As some parents of elementary students in Carmel Clay Schools’ high ability classes continue to speak out against proposed changes to the program, administrators are aiming to gather feedback on the topic from all parents through a survey sent out May 14.
In March CCS announced it would begin using the Total School Cluster Grouping model, which places high ability students in classrooms with general education students, in the 2018-19 school year. After parents – mostly of high ability students – raised an outcry, the district announced April 9 that it would postpone implementation of TSCG. Currently, high ability students are taught in their own classroom by a teacher with training to meet their specific needs.
But several parents of high-ability children are still working to convince administrators to drop plans for the TSCG model altogether. Some of them addressed the school board May 21, citing concerns that the survey included a question designed to encourage responses favorable to TSCG.
“(The survey) is a thinly-veiled attempt to manufacture support for something that has not been supported as evidenced by the many, many families who have been here at previous meetings,” said Uha Jatla, the parent of a child in the high ability program.
CCS Co-Interim Supt. Amy Dudley said after the May 21 school board meeting that elementary principals developed the survey and that it was vetted through educators and others to make sure it didn’t include “leading” or “biased” questions.
She said CCS sent out the survey to gather feedback from as many parents as possible.
“The survey was developed because we did have parents that wanted to make sure that we were hearing from all parents, not just high ability parents,” Dudley said, adding that the majority of the opposition to the changes came from approximately 15 parents of high ability students.
The e-mailed survey is available to elementary parents through June 1. Dudley said CCS plans to use the findings as one of many factors in making changes to elementary programming.
“We take (the survey) as one piece of data,” she said. “It’s not just the popularity of whatever the survey says is what we do. The purpose of the survey is to get feedback from parents on what is most important to them.”
Dudley said elementary principals will spend the 2018-19 school year considering recommended changes to elementary programming and that any changes will likely be put in place for the 2019-20 school year. Other possible changes could include extended recess time and an earlier start to the school day.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation. People have been making assumptions,” Dudley said. “We just need to step back, regroup and move forward with recommendations of what we need to do that’s best for all students.”