Guide for Parents

A Guide for Families

DEFINITION

Gifted and Talented children and youth are those of high potential or ability, whose learning characteristics and educational needs require qualitatively differentiated educational experiences and/or services.  Possession of these talents and gifts, or the potential for their development, will be evidenced through an interaction of above average intellectual ability, task commitment and/or motivation, and creative ability.

PHILOSOPHY

The Little Rock School District is committed to providing quality, equitable educational programs for students with a potential for giftedness.  The gifted programs are designed to challenge these students who have unique needs, abilities, and talents through a variety of learning approaches, including enrichment, qualitatively differentiated curricula, and acceleration.

EQUITY STATEMENT

The Little Rock School District is committed to each child having an opportunity to participate in the Gifted and Talented Program regardless of race, color, creed, socio-economic level, or handicapping condition.  This commitment is guaranteed through equitable procedures for assessing gifted potential, program designs that are flexible and varied enough to be adaptable to individual student needs, and through curricula designed to nurture gifted potential.

Gifted and Talented-Mission Statement

The mission of the Gifted and Talented Program is to provide an educational environment for the identified G/T students that will allow them to develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally.  The goal of the Gifted and Talented Program is to identify the unique potential of each student and to provide the educational environment conducive to develop that potential.

Outstanding achievement or the potential for outstanding achievement of each student will be evidenced through an interaction of above average intellectual ability, task commitment, and creative ability.  This will be determined by several different variables including objective and subjective tests with input from specialists, facilitators, teachers, parents, counselors, and administrators when and where permissible.  The goal for the identification procedures is to include all types of gifted students from all cultures and economic backgrounds.  Students who have evidenced a need for specialized programs are served regardless of race, sex, or creed.

Appropriate educational opportunities for the identified students will be provided by specialists or facilitators who have met state requirements. These instructors have mastered a variety of educational methodologies to assure a maximum growth in both the cognitive and affective domains of the GT student.  The goal of the program is to provide a quality GT Program for those students whose learning characteristics and educational needs require a differentiated educational experience.

A GOOD GIFTED PROGRAM HAS...

  • An intellectual atmosphere where learning is valued and diversity is celebrated
  • Students who are actively involved and enthusiastic about learning
  • Educational opportunities for students to engage in real-world, authentic problem solving
  • Curricula that meet student's developmental and academic readiness; differentiation of assignments to meet individual needs
  • Independent learning and independent projects
  • Problem solving, logic, reasoning, open-ended tasks, and higher-level thinking
  • Creativity and divergent thinking (rather than a single right answer)
  • Technology available to enhance learning and prepare students for the 21st Century
  • Comprehensive curriculum involving more than a single content area
  • Students who are learning to understand and appreciate themselves and others
  • Students who are exposed to areas for additional learning, such as career and college choice and possible future fields of study

Teachers of the Gifted…

-Utilize specialized pupil interests constructively

-Utilize special talents and abilities

-Encourage self-selection of materials

-Make class work interesting through use of different sensory media

-Maintain or use classroom resource centers containing materials at appropriately advanced levels

-Clarify classroom goals and purposes using broad concepts rather than details

-Use varied teaching strategies effectively

-Conduct group discussions skillfully

-Select questions that stimulate higher-level thinking

-Utilize synthesis and analysis in appropriate areas

-Draw examples and explanations from various sources and related fields

-Present activities that challenge and stimulate students

-Utilize evaluation in various forms

-Encourage independent thinking, including difference of opinion

-Give appropriate encouragement to pupils

-Understand and encourage student ideas

-Are unthreatened by their own mistakes

-Display enthusiasm and employ humor constructively

-Demonstrate understanding of the educational implications of giftedness

Taken from Martinson’s: Better Teaching for the Gifted

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF GIFTED STUDENTS

INTELLECTUALLY OR ACADEMICALLY GIFTED                               

  • Has vocabulary or knowledge in a specific area that is unusually advanced for age or grade
  • Has knowledge about things of which other children are unaware
  • Grasps concepts quickly, easily, without much repetition.  Bored with routine tasks and may refuse to do rote homework
  • Recognizes relationships and comprehends meanings;  May make jokes or puns at inappropriate times
  • Has unusual insight into values and relationships;  May perceive injustices and assertively oppose them
  • Asks more provocative questions about the causes and reasons for things;  May refuse to accept authority and be non-conforming
  • Evaluates facts, arguments, and persons critically;  May be self-critical, impatient or critical of self and others, including the teacher
  • Enthusiastically generates ideas or solutions to problems and questions;  May dominate others because of abilities
  • Have intense, often diverse, self-directed interests;  May be difficult to get involved in topics he/she is not interested in
  • Prefers to work independently;  May be highly individualistic and seem stubborn

