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    Advanced Learning Task Force Update September 2019
    Posted on 09/24/2019

    Advanced Learning Task Force Update September 2019

    The Advanced Learning Task Force (ALTF) was commissioned to research, review data, and explore solutions to address the lack of diverse student representation receiving Advanced Learning services in Seattle Public Schools. The ALTF has been convening since May 2018 and has devoted more than 100 hours of working together during 20 formal sessions and multiple subgroup study sessions and will continue to meet through Fall 2019. Read more about ALTF.

    The work of the ALTF is to re-examine and re-envision how the district serves students who perform, or show potential for performing, at significantly advanced academic levels, while remaining committed to equitable access of opportunity. The task force has reviewed student data extensively, including a deep study of the needs of students who are twice exceptional and those who are currently identified for advanced learning services in Seattle. The task force also examined historical and current practices, both in Seattle and across the country to create their recommendations to the school board and superintendent.

    We would like to acknowledge and thank the task force members for their hard work and commitment to students!

    1. Adopt a Mission and Vision for Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools

    The task force and the School Board developed a vision and mission that captures the beliefs of the district regarding equitable access for all students, upholds the tenets of research and practice befitting the needs of advanced learners, and communicates a commitment to the needs of each child in every school.

    The vision, mission, and commitments were first presented to the Board and Superintendent in November 2018. Feedback from that work session was included in subsequent revisions. On July 9 2019, the ALTF formally recommended the vision, mission, and commitments for superintendent approval. In Summer 2019, the ALTF formally submitted, to the school board, Foundational Recommendations to inform the revision of Board Policy 2190. Read the task force foundational recommendations.

    2. Define and/or Re-Develop Advanced Learning Programs and Highly Capable services

    The ALTF spent fall and winter of 2018-19 conducting a deep review of current highly capable practices, services and programs, the history of current district programming, and have examined data to understand the disparities across the system including under-representation of students of color who are furthest from educational justice. Members have developed an understanding of Washington state law, district policy, and procedural guidelines including expectations from OSPI, characteristics of the advanced or 'gifted' (highly capable) learner, as well as needs of twice exceptional and dually qualified learners (highly capable English language learners).

    3. Ensuring Equitable Identification and Access

    Task force members have also participated in training on application of the district's racial equity analysis tool to policy and program recommendations, which has informed and will continue to inform their work. Members have also conducted research on state and nation-wide gifted services and practices that support barrier-free, representative, and equitable access to advanced teaching and learning for all students.

    4. Policy Revisions, Adoption, and Districtwide Implementation

    A revised Policy 2190 will be introduced through the formal Board approval process beginning on October 8, 2019 at the Curriculum and Instruction Committee Meeting. Read current Policy 2190.

    Moving Forward and Next Steps:

    While the task force policy recommendations will be presented to the school board over the next two months, work will continue to develop related Superintendent Procedures. Procedure development and revisions will take place over the next year.

    It is important to note the following considerations regarding any recommended policy and procedural changes that may result from the work of the district in response to task force policy recommendations:

    • If procedural changes are approved in response to changes in policy, current students would be grandfathered into their current placement.
    • The earliest changes to implementing highly capable services would be the 2021-22 school year.
    • Alternative placement options would still be available.
    • The district envisions implementation of equitably accessible services will occur over a six-year period, to create a sustainable and smooth transition.
    • As work moves forward, time will be devoted to engaging stakeholders regarding structures and services that reflect the new vision, mission, commitments, and policy, if approved by the Seattle School Board.
    • The district will be developing a procedural guide to set expectations and accountability for the delivery of high-quality and accessible advanced learning services for all students.
    • The district will initiate and charge a new Highly Capable Equity and Services Advisory Committee in the Fall 2019 to support development of the procedural recommendations, pending board approval of policy.
    • An enhancement of services and programs for Advanced Learning will require funding and participation in professional development for staff.