PPS Talented and Gifted Advisory Council End-of-Year Report, June 2018
The Districts TAG Advisory Council (TAGAC) is charged to make recommendations to the TAG Administrator,
the Superintendent, and the School Board with respect to services for talented and gifted students in Portland
Public Schools. This serves as our end-of-year report for the 2017-2018 school year.
Although we have seen improvements since the school district hired a dedicated TAG Director in
2015 including, notably, implementation of true universal TAG testing for cognitive ability in 2nd grade and
streamlining of testing many areas of concern with TAG services are unchanged since the Oregon Department
of Education last worked through a corrective action process with Portland Public Schools between 2009-2011.
Namely, the district continues to lack concrete and predictable services that meet all identified students at their
accelerated rate and assessed level of learning as required by Oregon Administrative Rule 581-022-2500 . PPS has
self-reported its non-compliance with Division 22 TAG requirements for the past two years.
We assert that these issues cannot be tackled by the TAG department on its own, as they cross departmental,
curricular, and budgetary boundaries. Truly addressing them requires not only a district champion in the shape of
the TAG department, but also that TAG learning be included as a regular part of discussions across the system.
We believe this is a moment of great opportunity. As our new PPS leadership team brings online new assessment
tools and creates scope and sequence plans, it can ensure that teachers finally have the structural and curricular
tools they need to support all our districts learners, including the atypical ones.
While these changes are underway, we expect all of these best practices for accelerated learners to be maintained
Compacted math (CY1 and CY2) at all K-8 and middle schools1
ACCESS Academy alternative school for highly gifted students
In addition, here are specific areas of focus we believe could improve accelerated learners experience in PPS and
help bring the district into compliance with state law.
1 Until recently, the district routinely did not offer compacted math at most Title 1 schools. See gPortland Public Schools Shortchanges
Low-income Students in Classes and Class Time,h Oregonlive.com 1/2016
TAG identification and Services for English Language Learners
"[R]equire that assessments for identification of academically gifted students are administered in the native
language of ELL students when appropriate assessments are available in those languages."
"[P]rovide for and carry out policies for the identification of ELL students who have the potential to perform at
the 97th percentile for academic achievement when there are no standardized tests available in the students
Oregon Department of Education letter to PPS, 11/20092
In the Oregon Department of Educations letter to PPS in 11/2009, ODE specifically instructed PPS to work on
increasing the representation of ELL students in TAG. Still, in the 2015-16 school year the most recent year that
TAGAC has comparative data for ELL students were the least represented of all historically underserved groups
in TAG with fewer than 1 percent of TAG students also classified as ELL, as opposed to 8 percent of all district
students. It is unclear how many former ELL students are TAG identified. We anticipate a gap due to
overwhelming trend of racial disparities in identification for gifted education3. Yet we encourage the district to
track this metric to show progress in closing the achievement gap for highly-capable emergent bilinguals.
The TAG Departments recent proposal to use the Culturally, Linguistically and/or Economically Diverse
( CLED ) Scales for identifying TAG Potential students may be a step toward fulfilling this promise. However, PPS
also needs to acquire tests and proctor student testing in all 5 of PPS supported languages. As part of a systemic
approach to TAG services, this testing could be discussed as part of "newcomer services," now under
development in order to match students with appropriate services before they become further at risk.
Although representative identification is important, TAG identification only matters if it is paired with targeted
interventions that keep students engaged and growing academically; this is especially true for historically
underserved populations . For this reason, we request that PPS also implement services to serve TAG ELL
students at their accelerated rate and assessed level of learning.
Dual language immersion programs (DLI) are an obvious opportunity to reach ELL-TAG students4. Culturally
relevant push in or pull out services for the DLI setting should be developed. Current scope and sequence,
curricular materials, and professional development for DLI lag behind an already antiquated PPS system. Some
PPS schools state that the mere existence of DLI5 or world language6 is a TAG service. This may be true in the
early years for a native English speaker, but it is certainly not true for the accelerated language arts learner whose
native language is the target language. TAGAC also fields questions about studentsparticularly in early
elementary schoolwho are not provided instruction at their assessed rate and level for math in DLI because their
grasp of mathematical terms in the target language is relatively weak. The rate and level of math instruction
should match the mathematical ability, even if it requires language scaffolding in the DLI context. Finally, the
2 See http//www.tagpdx.org/ODE_to_PPS_11_12_09.pdf
3 See g The gInvisibleh Gifted and Talented Bilingual Studentsh
http//journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0162353211432041?journalCode=jegband gIdentifying English Language Learners for Gifted
and Talented Programshhttps//www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02783193.2007.11869221
4 See gDual-Language Gifted Education and Its Evaluationh https//link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-6162-2_66
district should explore creating dual-language immersion/TAG focus option schools or strands like those in
Tucson, AZ ; Pinellas County, FL ; El Paso, TX ; and Salt 7 8 9 Lake City, UT10.