    GIFTED IN CREATIVE / PRODUCTIVE THINKING

  • Produces many and varied solutions to problems
  • Flexible; Has high tolerance of disorder or ambiguity;  May be impatient with details or restrictions
  • Is highly original, playful, and imaginative;  Capable of fantasy that is often sustained
  • Capacity for task commitment in areas of interest;  May resist working on projects he / she is not interested in; Bored with routine or repetitive tasks
  • Uses imagination and fantasy in solving personal and universal problems (e.g. an imaginary playmate, inventing cures for disease, poverty, solving energy crisis, etc.); May be considered wild or silly by peers or teachers
  • Keen sense of humor and often perceives humor in situations others are unaware of; May make jokes at inappropriate times
  • Takes intellectual and emotional risks in expressing or trying out original ideas; Does not fear being different; May be viewed as unrealistic “crazy” or too aggressive
  • May possess intense feelings and opinions that he / she may be uninhibited in expressing
  • Prefers to work independently; May be highly individualistic, non-conforming and seem stubborn
  • Intensely curious about many things; May interrupt or ignore class activities to pursue interests
  • Shows emotional sensitivity

     

 

Identification<br />
Procedures

 

PLEASED BE ADVISED THAT A STUDENT CAN BE REFERRED FOR GT SERVICES AT ANY TIME. 

 

 Identification Plan

SCREENING

Potentially eligible students are referred to the School-Based Committee for assessment. A referral form is completed on EACH student referred by the nominator.

ASSESSMENT

A variety of objective and subjective data is collected on each student referred.  The data are plotted on the Student Identification Profile.

SELECTION

Phase I:

School-Based Committee (SBC) reviews each profile and makes a recommendation.

Phase II:

The LRSD Standards Committee verifies the recommendations of the School-Based Committee or recommends the collection of additional data.

If the recommendation is to collect more data, the School-Based Committee may:

Collect additional data and modify the recommendation before returning the profile to the LRSD Standards Committee           

(OR)

The SBC may submit a rationale supporting the need to collect more data and send the qualified recommendation to the LRSD Standards Committee for review.

 

Curriculum

(Taken DIRECTLY from the ADE GT Rules and Regulations)

Curriculum for the gifted must differ not only in degree, but in kind. It is important to avoid simply “more of the same.” It should be in place of rather than in addition to required classroom work. Students should not be penalized for being identified as gifted by being given extra work. Teachers should be sensitive to student interests and talents in planning both cognitive and affective activities.

To assure that curriculum opportunities are appropriate to the abilities, accomplishments, interests, and cognitive and affective needs of gifted students, modifications should be made in content, process and/or product.

Content refers to the body of knowledge presented to the student. Differentiation may be made in level of complexity, pace of learning, or degree of abstractness. Another means of differentiation is the study of topics not ordinarily a part of the regular curriculum.

The process skills, which should be a part of the curriculum for gifted students, include critical thinking, creative thinking, independent learning skills, research skills, problem-solving, and logic. Students in a gifted program should be expected to achieve a greater degree of proficiency in these skills than would be required in the basic curriculum.

Products are the end result of a learning experience. Gifted students should be encouraged to develop products that use new techniques, materials, and forms.  They should be encouraged to select a specific area of interest and talent and pursue an intensive study rather than be assigned a prescribed problem. Results of such investigations should be communicated to an appropriate audience. Curriculum objectives must be carefully sequenced for continuity. Development of a scope and sequence avoids a “grab-bag” approach.

