work to. Take examples of the work she's done at home to the meeting, but be sure to be able to show where they place her in terms of actual district-specific curriculum guidelines.


    Quote:
    We've had a few meetings with the teacher some about this and others not. She agrees DD1 is very bright but continues to says she is not performing. When I explain that she is underperforming, likely due to boredom and if given a more challenging assignment she would likely perform, she doesn't do it.


    Are you 100% positive that the reason she's underperforming is *only* boredom? Or could it be related to her ADHD (or possibly something else)? It's really easy to automatically assume it's boredom (and it could be boredom) - but I also have found with my 2e kids that sometimes there are other things going on in the classroom that are at the root of underperformance. If the teacher brings up the issue of underperforming, I would ask for details and consider what she has to say - when does it happen, is it all the time, does it happen with one specific type of work or in one type of setting in the classroom etc. See if it might relate to her ADHD - if it does, then it's possible all you need is to give your dd a chance to have time in the classroom with whatever accommodations are in place for her ADHD for a few months and her performance will turn around.

    If it doesn't seem to be related to anything other than lack of challenge, then it would be helpful to go into the meeting with a specific plan for how to challenge your dd in the classroom - something that doesn't involve extra work for the teacher. Yes, it's absolutely the teacher's responsibility to do this on her own, but she might be too challenged just with managing the class that she has and might not have ideas or hours in the day to figure out a separate plan for your dd. The meeting you are having is a place to start brainstorming ideas, but it's going to be really helpful if you come prepared with a few ideas.

    Re what to actually advocate for - that's very specific to your dd. What do you think she *wants* more of in terms of challenge, where is she happy with what she has now in the classroom, and what types of differentiation do you think will be more easily acceptable to your school staff?

    Good luck with your meeting - and remember, it's a process, not jus one meeting. Hopefully you'll come out of the meeting with a plan, but it's just the beginning plan, not something set in stone. See how it works and tweak it as it goes.

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

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    #182926 - 02/24/14 11:18 AM Re: Advocating and a big meeting coming up [Re: polarbear]
    jholland1203 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/13
    Posts: 61
    Originally Posted By: polarbear
    The meeting you are having is a place to start brainstorming ideas, but it's going to be really helpful if you come prepared with a few ideas.


    Thank you everyone for all the helpful information and advice! I am overwhelmed by the amount of help given!

    Polarbear: I feel stuck on ideas to help challenge DD. I feel that her strong interests are not conducive to a traditional classroom. Do you have any to share from experience to help me get started on my own brainstorming?

    Thanks again!!!

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