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Bellevue Gifted Program Upcoming Changes

by JC, published: 2012-10-14 21:06 viewed: 2065 times
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Recently I heard some parents went to the meeting for discussing the latest gifted (PRISM) program changes. Here is the link for the Bellevue Gifted Advisory Committee Meeting Notes.

The meeting notes didn't mention this but the following are the proposed changes starting from Fall 2012. Basically the enrichment students will be combined with the gifted (PRISM) students together.

-There will be new (read loosened acceptance) criteria for the gifted program for 2nd and 3rd grade students

-Increase the number of 2nd and 3rd grade students to up to four times the current size

-To accomodate more students, there will be TWO schools (Spiritridge & Cherry Crest) offering gifted programs

-The current PRISM students in Spiritridge Elementary will be divided into the two schools based on home location

A lot of parents have concerns about this, mainly:

1) This effectively eliminates the PRISM program, which has been very successful in educating gifted students.

2) It would lower the quality of the PRISM standards. The truly gifted kids won't be able to learn, grow and challenged like they are now in the current program. The new gifted program initiative is basically a watered-down version that tries to satisfy two sets of students, i.e., gifted and highly-gifted. But the teaching will be catering to the lowest common level.

3) Many families relocated from other school districts to Bellevue BSD just for this PRISM program because of its huge success in the past. This change will be a big setback for these families.

Overall, having the highly gifted (PRISM) program separate from gifted/enrichment program is the best practice. Research has shown both type of students excel in this case.

Irregardless of what will be coming up, it seems the trend of lower quality of the gifted program has begun already. Case in point, especially these two years, there seem to be more students accepted into the PRISM program than before.
Comments (11)
1. JC 2012-03-22 21:31
Here is another message I received from a gifted program parent, quoted as follows:

"Bellevue School District is contemplating a plan to address the unmet needs of the district's enrichment kids. One of the options they are seriously considering is to have a combined "Gifted" program that includes both PRISM and Enrichment for elementary and middle school. Many PRISM parents have major concerns with this approach. The School District's decision is scheduled to be announced by April 24th". So this gives the parents basically a month for feedback.

Some of the PRISM parents from Odle are working on the following:

1. A petition website for all PRISM parents to exchange information and express their concerns & questions.

2. Organizing a PRISM parents only meeting with the GAC members to discuss the situation and voice concerns.
2. lb 2012-03-23 09:24
email from Karen Roper, co-founder of PAGE:

Hi all. I wanted to stay out of this conversation until the district posts its FAQs. However, there is some misunderstanding evident in this string that may be driving some of your concerns.

1. The only things the District has committed to at this time is using a gifted identification system that will meet the legal requirements (we were NOT in compliance with State law, which requires using multiple measures), and serving all gifted kids from two locations for elementary. There were probably also be two locations for middle school in a couple of years, since sheer numbers dictate this change. Even if only the prism kids were being served at the elementary level, we needed a second site by next year. The program is simply growing too fast.

2. No programming/curriculum decisions have been made yet. That means NO ONE has decided to put the prism and enrichment kids together in one classroom. One of the options being considered is operating the elementary schools with a master schedule that would allow students who were highly gifted in (for example) math, but not in language arts to take a prism-level math class and an enrichment-level LA class. However, if the student scored in the highly gifted in all areas, he/she would be assigned to highly gifted classes, pretty much Prism across the board. THIS HAS NOT BEEN DECIDED, but it is the option that the committee is currently supporting most strongly, and has the advantage of addressing needs of kids with domain-specific gifts WITHOUT taking away from those who are highly gifted or demanding too much from those who are gifted.

3. With just the current numbers of prism students, there are enough kids to support classes in two locations. We are currently running 2-4 sections at every grade level.

I encourage everyone to gather their concerns and ideas and make them available to Sharon Kautz and Teresa Janes, but then give them a chance to lay out the FAQs before taking it any further.

Karen Roper
3. JC 2012-03-23 09:40
Thanks lb for the info. Hoping the best outcome. BTW, if the Odle parent petition website is ready, I will post it here.
4. JC 2012-03-26 19:45
Some more info regarding the upcoming changes in PRISM (per Bellevue Schools Parents Alliance for Gifted Education)

1. No Programming or curriculum decisions have been made yet. There has been NO decision to merge Prism and Enrichment students in one classroom. One of the options being considered is operating the elementary schools with a master schedule that would allow students who are highly gifted in (for example) math, but not in language arts, to take a Prism-level math class and an Enrichment-level language arts class. However, if the student scored in the highly gifted level in all areas, he/she would be assigned to highly gifted classes, across the board. This has not been decided, but is the option that GAC is currently supporting most strongly, and has the advantage of addressing needs of students with domain-specific gifts without taking away from those who are highly gifted or demanding too much from those who are gifted.