Curriculum:  Grades K-1

GT programming options for grades K-1 include observation and enrichment. The K-1 program emphasizes enrichment for all students.  GT Specialists exclusively deliver lessons and are trained to “talent spot,” observing students in the classroom, documenting observed GT characteristics, individual student responses, collecting student work samples, maintaining portfolios, and passing student data to the teacher in the next grade.  K-1 teachers primarily use the P.E.T.S. series by Dodie Merritt or the Kingore Observation Inventory (KOI) created by Bertie Kingore.  Specialists chart observed behaviors and characteristics displayed by students over a period of time in seven specific categories:  advanced language, analytical thinking, meaning motivated, perspective, sense of humor, sensitivity, and accelerated learning. The approved teacher of the gifted delivers enrichment lessons for a minimum of thirty minutes each week. 

Curriculum:  Grades 2-5

GT programming option for grades 2-5 is pull-out/resource.  All GT Specialists who deliver direct services to identified students in homogeneous groups are either certified, have a master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Education, or are working to complete certification and are placed on an Additional Licensure Plan (ALP).  Identified students engage in advanced learning activities for a portion of the school day, in a resource room, for a minimum of 150 minutes each week.  Some teachers see the students twice each week for 75 minutes, others may see the students twice a week using a 90 and 60 minute combination.  Instruction for grades 2-5 has a research emphasis connected to the core curriculum, including language arts, math, science, social studies, creativity, technology, and the arts.  Students are exposed to critical and creative thinking skills which are presented in the form of thematic units, real-world problems or issues. State standards, district curriculum maps, and student assessment data are analyzed to give GT Specialists an idea of what students’ strengths and weaknesses are in order to help them advance academically. Writing and open-ended response activities help prepare students for state Benchmark exams.  Open-response prompts are often related to topics or thematic units of study.  Alternative GT programming options, such as Math Olympiad, Geography Bee, Quiz Bowl, Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.), Chess, Science Fair, and Destination Imagination, allow students to be a part of a group, exercise creativity, improve higher-level thinking skills, and delve deeper into their areas of study.

Curriculum:  Grades 6-8

GT Seminar

GT Seminar is based on four core process areas considered fundamental to the development of a differentiated curriculum.  The areas are as follows:  critical thinking, creative thinking, independent and group investigation, and personal growth.  Because of the open-ended, student-oriented nature of the GT Seminar class, it is necessary to develop process skills through content (differentiated approach), rather than to develop content skills through process (standard approach). 

This focus on process rather than on content creates the need for schools to develop gifted and talented seminars that lead students to an increasing level of proficiency in the process skills while pursuing different areas of content for each year of credit. Schools offering credit for more than one year of Gifted and Talented Seminar must develop curriculum specifically more rigorous and demanding with each subsequent year.

Schools with multiple-year seminars must change the content from year-to-year and follow processes outlined in the scope and sequence offered through the Arkansas Department of Education. Schools are not required to request course approval for Gifted and Talented Seminar. Students may be given elective career focus credit.

Because some process skills are considered basic components of more than one area, some skill duplications occur in the four core areas.  Personal Growth learning expectations are by nature different from the learning expectations in the other three core areas and involve the internal processes of self-analysis, self-discovery, and self-direction.  Therefore, these student-oriented expectations may require a more subjective type of evaluation by the GT Seminar teacher, including teacher observation and/or student self-evaluation through the use of surveys, checklists, or other forms.

Curriculum:  Grades 9-12

At the senior high level, students are placed in a choice of upper-level courses according to interests and abilities.  Options available are Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) and Advanced Placement (AP) classes.  Other options for students may include seminars, mentorships, concurrent credit, or independent study. 

Advanced Placement Courses are offered under the auspices of The College Board AP Program.  The AP Program is inclusive, open to all students.  Any 9th-12th grade student with the desire for a more demanding curriculum, willing to devote more time and energy to the course work, is a good candidate for AP.  AP courses are more difficult than most other high school classes.  AP classes expose high school students to college-level curriculum. At the culmination of the AP class, students are given the opportunity to show they have mastered the advanced material by taking AP Exams.  Most institutions of high education give hours of college credit for AP exam scores of three or better.  A demonstrated history of motivation and high achievement in the discipline is preferred (GPA), but not mandatory. Recommendations from past/present teachers and standardized test results are often predictors of success in an AP class.