TAG Identification and Services for Twice Exceptional Learners
"Both [SPED and TAG] have responsibility, and both should work in cooperation with students who are twice
"The legal requirements are the same as with a TAG student who is not twice exceptional. The students abilities
will determine appropriate instruction."
Oregon Department of Education TAG FAQ11
Twice exceptional studentsthose who have advanced cognitive abilities or achievement in math or reading that
coexist with specific learning disabilities like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder,
dyslexia, or dysgraphiaare a heterogeneous sub-population that is at high risk both academically and
social-emotionally12. I n order to stay on track for high school graduation, these students may require interventions
to manage frustration, socio-emotional wellbeing, and increasing academic demands.13
Twice exceptional students are a difficult subpopulation to identify as TAG because their cognitive ability may
mask their disabilityparticularly in elementary school14. Twice-exceptional students may also be less likely to
get supports through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) because they are more likely to be working at
grade level than similarly disabled peers15 and may thus be steered towards, or only eligible for, 504 plans16a
sub-group PPS does not track. In the 2015-16 school year the most recent year that TAGAC has comparative
data for 5 percent of TAG students were also receiving special education service through an IEP, as opposed to
13 percent of all district students. Yet 11 to 14 percent of students at the districts alternative school for highly
gifted students, ACCESS, have an IEP. Understanding these identification trendsincluding 504 numbers and the
distribution within TAG qualifying scoreswill be critical to addressing issues of twice-exceptional learners in
We also request that PPS examine its special education (IEP and 504) and discipline processes to identify and
implement practices that would increase coordination with TAG identification and services. A systematic
approach to this issue would cross the boundaries between Special Education staff, classroom teachers, and the
TAG department to include professional development around c haracteristics common to underachieving gifted
students. It would also include triggers for one-on-one educational testing such as the Wechsler Intelligence
12 See gTwice Exceptional Multiple Pathways to Successh. https//link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-6162-2_23
13 See gCritical Issues in the Identification of Gifted Students with Co-existing Disabilities The Twice Exceptionalh in Sage Open
14 See gThe Identification of Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities Challenges, Controversies, and Promising Practices.h
https//link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-9116-4_3and gCreating a Toolkit for Identifying Twice Exceptional Studentsh
15 See gThe Identification of Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities Challenges, Controversies, and Promising Practices.h
16 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that schools make accommodations for students with disabilities who do not require
Scale for Children by a school psychologist as part of both the TAG and the districts system of behavioral
support systems . Likewise, TAG personnel should also attend TAG identified students 17 IEP meetings. This
cooperation is particularly important for twice-exceptional students because instruction at the appropriate rate and
level can be a critical intervention to increase their self-worth and reduce negative behaviors and alienation
associated with school18.
Rate and Level Instruction in Elementary Schools
"[The district must show] evidence of use of TAG Lesson Planning Template with embedded TAG lesson."
"Pre-assessment was in place in many lesson plans, but whole group instruction continued. Therefore,
pre-assessment appeared not to drive instruction for TAG students."
"The building TAG plan is not a substitute for clear communication with parents and students about accelerated
ODE corrective action letter to PPS, 5/201119
The district has long claimed differentiation in heterogeneous classrooms as its main technique for delivering
TAG services while failing to provide teachers with professional development in TAG best practices or
standardized curricular materials for out-of-level learners. Our new leadership has an opportunity to make
radical progress with these issues when designing scope and sequence and planning the new roll-out of district
Mindful inclusion of TAG extensions in scope and sequence work, for example, would be a big step towards
supporting teachers efforts to differentiate, especially if teachers also have access to adaptive assessment tools
that can accurately test how far above grade level a student is working.
Additionally, the system-wide adoption of two proven best practices clustering TAG students with similar
strengths in groups of 3-5 in elementary classrooms20 and using flexible ability grouping21 for instruction could
make differentiation much more effective. Both these techniques were included in the TAG Departments
proposal for a continuum of TAG services, presented to the School Boards Teaching and Learning Committee on
3/8/17.22 Notably, these techniques are used successfully by neighboring districts that serve a higher percentage of
historically underserved students, such as David Douglas.
Elementary school administrators usually point to the difficulty of aligning schedules as the biggest structural
barrier they face when providing one of the most proven of TAG services, acceleration. This problem, however, is
not present in middle school as students move to a 6 or 8 period day. Middle schools also provide economies of
17See gThe Identification of Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities Challenges, Controversies, and Promising Practices.h
18See gInterventions work, but we need more!h https//link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4419-9116-4_11
19 See letter from Oregon Department of Education, 5/2001 http//www.tagpdx.org/PPS%20ltr%20mailed%205-31-11.pdf
20 See Karen B. RFogers, Ph.Dfs gRe-Forming Gifted Education How Parents and Teachers Can Match the Program to the Childh
21 See James A Kulik and Chen-Lin C.Kulikfs gEffects of Ability Grouping on Student Achievementh
22 See meeting materials for details
scale when dealing with accelerated learners, as students come together from multiple feeders. The TAG
Departments proposal for a continuum of TAG services included middle school academies that offered cohort
classes in humanities and science as well as ability placement in math, allowing students to accelerate beyond the
present compacted math pathway. Beaverton offers a similar model with their SUMMA academies for middle
school students who meet specific qualifications.23
Access to Accelerated Learning Opportunities in Middle and High School
"Provide access for all TAG students to accelerated programs, including programs that may not be available in a
students own school."
