Case Study: Kyle

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Case Study: Kyle by Mind Map: Case Study: Kyle

1. Parent Perspective

1.1. Feelings

1.1.1. As Kyle’s parents we are frustrated having to appeal against our son being taken out of the gifted program. Denying Kyle opportunities to extend his learning through enrichment would plummet his self esteem and could leave him feeling inadequate in school despite being told these past 4 years that he had gifted abilities. This situation is also gravely affecting our family. Kyle is showing signs of stress and anxiety at home knowing he probably won’t be going on these enrichment opportunities one day a week like his other peers will be. He thinks he will lose the peer group that he has built when they are going off site without him. He is losing sleep speculating what could occur next year if he is left behind. We have been to our doctor to discuss his mental health and are waiting to get in to see a psychiatrist.

1.1.2. We are upset because keeping Kyle in the gifted program causes no detriment to himself, the teacher, or other students in the class so why are you denying him this extra opportunity? Removing Kyle from the gifted program will leave him feeling bored in the classroom. Without enriched learning he will not be stimulated to learn on the same level that he has previously been exposed to. Kyle craves the extra stimulation as it keeps him engaged and out of trouble.

1.2. Responses and Behaviour

1.2.1. We want immediate access to the IPRC assessment to find out why Kyle all of a sudden does not qualify for the gifted program moving forward. We also request a meeting with the homeroom teacher. We would like to know what has happened to other students that have been pulled out of the gifted program and denied enrichment opportunities. What kind of support do you have in place and are you prepared for the hardship that Kyle is experiencing and will need to work through if he is removed?

1.2.2. Enrichment is not only about having an increased IQ but is about independent learning and having the ability to take responsibility. There are many other skills that Kyle will be missing out on based on the results from the IPRC. Kyle’s report card has demonstrated his profound intellectual ability. If he was not gifted why would he be excelling and receiving the marks he has for the past few years? If there were concerns about his school work, this would have been reflected in the report card and we should have had meetings set up along the way to discuss any progress or difficulties Kyle was having.

1.3. Proposed Approach

1.3.1. We propose a follow-up assessment with our psychologist that stipulated Kyle as gifted in Grade 1. The psychologist knows Kyle and he might perform better with who he knows and feels comfortable with.

1.3.2. We would also like Kyle to redo the IPRC assessment as one test does not encapsulate his entire schooling progress over the past 3 years in the gifted program.

1.3.3. We are bringing in a doctor’s note as evidence that it’s in Kyle’s best interest to remain in the gifted program based on mental health issues that have arisen over the worry that he will not be allowed to have enrichment opportunities moving forward.

1.4. Plan of Action

1.4.1. We propose Kyle stay in the gifted program so he can receive these enrichment opportunities along with his peers. We don’t believe taking Kyle out of the gifted program will be beneficial in any way. At the very least allow him to stay in the program for Grade 4. We can work with him on his self-reflection and let him have the autonomy to choose whether or not to stay in the program after this year. Kyle knows his learning best and he should ultimately decide if the enrichment days are too difficult for him or not after having the chance to try them.

1.4.2. We are also prepared as lawyers to bring this matter to court and if necessary, sue the school to support our son and fight for his best interests. This is truly a last resort and we hope we can settle these matters so it won’t have to go this far.

2. Student Perspective

2.1. Feelings

2.1.1. Kyle might be feeling worried about having to leave his class and his peers. He may feel anxiety and disappointment about being one of only two students not continuing into the weekly enrichment program. However, Kyle may not be as anxious, as all of his peers are also transitioning to a new program

2.1.2. Kyle may also be dealing with low self-esteem because of the difficulty he is facing with school work, despite being told he is a Gifted student. If Kyle is a Gifted student, he may have strong emotional intelligence, which could lead to greater awareness and feelings of inadequacy regarding his situation. Gifted students are sometimes highly sensitive, perfectionists, and strong self-critics. These factors could influence the trajectory of Kyle’s self-esteem.

2.2. Responses and Behaviour

2.2.1. Kyle may be discouraged, as he exceeded expectations from an early age at home and has at the very least been told he was “Gifted” since then. His recent underachievement could lead to feelings of inadequacy, resulting in a lack of effort in his behaviour. Kyle may also start acting out or misbehaving due to the stress of his potential removal from his peer group.

