By Michelle Goethe

How can I get into the Gifted program? As a teacher of the gifted I’m asked this question at least once a week by students and just as frequently by parents. In Duval County Public Schools, the answer to the question begins with a student being nominated or recommended by their parent/guardian or teacher.

Teachers often recommend a child based on achievement datas, which may include initial diagnostics that have been administered by the teacher or by standardized test results. Students scoring high (at or above 80th percentile) on a district reading or math assessment can also qualify for screening into the program.

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After the initial recommendation is made, the teacher fills out a gifted characteristics checklist. To qualify for gifted screening, a child must exhibit a majority of the following characteristics:

*Learning quickly with limited exposure
*Judgmental of people, events and things
*Difficulty in peer relationships
*Assertive about personal beliefs
*Relates better to older age groups
*Likes to study difficult subjects
*Behaves as an individual, does not fear to be different
*Strives for perfection, is self-critical and may not complete assignments if they do not meet personal standards for success
*Unwilling to accept authority without critical examination

Following the recommendation and teacher checklist, students are screened for the program. If they pass the initial screening, which is given by the school based guidance counselor, they are referred further for psycho-educational testing. This testing can be completed privately or by the school district’s psychologists.

A variety of testing instruments can be used to determine a child’s IQ. These tests may include The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale(RIAS) or the Differential Ability Scales(DAS). These psychological tools will assess a child’s receptive skills, verbal abilities, processing speed, perceptual reasoning and/or nonverbal and special reasoning and will determine a full scale intelligence quotient or IQ.

Eligibility requirements under Plan A include:
* Full Scale IQ of 130
* Majority of gifted characteristics

Eligibility requirements under Plan B (students with a underrepresented status: low socio-economic (SES) or English Language Learner (ELL) include:
*Full Scale IQ of 115
* Majority of gifted characteristics
* 80 percent or higher on district level Academic Achievement measure

Finally, parents, teachers, the school guidance counselor and school psychologist will meet and discuss if the most appropriate course of action will be for the child to enter the program.

 

Duval County’s Gifted Education program is designed to meet the unique needs and abilities of a gifted learner. Experts believe that these needs can be more fully developed and challenged in an educational program that provides a differentiated curriculum emphasizing a student’s strengths and the development of higher level thinking.

In Duval County, Gifted is an enrichment program, differentiated to meet the individual needs of a diverse group of students. Gifted learners meet weekly at the Gifted Resource class in small groups. Students learn strategies and skills from five strands of an interdisciplinary curriculum. The five areas of the gifted curriculum are: Social Processes, Creative Expressions, Critical Appreciation, Research Methods and Scientific Approach.

Social Processes: Guiding students toward a responsible philosophy of life by facilitating goal development, productive interpersonal techniques, self-awareness, development of highest potential, positive self-esteem, appreciation for ideas and contributions of others.  

Critical Appreciation: Developing decision-making skills and problem-solving techniques through exploring possibilities, organizing thoughts and information, analyzing components, synthesizing  thoughts and feelings, evaluating ideas or processes and examining information.

Research Methods: Learning the process of gathering information from a variety of sources, interpreting the information and presenting in a variety of ways.

Creative Expression: Helping students gain an understanding of the creative process through the production of original products using verbal, visual and kinesthetic means of expression. Students are provided opportunities to communicate ideas both verbally and non-verbally through performing arts, art styles and literary works. 

Scientific Approach: Encouraging students to think like scientists by using mathematical and verbal communication and instruments. 

If you believe your child could qualify for the gifted program, your first step is to contact both your child’s teacher and your school guidance counselor. They will begin the process.

Michelle Goethe is a teacher of the gifted at Bartram Springs Elementary School.

Photo courtesy Michelle Goethe
Students in the Gifted program create a house using school supplies.

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