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Seattle Public Schools shuts down gifted and talented program for ‘inclusive’ alternative


1 week ago 17

Seattle Public Schools is dismantling its gifted and talented program, which administrators argued was oversaturated with white and Asian students, in favor of a more “inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive” program.

The district began phasing out its Highly Capable Cohort schools and classrooms for advanced students in the 2021-22 school year due to racial inequities, the school district notes.

It will now completely cease to exist by the 2027-28 school year, with a new enrichment-for-all model available in every school by the 2024-25 school year.

“The program is not going away, it’s getting better,” school officials said on the district website.

“It will be more inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive.

“In particular, students who have been historically excluded will now have the same opportunities for services as every other student and get the support and enrichment they need to grow.”

Seattle Public Schools is dismantling its gifted and talented program in favor of a more “inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive” program. Google St View

The enrichment program currently only a;;pws students who placed in the top 2 percentile on standardized exams would be placed in the Highly Capable Cohort to receive enriched learning.

The students would then be sorted into one of three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools.

But in 2020, the Seattle school board voted to terminate the program, after a 2018 survey found that the students in the Highly Capable Cohort were 13% multiracial, 11.8% Asian, 3.7% Hispanic and just 1.6% black.

Under the new program, dubbed the Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model, teachers will be required to come up with individualized learning programs for all 20 to 30 of their students. Louis-Photo – stock.adobe.com

Nearly 70% of the students were white.

“Numbers would suggest that within our city … predominantly white children are more gifted than other cultures and races, and we know that is absolutely not true,” Kari Hanson, the district’s director of student support services, told Parent Map at the time.

Under the new program, dubbed the Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model, teachers will be required to come up with individualized learning programs for all 20 to 30 of their students — a task they argue they do not have the time and resources for as the district faces a $104 million budget deficit, according to the Seattle Times.

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The district said it is working to provide teachers with curriculum and instruction on how to make it work, but an estimate from 2020 suggested an enrichment-for-all program would cost the district $1.1 million over the first three years.

One teacher said she worries it will become more difficult under the new program to teach math to students with a range of abilities, and that the whole-classroom approach won’t properly prepare students for Advanced Placement math and science courses.

Parents also expressed their concerns that the new model could lead to children getting overlooked.

When the school board decided to dismantle the program, then vice president Chandra Hampson accused parents of black students in the cohort of “tokenizing a really small community.” Seattle public schools

“It seems to me that kids on maybe both extremes are going to be underserved,” Erika Ruberry told the Seattle Times.

Karen Stukovsky, who has three children in the gifted program, added that each teacher “can only do so much differentiation.

“You have some kids who can barely read and some kids who are reading ‘Harry Potter’ in the first grade or kindergarten,” she said.

“How are you going to not only get those kids up to grade level, and also challenge those kids who are already easy above grade level?”

Some parents of black students in the program even argued against ending it.

“My request is that you please consider the disservice you would be doing to the minorities that are already in the HCC program,” one father said at the school board meeting to approve the new program in 2020, according to The Stranger.

“The program does more for black children, particularly black boys, than it does for their peers.”

But then-school board vice president Chandra Hampson shot back: “This is a pretty masterful job at tokenizing a really small community of color within the existing cohort.”

Over the past few years, though, more and more minority students have joined the ranks of the Highly Capable Cohort.

In the 2022 – 23 school year, 52% of the students were white, 16% were Asian and 3.4% were black, according to the Seattle Times.

Supporters of the new program say it will create a stronger sense of community because all of the students are from the same geographic area.

“They bring their home experience and their culture, and that is really unique,” View Ridge Elementary School Principal Rina Geoghagan told the Seattle Times.

“Is it going to be perfect? No. But any time there is a change, it’s not perfect.”

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