Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The problem’s in the testing

By
From page A12 | May 24, 2013 |

In the Sunday forum article “Dubious legal advice drove lottery,” Carlton Larson lamented the use of a lottery to select GATE-qualified students for the limited seats available in self-contained GATE classes. Larson, a law school professor, contended the district could and should select students based solely on merit, i.e., test scores.

Larson compared admission to the GATE program to tryouts for first-chair violin in the school orchestra, or for starting quarterback for the varsity football team. His argument is premised on the notion that 1) there is a prize to be won, and 2) the best students should win that prize based on IQ tests. I think these premises are flawed.

As to the first assumption, self-contained GATE has never been promoted as a prize. It is justified by the idea that GATE-qualified students “learn differently” from other students and need to be segregated to obtain specialized instruction. I haven’t seen evidence that this truly is necessary, but that is the justification. To consider self-contained GATE classes to be a prize for those third-graders who score highest on an IQ test seems to miss the point.

But even if the program is intended to address the “special needs” of a few bright kids, it is important to note that nearly 30 percent of the district’s third-graders are GATE-qualified each year. It is difficult to imagine that so many students need specialized, segregated instruction, or that such segregation is healthy for the schools as a whole.

The second assumption, that IQ testing clearly identifies deserving students, is also questionable. The majority of this year’s GATE third-graders, 112 out of 190, are identified as being in the 99th percentile. Only 15 are found at the 97th percentile and 23 at the 96th percentile. Even fewer are found at the 95th and 94th percentiles. These numbers do not resemble a bell curve.

But most striking is the fact that only 22 of those 112 in the 99th percentile were identified in the initial round of universal testing using the OLSAT. The balance of the kids were identified in a second round of one-on-one tests administered by the school district GATE administrator or from private testing. Third-graders in Davis may be smart, but it seems doubtful that 17 percent of them are in the 99th percentile of learners, especially when the first round of OLSAT testing only showed only 3 percent scoring at this high level.

Admission to the GATE program is problematic.  But the problem is in the testing, not the lottery.

Craig Lundgren
Davis

Comments

comments

Letters to the Editor

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics