Placement Meeting Help!

Posted by: DrummerLiz

Placement Meeting Help! - 04/11/14 07:59 AM

My DS6 is in Spanish K. We had him privately tested in February and he qualifies for his district Gifted program, which is a separate class within a school, that doesn't start until 2nd grade. The Gifted program is in another school. We have spoken with his Principal who has candidly told us that none of the Spanish teachers would be able to differentiate for 1st grade and only one English teacher would be able to accommodate him. He suggested we move him in 1st to the school where the program is located.

We met with the Principal yesterday at the new school and loved it! He seems to understand gifted kids. We just wish they would allow him to skip 1st and go straight into the program. They are not receptive to skipping so we are trying to plan for differentiating. We left the meeting feeling positive about moving him and were finally relaxing about our decision when the HP District coordinator called me to say that they (both Principals, HP Teacher at current school and HP Distict Coordinator) will be having a meeting in 2 weeks to discuss our DS6 placement. She was unaware of our meeting with his current Principal and our decision to move him out of Spanish. She was still talking about how to keep him in Spanish for one more year. I am working on an email with everyone cc'd so I can lay out everything we have spoken about with each person independently so we are all on the same page. (Sorry to use that phrase!) We would rather move him now instead of moving him first to English and then again to another school for 2nd.

Should I feel stressed that they are having a meeting without us or is this normal? Should I feel optimistic that perhaps they are thinking of accelerating him to 2nd? Sometimes it feels like we are asking too much. Are we? We feel we have a super bright kid who loves to learn, but because he is so amiable and well liked at school he is perceived as being an average kid. The HP District Coordinator said she is bringing into the meeting his school's HP Teacher because she "knows him well." He just started a twice a week pull out a month ago and works with someone else in a project in the HP Teachers room. How well does she know him?? This is the same teacher who, when we brought in his WISC IV report said he wouldn't qualify for the district program because his FSIQ was lower and said the GAI didn't count. (The HP District Coordinator enlightened her on her mistake.)
Also, he tested at the end of 4th grade in WJ Achievement Broad Reading. At school, using the Fountas and Pennell he tested at 2nd grade. I sent a list of the books he has read and discussed with me to the Reading Specialist and District Coordinator. The Coordinator told me that the WJ assessments are usually on the higher range and she sort of blew off his scores. These are the same scores that partially qualify him for the district program. ????? She said the F and P are more accurate and they are making an exception and retesting him next week. Sometimes I feel like I am getting the attitude that we are parents who are exaggerating our kids skills. Am I just being overly sensitive? I don't want my kid in a program he can't handle. On the flip side, he has been completely bored this year, despite Spanish, in 1/2 day K. Any ideas if anyone has been in a similar situation would be helpful. I am new to this forum and just getting the hang of it and I am so thankful I found it!
Posted by: Zen Scanner

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/11/14 08:20 AM

Hard to say what normal is. I think it is a good sign that they want to meet to discuss what to do to help your son; seems a real positive to me. In fact we had the principal and gifted coordinator at my son's school meet to discuss him, and when we met with the gifted coordinator they had a proposal for him to skip regular 2nd and into gifted which started in 3rd; which is exactly what we were prepared to advocate for.

For reading testing, different tests can key into different things. My DS8 was not a "word perfect" reader which showed poorly in some tests, but his actual ability and comprehension and word knowledge were really strong. I think F&P may be teacher delivered which gives a lot of room for subjective hampering. In K his teacher had scored him two grades higher than his 1st grade teacher did the following year.
Posted by: howdy

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/11/14 08:38 AM

I think that teachers/admins meet ahead of our parent meetings to have discussions and get on the same page regarding test scores, options, etc. If that is what happening, and they still plan to meet with you and consider your input and concerns, I would not be worried.

It may be good that they are testing for both F&P and the WJ test for reading. I am not an expert, but definitely the different reading tests test different things. Ask them to explain the tests, how they use them, including whether your son reached the ceiling on any of them.

For example, DC, when in K, tested at a 12th grade level for reading (can't remember what test). However the test was really just decoding, not reading comprehension.

It sounds like you may have a lot of options and the school is remaining positive. Good luck in considering the options!
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/11/14 11:50 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about the teachers meeting to discuss your ds' placement - the fact that they called you and are open about it is a good sign. I expect you can also ask that you be included in the meeting - chances are they will still meet first but if you'd like to be included, request it.

Re the FP vs WJ-III - I would try to meet with the school about this so you can get more info on what each test actually measured etc. You can take research here and other places online beforehand so you have a good idea of what the differences in each test are, but I've always found it most helpful to talk directly to the person who gave the assessment and ask to see what the types of questions on the test were, what type of response was given (oral vs written etc), was it timed, and what did they notice about my child's performance when it was given.

