The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District supports gifted education in elementary, middle, and high school. This program enables gifted students to develop their exceptional intellectual abilities and prepare them to live in a future with expanding opportunities. The program is based on cognitive and academic criteria, and follows the mandates described in Chapter 16 of Pennsylvania state school code. Through experiences with peers and professionals and a stimulating curriculum, gifted students will extend their knowledge and understanding, appreciate new perspectives, clarify their interests and goals, and develop a positive self-concept.
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Students in second through 5th grade are screened at multiple set points throughout the year using STAR assessments and curricular averages. Those students meeting criteria are eligible to move on in the gifted screening process, potentially involving above-level curricular and cognitive assessments. The Pennsylvania Department of Education Chapter 16 regulations define “mentally gifted” as:
“Outstanding intellectual and creative ability the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.”
A student who is identified as gifted must demonstrate the need for specially designed instruction above and beyond the general education curriculum. Once identified as having a need, the Gifted Multi-disciplinary Team will meet to develop a plan to enrich or accelerate the student's instructional program outlined in a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP).
The Gifted Support program at the elementary school level is designed to meet the academic strengths of students identified as gifted learners. The elementary gifted model seeks to develop both the cognitive and affective domains of gifted students. Activities are embedded with performance skills that are tied to the above grade level Pennsylvania state standards. Performance skills include: information processing, problem solving, critical thinking, communication and responsibility. Students work both individually and in small groups to access and apply information. Depending on grade level and individual needs, most identified students meet with the gifted education teacher for 30-90 minutes per 6-day cycle. At this time, gifted peers work cooperatively on engaging, hands-on activities that address the higher level thinking skills of applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
In an effort to promote a growth mindset, gifted learners are regularly challenged to venture beyond their comfort zone to make new discoveries. In order to encourage risk-taking, divergent thinking, and in-depth exploration without fear of failure, performance in the gifted support classroom is evaluated, but ungraded. Progress on gifted goals is reported annually in your child's GIEP.
Math and English Language Arts (ELA) programs at the elementary level are differentiated to meet the needs of students who are approaching grade level, on grade level, or beyond grade level. When assessments indicate readiness for challenge beyond the Common Core Curriculum, differentiated instruction occurs within the classroom setting. Based on criteria that may include classroom performance, district assessments, and teacher recommendation, some gifted students may meet with the gifted support teacher for additional curricular enrichment sessions.
Opportunities to discuss the social-emotional component of giftedness and demonstrate leadership qualities are frequently addressed in the gifted classroom setting. Students in the upper grades with specific academic interests are encouraged to participate in various extracurricular opportunities, including the Chester County Reading Olympics, the Scripps Spelling Bee, and the UCFSD Math 24 Challenge.
In accordance with Chapter 16 of Pennsylvania State legislature, and in order to continue to meet students’ individualized needs, at the secondary level we have been supporting changes to gifted education over the last several years to align our programming with students’ developmental needs.
As a part of the intentional progression of change and in congruence with our MTSS processes, starting in the 2024-25 school year, gifted education students at Patton Middle School will be integrated into Literacy and Non-Fiction writing courses with grade-level peers and receive differentiated instruction in these courses. Therefore, the sixth and seventh grade courses “AT Literacy” and “AT Non-Fiction Writing” will no longer be offered. Additionally, all eighth grade students will select enrichment courses in their areas of interest as offered in the course selection guide. All students with GIEPs will continue to receive differentiated instruction from their general education teachers.
A student’s gifted needs, as outlined in their Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP), will direct their course selection and specify necessary enrichment through goals, short-term learning objectives, and specially designed instruction to take place in their regular education classes. The Gifted Education teacher will continue to support Regular Education teachers with differentiation for individual students. All Patton students with GIEPs will have the opportunity to schedule a Gifted Education Resource elective period for 2 days per 6 day cycle. Additionally, all identified students (with and without active GIEPs) will be able to access the gifted resource room for curricular support, enrichment opportunities, and application guidance during Advisory and Hawk Time.
The new model will align with Unionville High School, support more individualization of GIEPs, and meet students’ needs in their specific areas of strength. As has been the practice, once a student no longer needs a GIEP, they will receive a NORA indicating a change to regular education. The outlined changes in programming for 2024-25 will support this being a more confidential, smooth, and immediate transition process for students.
The Gifted Education program at the high school consists of two distinct components: gifted education services and support. Gifted education is provided through the use of a GIEP, which documents the student’s exceptional needs beyond that which we provide in our general education curriculum and creates a plan through specially designed instruction to ensure that the student has opportunities to develop his/her intellectual potential. Students who find themselves appropriately challenged by their courses will not have a GIEP but may access the gifted education room for support services. If a student’s needs change, the GIEP team reconvenes and reassesses what services are necessary to ensure the student is appropriately challenged.
The UHS Gifted Education Program offers one elective class that is available to all high-achieving 9th grade students. Based on enrollment, two sections will be offered: a regular education class open to any student, and a gifted education class open only to students with active GIEPs. Students with GIEPs enrolled in the gifted section will have STLOs or SDIs for engagement in the HOTS concepts related to their individual enrichment needs.
All identified students may utilize the Gifted Education room for college search and application guidance, curricular support, enrichment opportunities, and other individual support needs. Students are encouraged to proactively schedule conferences, touching base regarding their academic progress to ensure that they continue working productively to meet their gifted education and personal objectives. Students’ progress is routinely monitored to assess the appropriateness of their academic placements and to suggest growth opportunities, which will allow students to work to develop to their fullest potential. Enrichment and acceleration opportunities for those students with a GIEP are individually tailored and include a combination of specially designed instruction techniques constructed to provide the student increased challenge beyond course requirements. Additionally, students learn to recognize their emotional responses that may act as barriers to their learning and discuss strategies to help them manage any affective needs.
Gifted Education Teacher
Unionville High School:
Katie DelDotto- email@example.com