RE: Columbia Public Schools’ Extended Educational Experience Program

By Tara Warne-Griggs

Background

On Monday, June 8, 2020, former Rock Bridge High School students presented a list of student demands to the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. The first of eight items on the list: “Disband Extended Educational Experiences (EEE) and other gifted programs and redirect the resources to underprivileged kids.

When this list was posted to several social media pages, it was striking how many people’s first comments were about how important EEE was, or asking why this would be on the list at all? Many people jumped in to state how important EEE had been to their particular student.

There’s a whole conversation to be had about why people’s first response was to ask about EEE, rather than to chime in in support of the other demands. But this brief comment simply provides some information about EEE demographics and the criteria used to place children in the program.

Demographics

The student body in Columbia is quite diverse. 40% of our students come from minoritized groups, while 60% are socially defined as white. 20% of our students are Black/African American, 9% identify as multiracial,  7% as Latinx, 5% as Asian, and 0.5% as Indigenous.

CPS Student Demographics by Race and Gender

With EEE, however, the Columbia Public School’s gifted program, the demographics look quite different.

Students socially defined as white comprise 78% of the “gifted” population in CPS while representing 60% of the total student body. Students identified as Asian (9%) or Multiracial (7%) also make up a larger portion of EEE students than one would anticipate based on the larger population. Compare this with 3% identified as Latinx, 2% Black/African American, and 0.2% Indigenous students. 

Are we really to believe only 88 out of 4,853 (2% of the population) of Black and Latinx are gifted? And believe that 12% of White students are gifted? (ref/citation)

CPS Demographics of Gifted Program

 Selection into EEE

According to the EEE pages on the CPS website, EEE is a one-day/week program for elementary students, a research/problem solving course for middle school students, and a resource room/teacher for high school students.

“To qualify for these programs, students must meet program benchmarks on the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, Fifth Edition. This test is administered one-on-one to any student new to CPS elementary schools if the student first meets a program benchmark on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, Second Edition. The NNAT3 (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) is administered to all students new to CPS, all kindergarten students, and all second grade students during the spring of the school year. Please note that students entering CPS in middle school are not automatically screened and must submit an advocacy packet to be considered.” 

https://www.cpsk12.org/domain/5372

Columbia Public Schools uses the highly problematic Weschler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC V) as the mechanism for sorting children into gifted programming. In their 2016 review of the WISC V, Watkins and Canivez criticized the test’s publisher for failing to address the potential of measurement bias in the instrument. They expressed disappointment that the publishers had failed to produce data on measurement bias or reliability estimates disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and parent education level.

Furthermore, the National Association for Gifted Children strongly cautions school districts not to rely on an IQ test for selecting children into gifted programs.

“Nevertheless, IQ tests should be interpreted cautiously for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and for all children, and should never be the only basis for exclusion from gifted programs. In addition, all efforts should be made to accommodate linguistic diversity and test children in their native language. NAGC recommends that …Full Scale IQ scores not be required for admission to gifted programs.” (NAGC, 2008)

NAGC (2019)In their position statement defining giftedness assert that Students with gifts and talents:

Grissom and Redding (2016), stated

“Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools. We then investigate the role of teacher discretion, leveraging research from political science suggesting that clients of government services from traditionally underrepresented groups benefit from diversity in the providers of those services, including teachers. Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.”

Summary

The Extended Educational Experiences (EEE) gifted program excludes Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students. The school district selects program participants using a single metric that is likely biased and unreliable for children who are not white, or middle/upper class. The district fails to account for the known disparities in gifted placement. Finally, the  district does not follow recommended practices for placing children into gifted programs. 

