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2014 Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) Awards

posted May 7, 2014, 9:44 AM by GTA Administrator

Last night's Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) honored three GTA MC members in the Business and Community Leadership in Gifted and Talented Education category:
John Hoven, Fred Stichnoth, and Michelle Gluck.

As Michelle noted in her award acceptance

remarks and others have noted in this forum, John was instrumental in creating the MCPS IOA Gifted and Talented policy and Fred was a tireless advocate to preserve them when they were threatened with elimination. Michelle provided concrete examples of how the IOA can be applied to encourage, cajole and require implementation of GT education in each school. Building relationships with your school's teachers, administrators, and PTA is a key factor for success. Building relationships with district level administrators, other PTAs, and other advocacy groups leverages the power of advocate numbers and influences the folks who make and implement instructional content and policy.
I want to thank Meredith Casper, Director , Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, for her able representation of MCPS at the 2014 EGATE awards.

GTA MC April 30th and May 13th Meeting Draft Discussion Topics

posted Apr 26, 2013, 2:13 PM by GTA Administrator

Draft Agenda Items
Candidate education advocacy options provided by Carole Edelstein et al were edited to include the US TALENT act (thank you Michelle Gluck).

Professional Development

- Ensure content knowledge is sufficient to teach C2.0 / CCSS
- Teaching proficiency assessments
        Which teachers have mastered their content and which need additional help to teach what they need to teach.
- Moving beyond the trainer of trainer professional development model
- Grow and develop PLCs within schools
- Grow and Develop PLCs between schools
         Provide stipends to teachers who get together with facilitators (say weekly) after the school day to share what works and what needs improvement.
        A good place to build trust and confidence before risking the sharing of ideas to the digital C2.0 curriculum resource.

GT and Above Grade Level Learner Resources
- Increase magnet program student number capacity
    Increase the number of magnet seats to meet the needs of gifted and talented students all across the county.  Certainly, demand for such services, as measured by the number of applicants, is high.  Significantly outweighing current capacity.  And advanced level learners stuck in low performing schools are at even greater risk of not having their needs met.  Debate the tactic.  Magnet housed in local school, or all-inclusive magnet program school.  But the "Excellence Gap" is widening.  Challenge Every Child.  Not happening today.

- Add magnet application scores to student records and inform the school to which they articulate the student is a GT COMAR student especially if the school does not have a magnet program

- U.S. TALENT Act:  To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation's Teachers Act
US S.512
Limited federal leadership, coupled with a singular focus on grade-level proficiency, has resulted in an educational system that too often fails to address the unique learning needs of gifted students and those who could become high achieving with appropriate supports.
The TALENT Act  was introduced in the Senate (S.512) by Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Bob Casey (PA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD).
Help us get support for the TALENT Act by asking your Senators to cosponsor S.512.   All Members of Congress have online email forms where you can submit your cosponsorship request.  Visit www.senate.gov for contact information.

Jeanne L. Paynter, Ed.D
Specialist for Gifted and Talented Education
Maryland State Department of Education

On Grade Level Learners
- OGL is the expected norm for most students and cultural biases in MCPS and the community that diminish the significance of OGL instruction needs to be revised.
 Access to appropriately differentiated curriculum.  Being on-grade level is not a crime.  Except in MCPS.  Throwing everyone into "advanced" or "honors" classes will not make every student an advanced student.  And it negates the nature or notion of the advanced class.  OGL is not Honors.  And Honors is not AP/IB.  Many (I dare to say now most) of our middle schools only offer an "advanced" class in a given subject.  Many of our high schools have only "honors," "AP" or "IB" subject offerings.  Who are we trying to kid?  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  And in different areas.  And some students need intense instructional support in order to achieve on-grade level expectations.  Poor performing schools may very well need remedial or focus classes in reading and math, particularly in the early grades, with options for "compacted" classes later in elementary school, once the base needs are met, in order to catch up to their grade level peers.  One size truly does not fit all.
- Algebra I is a high school course. 
        It remains such under the CCSS.  Solidify a much stronger math foundation, in preparation for the more rigorous high school math courses which follow, including Geometry, Algebra II and Pre-Calc.
All Students and Parents
- Differentiated instruction that enables flexible student grouping
Put flexible, performance-based, grouping practices in action, across all core academic subject areas.  The notion that a single individual teacher can effectively differentiate instruction across a wide range of preparedness and ability levels in a given instructional block is simply absurd.  It serves no one.  Not the on-grade level student, not the advanced level learner, and not the student in need of additional supports.  Narrow the range in any given teacher's classroom, so that instruction can be better tailored to the students in his/her classroom at any given time.  Then move the student along the continuum, and into another classroom as their needs change.  Flexibility.  Last time I checked, that was also a needed 21st century skill.

