TAGAC FEEDBACK ON TAG STRATEGIC PLAN JUNE 2007
We have reviewed the TAG strategic plan and strongly support the initiative to improve TAG services across the District. We are in favor of efforts to improve the identification of gifted students, particularly those that will increase identification of under-represented students. We also support the objective of providing more professional development to teachers and principals.
We do, however, feel that the strategic plan is lacking in one crucial area: programs and services. Programs and services are the substance of TAG, yet the actions in the plan are not clear and specific.
Action #1 states that "schools will identify student grouping options." Merely identifying options and articulating protocols isn't enough--grouping needs to actually be implemented. Therefore, we propose that the plan add an action item requiring implementation of grouping in all schools.
Action #2 describes creating a curriculum map/syllabus that identified core content, extensions, and supports. While we are in favor of this effort, we believe the plan doesn't go far enough, and should include a requirement that teachers use the extensions and supports appropriately with gifted students
Action #3 appears to be an attempt to address the issue of acceleration. The plan should specify how the District will facilitate early entry, early graduation, whole-grade acceleration, and single-subject acceleration. Also, single-subject acceleration stands out as the only one of these four modes of acceleration that Portland students do not currently have a formal right to pursue. As grade-level advancement in a single subject is often the most effective way to ensure that advanced students are provided with an appropriate level of learning, we believe that the strategic plan should specify the infrastructure--including advancement criteria and student plans, placement and achievement testing, and scheduling options--that need be in place to support single-subject acceleration
The strategic plan also appears to envision that the requirement for individual TAG plans be dropped in schools that adopt curriculum maps that address advanced learning options. We believe that TAG plans are an essential component of accountability. As such, we recommend that they be retained and modified to include measurable learning outcomes and that, where appropriate, they specify the accelerated learning pathways through which the needs of advanced learners can be met.
Finally, we strongly believe that advanced placement assessments should be conducted, and individual learning plans should be in place, much earlier in the school year. Under the current schedule, schools are not required to formulate, much less implement, appropriate levels of instruction until one-third or more of the school year has passed. In other words, the current requirements allow advanced students to be provided inappropriate levels of instruction for much of the school year.