Based on what was posted on your other thread, it's possible your ds might not have been tested on an above-2nd-grade level FP, but I'm not familiar with the FP. That's something you'll want to ask.

The other thing I'd add is - don't be put off if there is a difference in scores that's as much as 2 "grade levels", or if it's different than what your gut feeling is from watching your ds read at home. It may all make sense when you have all the information together. For instance, "4th grade" on the WJ-III doesn't mean a child is ready for 4th grade curriculum, it means that the score your ds got on that particular subtest was the score that is also the mean score for the group of 4th graders in the test norming group. The questions on the WJ-III Achievement tests are all very brief, and so the questions used for the reading comprehension are different than the types of questions that are typically asked on reading comprehension assessments used in classrooms to determine reading placement.

The other thing that I'd recommend trying to get a good understanding of now is what is behind the large difference in GAI vs FSIQ? I took a quick peak at your previous post and in that you mentioned that your ds has a low processing speed score relative to other scores. The processing speed subtests are timed and depend heavily on vision, so when you combine that info with your observations that your ds doesn't seem to be achieving as highly as you expect at school in reading - you might want to double-check to see if his vision is ok. There are two aspects to vision to look into - actual eyesight (nearsighted vs 20/20 etc) and how well the eyes work together (convergence, tracking etc). A vision issue *might* explain the discrepancy in FP vs WJ-III scores also if there is some type of vision issue that impacts your ds when he has to read longer passages (FP) vs short sentences (WJ-III).

It does sound like you have good options ahead for your ds!

Posted by: blackcat

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/11/14 12:08 PM

I just had a comment about the WJ and Fountas and Pinell. We had the same scenario where DS was at a late third grade level for Broad Reading on the WJ (he was in the fall of first grade when he took it). The Fountas and Pinell assessment put him at a level "L" which is probably late second grade level. But he was tested in the middle of kindergarten on the F&P and we were told Level "O". So what was correct? I still don't know. The teacher put him on the computer to do above-level testing (not MAP but something similar) and he was in the upper 90's percentile for reading (she couldn't remember the exact score. But it was high enough that she seemed to be convinced the teacher that put him at the "L" level couldn't be correct. But with so many different levels given, how does anyone ever figure out what is correct.

DD (age 8) scored 97th percentile on the computerized reading test, which put her at a grade equivalent of 8th grade, meaning her score was the average score of 8th graders. But the Fountas and Pinnell put her at a early 6th grade reading level. I think the two tests measure completely different things. With the F&P the child has to do well with verbally answering questions, explaining answers, etc. And that is not the case with other assessments like the WJ or computerized testing.
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/14/14 06:42 PM

Thanks for all of the feedback!
Polarbear, his low processing speed seemed odd to me too. The Psychologist who tested him tests a lot of gifted kids and she was not surprised by the large discrepancy with his scores. She said that he has a lot of lines of inquiry going on in his head which is slowing him down. Somehow we, and his future teachers, should be aware of it and try to work with him on singling these lines down. And thank you for the mention of getting his eyes checked! We actually just had him for a full eye exam in January when I had mine and he's got great sight. smile

From the research I've been able to dig up on the Fountas and Pennell, which has been tricky, the Reading Specialist has them read a small book and then asks them questions about it. My gut tells me he was distracted by being pulled out into a hallway to take this test. He also doesn't want to miss any of his class because the poor guy is still hoping he learns something new! For example he has read all of the Lucy and Stephen Hawking books twice at home and totally understands them. When he read The invention of Hugo Cabret he was able to understand the why one of the characters was so cruel in the first part of the book due to bad things that happened in his past. He read that when he was 5. I don't quite get what they mean by fluency and comprehension. He's got both. I am not quite sure how they are measuring it.

Regarding the WJ Achievement the Psychologist was very impressed with his reading fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. Especially since he took that test after the full WISC IV.

Right now I feel like the school doesn't want to believe that this is what he does at home. We started the Stanford EPGY math program last month out of frustration at not getting harder math for him in K. He's been asking for harder math since the beginning of the school year. We started him in Grade 1 just to make use there were not any gaps and he's in the middle of Grade 2, in 5 weeks. He loves it! I am very interested to see where his NWEA Math results for Spring will be just by doing this one online program.

Sometimes I question how much we are trying to advocate for him. Does anyone else feel this way? We have always known there was something a little different about him. Everyone called him an "Old Soul" when he was a baby. Now that he has been tested we can see what possibilities could be open to him and we want to make sure they are available. I sort of feel like the school doesn't get it. They see his WISC IV scores and that is the only reason we are having any discussions at all.