- Parent Portal to C2.0
 Enable parents to provide home based help to students by providing a detailed look at glossary, concepts, goals, etc. so they can understand what should be done for homework, what is the progression of learning concepts and tasks, and see what the enrichments that are available.

- Concentrate PE scheduling in the morning or early afternoon hours. 
 And leave the PE teachers with their late afternoon periods as their "free" period or collaborative planning time.  Students with PE at the end of the day miss out on associated academic benefits.  And let's find a way to intersperse "Health" into PE classes, or separate altogether, and not have students sit in a classroom for an entire quarter, void of the physical activity of a regular PE class.

- Daily breakfast and lunch menus to include less processed and sugary foods, and more locally grown fruits and vegetables, and only low-fat milk and sugar-free juices. 
Area for MCPS and MoCo health and welfare services to meet and collaborate how they work together to better serve low-income areas, in particular.

 - "Start School Later."  What's the status of that petition and MCPS workgroup?  Disproportionally helps traditionally disadvantaged children.

- Discipline
Was student discipline thrown out in an effort to reduce suspensions?   Students who disrupt the classroom and are disrespectful to teachers and their peers need to be dealt with accordingly.  You can't expect much learning from an environment when a teacher has to spend much of it addressing behavior problems.

- School calendar
 MCPS pilot a year-round school calendar in a select cluster(s) of schools in elementary school?  With possible future progression to middle and high schools.  Engage the community.  If there are those who don't want it, maybe they can be offered seats elsewhere at a nearby school that MCPS can still offer bus service.  So that curriculum can be stretched (or enhanced, or even compacted, pending student needs).  And so that there is not a large swath of time spent out of the classroom, requiring teachers to have to spend the beginning weeks of school re-teaching.  There are communities who need it more than others.  Start a pilot.  Then, if successful, which means real measurement, determine how you strike a balance.  Again, one-size-doesn't-fit-all.

- Resource Allocation
Transparent metrics for assigning resources to schools with additional needs
Where's the plan, in our worst performing schools in particular, to lower classroom sizes?  Reduced classroom sizes for "school X, Y and Z" or "all schools with a FARMs rate of X%+"or "reduced class sizes for all intense instructional support classes all across the county."  Not just K-2 elementary school.  But all the way through high school.  You want the focus on middle school, to start.  OK. 
- Bonus pay or stipends for experienced, and effective, teachers choosing to work in our worst performing schools.  I've heard it referenced in the education world as "combat pay."
Early years education
- Expanded preschool for our most at-risk students and/or school communities, which may not be whole-school communities.  It's a no brainer.  What's it going to cost?  Put forth the plan, and debate the cost structure.  And then strongly consider the Montessori model.- - - Extend recess hours to twice daily in the elementary years.  Anyone paid attention to any of the scientific data on movement and physicality and its correlation to increases in heart rate, and overall health, not to mention lengthening of attention spans, mental acuity?
- Foreign language classes in elementary school. 
    Can we pick the highest Hispanic or Spanish-speaking ESOL populated schools and give young Spanish ESOL students a leg up in their spoken language at home?  If not a daily class offering, part of a weekly specials rotation?  A confidence booster, where young Spanish-speaking, but not necessarily Spanish-reading and writing, students can shine amongst all their peers, where they are more likely to be the top performers and student mentors?  Not an ESOL class.  A Spanish class.

