The 2017/18 school year is wrapping up and we at the GTCAC are truly gratified that some of the goals we have been hard at work on have finally been realized this year.
1. Policy 6401 and Rule 6401, which govern GT and advanced academics in Baltimore County Public Schools, were revised and approved. The GTCAC has been working with BCPS on this over the past several years and believe this revision to be a major improvement over the previous policy.
Some of the things we really pushed for?
The policy more closely follows Maryland Annotated Code and the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), which all school districts are obligated to comply with. It continues to keep “gifted and talented” in the title, making clear that gifted and talented identification and programming are part of the educational offerings in Baltimore County. It improves accountability measures by specifically requiring the superintendent to consistently implement, periodically evaluate, and revise identification procedures while also monitoring and evaluating the administration and instructional delivery of advanced academic services in all BCPS schools. The superintendent will also be required to annually provide the Board with disaggregated data for advanced academics students which will include student achievement, attendance, suspension rate, graduation rate and standardized test scores, providing much more transparency.
The rule defines twice-exceptional (2e) students and makes clear that a student’s educational disability will not prevent participation in advanced academics programs and services. Students who are participating in advanced academics who also have an individualized education program (IEP) or a section 504 plan will receive the program modifications, accommodations and/or services required by the IEP or 504 plan. The rule also clearly delineates the principal’s role in communicating to stakeholders about the nature, content and expectations of advanced academics programs and services as well as their obligation to consistently monitor and implement advanced academic programming and identify and refer students for advanced academics. They must also analyze program implementation and report disaggregated data on student participation in advanced academics.
2. Two new e-learning positions were added this school year at the urging of the GTCAC. These positions will support GT students who receive home and hospital services as well as provide options for students in some high schools that may not have enough interested students to offer an entire AP or GT course. There are also requests in the FY 2019 budget to add more positions.
3. After GTCAC advocacy on this issue for more than a decade, BCPS has approved a CogAT pilot to start in the fall of 2018. We anticipate that this objective cognitive assessment will better identify underrepresented populations for GT courses and improve the racial and socioeconomic diversity of students participating in advanced academics.
4. The proposed 2018/19 school budget includes three new full-time positions for the Advanced Academic GT office — a recommendation the GTCAC made to Superintendent White in our December meeting with her. This office has not had an increase in staffing in a decade and has also been understaffed in comparison to surrounding counties. Increasing staff improves the ability of the Advanced Academic office to better develop and implement advanced academic programs across the district.
5. Extra duty assignment pay has been negotiated and approved for the 2018/19 school year, Advanced Academic GT facilitators within each school will begin receiving compensation for this extra work which, in turn, will create a better chain of accountability from the school house to the Office of Advanced Academics. This was a direct ask made of Superintendent White at the GTCAC December meeting that was then negotiated with TABCO.
In addition to these accomplishments, the GTCAC continues to host monthly meetings, present comments to the Board of Education, and advocate regularly on issues of importance to gifted and talented education.
However . . . one of our goals we are still working on is to increase participation and involvement in the GTCAC — we’d love to increase our numbers and better reflect the diversity of our county. We meet on the first Wednesday of every month and our next meeting will be on Wednesday, June 6th at 7 PM at the BCPS Greenwood Campus in Building E, Room 114. After you’ve come to only four of our meetings, you automatically become a GTCAC member! Please consider attending a meeting and see what we are all about. Have more questions? Email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org!