After more than a year of work, a task force set up to evaluate and recommend policy changes for the advanced learning program at Seattle Public Schools will conclude its work this evening.
The recommendations come as the district seeks to transform the way it identifies and delivers advanced instruction. The current system is generally regarded as racially segregated, serving mostly white and Asian students, but there is considerable debate over how to best solve the long-term problem.
At the beginning of the school year, the district had pitched getting rid of the main way it offers accelerated learning — in a network of select schools where gifted students attend classes together, known as the highly capable cohort — in favor of a neighborhood schools model. But that proposal was shot down by the School Board in favor of waiting for the task force to weigh in.
The district created the task force last summer and charged it with a wide range of responsibilities, including researching best practices for equitably identifying and serving advanced learners. The final set of recommendations was still in flux at last week’s task force meeting, with some saying they wished they had more time. The task force is largely made up of parents, but also includes a teacher, city employee and a professor of gifted education at the University of Washington.
As this group sunsets, the district is taking applications for a new, three-year advisory group that will help implement some of the recommendations made by the task force. Applications are due by Jan. 8, 2020.
Deenie Berry, supervisor of advanced learning at the district, said she doesn’t expect the district will have another proposal for the School Board until spring 2020 at the earliest.