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    #244890 - 02/27/19 10:59 AM I didn't sign the NORA
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    Hello All -
    I know it has been a while since my last post when DD was first tested she was in Kindergarten and now she is nearing the end of second grade. I feel like I am no further in working with the school on her GIEP and we are up for our review next week, so I came here for a pep talk/some answers. In Kindergarten we were given a pretty vanilla boilerplate GIEP and each year it has remained nearly identical to the year before.
    I have learned that the school generally views this annual meeting as cursory - just a quick chat, sign the papers, and off we go - so with that being the case I like to have some idea before we meet about what my goals for the meeting will be.
    I am always pressing the team for more specifics, measureable sdis, timelines etc...
    So my first question: How often should the PLEP be updated and using what type of measurement? In Kindergarten I was able to get a more robust PLEP section, but last year they mainly used the teachers remarks and report card - this obviously doesn't work since in the majority of the report she is marked simply as "excellent" with no actual measurement of her abilities. I want to be thorough in the PLEP section because I know it sets the stage for the rest of the GIEP, but I obviously don't want her needlessly tested year after year - so what is a reasonable goal in this area? What types of assessments would be valid?

    Aside from getting more specifics into the document, I have two real goals this year. The first is compacting. Does anyone have any experience with how curriculum compacting can be implemented in a public school classroom without the use of a computer curriculum? I often feel like in these meetings it is not enough for me to simply raise a concern, I also feel pressured to find the solution. I know compacting is something that would greatly benefit DD, but I am unsure of how it would be implemented without turning the whole school upside down - any suggestions would be great!
    My second goal is subject acceleration - DD has been WAY ahead in reading for a long time now and the current offering just isn't cutting it - usually they pull her out 1x a week for special instruction, otherwise she gets small group instruction in the class and access to higher level books - this year I'd really like to see her pulled out on a more regular basis or leaving the grade level during reading to join a different class. Any thoughts on this?
    Thanks again for all the help - I have a feeling I will be back again soon as DS starts Kindergarten in the fall and is every bit as bright as his sister (but way more trouble!).



    Edited by TuffToodle (03/07/19 07:16 PM)

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    #244896 - 02/28/19 03:00 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    ChrystieATL Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/27/18
    Posts: 18
    TuffToodle. I don't know what state you are from. In GA there are two options, private and public.

    In the public school (DeKalb county) they do discovery day (full day) as soon as you become gifted certified. Most see little value in it. Compacting math (18 month accelerated math in 12 months every year) starting in 6th grade. They have 2 gifted charter schools (Kittredge is one (for all gifted or highly accelerated kids and the rigor and attention feels like a private gifted school. These schools are free, require testing and then a lottery, which serves only about 10% of the need. This allows kids to get to Precalc as a Sophomore and Calc AB/BC + Multivariate. They also allow kids to take an extra 2 courses per year online or other vehicle to get ahead or take up to 2 courses in the summer. Again all for subject level acceleration. By middle school with parent pushing, demonstrated student performance and a lot of nagging to the school and county gifted folks you can get all the acceleration one would desire. I personally have a kid starting at GA Tech this summer as a 14yo and will enter as a Junior. Most public also allow dual enrollment for Junior/Seniors. Other counties don't have these things.

    Option 2 is private school. In GA we have been disappointed by most private schools and we have tried many across 4 kids. They have great communication but the kids are generally middle of the road and not the best of the best. They still teach to average with little flexibility to accelerate until Middle/High school. There are a few exceptions of dedicated gifted schools that do accelerate. MIS is one of them, The Dinoff school is another and the one I really love is Fulton Science Academy (FSA). At FSA they allow compacting math starting in 1st grade based on student performance. This gets many to Precalc or Calc as Freshman in high school. They also have many kids grade skipping and accelerating in multiple subjects and will do so at any time during the year. It is 100% fluid. They allow summer school through other programs to come in and leap front a subject to the next grade level. The rigor is really strong and the best I have seen. You pay for this of course.

    My advice is to call every private school you have access to driving wise and ask them what they are willing to do and currently do for acceleration. Find those rare gifted private schools that are used to and build around a philosophy of acceleration. They exist but are not often advertising it. These are not the mainstream schools for average kids. Most will require testing to prove some level of competence but off you will go and have no limits.

