The Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) has recently undergone an expert review of its highly capable services. As part of this review, the nomination process has significantly changed. While the district made a summary findings presentation of the audit available to parents on its website, no formal audit report was published to parents.
The district did not document its proposed plan of action in response to the audit nor allow a period for public comment on the documented changes, as is normal for a public body. The SVSD Highly Capable services are a result of the Washington State Administrative Code (WAC):
A significant change occurred this year in the nomination process. In previous years, the nomination process enabled all nominated students to take the CogAT and IOWA tests. This year a nomination merely triggers a review by the multidisciplinary committee instead of actual testing. This committee is defined in WAC to conduct final decisions to access highly capable services.
SVSD has historically used the committee to define the interpretation of CogAT and IOWA results and any subsequent appeals in line with the WAC. Data viewed shows that this new process creates barriers to testing and risks reducing access to highly capable services.
The SVSD’s Interim Superintendent, Dan Schlotfeldt, has confirmed in writing to parents that this new nomination process was a result of the audit. It is unclear if the audit’s author, Ms. Jen Flo, intended this specific change or if it was a result of interpretation by the district as a new public report detailing changes, nor a review period was held.
The district has also confirmed in writing to parents, see table below, that the multidisciplinary committee accepted a third of students for testing. In previous years, all students nominated were accepted for testing. The district’s change to nominations this year has resulted in the number of students allowed to test dropping from 238 to 73, even though nominations went up to 275. The district was keen to point parents to an increase in students meeting the CogAT screening criteria due to additional screening of 2nd-second grade students this year.
While this change reduces the total number of tests smaller, the result is still approximately 200 nominated students not being allowed to test compared to last year.
As testing is still being performed by the district of both nominated and screened students, this review of nominations excludes verses providing universal and equal access to services – as required by WAC.
For example, the district could use additional data points to open the appeal process to students who did not test well on a single day. Instead, the process results in a filter on the nomination – which the data backs up.
Some parents have theorized on social media that the district cannot afford to test all students whose families want to test. SVSD Interim Superintendent has confirmed this is not the case in writing to parents who raised concerns. Additionally, SVSD successfully lobbied the public last year for continued education levies in the Snoqualmie Valley.
Concerned parents have put together a petition to lobby the district publicly. They have said their aim is not to ensure that their kids receive highly capable services but that all kids in Snoqualmie Valley are allowed to test based on parent and teacher nominations. They are asking the district to allow testing for all nominated students.
Their petition can be found here.
[Guest post by Farheen and Saud Al-Mishari, Snoqualmie Residents for 4 years, originally from the U.K, who are the parents of two kids in the SVSD school system.]