Vocational Learning
 -  Increased vocational learning in local middle and high schools.  High tech vocational learning.  21st Century vocational learning.  Real world skills.  Including, but not limited to Thomas Edison HS.

GTA MC Board 2013

posted Apr 26, 2013, 1:57 PM by GTA Administrator   [ updated Apr 26, 2013, 2:19 PM ]

The Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County met Jan 17th, 2013 at 7 pm in the Carver Education Services cafeteria to elect a new Board.

The Board is:
  • Patrick Dunn, President
  • Rajashree Purohit, Vice President
  • David McIlwain, Treasurer
  • Michelle Gluck

We discussed priorities and strategies for GT advocacy by GTA.

Per feedback from the MCCPTA GCC meeting Dec 10th, we will review draft templates for parent based advocacy including questions to ask, talking points, and contact info for MCPS staff. We will also discuss priorities and strategies for GT advocacy by GTA

Patrick Dunn assumes the role of President of GTA

posted Dec 8, 2012, 11:40 AM by GTA Administrator   [ updated Apr 26, 2013, 2:04 PM ]

The Gifted and Talented Association of Maryland, Inc. is pleased to announce that Patrick Dunn has assumed the role of President of GTA effective December 1, 2012.

Patrick is employed as a requirements analyst on a NIH bioinformatics contract. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Biology. Patrick has a child in the Global Ecology House at Poolesville High School and a child at Cashell Elementary School. He served as the Cashell PTA president for 2 years, as the Roberto Clemente Middle School PTSA president for two years, and is currently again the Cashell PTA president. He also served for two years as a Magruder Cluster Coordinator for the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA). When RCMS proposed to replace the RCMS magnet programs' signature field trips to New York and Boston with undefined alternatives, Patrick was very active in the parent and teacher initiative to restore the trips. This included meeting with the RCMS and MCPS administrations to clarify the reasons for the field trip replacement, organizing and focusing parental advocacy efforts, and promoting effective communication between parents, students, teachers, and the administration. Patrick has testified before the BoE and the County Council on MCPS operating budget priorities including the need to preserve transportation for magnet programs and the need to maintain adequate staffing for reading and math specialists, media and counseling staff, and school security personnel.

Patrick is keen to ensure the gifted and talented students of MCPS receive the differentiated instruction they need as students with special needs. He is committed to improving communication between parents and MCPS staff responsible for accelerated and enriched instruction as well as supporting and expanding the discussions being held at individual schools among parents, teachers and staff. "Communication is often an acknowledgement that things are not going well, articulating the actions needed to fix them and finding the resources to make the required actions happen in a timely fashion. Formulating alternative plans to ensure success for a highly differentiated student community is critical. There is no one size fits all."

GTA will hold a general membership meeting in early January, 2013 (details to follow) to elect a new Board of Directors and set its priorities for the coming year. All current and interested new members are encouraged to attend. Nonmembers can join in advance of the meeting at http://www.gtamc.org/Home/about-gtamc/leadership. Membership is $15/year or $100 for a lifetime membership.

GTA also wishes to thank Frederick Stichnoth, our immediate past President, for his lengthy and tireless service to GTA and the cause of equitable and excellent education in Montgomery County. Fred's idealism and passion has been an inspiration to us and we look forward to his continued advocacy efforts.

Superintendent's Spring Forum on GT

Montgomery County Public School Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr held a Community Forum on Gifted and Talented Education on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

This was an important opportunity to show Dr. Starr and MCPS the interest and concerns of parents about gifted and talented education in MCPS.

With so many GT parents and students, with so many questions and comments, GTAMC determined that there would not be time for everyone to be heard. We created an online form where the public could ask questions and leave comments. These were them compiled and forwarded to Dr. Starr prior to the meeting.  Learn more about the meeting and...

GTA and MCCPTA Sponsor Free College Admissions Seminar

posted Apr 22, 2012, 1:06 PM by GTA Administrator   [ updated Apr 22, 2012, 2:31 PM ]

The Gifted & Talented Association of Montgomery County, Inc. and the Montgomery County Council of PTAs are pleased to sponsor the 12th annual free College Admissions Seminar.