    Some states allow you to go to the public school of choice. Arizona has that rule where you can live in one district but enroll in another one where the school shows better results. You may find a diamond in the ruff in the public school system but it is hard to do and most people pay for private gifted programs.

    Sounds like you are beating your head against a wall. I can tell you I have fought a dozen or more times and when you recognize you can't make any more progress you move on. I have moved my kids into multiple schools throughout the elementary, middle and high school years. They have enjoyed the opportunity to meet lots of kids in different environments and were comfortable with that. Some kids need stability. Mine have not. The more flexible and mobile you can be the more opportunity.

    Same deal I have found in my career. Moving every 2-4 years has allowed me to jump another level each time. After 1 promotion often companies don't quite see you at the next level as they know you as a single dimension.
    Most school principals are the same way. They get burned out and stop wanting to help and bend the rules to push my kiddos after a couple of years. You are the one and only advocate so don't let people stand in your way.

    Good luck!

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    #244899 - 02/28/19 07:01 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: ChrystieATL]
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. We are located in pa and have private school options, however they are way outside our budget. We are really stuck trying to make it work with the public school and we moved to one of the best districts in the state for exactly that reason. I have been reading and printing and highlighting all day, and sometimes I feel like we will never succeed in these meetings. I'm learning to stand my ground a little more each time though. I'll keep you posted on how my meeting goes next Thursday.

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    #244942 - 03/05/19 12:46 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    Another concern I have as we approach Thursday's meeting is her lack of access to higher level material. I hear "DD is doing fine with the regular material and doesn't require differentiation because the material is new." This especially happens in Math. Of course, she can't pass higher levels of math if she has never been granted access to the materials - but with the slightest bit of instruction/access, she would easily skip through those units. My main issue is that something like fact fluency (while important) should not act as the gatekeeper to a more diverse, higher level, and quite frankly less boring Math material. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to have this conversation with the school when she is merely "meeting expectations" instead of exceeding?

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    #244962 - 03/06/19 07:37 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    Aufilia Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/25/14
    Posts: 336
    Loc: Washington
    Do you have any above-level testing to use for advocacy? Does your district use any insta-quick-testing thing like the STAR test? If they haven't given her ANY above-level testing, that would be my first request. Demonstrating ability on tests gives you something solid to use for advocating.

    The only times we've had good math accommodations in a single-grade (not split level) elementary class was the year DD was allowed to work at her own pace from a higher-grade textbook. She was given pretests and skipped anything she could already do. She finished about half a grade of math in just under 3 months--and then, alas, the school year ended.

    If the math is something she finishes quickly and has extra time, you could ask for enrichment such as Dreambox or Beast Academy Online--they're both decent for building concepts which will expand her depth of understanding. The Beast Academy textbooks are also really spectacular if paper books would go over better. If I had to choose between greater depth and greater speed, I honestly would go for depth--I think it will make a bigger impact on her learning in the long run.

    For language, maybe it would be possible to have her join an older grade class for some lessons? The school may be reluctant to do this for scheduling reasons, though--teachers often just stick in lessons where they have time, and every class has a different specialist schedule so the time of a subject might change from day to day.

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    #244969 - 03/07/19 07:27 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    UPDATE: We had our meeting today and it went exactly as expected. The PLEP section was entirely composed of DD's report card, unit assessments, and an outdated DRA level. I told the team I would not be signing until we had a better grasp on her present levels.
    I have seen all the talk on these boards before, but somehow I was still surprised by their response - I asked what would happen now and they said no one had ever not signed before, it was good enough for all those kids, they just don't understand what I want. I tried to explain it's not about what I want - heck I don't know what I want - I just know we can't make an informed decision without the proper information. It was so hard to stand my ground during that meeting and I've felt absolutely sick about it all. I know I'm on the right path, but I don't have any background in this kind of thing so it's very intimidating and I am constantly second guessing what I think I know.
    It's not like I think DD is so crazy gifted that we need to so much more than the average gifted family - I just think I am the first person to ever question the standard. In fact, I am quite sure DD will test within 1-grade level on most subjects because she has never had access to the higher level materials (which is another whole conversation).
    Aufilia - the accommodations you listed were exactly what I was hoping to achieve. It makes me feel better to read that I wasn't crazy for asking for it.
    Does anyone have any experience with not signing the NORA and what happens now? I'm so nervous.
    Thanks again for all the support - I would have never made it this far without this group!

