The Transylvania Times -

School Board Hears Report On AIG Program Changes


July 22, 2019

The Transylvania County Board of Education recently approved the 2019-2022 AIG plan and discussed new proposed state education legislation.

Heidi Bullock presented her proposal for the Transylvania County AIG (Academically Intellectually Gifted) program and received unanimous approval for the plan that will carry into 2022.

Bullock’s goals for the program centered on three key points: advanced learning, equity and excellence.

Bullock also made a point to dispel common myths about gifted education, such as that gifted children will be fine on their own, students getting poor or average grades cannot be gifted, or that gifted education is inherently elitist.

“Giftedness is not something that is set. It is something that we recognize and then serve,” said Bullock. “AIG should look like addition, where we are looking at the sum of variables leading us to…help (students) go confidently and prepare into their roles as productive and fulfilled in our global and diverse community.”

She also mentioned that many gifted students feel like there is not a place for them in their school, and it is the job of educators to make sure these students’ needs are served. Bullock hopes her plan will continue to provide comprehensive programming to follow students from kindergarten until they graduate from high school, combining teachers and staff from many different roles in the total school system in a way that is intentional and evidence-based.

Bullock’s proposal passed unanimously, which means Transylvania County (TC) schools will continue to have AIG programming for students for the next three years.

Superintendent Jeff McDaris added a note at the end of Bullock’s presentation.

“Sometimes people associate socioeconomic status with AIG status and they are unrelated,” he said. “The other thing we want to try to guard against is…occasionally across the country you may encounter parents who feel like the identification of AIG places them in an exclusive club and that somehow their child is less if they are not identified.”

After Bullock’s presentation the Board of Education then approved seven policy updates discussed in the June 3 meeting.

Minor amendments to the state public school fund, local current expense and capital outlay fund in the FY2019 budget were also passed unanimously.

McDaris finished the meeting with his updates about the growing research around digital versus print texts and his concerns with North Carolina Senate Bill 621.

The research McDaris presented centered on the differences in comprehension between text read in a digital versus print format, saying students will read faster, but tend to skim over text when reading digital text. For deeper comprehension, print versions may be a better option. He then went on to say that this could be a reason for the decline in test scores in recent years now that much of students’ testing takes place on computers.

McDaris and board members also voiced their concerns over S.B. 621, which aims to reduce testing administered to students in public schools. The bill proposes eliminating end of grade (EOG) testing for third through eighth grades, changing the name of North Carolina EOG tests, eliminating the requirement for final projects for high school graduation, replacing end of course (EOC) tests for ninth through 12th grades with the ACT or other nationally recognized college readiness exams and reducing standardized testing by local administrative units, among other changes.

While school members acknowledge the need to address issues with standardized testing, they did not believe this bill was the right answer and did not address their concerns adequately.

McDaris summed up his feelings on the bill by providing a personal anecdote.

“A couple of weeks ago I went to the doctor,” he said. “I’ve been in a doctor’s office. I’ve been in a hospital. I’ve been in surgery. I don’t practice medicine. I have witnessed Mr. Campbell (the board’s attorney) at work. I’ve admired his work. I’ve been in a courtroom. I do not practice law. But, everybody who went to school knows how to practice education.”


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