CAPA held a GT Seminar
Last year, MCPS began the controversial GT/Choice program reform and expansion. A year later, what has change? How has Choice program entrance criteria changed? The much-vaulted program expansion, what progress has been made? Where is that headed? Chinese American community have a huge need for GT programs, will the expansion try to address those? On September 23, the director of MCPS’ Accelerated and Enriched Instructions (AEI), Meredith Casper, came to the CAPA-MC GT seminar to shed some light on these questions.
Ms. Casper presented briefing on how MCPS plans to meet the needs of highly able learners at all levels (ES/MS/HS). () Under the Curriculum 2.0 framework, Math enrichment takes place weekly starting in Kindergarten. Accelerated math starts in the fourth grade. Students also have opportunities and access to advanced reading list. In addition, starting at grade 2, student has the opportunity to participate in William and Mary reading program.
In addition, MCPS offers Takoma Magnet, Centers for Enriched Studies (formerly known as HGC), IB: Primary Year, Immersion and Dual language Immersion programs. Immersion language programs are based on lottery, while Dual/Two Way Immersion is opened to local /home school students. Immersion programs aims to develop students’ proficiency in multiple languages. IB Primary Year is opened to local/home students. It is an “inquiry-based, comprehensive” program which gives students a firmer grasp on global understanding.
Takoma Magnet and CES are application based programs. InView cognitive assessment is administered to all second graders. Parents are notified of the results in June. Students who rank above the 80th percentile is recommended to apply to Magnet and CES programs. Students who does not receive the recommendation can still take the application test and apply. CES are specially designed programs for students classified as “outliers,” and whose needs cannot be easily met in their original schools. MCPS is really looking to put students who do not have “academic peers” into the GT programs. If a school has 10 students who are very advanced, the local school should meet the needs of the students. However, these Centers are commonly mistaken as advanced math programs, though they still teach the standard Common Core math. A committee meets to examine the applicant’s academic performance, standardized test results, local peer group, and potential for success in these programs. Families will be notified of selection results in April of the following year.
In Middle school, advanced level-courses are available in mathematics and foreign languages. Access is dependent on previous classes and achievements. High School courses are available for 7th and 8th grade where appropriate.
In addition to advanced courses, Middle schools also offer Immersion, Magnets, Choice, and IB programs. These programs are assigned to specific schools within MCPS. Magnet program schools include Eastern (Humanities,) Roberto Clemente (Humanities and Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science,) as well as Takoma Park (Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science). Centers and Magnet programs are for students who demonstrate an academic need beyond their local peer group, and focus on acceleration and enrichment on subjects each school is designed for. Enrollment in Choice Middle Schools are by lottery and designated attendance boundaries. Immersion programs are based on previous enrollment or application. IB Programs are open to local/home school students.
MCPS is currently conducting field tests on Eastern and Takoma Park Middle School Magnet Program applications. Families of select Grade 5 students will be informed about these centers through the mail in the Fall. Students will be reviewed, and eligible students will participate in an on-line, above grove level assessment administered in January of the following year. Families have the freedom to test or not. Results are distributed in February.
In high school, Honors, Advanced Placement (AP,) and other advanced-level courses were established provide more challenging studies for “highly able and potentially high-achieving students,” who are “capable or motivated to pursue rigorous and challenging instruction.” The curriculum provides these classes in the courses of Information Technology/Computer Science, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Science, and other specific courses.
Honors courses include course work in multiple different subjects, and provide the opportunity for students to work independently at an accelerated pace on more advanced problems. AP coursework differs from Honors course in that AP courses end with Advanced Placement examinations. Students earns credit toward college courses if they score of 3 or higher in these examinations. Like Honors courses, AP courses are offer in a variety of subjects, such as Art and Social Studies.
In addition to advanced courses, there are also Magnet, diploma programs, IB programs, and special focus programs. The International Baccalaureate: Diploma Program is a two-year international program for 11th and 12th graders that leads to a qualification that is recognized by leading universities globally. For an IB diploma, students must take a rigorous liberal arts course of studies and complete examinations in six academic subjects. Magnet and special programs are application based programs. The process is initiated in Grade 8. Application is due by November 3rd of every year. Special focus programs include Communication Arts Programs, Biomedical Engineering, Visual Arts, Leadership Training Institutes, and other. Diploma programs are opened to local enrollment.
Many parents were anxious regarding the new application process, admission criteria, and selection process. Considering last year’s recommendation 3a in the Metis report, many parents asked whether there’s a quota by ethnicity. Ms. Capser stated that admission decisions are made by the Admission Committee of about twenty people. She maintained that the admission to CES and other application based programs are race-blind and school blind. the Admission Committee cannot look at which school the applicant comes from. There is no quota for any ethnicity or “feeding schools”. She also emphasized that the admission committee looks at the whole students, and that no one single criterion guarantees admission. Admission criteria are not weighted. With regards to the Choice/CES expansion, Ms. Casper indicated that MCPS is still doing field test and has not decided how, and where to expand. Some parents were wondering where can they join the conversation, Mrs./Ms. Casper indicated that MCCPTA GT Committee is looking for representative from every cluster.
CAPA-MC will advocate for CA communities and demand that MCPS open more local centers in schools with high CA population and a merit-based admission criteria. CAPA-MC has representative in both AEI parents’ council and APASAAG. APASAAG is a newly formed advisory committee chartered under MCPS. CAPA-MC will use all channel available to push more these policy objectives.
CAPA-MC is a 501c(3) non-profit, non-partisan, all volunteer organization that serves Chinese American parents and children. For more information, please visit www.capamc.org.