Featuring College Consultant Shirley Levin, MA, CEP

Tuesday, 8 May 2012, 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria
6400 Rock Spring Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814-1913

The seminar is designed to help parents navigate the college application process; students are always welcome.

GTA Releases Background Materials in Preparation for GT Forum

posted Mar 16, 2012, 7:48 PM by GTA Administrator   [ updated Mar 21, 2012, 4:14 AM ]

The Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County has released a white paper entitled "Questions for Montgomery County Education Decisionmakers" in preparation for the upcoming March 22 Superintendent's Community Forum on Gifted Education.

The paper poses six questions to MCPS educators and concludes with a Call to Action:

Decades of research and experience have demonstrated that gifted and talented students need educational
services that go beyond what is normally provided in the regular school program in order to be appropriately
challenged and develop their full potential.

Gifted and talented students, like all students, need to be challenged and need to learn something new every
day if they are to reach their full potential. This is a legal requirement as well as a moral imperative for
public schools in Montgomery County and in Maryland.

You can read the entire document -- and download a PDF version -- at Questions for Montgomery County Education Decision Makers.

GTA has also posted Recommended Research to help inform Thursday's discussion.

Come to the Superintendent's GT Forum

posted Mar 13, 2012, 4:41 AM by GTA Administrator

Montgomery County Public School Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr is holding a Community Forum on Gifted and Talented Education on Thursday, March 22, 2012 starting at 7 pm, at Magruder High School.

This is an important opportunity to show Dr. Starr and MCPS the interest and concerns of parents about gifted and talented education in MCPS.

With so many GT parents and students, with so many questions and comments, there will not be time for everyone to be heard.

But it’s important that Dr. Starr and the relevant MCPS staff hear ALL of our questions and comments, appreciate the strength of our interest, and address the issues that most concern us.

So let’s submit our questions and concerns in advance—by Monday, March 19, 7:00 a.m.

GTA will submit to Dr. Starr by Wednesday, March 21, all questions and comments posted to our website.

Nothing is more important to the future of GT education in Montgomery County than parent, educator and community interest, demonstration of an active constituency, and turnout in large numbers.

Please submit a comment or question.  Please show up March 22. Wear GREEN for Gifted. 


About Dr. Joshua Starr

posted Apr 26, 2011, 12:06 PM by GTA Administrator   [ updated May 1, 2011, 5:27 PM ]

At 7 p.m. on Monday, April 25, 2011 Montgomery County Public Schools announced the selection of Dr. Joshua Starr to succeed Dr. Jerry Weast as Superintendent.  Read the MCPS press release.

Dr. Starr began as a teacher in 1993 and has spanned a variety of educational positions. Dr. Starr has been the superintendent in Stamford since 2005.... Previously, he served at the executive level in the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation, where he held the position of Director of School Performance and Accountability. Dr. Starr’s first position with the New York City Department of Education was as Deputy Senior Instructional Manager. 

Dr. Starr began his career as a special education teacher in the New York City Public Schools working with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents.  He has also served in administrative roles in Plainfield, New Jersey and Freeport, New York.... Dr. Starr holds a doctorate degree in administration and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has published articles in many journals in the field of education.

News Stories about the Announcement

Connecticut and Stamford Public Schools

Interviews with Dr. Starr

Connecticut News Teacher Talk blog ran a series of stories about, and interviews with, Dr. Starr earlier this year.  You can see them here:

Stamford Parent Groups

Stories about Dr. Starr and Detracking

Dr. Starr was engaged in fight over “detracking” during his tenure in Stamford.



Special education

  • http://www.connecticutspecialeducationlawyer.com/special-ed-ct-specific/how-the-pj-case-impacts-connecticut-special-education/
  • http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/deps/SA/SA_PJ_Final02.pdf \
  • http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Special/SPP/PJIndicatorAPPB.pdf
  • http://www.wiltonvillager.com/story/499093
  • http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Settlement/Stamford.pdf

GTAMC Budget Comment to Montgomery County Council

posted Apr 6, 2011, 6:01 PM by GTA Administrator   [ updated Apr 6, 2011, 6:04 PM ]


April 4, 2011

Via email:  countycouncil@montgomerycountymd.gov
County Council of Montgomery County
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850

Re:  Budget—Montgomery County Public Schools—Gifted and Talented Students

Council members:

            This letter presents the perspective of the Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County, Inc. regarding the County budget.