2. Prism will need room to expand regardless of any selection or programming changes. Even if Prism remains unchanged, the number of students has increased so much that two elementary schools are required to accommodate students next year and two middle schools the following year. Prism has already outgrown Spiritridge’s building capacity this year, and will outgrow Odle’s capacity after next year. This separation will take place regardless of any changes to the gifted program.

3. The only firm decision the District has made is to adopt a gifted identification system that will comply with State law. BSD has not been in compliance with State law, which requires using multiple measures to identify eligible students.
5. JC 2012-03-27 18:04
Here is the survey that parents of gifted program should go to fill out. It will take some minutes but worth it to voice our concern to the BSD: Bellevue PRISM Parents Association Survey

Based on the results of this survey, the parents association will present the board members with concerns and find ways to address those concerns.
6. JC 2012-03-30 18:48
I heard that over 250 parents filled out the parent survey above. Next step is that there will be a meeting to review results:

Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 7PM to 8:30PM
Location: Odle Middle School Library

Agenda
-Presentation of the survey results
-Status on gifted program changes
-Discussion on next steps
7. JC 2012-04-04 13:38
Latest Parent Meeting Notes:

First, here is the Bellevue Prism Parents Survey Review. The survey result from gifted student parents are overwhelmingly (88%) against splitting gifted programs into two locations.

The following are agreed upon from the meeting:
-Create a steering committee of parents (both from Odle and Spiritridge)
-Arrange a meeting between GAC and the committee
-Arrange a meeting between Superintendent's Cabinet and the committee
8. JC 2012-04-05 10:00
despite the official communication of no decisions being made, the decision has been made and it is looking grim for the PRISM program. The BSD gifted committee are going full speed with splitting the PRISM program.

Parents of the gifted program are encouraged to contact these people to express concerns and hopefully might be able to reverse the course:

Teresa Jane - Supervisor to the Gifted Program - janest@bsd405.org 425-456-4196
Eva Collins - Interim Superintendant - collinse@bsd405.org, 425-456-4109
Ricardo Cruz - Assistant Superintendant - cruzr@bsd405.org, 425-4564074
Sharon Kautz - Executive Director - kautzs@bsd405.org , 425-456-4109
Patty Siegwarth - Executive Director - siegwarthp@bsd405.org, 425-456-4156
Judy Buckaster - Execcutive Director - buckmasterj@bsd405.org, 425-456-4055
Cindy Rogan - Director - roganc@bsd405.org, 425-456-4108
John Harrison - Director - harrisonj@bsd405.org, 425-456-4160
Jacque Coe - Director - coej@bsd405.org, 425-456-4000
9. JC 2012-04-22 22:33
Here are the updates I learned about the Bellevue Gifted Program (PRISM) splitting into two locations:

Reasons for Splitting the Gifted Program

-Spiritridge is out of room even without any changes to the PRISM program, the reason being:
1) Extra 23 kids coming into the 3rd grade
2) Current 4th grade moving up to 5th grade is one class larger than the existing 5th grade
3) Spiritridge is already overbooked by 3 classrooms
-Current AEP program is ending and BSD is still committed to providing enhanced curriculum to those kids
-Comply with state requirements on gifted programs
-Provide future programming plans to Boundary Review board

What's For Sure

-Only the incoming 2nd and 3rd grade students will not have a choice on which school to attend (Cherry Crest or Spiritridge elementary)
-The 4th and 5th grade classrooms do not have to be evenly divided between Cherry Crest and Spiritridge elementary for the next year
-The parents of 4th and 5th grade student will have a choice to stay with Spiritridge elementary or move to Cherry Crest

So far Bellevue School District DOES NOT have a long term plan for the gifted program yet. Most of the actions that are happening today are immediate reactions to facility challenges. No one is looking ahead 4 to 5 years to figure out exactly what kind of gifted program Bellevue needs and plans on how to get there.

What's Decided

-The split into two schools is final.
-All Enatai gifted students will go to Spiritridge and not Cherry Crest.
-No student projections for the year after, when the changes will affect all grades. BSD believes they will probably need to have 12 gifted classes at Spiritridge. (yeah, 12, that's a LOT)
-The plan is to make a recommendation to the Boundary committee to review the Spiritridge area.
-BSD may tweak the criteria if they see a big influx of students.
10. JC 2012-06-22 23:53
I heard the name of the gifted program will change from PRISM to GESP (Gifted Elementary School program).

Note I've never known what is actually the full name for PRISM.

There are teachers that are currently at Spiritridge Elementary who will be teaching gifted at Cherry Crest Elementary starting this Fall.

According to BSD, students will be assigned to Cherry Crest Elementary School gifted class if they are from these elementary schools: Ardmore, Bennett, Clyde Hill, Medina, Sherwood Forest, Stevenson.

Students will be assigned to Spiritridge Elementary School if they are from these elementary schools: Eastgate, Enatai, Lake Hills, Newport Heights, Phantom Lake, Somerset, Woodridge.
11. JC 2012-10-14 21:06
PAGE Bellevue Gifted is now on Facebook.
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