The Importance of Admissions Tests

Mother and daughter

Standardized tests, required by many colleges, can provide your child with an opportunity to show potential and stand out from the crowd. And the time for testing is fast approaching: most college-bound students start taking these tests in their junior year.

SAT scores can uncover the promise in bright, capable students who haven't demonstrated their full academic potential or may not have the best grades in high school. The SAT also helps level the playing field, since not all schools' grading systems are the same, and every 'A' is not created equal. The SAT is the great equalizer—colleges rely on it to help give them an accurate picture of a student's capabilities.

SAT Subject Tests offer another important way for your child to demonstrate strengths in an area that he or she likes or excels in. Many colleges recommend or require SAT Subject Test scores—check the websites of colleges that interest you and your child to see what their requirements are.

Language with Listening SAT Subject Tests are offered only in November—the late registration deadline is October 15.

The PSAT/NMSQT, offered in October of junior year, gives students an opportunity to practice SAT-type questions in a real-life testing situation so they become more comfortable with the format of the exam.

 

DIFFERENTIATION

Curricula for gifted students in the Little Rock School District has been designed to provide educational services which are appropriate to the needs, abilities, and interests of students who require thinking and learning skills that are different from the regular curriculum.  The curriculum has been designed to improve the following:

COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE DEVELOPMENT-Implement activities that require complex levels of thought

DIVERGENT THINKING-Provide opportunities for a wide variety of ways to communicate

PROCESS/PRODUCT RESULTS-Formulate group and individual work

TIME WITH INTELLECTUAL PEERS/HOMOGENOUS GROUPING-Initiate discussions among students with similar abilities

AFFECTIVE/ETHICAL-Select experiences which promote understanding of the human value system

INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING-Plan opportunities to see similarities and relationships in many areas

INTEREST-BASED LEARNING-Engage in activities that use their strengths and interests to speed learning and development

QUALITATIVE DIFFERENTIATED LEARNING BEYOND SCHOOL-Experience new areas of learning both in and out of school

APPLICATION TO RELIA-Apply acquisition of knowledge to real problems in society

 

SKILLS THAT WILL BE DEVELOPED:  higher-level thinking, critical thinking, divergent thinking, creative thinking, reasoning, logic, research, problem-solving, learning about differences in self and others, coping with exceptionalities, leadership, decision-making, and evaluation.

Creativity is a human resource that the world cannot afford to ignore. History has shown that creative minds have contributed to the advancement and well-being of mankind. Societies without the foresight to nurture creativity abandon the opportunity to progress.

A FLUENT student is characterized by the ability to produce a wide variety of ideas.  Ideas come easily and are diversified. A student who is fluent can be described as mentally prolific.

A FLEXIBLE thinker views ideas as being fluid.  Ideas are permitted to overlap and change form is a Kaleidoscope fashion. A flexible student is open to alternatives and is willing to draw upon many resources. 

An ORIGINAL person possesses the ability to generate new and unusual ideas.  For this skill to be developed, a student must extend thinking beyond conventional patterns.  An original thinker demonstrates ingenuity and receptivity.

AN ELABORATE individual seeks to add detail, fill in gaps, and apply finishing touches.  Often the adding of one small aspect gives an idea its final form or makes products more effective. Elaborative students are concerned with enhancing, embellishing, and enriching their ideas. 

Promoting Creativity in the Community

Here are just a few ways you can encourage creativity in young people and adults:

  • Provide a special, private area for young people to work creatively
  • Supply materials (costumes, instruments, etc.) for creative activity
  • Display creative work, but avoid excessive evaluation
  • Avoid sex-role stereotypes
  • Allow children to be unique and express their individuality
  • Create a safe, favorable environment for creativity (e.g. reduce anxiety about being correct, prevent ridicule, promote respect for the unusual)
  • Teach adolescents to appropriately question assumptions by considering and evaluating alternatives
  • Help teenagers to redefine problems and think across subjects
  • Encourage creative fluency with brainstorming activities
  • Develop flexible thinking by helping teens to take other perspectives
  • Advocate originality by assisting adolescents to come up with new uses for objects
  • Promote elaboration by asking teens to clarify and add details to ideas, thoughts, and arguments
  • Support cooperation and a cooperative work environment
  • Sharpen young people’s vocabularies
  • Use humor (e.g. jokes, silly stories, puns) to enliven activities and minds
  • Employ music, art, dance, and movement into lessons
  • Develop a passion and enthusiasm for your subject or program
  • Play word creation games, such as “What if………..  or What’s good about…..