            GTA’s purpose is to support programs for educating gifted and talented students.  These are students who, according to Maryland statute and MCPS policy, perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels, or who have high performance capability in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, leadership, or specific academic fields.

            MCPS is withdrawing service from gifted and talented students:

            1.         The budget for MCPS’ Visual Arts Center was halved last year, leaving MCPS’ sole high school magnet arts program with only one full-time teacher;
            2.         The number of instrumental music teachers is proposed for reduction; 
            3.         Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled elementary school staffing is proposed to be reduced from 13:1 to 16:1;
            4.         Class size increases by one student in elementary and middle schools and .4 students in high school make in-class differentiation among students of varying abilities even less feasible;
            5.         Reduction in the number of staff development teachers impairs the professional development necessary to address gifted needs;
            6.         Local school core course programming is increasingly ill-matched to the needs and abilities of gifted and talented students.

            The damage being caused by the GT service withdrawal is itemized in comments submitted with a March 28, 2011 Petition to the Board of Education signed by 825 parent-voters (http://www.gtamc.org/challenge-every-child):

            1.         A decline in Montgomery County’s national reputation for quality education, impairing the County’s ability to attract and retain business;
            2.         Gifted and talented student underperformance, alienation from school, depression;
            3.         Parental sense that their children are being “wasted;”
            4.         Sense of “unfairness;”
            5.         Loss of respect for MCPS and the Board of Education, as institutions;
            6.         Willingness to leave MCPS for other public school systems, private schools or home-schooling;
            7.         The unequal allocation of educational opportunities among neighborhoods;       
            8.         The undermining of Montgomery County economic and social stability.

            Budget constraint is one of several interlocking factors causing the GT service withdrawal.  Other factors include an ideological aversion to serving gifted students, a managerial impetus to “align” operations toward a single objective, low standards and high sanctions imposed by NCLB, and simplistic measurement of financial “efficiency” according to dollars spent per “proficient” student.

            The County Council controls the MCPS budget only in part, and influences the other factors only indirectly.  So the County’s full budgetary support for MCPS would not assure that gifted and talented students are served and the damage arrested.

            However, without County budgetary support, the virulent cycle of the other factors would be exacerbated, and the damage deepened.

            As you make budgetary allocations, please support the education of gifted and talented students.

                                                                                    Very truly yours,


                                                                                    Frederick Stichnoth, President

Thank You! Strong GT Showing at March 28 BOE Meeting

posted Mar 30, 2011, 6:24 PM by GTA Administrator

GTAMoCo would like to extend its sincere thanks to the 50 GT supporters who showed up to the Monday, March 28 Board of Education meeting, wearing green and holding up the "Challenge Every Child" signs we handed out.  Your presence made an impact. (That's Superintendent Jerry Weast at right, surveying the overflow crowd that included advocates for music education, Edison/Wheaton, charter school, media specialists and others.)

We also want to thank GTA parent Lisa Silverberg -- with her son holding that great big green sign right next to her! -- for her strong testimony.

Special thanks go to MCCPTA President Kristin Trible for her leadership.  She reached out and gave incisive testimony.  Many thanks also to MCCPTA Gifted Child sub-Committee Chair Michelle Gluck for her testimony, as well as MCCPTA Curriculum ChairTed Willard for his work.

And once more, thank you to the over 800 people and counting who signed the Challenge Every Child petition! On Monday afternoon the petition -- all 109 pages of it -- was delivered to each BOE member as well as the Superintendent and the MCPS leadership. GTA President Fred Stichnoth has received several comments that this was some of the most effective advocacy that has been seen in years. The petition remains open, a continuing public display of strong support for gifted education in Montgomery County.

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