TAG screening for Title 1 schools

10:56 pm

Just a quick update.  I attended a TAG information meeting tonight where the TAG coordinators announced that all 2nd graders in Title 1 schools will be screened this year for TAG  through  “culturally fair, non-verbal” assessments.  Kids who appear to be potential TAG candidates will then go through a more formal assessment process.  Next year, all 2nd graders District-wide will be screened.  I hadn’t heard this before and I know nothing about the nature of the screening tool they will be using, but it seems to me that this is a positive development that deserves some good press. 

This new initiative is in addition to the existing process by which parents and teachers can nominate students for testing. 

 It’s a small step, no doubt a response to the state finding that PPS was not in compliance with state TAG standards, and certainly won’t redress the longstanding disparity in TAG identification, but I’m very pleased to see PPS taking to heart some of the critiques of the program. 

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Rita Moore has a Ph.D. in Political Science and taught at universities in the US and Europe for 18 years. She now works as an advocate for children in the child welfare system and volunteers as a mediator and facilitator. She has one child in PPS and recently ran for the zone four position on the Portland Public Schools Board of Education.

filed under: Assessment, Equity

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5 Responses

  1. Comment from Lakeitha:

    Yes Rita,this is a big step that should get some positive press. Maybe at some point in the near future we will be able to report that there are more African American students identified for TAG than there are identified for Special ED.

  2. Comment from Marian:

    Ok, so once these kids (from Title I schools or otherwise) get the TAG designation, will anything really be done? From what I hear, because there is no funding for TAG, the schools are encouraging parents to sign waivers so they don’t have to come up with special plans for these kids. Can anyone tell me what benefits there are for TAG kids in neighborhood schools?

  3. Comment from Rita Moore:

    It’s true that there is currently no funding for TAG programs and that the services for these kids are minimal at best. It is also true that many schools encourage the waivers. Nevertheless, I think this is a good development, particularly since PPS is being asked to ramp up its TAG program in response to the state report.

    For one thing, having a kid identified as TAG may alert a parent to talents that had not been recognized. In addition, designation means that parents have a point of leverage on the school to identify their kid’s needs and develop a plan to meet them. It often requires a considerable degree of persistence on the part of the parent, but then most things do. At least this gives a parent something to work with.

    In a broader perspective, I think (or at least hope) that more extensive efforts to identify kids’ talents may help to dispel some preconceptions that affect the way some communities are schooled.

    I understand the hesitations around TAG, but I think the problem is not with the concept, but with the execution. Historically, TAG identification has absolutely been correlated with race and income, but I suspect that says more about the ID process than the incidence of talented kids in the society.

    I don’t have a lot of evidence for this, but I have a strong suspicion that some significant proportion of drop outs, discipline problems, and underachievement may be attributable to kids being just plain bored. I grew up in a working poor family in Boston, not known even then for its public education. One of my sisters, who is one of the smartest people I know,
    dropped out of high school at 16 because she was just bored out of her mind. That led to a long period of turmoil, including the usual litany of things, and decades of misery and wasted talent. I don’t think she’s unusual. The current obsession with drilling and testing is bad enough for most kids, but for more gifted kids it can be quite literally deadly. In my work with kids in foster care, I see an awful lot of kids with cognitive and emotional problems, but I also see a lot of kids who have behavioral problems that I suspect may be linked to understimulation in school. They are virtually never even considered for TAG designation, just because they don’t fit the profile. Better to give them meds for ADHD than consider the
    possibility that they’re acting out because they’re desperately bored.

    So I think rather than throwing out the concept, we should democratize it and consider the possibility that some kids may be underachieving because they’re too clever rather than not clever enough and that maybe the “achievement gap” is actually a function of low expectations and soul-killing curricula.

    I’m being uncharacteristically optimistic here, but if these assessments are done in good faith, I don’t see a downside.

  4. Comment from mneloa:

    I would say, test all the the kids, 2nd grade or 3rd.
    My child would never have been identified had I not been aware of the TAG designation and pushed for testing in 2nd grade. His teacher was not interested.
    Being bright and bored stiff is bad enough in the
    early grades…I remember being totally embarrassed when I lost track of the class’s slow progress on what I’d read already. When you get to highschool it can get worse as the schools have gotten rid of any requirements for the more advanced classes.
    OK, imagine that anyone who wanted to be on the varsity football team could be. Lottery, no favorites except for NCLB preferences…
    A child being very bright should be seen as something wonderful, something to cultivate. So many do drop out. What a waste.
    Interesting, too, whether the TAG program has funding or not. They paid for lots of things for my kid…after I suggested that his middle school was
    not “in compliance”. Which it wasn’t, but all we wanted was some extra math.

  5. Comment from Steve Buel:

    The model we use for TAG doesn’t really work. I have long advocated we set up a model which truly addresses the actual needs of TAG students. It is so interesting that we can’t get this done since you would think the SFC and PSF parents would really be behind this. Maybe they are afraid that actually addressing the situation might leave their child behind. Wouldn’t want that now would we?