“The gifted and talented programs are not federally mandated programs, as such, school districts are not required to have them,” said Renee Milne, Curriculum director. “But we saw a learning gap and wanted to meet the needs of all of our students.”
The Gifted Enrichment Model supports the Utah State Board of Education’s strategic plan for closing achievement and opportunity gaps and provides support for implementing board rule and civil rights obligations, (Statute 53F-2-408 Board Rule 277-707).
To determine whether a student qualifies, students are given the Cognitive Abilities Test, also referred to as the CogAT. For students in TCSD, this test is administered while they are in 2nd grade. The CogAT is used in many states to help make student placement decisions for gifted education or high ability programs. To make it equitable, the test is given on an opt-out basis. This means every 2nd grade student will have an opportunity to take the test unless their parent or guardian states they do want their child to participate.
“It's important for families to know the CogAT is not a reflection of what students have been taught in school, but rather it focuses on problem solving and helps point out areas some students may excel in,” said Milne.
In February, all 2nd grade students in the District finished taking the CogAT. The next step is to receive the data back from Riverside Insights, a publisher of clinical and educational standardized tests, and provide additional information to parents.
Every student who takes the CogAT will receive a parent letter with information about the student’s scores. Those who have a score of 130 or higher, (which is two deviations higher than the standard), will be eligible to move on to the next step to see if they are able to participate in the program. Parent letters are expected to arrive in April.
The next step includes the student’s teacher completing a modified Renzulli-Hartman feedback form, and the parent or guardian completing a checklist of student traits.
“This program has been long overdue for our gifted students in Tooele County School District,” said Patricia Walker, Teaching and Learning director. “We look forward to ensuring all students are given the necessary supports to be successful in the classroom, including our cognitively gifted students.”
The Gifted Enrichment Model will be available at every school. Students will participate in their normal class schedule but will also have additional activities with a trained paraprofessional to enhance their special interests and learning in one of the four categories: humanities, academic habits, literacy, and STEM.
To learn more about the Gifted Enrichment Model, go to http://www.tooeleschools.org/apps/pages/acceleratedprograms
For questions about the Gifted Enrichment Model, please email Curriculum Director Renee Milne at firstname.lastname@example.org.