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Gifted Services

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. The program provides an atmosphere in which gifted students are encouraged to initiate and develop their own systematic approach to learning- thereby enabling them to gain a real sense of responsibility, intellectual freedom, and love of learning.


Identification

Parents and teachers can recommend that a student be screened and evaluated at any time to determine his/her eligibility for gifted services by contacting their school counselor. The school counselor can provide information regarding the gifted program and can then initiate the screening process. 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. The term mentally gifted includes a person who has an IQ of 130 and other factors (advanced achievement, exceptional rate of acquisition and retention, demonstrated expertise, higher level thinking skills) that indicate gifted ability. Gifted ability cannot be based on IQ score alone. If the IQ score is lower than 130, your child may be admitted to gifted programs when other conditions strongly indicate gifted ability.”

A student that is identified as being gifted must also demonstrate the need for specially designed instruction. This means that the regular education program and curriculum can not meet his or her instructional needs and a Gifted Individual Educational Plan (GIEP) is needed to enrich or accelerate the student's instructional program.

Gifted Services Notification Announcement

In order to consider multiple criteria as specified in the regulations, the district has adopted a three-tier process including assessment of cognitive ability, academic achievement, and behavioral characteristics, all of which contribute to the eligibility determination. All second graders will be screened for possible eligibility for gifted services through our universal data collection protocol. Students in other grades can be referred to the school counselor for screening by parents and/or teachers. School counselors also review the records of all new students to the district to determine the need for Academically Talented screening. The following is our process.


Phase I - Universal Data Collection

School counselors under the direction of the principal collect Phase I Data on all students in second grade.

School Ability Assessment
Second Grade students will take the Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), Eighth Edition, in October of each school year. This is a group administered test. Students in other grades, who are referred to the school counselors for AT screening, will be given the OLSAT.

Math Achievement
Second-twelve grade students will take the Group Mathematics Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GMADE). Kindergarten and first grade students will be given the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III).

Reading Achievement
Kindergarten-second Grade students are given the Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment. Third-twelve grade students will take the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE).


Phase II - Parent and Teacher Surveys

If a student meets the criteria in Phase I he/she will move to Phase II

School counselors under the direction of the principal collect Phase II Data.
  • Parents complete the Parent Inventory for Finding Potential (PIP)
  • Teachers complete the Teacher Inventory of Learning Strengths (TILS)
  • Both surveys are taken from the work of Karen B. Rogers, Ph.D.


Phase III - I.Q. Testing - Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-WISC IV

If a student meets the criteria in Phase II he/she will move to Phase III.

A school psychologist completes the testing, compiles the data, and reports to the parents and the school team the evaluation results.

The results of the I.Q. test as well as the data from the other phases are considered in the final determination of a child’s need for gifted services in our Academically Talented program.

For more information, contact your school counselor

Characteristics

* Adopted from The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented and from The Council for Exceptional Children.

  • Accelerated and intense rate of development
  • Highly sensitive
  • Advanced development in one or more academic areas
  • May have a high level of energy
  • Intense interest, with high motivation for learning
  • Lengthy attention span
  • Excellent memory, large knowledge base
  • Mature and developed sense of humor
  • Keen sense of morality and justice
  • Questions and challenges people and ideas
  • Early language development
  • Early reader and/or interest in books
  • Highly expressive with a large and advanced vocabulary
  • Enjoys word play
  • Advanced visual-spatial abilities
  • Draws inferences and constructs abstractions
  • Imaginative and creative
  • Inventive problem solver

* Gifted students may exhibit some or many of the above characteristics that indicate giftedness.

Elementary

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 twice a year, after the first and third trimesters.

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, the National Geographic Bee, and the UCFSD Math 24 Challenge.

Additional Resources

Middle School

The Gifted Support(AT) program at the Middle School is one that offers enrichment and challenge focusing on providing new learning experiences for gifted students in accordance with District, State, and National Standards
Gifted education at the Middle School level is a supportive intervention enrichment program designed to develop complex thinking practices such as creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Establishing thematic integrated units of study and providing activities, which focus on hands-on learning, is integral to our curriculum. This amalgamation is implemented yearly according to grade level. A variety of teaching strategies are employed to accommodate the diverse learning styles of the students.

Students identified as mentally gifted are offered the opportunity to participate in enrichment and challenge activities by attending Gifted Support/AT (Academically Talented) classes. The AT room is located within the regular school building and students are grouped with other children in their grade levels who have also been identified as gifted. Sixth and seventh grade students are enrolled in a compacted literacy class, which takes place four out of the six day cycle, and attend enrichment classes in the AT resource room the other two days of the cycle. Eighth grade students have the opportunity to attend AT classes in place of a special area class during all four marking periods. Participation depends upon students’ individual strengths and interests in accordance with the quarterly offerings.

Throughout the year, students may choose to participate in Gifted Seminars led by teachers, parents and community members who share their knowledge and expertise in areas of students’ individual strengths and interests. Sessions are in depth seminars that most times offer a hands-on style of learning. All AT students (6,7,8) have the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions and contests.

Active class participation is encouraged through individual and partner work as well as cooperative grouping. Grouping is designed according to the activity, and students are encouraged to change groups on a regular basis. Through appropriate peer interaction, students strengthen interpersonal skills while building self-awareness and self-acceptance in a safe and comfortable environment.

Students are assessed through teacher, peer, and self -evaluation. Emphasis is placed on the self-evaluation piece, as self-reflection is a valued effective assessment and developmental tool. Students are required to draw conclusions and make judgments about their performance and development in the AT classroom. Learning logs, observations, rubrics, and spoken and written responses are some of the methods implemented for evaluation purposes. Sixth and seventh grade AT students receive a pass/fail grade on their quarterly report cards and eighth grade students receive letter/number grades on their quarterly report cards. Progress on GIEP goals is reported quarterly.

Additional Resources

5th to 6th Grade Transition Letter to Parents of Gifted Students

2017 Parent Presentation

High School

The Gifted Support (AT) program at the high school is comprised of two distinct components: gifted education services and resource 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 insure that the student has opportunities to develop his/her intellectual potential. Students who find themselves thoroughly challenged by their honor and AP level courses will not have a GIEP but may access the AT room for support services. If a student’s needs change, the GIEP team reconvenes and reassesses what services are necessary to insure the student is appropriately challenged.

Within the AT program, all identified 9th grade students are able to take a Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) seminar for credit either as a stand-alone course or in conjunction with a modified Computers Applications course. 9th grade students create 4 year plans and participate in enrichment opportunities designed to stimulate and develop higher order thinking skills. 10th grade students refine their 4-year plans and continue to enhance their evaluative and synthesis proficiencies. 11th and 12th grade students focus on the college search process and begin developing their post-secondary plans.

All identified students may utilize the AT room for college search and application guidance, curricular support, as well as for enrichment opportunities. 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.

Additional Resources


UHS Gifted Support Presentation from the Open House on 5/30/17

Parent Resources

Below you will find links to organizations that offer further information, news, and services for Academically Talented children

http://cty.jhu.edu/ Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

http://www.sengifted.org/ Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/ Hoagies' Gifted Education page

http://www.giftedpage.org/ PA Association for Gifted Education

http://www.giftededpress.com/ Gifted Education Press

http://www.nagc.org/ National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.prufrock.com/ Prufrock Press Gifted resources site