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Panther Pause: New gifted/talented identification process

Patricia Basche is the St. Croix Central Director of Special Education and Student Services

The St. Croix Central School District is committed to providing opportunities which foster the gifts and talents of its students and provide experiences to develop and expand those gifts. Enrichment opportunities are offered to students in grades kindergarten through 12 who have been identified as having high performance capability or exceptional ability or abilities in intellectual and academic areas. Previously, when a teacher or parent suspected a student may be academically or intellectually gifted and talented, the teacher and parent submitted a nomination form to the district Gifted and Talented Coordinator. The student would then participate in an individual evaluation and parents and the teacher would complete additional surveys to determine whether the student consistently demonstrated characteristics associated with significantly elevated intellectual or academic abilities. If the evaluation results matched the eligibility criteria set by the district, a Differentiated Education Program (DEP) would be created. The DEP is a plan identifying methods that will be used to develop and expand the student's intellectual and academic strengths.

The school district is introducing a different procedure to identify students who have needs beyond the general education curriculum due to their strong abilities. Staff in each building will conduct an annual screening where test scores and other performance indicators of all students will be reviewed to determine if they have characteristics associated with significantly elevated intellectual or academic abilities. In grades 4K through second, students who demonstrate performance beyond current grade level expectations on assigned tasks and score at or above the 95th national percentile on universal screening measures will be provided with enrichment or extension activities by their classroom teachers to promote their intellectual and academic abilities.

For students in grades 3 and above, a two-step process will be used to identify students who need additional challenges in order to maximize their potential. First, a screening pool of high functioning students will be generated. Students will be included in the screening pool if they have achieved scores at or above the 95th national percentile on at least two previous grade level universal screening tools measuring Reading, Math or Language skills, and one or more of the following criteria:

The student consistently achieves ratings of 3 or 4 on Reading, Language/Writing, or Math standards on K-5 report cards or grades of A- or A on middle or high school report cards.

The student demonstrates positive responses to extension and enrichment activities provided by classroom teachers

The student is nominated by at least two teachers

The student is nominated by the parent(s). Parents will be notified about their ability to nominate their child(ren) through communication from each school.

Students in the screening pool will move on to the second step of the identification process. In this step, teachers and parents of the students in the screening pool will complete scales or checklists measuring characteristics of gifted and talented individuals. Test scores, grades, and rating scale results for each student in the screening pool will be compared to established identification criteria for Intellectual Ability and Academic Ability. Parents and teachers will be informed of the outcomes.