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  • The answers to many of your questions about the gifted program are listed below.


    Questions
    1)   What is the difference between the gifted program and enrichment?
    2)   How does a student become a candidate for identification?
    3)   Once a student is a candidate, what happens?
    4)   If a student performs well as a candidate, what is the next step?
    5)   Why are the score requirements so high in Blue Valley?
    6)   Is testing the only measure for admittance?
    7)   So, who makes the final decision?
    8)   If my child fails to qualify at any point, is that permanent?
    9)   Can the gifted specialist put students in the program on a trial basis?
    10)   If a child is a high achiever in math only, can they be identified for the program?
    11)   If a student consistently makes all A grades, why is that not sufficient to be in the gifted program?
    12)   What type of things take place in the gifted classroom?
     
    Answers
    1)   Q What is the difference between the gifted program and enrichment?
    A
    Enrichment is giving more challenge and extension to students showing a need in a particular subject area. Several years ago this was done only on a pull-out basis with a school enrichment teacher. Many students, therefore, were left out. Today enrichment is done through differentiation in the classroom. Classroom teachers have activities, extensions and independent projects they use for this. District Coordinating Teachers (DCTs) and the school gifted education teacher help provide these for teachers.
    The gifted program is a special education program and subject to rules and regulations set by the district, state and federal government. Students in the program go through a very comprehensive identification process to make sure that they qualify as a student with special needs, and that they have a continuous need for more challenge in all subject areas. Once identified, students are put on a special education IEP (Individual Education Plan).
    2)   Q How does a student become a candidate for identification?
    A
    Starting in the primary grades, the gifted specialist consults with classroom teachers about students showing characteristics of giftedness. Differentiation is the first intervention initiated, and this is done by the general education teacher. The results are documented for review to see if this intervention is adequate or not enough. In the second case, more intensive intervention, such as a limited number of sessions in the gifted education classroom to gather more data, may be started. This is all part of a process called "Childfind".
    3)   Q Once a student is a candidate, what happens?
    A
    The next step is data gathering from numerous sources. Classroom teachers fill out questionairres and surveys. Parents are also asked to complete surveys regarding what they observe at home. The child's overall academic records are reviewed. The gifted specialist notes how the child performs in the Childfind class and their work products.
    4)   Q If a student performs well as a candidate, what is the next step?
    A
    At that point, the gifted specialist must gather information on intellectual functioning. Testing is involved, performed by the school psychologist. Currently, the Weschler Intelligence Survey for Children (WISC) is used to determine IQ. Blue Valley requires an IQ in the 99th percentile.
    5)   Q Why are the score requirements so high in Blue Valley?
    A
    As a whole, students in Blue Valley have high academic functioning. The goal is to identify the top 3-7%, which is statistically shown to be those who function at the gifted level.
    6)   Q Is testing the only measure for admittance?
    A
    No. The state requires multiple data sources to confirm admittance. High test scores are only one measure. Results from the surveys, questionairres, observations and record reviews must all be considered.
    7)   Q So, who makes the final decision?
    A
    The school's special education team, called THOT at Prairie Star, reviews the student's file and makes the final decision. The team includes all special education teachers, the school psychologist, the school counselor, the principal, speech pathologist and occupational therapist. Parents are also part of the decision team.
    8)   Q If my child fails to qualify at any point, is that permanent?
    A
    Not necessarily. The child will continue to receive differentiation in the classroom whenever needed. At a future time, if conditions warrant it, the process may be reinitiated.
    9)   Q Can the gifted specialist put students in the program on a trial basis?
    A
    No. The gifted specialist has no power to place a child in the program. The entire THOT team must agree that placement is appropriate. There are no trial placements as this is a state special education program and must adhere to state regulations.
    10)   Q If a child is a high achiever in math only, can they be identified for the program?
    A
    Students must score and perform at a high level in both reading and math. Students who perform highly in one area only are considered academically talented in that area and will receive differentiation in the classroom. Research on giftedness consistently shows that it is a whole brain process of functioning.
    11)   Q If a student consistently makes all A grades, why is that not sufficient to be in the gifted program?
    A
    Hard work and good learning habits are characteristics of many students. Success can be achieved by those who apply themselves well. "Giftedness", however is a syndrome of characteristics and functioning that involves faster neural processing, whole brain connectivity and specific behavioral characteristics and emotional traits. Some of these traits can be problematic, and the program helps students learn to handle these.
    12)   Q What type of things take place in the gifted classroom?
    A
    The gifted classroom is essentially another added class for the student. It is assumed that participating students have already mastered much of the material in their general education classroom and can afford to miss a part of the instruction there. Studies are rigorous and designed to challenge even the brightest students. Students are responsible for completing assignments and projects on a regular basis, and progress is monitored and reported at each grading period.