The TAG Program teaches district curriculum to advanced learners while emphasizing higher-order thinking, deep knowledge, substantive conversations and making connections to the world beyond the classroom.
The announcement, which stated that new enrollment into the program was to be suspended while the district evaluated the program and researched other options, caused quite a bit of confusion among parents and the community, which were voiced during the Board of Education meeting last week.
Leigh Schamp, a Plymouth resident and district mom said she turned down three charter school invitations to attend Plymouth-Canton's TAG Program.
"My daughter's mind has exploded since entering the TAG program and I attrributed that to her being with great TAG teachers and other students who can discuss and explore ideas not found in a general education classroom," she said. "I believe the process feeds on itself. And when they find someone who thinks the same way that they do, they allow their minds to process ideas they have not entertained before. This is a change from general education when my daughter did not enjoy going to school."
Schamp said her daughter has been flourishing, which is a big change from when she was labeled by teachers as disruptive in general education classrooms. Schamp said she was worried about her daughter's continued education.
"A gifted child's right to learn is just as important as other students with different learning challenges," she said.
Another TAG parent who was attending her first ALPAC meeting when the announcement was made said how the district delivered the news was absurd and caused upheaval and instability among district parents and students.
Board President John Barrett assured parents that there would be no action taken on the TAG Program in the near future.
"The district is conducting a system-wide assessment of all of our programs to review and see that all of them are of the highest possible quality and they have integrity as we move forward in Plymouth-Canton Schools," he said.
PCCS Director of Communications Kate Dietrich said the district is currently reviewing the program enrollment criteria for new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
"The program is not suspended, though we understand there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding this issue at the moment," she wrote Patch in an email. "Students will continue receiving instruction at Dodson, Miller and East. A review of the enrollment criteria will be led by the Student Performance and Achievement subcommittee, with input from teachers and our parent community. The enrollment procedure and process for new students will be finalized in December."
According to Dietrich, there will be no changes to program offerings for current students next school year.
The TAG Program is in its 33rd year at the elementary level and in its 13th year at the middle school level
Currently, there are about 327 children in eleven classrooms at the elementary level and about 250 students in eight classrooms at East Middle School, according to the district website.
The district expanded the elementary TAG Program by six classrooms in 2012. Miller Elementary has two classes each of grades three, four and five; and Dodson Elementary now houses five TAG classes with one third-grade class and two classes each in grades four and five.
For more information about the TAG Program, visit tag.pccs.k12.mi.us.