During its June 13 meeting, the Clinton City School Board of Education got into a heated discussion over the 2013-16 AIG Plan that Lenora Locklear, K-12 director of Curriculum and Instruction, presented to them for a second reading.
As in the school board’s previous work session, the hang-up centered around the section of the plan that allowed transfer students accpetance into the AIG program even if they did not meet the city school’s specific standards upon entering.
According to Locklear, “the proposed 2013-16 AIG Plan contained provisions concerning student transfers from other North Carolina school systems. Should a student transfer from another system as an identified gifted student, the school’s Gifted Identification Team would review the transfering student’s data in order to determine an appropriate service match for the student in the AIG program, whether it be in ‘Content Replacement’ or ‘Resource.’”
Board member Carol Worley took issue with the fact that a transfer student could enter the AIG program with a score of 85 or 90 even though that score is below the city schools’ required score of 92.
“So the team will be deciding, not the data?” asked Worley.
Locklear stressed that the AIG team would make decisions but that it would be according to the data and noted that the AIG Plan contained such a provision so transfer students could be “given the chance to prove to us that they can do it.”
“The concept behind the proposed transfer policy was based on the ideas that each LEA in North Carolina has an AIG selection process similar to the process in Clinton City Schools with some differences in the criteria,” Locklear later explained. “We err on the side of the child, allowing the child to prove that he or she can perform in the program, with provisions in our plan that addresses that issue if the child cannot perform.”
Worley agreed with erring on the side of the student but expressed concern that this portion of the AIG Plan seemed to err more on the side of the transfer students than the city schools’ own students, saying the school system should give its own students the same chance to prove if they can be a part of the AIG program.
Locklear pointed out that the school system’s own students are given that opportunity, noting that teachers can recommend students for the AIG program and that those students can then be tested. She added that 21 K-2 students had recently gone through the AIG testing.
Board member Georgina Zeng questioned that number. “What about the other kids? They don’t get to be tested?”
Worley also questioned how aware teachers are of the recommendation process and how many recommendations are being made.
“I’m concerned about this K-2 transition,” shared Worley, wanting to know “how many students will be allowed in the program in second grade.”
“We don’t have a cap,” answered Locklear.
“Oh, I believe we do have a cap,” responded Worley. “There isn’t an understood max?”
“If there is, I have no dea,” assured Locklear.
“I still feel very uncomforatble with this,” said Zeng. “Can we table this matter and come to a better understanding of it?”
Zeng made the offical motion to table the AIG Plan which Worley seconded.
Superintendent Stuart Blount then noted that “there has been ample opportunity for clarification questions” and that he wanted to “provide you (the board) with an understanding that this process has been vetted…Please consider those factors in this process.”
Board member Jason Walters agreed that the AIG Plan had been worked on “diligently” and that he believed “we (the board) should approve it if it’s right.”
“It’s past time to turn this process over to the educators,” interjected board member Diane Viser. “We, as board members, need to let go of this and let it follow through as recommended.”
“I think we’ve comprised a lot,” said Walters of the plan. “In talking with teachers, not everyone wants to accept the transfers like that.”
The board then voted to table the issue with Worley and Zeng in favor and Viser, Barefoot, and board chairman E.R. Mason voting against. Walters excused himself from the vote.
“I would just feel better if we had something to err on the side of our students,” said Worley.
Walters made a motion to amend the plan so that “transfers have to meet the same standards and demands as our kids” in order to be accepted into the AIG program.
After Worley seconded Walters motion, the board voted 5-1 — Viser was opposed — to amend the AIG plan.
Then, in a vote overriding the original, the board unanimously accepted the plan with the amendment to the transfer student policy, indicating that transfering students be required to meet Clinton City School’s specific AIG standards prior to admittance into the AIG program.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.