Okay, I've had my rant. Now I'm just hoping my DS is excited about what he gets to read on Wednesday and actually answers some questions! He's started saying "I don't know" even though he knows. If you prod him a bit he will answer. Hopefully the Reading Specialist will look a little closer this time.

I'm still a little freaked out about them all meeting just to discuss him. It sort of feels like we've pushed it too far, but maybe that's a good thing???
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/16/14 09:00 PM

So my DS had his reading reassessment today. I found out from him that he read one book at the 2nd grade level. Just like last time. Why do they not, just for fun, try having him read something more challenging to see what happens?
I found a link to the form that was used for the specific book he told me he read.

Apparently he has to score a 7 total to qualify for the "Special" enrichment program. If my DS is given something simple and uninteresting he will answer appropriately. Whenever given something complex he goes into great detail. I know we don't have the results yet I am just feeling frustrated. I guess we'll just keep doing more interesting reading at home and continue with Stanford EPGY. He just started the Language Arts course and loves it as much as the math, so I guess we've got that for now. I really don't understand public education. And we've only just begun!
Posted by: Wesupportgifted

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/19/14 12:31 AM

Wow! You have just described exactly what we have been through.

I am determined to figure out what the disconnect is also.

My current working theory is that you and I ( and people like us) are examining it and analyzing the situation from our 'brain view.' The people working in the District that we have met so far, surrounding the elementary process (yes, elementary is the right description, Sheesh!) see everything differently from us.

So, please do not feel that it is just you. You are not alone. I have been following this in our District for a while now and the townspeople today are experiencing the same treatment that the gifted families received in the past (children who have already graduated from the High School).

And, to continue with my theory, think of it like this. Our brains are automatically processing 'How we would handle it if we were in that position.' The truth is that the gifted / highly gifted people are not the ones in those positions. They have no idea, no first-hand experience, they have not been through it. For one thing, a truly gifted person would never treat gifted families that way. Just the opposite, a very gifted person would not rest until every gifted child was treated unbelievably well.

The theory is that what we are seeing around this process is one form of random chaos, it is not really being controlled by any one person. No one is conducting the symphony so to speak. So we hear this discord and we cannot believe it because we order the world a different way in order to have human achievement. They are merely doing the best they can. It is not your best. It is not my best.

That is why, as an example, some surgeons have never been sued, some surgeons have never lost a lawsuit, some doctors never win a lawsuit and some doctors get sent to jail. They are all in different categories, different 'brains. No one that I have found though has published what explains it. And, it may be too controversial to publish even if they had it figured out.

Hang in there. You are not the only family going through this.
Posted by: blackcat

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/19/14 05:37 AM

My DD's school is worried about enrollment numbers dropping dramatically. Apparently the 2-3 kids headed to the gifted magnet in the fall pushes the numbers over the edge enough that they have to drop a teacher for 4th grade. One of the teachers there (who happens to have been my DS's teacher and we pulled him out mid-year) approached one of these gifted magnet school moms and said something along the lines of "Your child is so HAPPY here. You know, she doesn't need to be pushed, she is doing just fine here." My response would have been "Maybe if you guys actually gave my children work that was the correct level I wouldn't feel the need to pursue something like a Gifted magnet program." But of course, what you actually say and what you should say end up usually being two different things.
DS's new teacher at a different school seems to truly understand the issue and has gone to extreme measures to try to figure him out. She actually asked the principal for time off so she could test him and has a huge binder with all kinds of test results and papers on DS. But that has not been our overall experience with the others. Everything is a fight. By simply asking for my child to be assessed at a higher level, I was labeled as a pushy tiger mom. I feel like some of these teachers are jealous or feel threatened, just like other parents in the general population would be if you started discussing your child's IQs. Most of them have kids themselves and those kids are NOT gifted. Just because teachers supposedly want kids to learn, doesn't mean they feel any less threatened by kids who are very advanced.
It's also true that elem. teachers in general don't seem to be very deep thinkers (to put it kindly) and that extends to elementary administration as well. Both of my kids have special needs and whenever (with a couple exceptions) I have attempted to broach that subject in an effort to figure out what's going on, their eyes glaze over. They don't know what you're talking about, aren't particularly interested, and they make no effort to do research or figure it out, either. I occasionally send a link, for instance explaining a particular disability like dysgraphia, and I don't know if they bother to even open things like that up. In the school I tutored in last year, there were a few kids I had concerns about and talking to their classroom teachers about it and getting them to actually do something about it was like beating my head on a brick wall.

