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Learn Where School Board Candidates Stand on GT Issues

April 18, 2014

Amy Dungan and Jeff Jordan are both candidates for CISC School Board Place 5.  In an effort to get to know them both better, we asked five questions relating to gifted education.

What is your experience with gifted education?

Amy Dungan

Amy Dungan

I am a parent of three very different children with very different learning styles who have all participated in the Gifted and Talented program in CISD from kindergarten through high school.  I served as the G/T district liaison for both Mockingbird Elementary and Coppell Middle School East.  My youngest was able to participate in several Mosaic programs during middle school and as a Mosaic helper for a Robotics camp while at CHS.  I have been a member of the Coppell Gifted Association and TAGT.  As a parent I have been very impressed with the G/T teachers and staff that worked with my children and others in the program to reach their academic and creative potential in learning.

Jeff Jordan

My daughter was GT Identified at Town Center Elementary and enrolled in the Challenge program. She took almost all GT Core classes at Middle School North. She’s also taking a mix of GT, AP, and Pre-AP classes in ninth grade at Coppell High School. I’ve volunteered for the CGA for the past four years, as campus representative, secretary, and as current Co-President. I’ve researched GT and Advanced Academic services & curriculum during my daughter’s entire academic career. I’ve also consistently met with parents and CISD Administrators to review and discuss GT options during my work for the CGA. I participated in the CISD Gifted and Talented Evaluation Committee in 2013. I’ve also attended GT conferences and seminars, including the annual TAGT conference.

How do you think CISD has done with gifted education and what do you think they could do better?

This is an exciting time for G/T students in CISD.  With over 2600 students currently in the program, CISD’s Advanced Academics Department, is making significant progress to improve the G/T program for all students.  The district is currently using a variety of resources including partnering with other districts in the area and coordinating with state agencies to find more appropriate testing to identify individual student needs.  Once identified, specific instruction will be implemented for teachers to use to further enhance student learning.  In addition, it continues to strive towards its goal of having every teacher in CISD certified in G/T instruction which will benefit all learners.

Offering GT classes in all four Core subject areas throughout Middle School was a significant historical accomplishment by the CISD. The recent changes at the Elementary Level giving GTi specialists more autonomy to engage with gifted students is also a step forward.   The district’s work to get over 200 Teachers and Administrators to complete 30 hours of GT training will be helpful for all students, not just the GT Identified.   After the Gifted and Talented Evaluation Committee last year, CISD staff as goals selected 25 initiatives for GT Education in the district. The CISD should complete these GT initiatives to narrow the gap towards a State of Texas assessment of Exemplary in GT Education.

What is your opinion of ability grouping?  What do you think about cluster grouping at CISD elementary schools?

Much research continues on the topic of ability and cluster grouping of students.  Some of this research suggests that grouping can provide an environment of great achievement for students overall.  By grouping students, each child is allowed to progress at their individual pace while benefitting from peers at similar levels.Gifted children require the same consistent opportunity to learn new material and develop behavior that allows them to cope with the challenge and struggle of new learning. Because of this, I feel it is important for the district to continue to investigate various teaching styles to meet the needs of all students.

I am strongly in favor of academic ability grouping.  Research shows that grouping improves student achievement and that they also benefit socially and emotionally by being with their intellectual peers.   I recommend cluster grouping and increased differentiation at CISD elementary schools.

How would you address the funding gap for continuing education needs in GT?

Funding for all mandated state and federal programs is a very important concern for districts around the state.  CISD continues to look for additional sources of funding through grants from outside resources such as the Coppell Education Foundation.  It is also currently interviewing for a position which will help to develop business relationships in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that can provide financial and educational partnerships. It is important that we continue to look for resources in addition to funding to ensure out teachers/staff receive the needed continued education to help them meet the needs of all students in CISD.

The district’s Administration has a road map for improving the GT programs in CISD and I support funding those initiatives, among others. All students’ needs must be met, including those of the GT Identified.

How will you assess whether or not the district is meeting the needs of gifted learners?

Coppell ISD teachers/staff work hard to ensure each student is on track to meet and exceed their learning potential.  Assessments by the district are done periodically throughout the school year in a variety of formats to ensure each student is where they need to be.  With over 2600 students in the district currently identified as Gifted and Talented, it is important that the district continues to look for ways to challenge and improve learning opportunities.

I will search out direct feedback from parents and students to help gauge whether their needs are being met. The district is converting student records and notes into digital profiles. I will study those along with many other performance metrics to assess whether the needs of gifted learners are being met.

We then gave each candidate an opportunity to share any additional information that may be useful to our readers.

Like many families in Coppell ISD, I moved here with my family for the sole purpose of education in June 1996, just prior to our oldest child beginning kindergarten.  All three of our children attended Coppell schools from kindergarten through high school with the youngest graduating in the spring of 2013.  For the past 18 years I have served in numerous capacities in the school district.  I have also spent time at the State Capitol and in Washington DC sharing concerns with legislators regarding education issues.  I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving this exceptional district as a school Trustee.

Our School District is facing many critical decisions: the choice of a new superintendent, how to cope with new laws & technology, the need for more campuses, and how to plan for the future of education in Coppell. I offer my deep mix of experience and commitment as an involved parent, active volunteer & leader in the community, and as a skilled technology professional. I will work diligently to achieve the best possible education for all students.

 Now that you know a little more about the candidates, please be sure to get out and vote on May 10, 2014!

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