FAMOUS QUOTES ON CREATIVITY:

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  Pablo Picasso

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” Leo Burnett

“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.”  Jack London

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”  Dr. Seuss

POLICY ON WORK MISSED WHILE AT GT

The State Standards for Gifted and Talented include the following statement in regard to curriculum: (taken from page 25)

“Curriculum for the gifted must differ not only in degree, but in kind.  It is important to avoid ‘more of the same.’  It should be coordinated with the district’s basic curriculum objectives but MUST BE IN PLACE OF RATHER THAN IN ADDITION TO required classroom work.  Students should not be penalized for being identified as gifted by being given extra work.  Teachers should be sensitive to student interests and talents in planning both cognitive and affective activities.”

In order for LRSD GT Program to be in compliance with this standard, teachers should excuse students from ROUTINE assignments missed while attending GT classes.  If make-up is absolutely necessary, teachers should advise the student and allow adequate time for the student to complete the assignment.

Example:  If Johnny is formally identified as GT and misses a routine worksheet on math multiplication facts, he should not have to make it up.  The teacher should write “GT” in the grade book and when averaging grades at the end of the nine weeks, divide by nine grades instead of ten.  This is not helping or hurting the student.  If a GT student misses materials/information needed for an upcoming test or special project, the GT student should be responsible enough to get the notes from either a friend or make arrangements to meet with the teacher.

GT Should Never be Used as a Reward or a Punishment.  IT IS A RIGHT.

 

EXIT POLICY

The LRSD Gifted Program strives to service students who have special learning characteristics and academic needs that can best be met through qualitatively differentiated curriculum and/or services. However, if it becomes necessary for a student to exit the program, the following procedures will be used:

If a parent/guardian requests that a student exits the GT program and complete a form requesting an end to services, no conference is required. 

If the specialist for the gifted program requests that a student exits the program, the GT Specialist must complete an exit form and submit it to the School-based Placement Committee.  The School-based Placement Committee must schedule a conference. Those present at the conference must include a minimum of five people in the following roles:  GT Specialist who will chair the conference, classroom teacher(s), an administrator, and a counselor (no parent is there).  At the conference, a decision will be made to determine if the GT program is able to meet the unique educational needs of the student.  If the program can’t meet the needs of the student, then the student will be exited from the program.  The decision of the placement committee will be sent to the parents/guardians in writing and may be appealed. 

If a student requests to exit from the GT program a conference will be held to include:  the student, a parent or guardian, and the GT Specialist(s). Discussions will occur in an effort to determine what adjustments or special provisions (if any) might be made to encourage the student to continue in the GT program.  The student’s placement will not be affected.  The parent may request an end to GT services.  (Students cannot exit themselves.)

All decisions to exit a student must be based on multiple criteria, just as multiple criteria were used to determine the original placement in GT. Data considered might include, but is not limited to: state test scores, interim assessment results, student products, portfolios, end of unit assessments, GT assessments, grades, grade point average, etc.  It MUST be determined that the decision to exit a child from GT is in the best interest of the child.  The school-based identification committee should include at least five members and be chaired by a trained specialist in gifted education.  Members should include the GT Specialist to serve as the chairperson, an administrator, classroom teachers, and the school counselor. The committee should meet, analyze multiple forms of data, arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the child, complete required documentation, communicate effectively and timely with parents and/or guardians, communicate with other staff as needed, and work collaboratively to assimilate the child back into a regular classroom routine as smoothly as possible. 

 

OFFICE OF GIFTED AND TALENTED - ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL

Lori Altschul, Director K-12; 501 447-6492; lori.altschul@lrsd.org

Jennifer Thomas, Secondary Specialist; 501 447-6493; jennifer.thomas@lrsd.org

Rosalyn Summerville, Administrative Assistant; 501 447-6490; rosalyn.summerville@lrsd.org