2.3. Proposed Approach

2.3.1. As a student about to finish Grade 3, Kyle would likely propose that he stays in the same program as his peers, attending enrichment once a week, because he would want to avoid being excluded. Because Kyle’s parents are appealing the decision to withdraw his identification, he is likely believing that something is wrong with either himself, or the school’s reasoning.

2.4. Plan of Action

2.4.1. As a Grade 3 student, Kyle’s plan of action would be limited to his understanding of the situation. Kyle knows himself to be Gifted, but also likely acknowledges the difficulty he is facing in class. Kyle’s action would be to ask to stay in the stream with his peers, likely due to the pressure he is facing from both his parents and his own expectations. Kyle may also want to avoid having to switch programs for a second time since he left French Immersion in Grade 1. Wanting to stay may also encourage Kyle to increase his effort in school, but whether this would result in any change in his performance is unknown, as his effort level is not mentioned.

3. Principal Perspective

3.1. Feelings

3.1.1. As the principal in this situation I am feeling pressured to make sure that the information that was provided to the IPRC was an accurate representation of Kyle’s achievement. I am aware that Kyle’s parents are not happy with the situation so I feel the pressure to ensure they are kept informed about the appeal process. I realize that Kyle’s family is part of our school community and that is unfortunate that they are not happy with how the situation is being handled. However, my job as the principal is to make sure that the educators and other school staff did their due diligence in providing information to the IPRC. I do not have an input in the final decision made by the board. I am feeling conflicted because I understand that taking Kyle out of the enrichment program could lead to negative social implications for Kyle when interacting with his peers. However, as an administrator I need to remember that programs such as enrichment are run based on the funding provided and the school board will only provide funding for the students that they believe meet the criteria.

3.2. Responses and Behaviour

3.2.1. I believe my initial response as a principal is to ensure that all parties are involved in open communication about the issue. Due to the fact that I am not a member of the IPRC, I know that I cannot directly change the result of the appeal but I can ensure that my staff is doing their due diligence to provide the information that the decision is based on. I would also reach out to the parents to ensure they are feeling included in the school community. Overall, I believe my main role in this situation would be to moderate discussion and collect information about Kyle’s academic performance.

3.3. Proposed Approach

3.3.1. The strategy that I would propose is building a relationship with Kyle’s parents and opening the lines of communication during this situation. Since the decision will ultimately be made at the board level, it is best that our school works to ensure that Kyle’s family feels included as part of the school community. In the event that the appeal of Kyle’s ruling is dismissed, I would like to strategize with Kyle’s teacher to ensure that the parents can be provided with a portfolio of Kyle’s academic progress that shows the areas where is he is struggling. After this is created, Kyle’s parents could be invited into the conversation to discuss the smooth transition out of the enrichment program and how to best support Kyle in his new educational direction.

3.3.2. As a principal I would also look to the Ministry of Education document titled "Shared Solutions - A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students with Special Education Needs" for further support with positive communication with parents.

3.4. Plan of Action

3.4.1. (1) When approaching the issues presented by Kyle’s situation, I would begin my plan of action by collecting information from all stakeholders in the issue. I would start by going to members of the school staff that have worked with Kyle during his time in the gifted program. I would speak to these staff members with the hope of getting a detailed picture of how Kyle was doing both academically and socially within the school environment. I would ask Kyle’s current teacher for some of the most recent marks that have been collected from Kyle. (2) Based on the information provided by the staff of the school. I would develop a profile of Kyle’s academic achievement over the last year. By doing this, I would aim to get to know Kyle as a learner so that I could speak to his abilities at a later date. Since I am not in the classroom with Kyle each day, I will need to rely on the data collected by Kyle’s teachers.

3.4.2. (3) After forming a profile based on Kyle’s academic achievement, I would review the decision that was made by the IPRC. Based on the information that is provided on the Ontario Ministry of Education website under the “The Identification, Placement and Review Committee” section, the IPRC provides a written document with the reasoning behind their rulings. (4) I would then move to review the funding associated with the gifted program within the school and determine how many spots are available for the enrichment opportunities that are offered in grade four (if I am able to do so at this time).

