OVERVIEW OF SERVICES FOR GIFTED STUDENTS
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Chapter 16 Regulations for Gifted Learners, in order to qualify as gifted, a student must meet two requirements: the student must be mentally gifted (IQ of 130 or higher on an individually administered test of intellectual functioning or other multiple criteria strongly indicate gifted ability) and must be found to require specially designed instruction not ordinarily provided in the regular education program in order to meet identified gifted needs. Determination of gifted ability may not be based on IQ score alone. Students with an IQ below 130 may be eligible for gifted support when they exhibit ability on multiple criteria that strongly suggests gifted ability.
The law requires a series of procedures to be followed by a school district when assessing students who are thought to be mentally gifted. Parents have the right to be partners with the school staff in all aspects of that process from the evaluation to the decision over which programs, services and placement procedures are appropriate to meet their child’s needs. The procedure involves a screening process, Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE), Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP), if appropriate, and Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).
Members of a Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation team (GMDT) includes parent(s)/ guardian(s), current teacher(s), certified school psychologist, and may include persons familiar with the student’s educational performance, and/or cultural background. Referrals for a gifted evaluation may be made by parents/guardians or teachers. Parental requests must be in writing and are limited to one per school term.requests should be submitted to the building principal.
The School District of Haverford Township’s gifted programming is intended for children with very superior cognitive abilities who need more than the general education curriculum provides. Children can be assessed for gifted eligibility upon entrance to kindergarten. All of our students are screened for possible gifted eligibility in second grade, but a student can be referred to the Gifted Child Study Team in any grade by an administrator, parent, teacher, or by self referral.
The Gifted Support Teacher may provide pull-out or push-in support to eligible students, depending upon their gifted needs. During pull-out support, students meet with peers of similar ability and participate in enrichment and extension activities that broaden the regular education curriculum. The emphasis is on strengthening critical thinking skills. During push-in support, gifted students are provided extra academic challenges within the regular education setting.
Sometimes a child’s gifted needs may be met through consultation and differentiation in the regular education classroom. Reading groups based upon current level, math enrichment groups, and small groups working on individual areas of growth such as higher-level thinking, problem solving, and technology use also may be employed. The general education teachers meet the needs of gifted students through specially designed instruction. Examples of gifted specially designed instruction may include: subject or grade level acceleration; enrichment math classes; enrichment language arts classes; participation in gifted sponsored competitions in math problem solving, word analogies, and geography challenges; modification of the content, process, or product; working with gifted peers; and consultation with the gifted support teacher.
The Elementary and Middle School Seminar Programs vary depending on the needs of the individual student. Seminar is a good way to meet some gifted needs of some gifted students, but the individual plans are tailored to the specific gifted needs of each student.
One component of services for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders consists of a pull-out educational seminar program offered for two hours each week. Students spend time working on various higher-level, problem-solving activities. In addition, each grade spends the year learning and applying their knowledge to an area of research.
Third-grade seminar students explore the five themes of geography: location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and regions. This is a direct extension to the social studies curriculum of basic map skills and an understanding of the world around them, which is presented in the regular education classroom. In order to focus their research, each student selects a country, and applies, evaluates, and synthesizes their knowledge in an in-depth study of that country.
Fourth-grade seminar students explore the field of architecture, creating a way for each student to further understand how people have interacted with their environment. By studying and manipulating different forms of architecture, past and present, students reflect on the growth and development of civilization. Themes include the creation of agrarian settlements, industrial communities and cities, and the study of architectural elements of style, function, and geometry. This enriches the regular education social studies curriculum of the development of regions, specifically Pennsylvania. In addition, it connects directly with the math curriculum of geometry and scale. Language Arts is extended through various writing activities and the major research component of the exploration of an architectural wonder in our world.
The study of archaeology and anthropology in fifth-grade provides students the opportunity to investigate how people have interacted with their environment over time. By investigating civilizations and cultures both past and present, students discover an understanding of patterns common to all cultures and see the similarities of each are greater than the differences. Students choose an ancient civilization to focus their research and synthesize their newly found knowledge. This further enriches the students’ studies throughout the fifth grade regular education curriculum specifically as it relates to the development of government, technology, and culture of the people of the United States and as enrichment to the writing and reading curriculum from Language Arts.
The High School is uniquely placed to offer opportunities for acceleration and enrichment through its general education programs. For example, ninth graders may be accelerated into Science, English, and Math courses when appropriate. Honors Level courses provide enrichment, a heightened level of challenge, and the ability to work with peers of high ability and skill. Rigorous Advanced Placement courses extend these experiences into college level academics. Enrichment is also available through elective courses in the five major academic subjects as well as in fine and applied arts, technology education, human resources, music, and the visual and performing arts. The activities program provides opportunities for enrichment to students in areas of interest such as student government, publications, clubs, theater productions, science, sports, art and music, including competition based programs such as Hi-Q, Science Olympiad, and U.S. First robotics. These opportunities are all available to students based on interest, performance, and ability. If a high school student needs specially designed instruction not provided in the High School’s regular education program, a Gifted Individualized Education Plan meeting is scheduled with the student’s guidance counselor and an individual plan is developed based upon need.