Sorry that went off on a tangent. Hang in there and keep advocating. Hopefully a light bulb will turn on with someone there.
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/27/14 03:33 PM

Okay, so the plot thickens. Both Principals, HP Teacher and District Gifted Coordinator all met last week to discuss my kid. We are now meeting with both Principals this week so we can discuss our options for DS6. We are hoping this will be a good meeting! We just found out two days ago that he was accepted as a DYS. Hooray! Not quite sure what this totally means yet or how this will impact our son, but we are hopeful and excited!!

The big question is if we should send an email to all concerned that he was accepted before our meeting. Yes?? Will it make any difference? Help or hinder? Any input woul be gratefully appreciated! On the districts website for the special gifted classroom they have a quote from Jan Davidson, so at least they know about the program.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/27/14 03:57 PM

Originally Posted By: DrummerLiz
The big question is if we should send an email to all concerned that he was accepted before our meeting.
Some may say it is wise to allow the district to show their hand first. The district may have criteria which is different than DYS qualifications (for example, showing proficiency on an end-of-unit test, meeting the school's end-of-year criteria, willingness to go through the process of the IAS).

Have you read the Davidson guidebook, Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People?

Do you have info on preparing for a meeting? Lots of good advice has been shared on other threads recently as it seems several families have scheduled meetings. Some of the tips were -

- 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 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 (points of agreement, etc) and share it, possibly by e-mail
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/28/14 07:11 AM

Indigo I cannot thank you enough for your response! I am printing out your list so my husband and I can go over it tonight. We are also thinking of taking a couple of screen shots of the problems he is working on in EPGY and printing out his progress page since he has plowed through 1st-2nd grade in about 7 weeks. And maybe bringing a couple of books he has just finished reading. Too much? My husband wants to bring in a sample of the math worksheets he is doing for kindergarten to show a comparison of what he is capable of if given the opportunity. Maybe? It's only a 30 minute meeting. I am still livid about his reading assessment, but I need to let that go.

It would be lovely if they are offering a grade skip into the gifted program (which begin in 2nd grade), but since we are meeting with both Principals I am not sure if this is even an option. I am concerned they are going to way heavy into keeping him in Spanish for 1st until he can switch to the other school. We have already firmly told them no, but I don't know. They also brought his HP Teacher into the initial meeting because she "knows him the best". She doesn't even really work with him on his twice a week project. They have an in-district Architect he has been working with. She sort of rubbed me the wrong way from our first meeting when she looked at us with a smile and told us he didn't qualify for the special gifted classroom program because his FSIQ wasn't high enough. We pointed her to his GAI and she said that didn't count. It is stated on their website with the numbers for GAI and FSIQ. I emailed the HP District Coordinator in reference to this and received a phone call in the evening stating this was incorrect and that the GAI is a better assessment for our son. How could a seasoned HP teacher not know this? My confidence in her is low for kids at the further end of gifted.

I would love for them to let him have a morning simulation in the 2nd grade gifted classroom to see how he would do. They do this for all of the end of 1st graders that enter the program. I think he would love it, but I am not sure how to ask for this. Both Principals are friendly, but a bit intimidating and it's a bit hard to navigate during these meetings. I brought notes to the last one and that helped a bit. Seriously, I had no idea how much work this would be just to ensure my kid gets the education he needs.

We know we are not giving them an immediate answer, unless they want to grade skip him!! Happy thoughts..... They've had us waiting for two extra weeks so we are thinking of telling them we need a week to sort everything out and maybe counter if we need to. Thoughts??
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/28/14 07:13 AM

Oh, and I was also thinking of printing out a summary of two or three of the projects he has worked on at home this school year to give to them. They really do not know my kid. 1/2 day Spanish has shown nothing of his skills or creative thinking.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/28/14 09:20 AM

Originally Posted By: DrummerLiz
We know we are not giving them an immediate answer, unless they want to grade skip him!!
The IAS mentioned previously is the Iowa Acceleration Scale... useful for bringing forth many aspects to consider for a grade skip, helps get everyone on the same page:
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 06:33 AM

I got a call rom the District Coordinator yesterday informing us of DS6 results from the Fountas and Pinnell. Still the same 2nd grade level. It has been bothering me all night, because my kid totally understands very complex books. This morning I was thinking that sometimes when I ask him a question his immediate response is I don't know. If I take a minute and probe deeper, he knows the answer. Could this be a processing speed problem? There is a huge discrepancy from his WISC IV scores in processing speed. Perhaps I should bring this up? Very nervous about our Principal meeting today!!
Posted by: KTPie

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 06:42 AM

DrummerLiz, I do not have an answer for you but I am in a similar boat. My DS6 was assessed when he entered K with the DRA and was at that time on an "early-mid 2nd grade level" and he was reassessed recently at the same level, according to his teacher. He is a voracious reader at home and will gush about a book that he's passionate about, but otherwise doesn't respond to questions about comprehension. I get "I don't know" all the time.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 07:56 AM

Originally Posted By: DrummerLiz
...Fountas and Pinnell. Still the same 2nd grade level.
You've received great responses already.