3.4.3. (5) Now that I have a full perspective of the various viewpoints of the issue, my next step would be to reach out to Kyle’s parents to ensure that I acknowledge their concerns and reassure them the board will be re-evaluating Kyle’s case. I would want to speak to Kyle’s parents directly about the concerns they have for their child. As it has previously been mentioned, Kyle’s parents are appealing the decision on the basis that assessments can be unreliable at Kyle’s age and that removing him from the gifted program could have an impact on Kyle’s socioemotional development. My goal as the principal would be to ensure that Kyle’s parents are aware of the process of appeal and will convey that I would like to keep open lines of communication while we wait for a decision.

4. Teacher Perspective

4.1. Feelings

4.1.1. As Kyle’s teacher, I am feeling a bit of the weight of responsibility for what happens to Kyle, as some of the criteria that the appeal board is using to make this decision may be based on the information and assessments of Kyle that I provided. My concern would be whether or not what I have collected about Kyle and the ways that I have assessed him truly represent Kyle’s abilities and intelligence. Also, I would also be worried that I did not do enough to support Kyle in the classroom throughout the school year. If the reason that Kyle was underachieving in comparison to his peers as a result of my failure to address his needs or recognize that he was struggling from something such as a learning disability, I would be feeling guilty that I did not do enough for him while he was in my class.

4.1.2. In addition, I would be concerned with how this situation is going to impact Kyle and his state of mind moving forward in school. While we are near the end of the school year, and the end of Kyle’s presence in my class, I would worry that this situation may be detrimental to his self-esteem moving forward, as he sees some of his peers moving on to the special enrichment program each week, and he must stay behind, feeling that he was not good enough.

4.2. Responses and Behaviour

4.2.1. While as the classroom teacher I do not have a direct role in the appeal process that Kyle’s parents are going through, my initial response to this situation would likely be to make sure that his parents do have access to all of the evidence, observations, and assessments of Kyle that I have collected over the year. Being open with them about all of the work that Kyle has done (especially in comparison to his typical and gifted peers) would allow them to have a better perspective on Kyle’s abilities. I may also begin to make closer observations of Kyle in class, possibility in an attempt to reassess his situation and have more insights into his level of intelligence and reasons he may be struggling in school. Kyle may even be losing sleep over the concern and worry.

4.3. Proposed Approach

4.3.1. A strategy that I would propose in this case would be to maintain open communication with Kyle’s parents, and ensure that as much evidence as possible is provided to them about their child’s academic successes and abilities. Providing them with this information could help them feel supported by myself and the school, and that they feel confident in knowing as much about their child’s abilities as possible.

4.3.2. Going forward, strategies would also depend on the ultimate decision made by the appeal board. If Kyle were to progress in the enrichment program next year, based on some of the difficulties that he has been having this year, his situation may want to be monitored more closely to try and identify the reasons behind any of his problems. On the other hand, if the appeal is not successful, it will be important to analyze Kyle’s work this year and try to identify his areas of strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan moving forward. This could be something done in conjunction with Kyle’s parents, so that they feel they are a part of ensuring that Kyle has all of the support and opportunities he needs, even without the special enrichment program.

4.4. Plan of Action

4.4.1. (1) My plan of action moving forward with this case would be to open up to Kyle’s parents as much as possible with any of his work completed throughout the year. This would enable them to come to a better understanding of their son’s abilities and intelligence, so that they feel involved in whatever future plans are made for him, with or without a gifted diagnosis or the enrichment program. So long as it is made clear that there is a plan in place to target Kyle’s specific needs and provide him with whatever opportunities he needs, his parents may be able to feel a bit more reassured about the situation. (2) I would also ensure that I continue to monitor Kyle’s progress in school for the remainder of the year. Observations that I make may be able to provide more insight into Kyle’s situation, and whether or not the difficulties he has been having compared to his peers are due to a misidentification of giftedness, or if there could be other issues at play such as a learning disability.