"Fulfilling the Oregon TAG mandate must include proof of systemization of accelerated learning opportunities,
especially postsecondary options available to TAG students at all PPS high schools."
Corrective Action letter from Oregon Department of Education to PPS, May 31, 2011 and July 1, 2011. 24
Acceleration is the most effective curriculum intervention for TAG students; a review of 380 studies revealed that
almost all forms of acceleration result in growth in achievement25. The Oregon TAG mandate should be most
easily fulfilled in middle and high school, as students have more opportunity to access classes that fit their
advanced level ( if not their accelerated rate ) of learning in different subjects. However, limited access to advanced
coursework has been a frequent target of corrective action for PPS and has reemerged as an issue recently.
Although School Board Policy 6.10.100-P26 says that students should receive high school credit for equivalent
course work taken prior to 9th grade, a proposal now under discussion27 would limit which science classes count
toward graduation requirements and specifically forbid students from taking one or more of the required science
courses in middle school. The first of these courses to be implemented, freshman Patterns Physics, was designed
specifically for students who have not completed Algebra. This creates a disconnect with PPS only widely-used
path to acceleration, Compacted Math, which is taken by students across the district.
While we appreciate efforts to create a clear pathway for science, we must note that to comply with state law, PPS
must provide clear pathways for acceleration . Recent actions remove an opportunity for acceleration rather than
expanding it. Alternative paths to acceleration might include developing a standard middle school offering of
Patterns Physics available to students who have science interest; allowing students to test out of Patterns science
curricula; and adding lessons that cover NGSS standards into the AP and IB curriculum so that these courses can
be used to cover this material at a more advanced level. As it may be easier, logistically, to support students who
need radical acceleration in one PPS high school, the district could also revive the ACCESS Academy high school
23 For a description of Beavertonfs SUMMA program, see https//www.beaverton.k12.or.us/depts/tchlrn/Pages/TAG_Summa-Information.aspx
24 See Corrective Action letter May 31, 2011 http//www.tagpdx.org/PPS%20ltr%20mailed%205-31-11.pdf and also Corrective Action letter
July 1, 2011 http//www.tagpdx.org/PPS%20ltr%20mailed%207-1-11.pdf
25 Colangelo, Nicholas; Assouline, Susan G.; Gross, Miraca U. M. gA Nation Deceived How Schools Hold Back Americafs Brightest Students.h
Iowa City, IA. Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, 2004.
26 Board Policy 6.10.100-P, High School Credit Earned Prior to Ninth Grade
27 See minutes for 4/9/2018 Teaching and Learning Committee,
28 ACCESS was approved as a 1-12 program by School Board Resolution 2148. It is described in the original ACCESS charter
(currently located at Grant high school, but unsupported by PPS or Grant administration), open up admissions for
the program at 9th grade, and develop an acceleration pathway at a single high school.
Predictable and Automatic TAG Services
"Institute a monitoring process to make TAG program policy implementation and practice consistent across the
entire district. While the district may want to allow individual buildings a measure of autonomy as they serve
communities with unique identities and populations, the district must demonstrate that it is upholding its
responsibility to see that those buildings comply with the TAG statutes and administrative rules."
ODE corrective action letter to PPS, 11/2009
No matter what TAG services PPS offers, students must also be able to access them automatically without
parent intervention or advocacy. The current Compacted Math pathway is a good example of a pathway that is
relatively easy to access. We believe, for instance, that a 90th percentile score on a nationally-normed math
achievement test either during SBAC testing, as that continues, or Iowa testing should automatically trigger an
offer of Single Subject Acceleration (SSA) in Mathematics. Instead, a child that just demonstrated a high level of
achievement compared to age-level peers is subjected to more tests in a deficit-based framework looking for
knowledge "gaps." The district must put uniform structural supports in place to get students the instruction they
need. The current policy of requiring parents to transport their 5th or 8th grade students daily to the nearest middle
or high school for instruction if they pursue single subject acceleration is a shameless inequity that could be
prevented by system-wide thinking and support structures.
A Dedicated TAG Administrator
As a final note, we want to acknowledge the departure of the current TAG director, Andrew Johnson, to take a
principal position in southwest Portland. Although efforts to institute true TAG services across the district require
inter-departmental efforts, we expect the district to fill this important role as the point person for TAG services. In
the recent past, when the head of the Teaching and Learning department was charged with TAG among many
other duties, the result was no district focus on TAG learning at all. The person who fills this position should have
a background in TAG education and must be included in critical discussions taking place now about scope and
sequence and professional development. We look forward to collaborating with Mr. Johnsons successor at
monthly TAGAC meetings to ensure that our district meets the needs of all its learners.
This report was approved by a unanimous vote of the TAGAC membership on June 11, 2018.
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