Wilson School District
Gifted Education Department
Frequently Asked Questions of Parents
We’ve been concerned with the preparation of gifted support teachers for their positions. How are teachers selected? What is their training? How can this be improved?
Currently in the state of Pennsylvania there is no specialized certificate required to teach Gifted Education. The only requirement is that the grade span of the certificate covers the grade levels taught in the gifted program. Additionally, in higher education teacher preparation programs, there are no coursework requirements specific to gifted education. Typically, there is coursework in Special Education and within this context and there may be some reference to Gifted Education.
As a district, we have approached our hiring and placement of teachers into these positions based upon their qualities as a person and as a teacher in the classroom. To assist the teacher in the specific area of gifted education, we continue to provide ongoing professional development to our gifted support teachers by sending them to regional and national professional conferences. Additionally, one of our gifted support teachers has recently started in a newly created Master of Education Degree in Gifted Education at Millersville University.
Can there be more accelerated subjects – why just math?
The high school is presently set up with various course offerings and levels to address acceleration. In the middle school, students accelerate in math and we are beginning to implement practices of cluster grouping in other subjects that lend well to teachers being able to accelerate with their gifted students as well as other highly capable learners. In the elementary schools, where appropriate, there are instances where a gifted student may attend math at a higher grade level and within Language Arts, students are flexibly grouped in smaller groups based upon their reading levels and ability to read and comprehend more complex texts at a faster rate.
How do we start a Wilson HS Chess Team to compete in the Berks County Chess League?
Within the last few weeks, we have been able to solicit the help of a high school teacher and purchased equipment to begin bringing students together to see what interest exists for a chess team.
How do we get information on how to get a child screened for giftedness/started out in the right direction upon entry to elementary school? Is this done through the gifted education teacher representing the school or other sources?
Students who enter Kindergarten go through an initial screening process that is used to determine appropriate class rostering and teacher assignments. It is not used to screen for giftedness as we believe it is too early to make any judgments on a referral for giftedness. The district is planning to implement a universal screening protocol in the upper primary grades as a means to identify possible students for a gifted evaluation. We expect to have a protocol in place for the 2012-2013 school year. In the meantime, grade level teacher teams meet regularly to review student progress and achievement and will refer students they believe should be considered for a gifted evaluation.
What does the gifted program look like at the high school level? Are gifted kids encouraged to go into the AP academy?
Parents and students are encouraged to use the district’s website to gain information about the various opportunities for gifted students. The gifted program at the high school looks different for each student as the opportunities at the high school are numerous and meant to provide students multiple experiences specific to their interests, abilities, and post-secondary aspirations. The Academy model, Honors and Advanced Placement courses, and the wide array of co-curricular and extracurricular programs are all program opportunities for gifted students.
Gifted students are expected to maximize the various opportunities offered at the high school. While the AP Academy is one of those opportunities, there are other academies that may be more relevant to the particular needs of a gifted student.
With questions regarding acceleration in middle school and high school, do we approach counselors or gifted support?
The gifted support teacher and the guidance counselor are two people in the school that would be a good start in any conversation regarding acceleration or any other matter pertaining to a gifted child’s education program.
When is the performing arts academy starting?
The Visual and Performing Arts Academy is expected to get started in the 2012-2013 school year. Information pertaining to this academy may be found on the district’s website.
How can we get help to identify if my child is gifted?
A conversation with your child’s teacher, counselor, and/or principal is a great place to start. They can provide guidance and direction on the gifted evaluation process and how to submit a request to evaluate if so desired.
My child skipped kindergarten but was not identified gifted should she be?
The decision to have a child skip Kindergarten and start in grade 1 can be the result of a number of developmental factors. A conversation with your child’s teacher, counselor, and principal would be a great start to learn if there are additional observations and data to support consideration for a gifted evaluation.
Eighth graders are currently working on high school schedules for next year but the general information doesn’t always apply to our students. Could 8th graders get additional advice about course options- maybe even taking additional courses and summer online options?
A conversation with the student’s high school gifted support teacher and/or the guidance counselor may provide more specific information regarding the possibility of additional courses and summer options if this is deemed appropriate for your specific child’s circumstance.
If your child is not currently in the gifted program, how do you go about getting them tested?
A written request to evaluate can be submitted by a parent at any time to his or her child’s school in order to initiate the gifted evaluation process.
How to prepare for GIEP and set Objectives?
PAGE provides many resources for parents to use in working in partnership with the school to meet gifted students needs through the GIEP process. Additionally, there are resources provided on our district website as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Education site.
How to motivate to go beyond basic learning (Feels like I’m Pulling Teeth to get my child to do more than basic)?
As part of the GIEP process and program, having the student explore their area of interests through, for example, the use of interest inventories may provide the student and teachers a better idea of what interest areas motivate the student as a learner, which would help them to perform beyond the basics.
What if a student’s specific area of giftedness is unclear? My son’s IQ is 140, he is advanced on PSSAs, his grades are good, but I am still unclear about where he is gifted and I think his GIEP goals are too vague.
As mentioned previously, interest inventories, as well as learning inventories, are great tools to help students better understand and focus on their strengths and preferences. In regards to GIEP goals, a conversation within the GIEP team meeting process may help in getting more specific focus if the aforementioned is made clearer as well.