You want the flow information coming to you, at this point. You may wish to drill down and ask gently probing questions, "Oh, that's interesting, please tell me more...". (Do not get defensive. Do not counter.) Take notes.

In some cases, such as F&P, a teacher may be able to share a comprehension rubric, the results of which are separate from the reading level letter score. Further conversation may lead to the Continuum of Literacy Learning, a book which the teacher may have received included in the professional framework, part of the benchmark assessment system. Learn how your child is assessed. Ask for examples. Become familiar with their evaluation process(es).
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 11:27 AM

Thank you all for your responses and support! What an interesting morning. We met with both Principals and it felt a bit like a Madmen episode. They both want our kid. Yeah! They each gave us their pitches and we are so happy to have the opportunity to move him to the school where he is already "pre-approved" for the separate gifted classroom that begins in 2nd grade. Apparently this has never happened before. The Principal at the new school had the best offers of differentiation and clustering with 3 other kids for the fall with a seasoned teacher who enjoys gifted kids! The new Principal doesn't seem to care about he Fountas and Pinnell and is very respectful about challenging our kid. We are only thinking positive thoughts now because you never know how next year will go, but I am remaining optimistic! This forum is invaluable. Truly! Oh, and we ended with letting them know about DYS. Sort of shocked that they had no idea about the program. They looked it up while we were at the meeting. smile
Posted by: DrummerLiz

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 01:32 PM

It's wierd. The District Coordinator was a big part of their initial private meeting to discuss my son and she was not very positive on the phone yesterday which made us nervous about the meeting today. But the new Principal seems very excited and respectful of what my kid could be capable of which put a whole new spin on it and he doesn't seem to care. The full time gifted program doesn't start until 2nd, but he is willing to provide differentiation and testing out if needed in math and reading for 1st grade. He also advocated for my son to take the NWEA in Reading next week, even though the Spanish kids don't take it. Our current Principal was not certain if he could do it and the new one basically told him to set it up. Very interesting dynamic. The new school is higher rated in the district so maybe he has more power, but who knows!? We do feel good about the new school and more opportunities. Can we finally relax a little now?? wink
Posted by: indigo

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 04/30/14 04:09 PM

Originally Posted By: DrummerLiz
Can we finally relax a little now?? wink
Lovely to hear good news and wonderful to sense some relief.

Some may say it is time to document the meeting, thanking people for their time/interest and recounting your understanding of positives and agreements reached. Parents may wish to keep rather complete documentation at home, and decide what parts of it to share with the meeting attendees, keeping in mind that e-mails to schools may become open records, and information shared on public forums may be widely read.

At some point parents may wish to ensure they have a solid understanding of what a school means by "differentiation" and "testing out if needed in math and reading for 1st grade". For example:
- Is differentiation a higher set of expectations for the child's performance and volume of output/productivity (differentiated task demands)?
- Is this a choice a child must make between working with the class or doing worksheets in isolation?
- Does differentiation include instruction in higher level material or is the child required to be entirely autodidactic?
- What level of mastery allows a child to test out, 90%, 95%, 100%? Knowing that each year most children are routinely promoted to the next grade with less than 100% mastery (as 76%-79% is often considering a "passing" grade) some families have successfully advocated for their gifted or high-achieving children to take the school's end-of-year tests early to be subject accelerated.

Here's an old post with a roundup of wry descriptions of gifted program/service buzzwords.

While things are going well, you may wish to study advocacy skills as they may come in handy in the future.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 05/02/14 05:31 AM

Oh, and we ended with letting them know about DYS. Sort of shocked that they had no idea about the program. They looked it up while we were at the meeting. smile
They may wish to join the Educators' Guild?
Posted by: Irena

Re: Placement Meeting Help! - 05/02/14 05:43 AM

Originally Posted By: indigo
Oh, and we ended with letting them know about DYS. Sort of shocked that they had no idea about the program. They looked it up while we were at the meeting. smile
They may wish to join the Educators' Guild?

Yeah, I mentioned looking into DS applying to DYS and our school didn't seem to know or have ever heard of it either.