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    #244970 - 03/07/19 09:41 PM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    Aufilia Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/25/14
    Posts: 336
    Loc: Washington
    You are NOT crazy! GOOD FOR YOU for standing your ground and asking for what should be very, very reasonable things. You should be proud of yourself. It is so incredibly hard to face down a team of people who both believe they are experts and believe they are absolutely right and tell them they are wrong.

    If they will not do above grade level evaluations, it might be worth some money to haev them done independenty. The trick IME is finding evalations that "speak their language" so to speak. They typically don't IME care about tests like the WIAT, but a test like the ITBS (often given for gifted program entrance), SCAT from Johns Hopkins CTY program, or a STAR assessment if your district uses them, might be the sort of data they would understand. (You may be able to get a private STAR test from at utoring center; when I was advocating for DS to skip kindergarten, I was able to pay for him to take the STAR at a Sylvan Learning Center).

    FWIW if you haven't gotten an IQ test you might find it worth while for YOURSELF. Our schools have never cared one bit about IQ, but it's helped ME remain firm in my convictions to have in hand solid test results done by an outside party.

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    #244972 - 03/08/19 06:14 AM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    Aufilia - THANK YOU! You have no idea how much I needed to hear those words this morning! When I left the meeting they said they would look into further testing, so I'm expecting an email about that sometime soon. I will look into the STAR tests at Sylvan, though I am hoping the school will do their part since money is tight. She took the WISC-IV to gain entrance to the program (2 years ago) but was only administered enough tests to generate a GAI score (not a FSIQ). She hit the ceiling on one of the four tests, so we know that her IQ would be "greater than 134" which was the calculated GAI. How much higher I am unsure, but the administrator did hint that she believed DD's greatest strengths lie in some of the subtests that were not delivered. Like I said above, I don't think we're looking at a 13-year-old with early admission to Harvard here, but subject acceleration in reading and some compacting in math seem reasonable to me. Especially now that the luster of school has worn off (Kindergarten was only half day and her first school experience, first grade was a full day, but now in second grade she's getting bored). I don't want the mundane to crush her thirst for knowledge and I want her to learn how to be challenged.
    Do you know what the procedure is when you sign the "I do not approve" on the NORA? I have no idea what to expect next.

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    #244973 - 03/08/19 06:35 AM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    TuffToodle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/11/17
    Posts: 62
    Side note: I am having two problems with our requested accommodations - someone please tell me if my thinking is rational!
    1. Reading DD is reading WELL above grade level (she's in 2nd and at home is comfortably reading at a 6th grade level for enjoyment - practically it may be even higher). However, she is simply meeting expectations in 2nd-grade writing. When asked about this she often says she gets tired, her hand hurts, and the assignments are boring. The school has been holding down her reading by citing her "written comprehension" I have been arguing that they need to separate those skills - accelerate her in reading and give her oral comp tests while continuing to work through 2nd-grade writing skills.

    2. Math: DD is meeting expectations in math, but is bored silly. I strongly believe she needs some diversification in the curriculum. The entire year has been spent on addition and subtraction fluency and word problems - I feel like her fluency here is acting as a gatekeeper to "more fun" math topics that she could easily do alongside the current offering (fractions, geometry, charts/graphs, even beginner multiplication). She can't possibly score well on material she has never had access to so I know she won't test out of the current grade level, but with even the tiniest bit of instruction, I think she'd be more than capable.

    Aside from a meaningful PLEP section and measurable goals (as if that weren't enough) those are the two big battles for this year - acceleration in reading and some sort of enrichment/compacting/continuous progress in math.

    Thoughts?

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    #244974 - 03/08/19 08:15 AM Re: Round Three! [Re: TuffToodle]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4345
    Off the top of my head, it sounds good to me.

    Forgive me if you've already posted about this, but...
    have you looked into dysgraphia?

    This old post has a brief roundup of general ideas on all sorts of accommodations.

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