Review of schools' gifted, talented programs begins
Reviewing district practices is an integral part of the strategic plan of Bexley City Schools.
The district is committed to creating a learning culture where everyone, younger and older, understands what high-quality learning looks like in action. To achieve that end, the district continuously reviews, tweaks and improves various practices in all areas.
This year, our school community will take a look at our Gifted and Talented Program or, as it is commonly known, GATE.
As with any school district practice, we want to know that we are serving our learners in the best way possible.
The school district last conducted a full review of gifted programming in 2003-2004, with help from teachers and community members. That effort resulted in the district placing a gifted instructional specialist in each school, the formation of a parent support group, and some expansion of programming.
In addition to the district's continuous improvement practices suggesting a review, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) requires districts to consider how they identify and serve gifted students. This current review will look at practices as they align with Ohio's current Operating Standards for Identifying and Serving Gifted Students (OAC 3301-51-15) (2008) and as they align with newly-revised programming standards for gifted education published in 2012 by the National Association for Gifted Children.
Bexley's GATE program currently provides a continuum of services for students identified through a screening process at the end of third grade "as performing or showing potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to others of their age, experience or environment" as defined by the ODE.
Beginning in fourth grade, students who have scored at least two standard deviations above the mean on an approved intelligence or ability assessment and who have scored at or above a 95 percent on an ODE-approved standardized assessment of academic ability in English Language Arts/Reading are eligible to attend a language arts replacement class offered through grade eight.
The program content includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and research, aligned to Ohio's academic content standards; the GATE curriculum is differentiated by:
* Accelerating the time needed for mastery of concepts.
* Emphasizing greater depth and coverage of information.
* Incorporating more opportunities for higher-level thinking.
* Offering the opportunity to learn, practice and transfer specific thinking models.
* Providing quality time spent with peers of similar abilities.
* Facilitating original knowledge production.
As our review gets under way, we plan to consider, with guidance from our gifted education coordinator at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, different ways of delivering gifted services and how to better support students in additional areas, such as math, science, social studies and the arts. We will work together over this school year to figure out how to best ensure learning for our gifted students.
Dr. Laura Lipsett is the director of curriculum for the Bexley City Schools.