References

Grissom, Jason A. & Redding, Christopher (2016) Discretion and disproportionality: explaining the underrepresentation of high-achieving students of color in gifted programs, AERA Open, vol 2:1.

https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858415622175

NAGC (2019) Key considerations in  identifying and supporting gifted and talented learners: A report from the 2018 NAGC definition task force.

https://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Position%20Statement/Use%20of%20the%20WISC-IV%20for%20Gifted%20Education.pdf

Watkins, Marley & Canivez, Gary. (2016). Review of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children–Fifth Edition: Critique, Commentary, and Independent Analyses. In Intelligent Testing with WISC-V, A.S. Kaufman, S.E. Raiford, and D.L. Coalson (Eds.), Wiley publishers, pp. 683-702.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/294260976_Review_of_the_Wechsler_Intelligence_Scale_for_Children-Fifth_Edition_Critique_Commentary_and_Independent_Analyses

CPS Timeline

This blog will serve as a living document to collect and organize articles and documents relevant to CPS discrepancies in treatment, opportunities, and disciplinary outcomes of black, LGBTQIA+, and special needs children enrolled in Columbia Public Schools.

2019: Smithton Middle School -- wrongfully identifies 14 yr old black female student as involved in altercation to Columbia Police Department, Tony Ash. Student was arrested and processed at the Juvenile holding facility until footage emerged publicly exonerating her from involvement. This same footage was provided to Principal Chris Drury prior to his decision to have her arrested by a student who had recorded the altercation. Upon return to school, she was bullied and harassed extensively for her arrest, by students and staff alike, ultimately leading her to attempt suicide.

2019.09.05 -- CPD Officer Faces Discipline for Wrongful Arrest at Smithton Middle School. Missourian

2019.05.10 -- Complaint: Middle School Student Spiraled After Wrongful Arrest. Columbia Tribune

Confidential Survey: Child's CPS Experience

Happy New Year! With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday coming up Monday, January 20, I want to encourage everyone to find ways to be "active" in 2020.

First, RMF has been on break since December. We reconvene on January 29 at Bethel Church, 201 Old Plank Rd. If anyone is aware of free meeting space in the Central part of town please let me know. We would like to host centrally located gatherings whenever possible.

We have received a number of emails about the treatment of children in Columbia Public Schools. I am sharing again the confidential survey RMF has created in an effort to proactively respond strategically to what we believe are persistent abuses of children of color and children with special needs. "Confidential Survey: Child's CPS Experience."

CPD Officer Faces Discipline for Wrongful Arrest at Smithton Middle School

I think it is appropriate and welcome that Chief Jones made his decision public. We should also understand that these kinds of outcomes are attributable to decisions made by management.

I personally don't support one SRO serving six middle schools for free, partially paid, or for a substantive contract service delivery amount. I object to arresting kids on the whims of school officials' use of hearsay and no investigative effort, not to mention zero conflict resolution effort. I'm not sold at all that SROs provide any kind of better or safe environment for students, particularly students of color.

So -- in a world where kids are a real priority, Dr. Stiepleman would have already jointly apologized with Chief Jones and told the community that they would work together to make sure this doesn't happen again. This would include reviewing their lack of following procedure and protocol and collaboratively developing restorative practice tools rooted in anti-racism. Public apologies are perfect for building trust and so is the kind of transparency that recognizes unforced errors that cause material impact and harm.

Race Matters, Friends is calling for Carla London's resignation because she should have been in front of this issue, supporting her principal, and providing guidance and demanding accountability. Instead, she attempted to marginalize the student and her family as problematic.

CPS has taken no responsibility for their poor judgment and lack of restorative practice when complaints of harassment were made We've seen London's rude apathy too often among administrators towards parents and reports of harassment, bullying, and conflict, and the denials need to stop too.

If the Chief Equity Officer can't manage a serious crisis like this and do it publicly to maintain and build public trust in her office, IMHO, she's unqualified for the job. Is the CPS board awake?

https://www.kbia.org/post/cpd-officer-faces-discipline-wrongful-arrest-smithton-middle-school?fbclid=IwAR3e1SSaCCMvJFTikV2HgcKS-28CJX-HAgCoUtfUt8YL0I2ZPd9Exx9qiLo#stream/0