|(Taken from Wikipedia Moon images.)|
In anticipation of Dr. Tonya Moon's return to D181 next Monday, February 24, 7pm at Elm School, today we begin a new series. Part 1 will provide links to earlier posts from last year in which we discussed when and for what purpose Dr. Moon was initially hired and the district wide curriculum changes that morphed from her original report. We encourage our readers to read these earlier posts, as well as the additional commentary below, prior to Monday's meeting. Part 2 of this series will be published prior to Monday's meeting and will provide our readers with insight as to backgrounds, relevant research in the field of gifted and talented education, and the impact of hired consultants Drs. Moon and Friedman on D181. We suggest setting some time aside prior to Monday’s meeting as there is a great deal of information for you to review. You will want to become especially versed in the terminology and semantics that will be on display during Monday’s meeting. Let’s begin by referencing several of our previous posts:
Our 6/5/13 post titled "2012-2013 Year in Review: How did the curriculum change process evolve?" described the chronology of events leading up to and following the hiring of Dr. Moon, who was tasked with evaluating the gifted program during the 2011-2012 school year. (Click to open 6/5/13 post.)
In January 2012, Dr. Moon presented a report of her findings to the BOE. Her report went further than simply evaluating the gifted program. (Click to open Dr. Moon's Report.) As we previously summarized in our 6/5/13 post, Moon concluded that there was insufficient differentiation across the classrooms in D181, and that there was inadequate identification of students for admission into the gifted, advanced or accelerated math and language arts programs. She advised that unless there was evidence to show that a student would not be successful in such programs, the opportunity for students to enroll in them should be created. Anything short of this was, in her words, “educational malpractice.” She also recommended that the district create a Philosophy of Learning for all students. She did not advise that there should not be any gifted programming, but that the door needed to be opened for more students into the advanced programs D181 offered. Of significance is a statement Dr. Moon made on page 27 of her report regarding math acceleration. Contrary to the administration's continued insistence that they have implemented Dr. Moon's recommendation of math acceleration for "all students," what she actually said was that "the diverse group of stakeholders tackling the district's philosophy and definition be charged with investigating the feasibility of accelerating the district wide-mathematics program by one grade level."
Following Dr. Moon's report, the district developed a Philosophy of Learning, transition plans, and ultimately what was first called the "Advanced Learning Plan," but was later renamed to be the "Learning for All Plan." What was intended to be an evaluation and improvement of the gifted programs in D181, morphed into a decision to dismantle the gifted program, implement an inclusive model whereby each homeroom teacher would differentiate instruction to each student's individual level, accelerate all students by one full year above grade level in math, transition to all students taking "ACE" social studies at the middle school level, and allow students to opt into higher level math and language arts classes than those they had placed into a the middle school level. The following posts reviewed data and observations regarding the curriculum changes in 2012-2013, which the administration called the "transition year":
- ACE - The Dismantlement of the Gifted Program. (Click to open post.)
- Middle School Math -- Math Tracks and this Year's Rapid Acceleration Model (Click to open post.)
- Middle School Math - What did the Performance Data Show? (Click to open post.)
- Middle School Math - Implications and Concerns for the Future (Click to open post.)
- Elementary Math - with a focus on Third Grade - The Transition Year Structure (Click to open post.)
- Performance Data for the Third Grade Math "Compacting" Experiment (Click to open post.)
- Elementary Math (with focus on 3rd grade) - What Will Happen Next Year? (Click to open post.)
Each of these posts raised parent and teacher concerns and asked many questions about what would happen as the ALP/Learning for All Plan continued to roll forward, grade by grade. Interestingly, this year -- Year 1 of the ALP/Learning for All Plan -- despite repeated requests from a couple of board members to Dr. Schuster, asking her to please present student performance data for the 2013-2014, no such presentation has been given, nor has the BOE publicly discussed parent concerns that have been raised regarding math acceleration. The administration has now identified as many as 25% of this year's 4th grader's who need after school tutoring in order be able to tackle the 5th grade math instruction they must learn. When asked at the February 10 board meeting when data on elementary and middle school performance would be presented, Dr. Schuster referenced the upcoming meeting at which Dr. Moon will be presenting a follow up report. More than half way through this school year, the parents and community continue to wait to see data that last year was released on a relatively regular basis.
It appears that Dr. Schuster and the entire Department of Learning are putting all of their eggs into Moon's basket. What will she say? Will she agree with what has been implemented in D181 since she called for better identification of students for tiered programs and more effective differentiation in the classroom? Will SHE have been provided the performance data for the first half of the 2013-2014 school year and will she have analyzed it as part of her follow up report? Dr. Moon will visit the district the same day she presents to the board. How many classrooms will she visit? How long will she spend in each classroom? Will she speak to any teachers? Will she speak to any students? Will she speak to any parents before she presents to the BOE?
Our posts over the last 10 months have raised many questions and concerns about the curriculum and program changes/eliminations that began after Dr. Moon's report. The D181 administration has not answered or addressed them. The majority of the BOE has not requested data and analysis from Dr. Schuster and the Department of Learning to determine the effectiveness of the massive changes that have taken place since Dr. Moon’s last visit.
Gravity, stars, and the Earth’s rotation are sure bets. Moon’s upcoming visit and what we predict will be a grand meteor shower of spin, should be cause for pause for all of us.