4.4.2. (3) It will also be important to pay close attention to how Kyle is handling this situation and his level of self-esteem. He is likely aware of everything that is happening, and his behaviours in class and with his peers may be affected. This will be something for me to continue to monitor in class. Although, if he is removed from the enrichment program next year, this will also be something that his future teacher is made aware of as well. (4) As it is the end of the school year, and much of the outcome of this case will not necessarily involve me directly, I would also plan to conference with Kyle’s future grade 4 teacher, any resource teachers who could be working with Kyle, and the school principal. I would want to be sure that they have a full picture of all evidence that I have collected to date on Kyle’s academic work as well as my own observations and understandings of his strengths and weaknesses. Providing them with this information, as well as reassuring them that I will be able for collaboration if they would need me in the future, would provide them with the basis they need to continue to plan for Kyle in association with his parents.

5. Kyle is a grade three student who comes from a culturally and academically rich background. Before starting in grade one Kyle showed vocabulary and linguistic abilities that were above developmental level. Due to this, Kyle’s parents requested that an Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) be conducted and Kyle was subsequently identified as gifted. Initially, Kyle was placed in the French immersion stream starting in grade one. However, it became apparent that this course of schooling was too difficult for Kyle. Kyle was withdrawn from French immersion but remained in the gifted program receiving differentiated instruction up until the third grade. At the end of third grade, it has become apparent that Kyle’s abilities are behind that of his peers. As June approaches, it is standard practice that an IPRC be conducted to evaluate all grade three students to determine who will be moving forward with the gifted program. Based on the assessment, Kyle does not meet the requirements to move forward with the enrichment program. Kyle’s parents intend to appeal this decision.

5.1. Interpretation/Connection to Text

5.1.1. Kyle had an enriched childhood that could have contributed to his diagnosis of giftedness. His parents are highly educated and their home life offered many unique opportunities for Kyle that placed him at an advantage in comparison to other children entering kindergarten. His parents requested an IPRC before he started kindergarten. Connection to Course Content - Within Bennett, Dworet, Gallagher & Somma (2019) parent nomination for giftedness is cautioned. Due to the fact that Kyle is an only child, his parents would have no means of comparison to evaluate whether their child is at an advanced developmental level.

5.1.2. Kyle has fallen behind in achievement when being compared to his peers that are also identified as gifted. Currently, Kyle is below the criteria required to continue in the enrichment stream when entering grade four. Connection to Course Content - The identification of giftedness can vary based on the requirements of the school board. Based on the Bennett et al. (2019) the criteria of who is considered gifted can change based on the resources that are available on a year to year basis. For example, the IQ cutoff can change based on the number of seats that are available which is based on funding.

5.1.3. It is important to note that Kyle’s lower academic achievement may not be enough to assume that he is not gifted. Connection to Course Content - According to Bennett et al. (2019), not all children who are identified as gifted are overachievers in school. Some gifted students may underachieve academically or simply express their giftedness through non-academic activities. Connection to Course Content - According to Bennett et al. (2019), some students who are gifted show a decrease in academic achievement in upper grades because of increasing demands. This could be in part because they have lost confidence in their abilities or because they did not develop the consistent work habits needed to excel in an increasingly complex school environment.

5.1.4. If the criterion includes a specific academic achievement level that Kyle is not achieving at, this still may not be indicative of other factors associated with giftedness. Connection to Course Content - Based on Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, there are nine different intelligences and individuals may have strengths or weaknesses in one or multiple areas (Woolfolk, Winnie & Perry, 2020). Kyle may be above average with his linguistic intelligence but he could be below average in others. Within Bennett et al. (2019) it is emphasized that Gardner does not accept a single measure of intelligence such as IQ testing as an absolute representation of intelligence. Each individual has the capacity to excel in all or some of the nine intelligences and their ability can change over time.

5.1.5. The parents intend to appeal on the basis that the assessment of young children are unreliable and that being shifted out of enrichment could be damaging to Kyle’s self-esteem Connection to Course Content - Kyle's parents may have a point in saying that Kyle's assessment is unreliable. Giftedness in primary grades is difficult to assess because students who are between the ages of 4-9 develop at different paces and the amount they are able to learn and retain varies on an individual basis. As such, school boards are often reluctant to specifically identify a student as gifted in the primary grades. (Bennett et al., 2019)

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