In Pennsylvania, being mentally gifted is defined having 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 or higher or other factors (listed below) that indicate gifted ability. Gifted ability cannot be based on IQ score alone. If the IQ score is lower than 130, a child may be admitted to gifted programs when other conditions strongly indicate gifted ability.
The other factors to be considered include:
- Achievement test scores that are a year or more above level
- Observed or measured acquisition/retention rates that reflect gifted ability (how quickly a child learns new concepts or information, and how long he or she remembers it)
- Achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas that demonstrates a high level of accomplishment
- Higher level thinking skills
- Documented evidence that intervening factors are masking gifted ability
How Does the School District Identify Gifted Students?
All first grade students and new students to grades 2-8 are screened using the Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary and Middle School Students (SAGES-2). Based on the SAGES-2 results, the school may, with the parents’ informed consent, conduct a gifted multidisciplinary evaluation (GMDE). A team of individuals, including parents and school personnel, will contribute information to this evaluation. A Pennsylvania certified school psychologist will provide individual assessment results. All teachers are alert to the characteristics of gifted children and they may refer children for screening at any time. Parents may also request an evaluation for your child at any time in writing.
The GMDE is a multiple criteria evaluation process for identifying gifted students. All of the information will be compiled into a Gifted Written Report (GWR) highlighting the student’s educational strengths and needs. The GWR will include a determination as to whether the student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction. If the student is found to be eligible, the school will convene a GIEP team, including parents, to review the recommendations in the report and to develop a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP).
Important Components in a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP)
The GIEP describes the nature and extent of gifted support that a student needs. The GIEP will contain a statement of the student’s present educational performance. The GIEP team will write annual goals and short term learning outcomes that meet the student’s.
- Annual goals will describe what the student can be expected to learn during the year.
- Short-term outcomes are the sequential steps the student must take in order to reach these goals.
The GIEP will also include: specially designed instruction and support services that the student requires to meet the goals; dates for beginning the GIEP; ways for determining whether the goals and learning outcomes are being met; the names and positions of the GIEP team participants; and the date of the meeting. Gifted Support Options
In the T/E School District Gifted support is provided K-12 for eligible students through the GIEP. Gifted support teachers work at every grade level, along with other school personnel, to implement each child’s GIEP.
At the elementary level, eligible students in second, third, or fourth grade may participate in the Challenge Program. The Challenge Program supplements a gifted student’s regular classroom experience by promoting higher thinking skills in a small group setting where students meet on a regular schedule during the 6 day cycle. The Challenge curriculum is organized around interdisciplinary units that are oriented to process, not product.
The goals of the program are addressed through themes designed to foster higher level thinking, the creative process, decision making/problem solving ability, group process skills, self-concept development, and advanced communication techniques. Classroom and Challenge teachers work together on integrated themes. These integrations provide the opportunity to extend, enrich, and explore the natural connection between the regular education and the Challenge curricula.
Middle and High School Levels
At the middle school and high school levels, eligible students work with gifted support teachers and classroom teachers to meet individualized needs as articulated in their GIEPs. The goals may be addressed in a variety of ways. Options include, but are not limited to, differentiated instruction in the regular classroom, the provision of alternate assignments, self-directed projects to enrich the curriculum, participation in small-group, topical seminars, accelerated learning opportunities and participation in specialized events such as academic competitions and contests.
Addressing the Needs of Gifted Students
Through the Regular Education Program In Pennsylvania, a student is eligible for gifted support when he/she has outstanding intellectual ability and a need for specially designed instruction that is not provided in the regular education program. Many students in our District with outstanding intellectual ability are appropriately educated through the regular education program and, therefore, do not require specially designed instruction. The determination for eligibility for gifted support is made through the evaluation process. This process includes a consideration of the educational offerings and opportunities available for the student and whether these are sufficient to meet the student’s needs. Examples of regular education opportunities include advanced instructional groupings for reading and mathematics, the middle school humanities based program and core extension program, advanced placement courses at the high school and District initiatives in self-directed learning, thinking skills and differentiated instruction.
If you have questions concerning gifted education, please contact your child's school counselor, the gifted support teacher assigned to your child's building or a building administrator.