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Allentown School District

Gifted Education

 
Welcome to the ASD Gifted Education site. The information provided here will keep you informed about the exciting things happening with our gifted students.  Please visit this site often, as new information will continue to be added.  
 
 
Our Philosophy:  We believe that gifted children require differentiated educational experiences beyond those provided by the regular curriculum; to expand their knowledge base and develop their unique strengths, thus meeting their academic, social and emotional needs and allowing them to reach their fullest potential.
 
This philosphy supports the ASD School Board's Goals 2015 which states: 
 
"This learning must be rigorous and challenging, resulting in continued progress for all students at all levels."
 
                     
Our Goal: Given the capacity to learn at faster rates, with more depth and with greater complexity, gifted students will receive differentiated instruction in critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving, allowing them to manipulate abstract ideas and make meaningful connections.
 
 
Our Plan:
 
Elementary School Students who are identified as Mentally Gifted are placed in a Gifted Cluster Classroom. There is at least one designated Gifted Cluster Classroom at each grade level, at each elementary school in the district.** Those who teach the Gifted Cluster Classes are well trained in the methods and strategies for meeting the unique needs of these students, including their need to be challenged beyond the regular curriculum. These teachers work closely with the ASD Gifted Programming Specialists and utilize a variety of materials and resources to enhance and enrich their lessons. These best practices include, but are not limited to:
  • Emphasis on analytic and critical thinking across curricular areas,
  • Integrated and inter-disciplinary learning,
  • Using student assessment data to modify curricula and instruction,
  • Use of performance and alternative instructional assessments,
  • Use of rubrics based on high standards and rigorous criteria,
  • Extensive use of differentiation and small-group instruction,
  • Inquiry and problem solving models,
  • Increased opportunities for creative and critical thinking,
  • Flexible grouping, tiered learning assignments, and curriculum compacting,  
  • Investigation of real-life problems in an authentic context,
  • Design and use of units of study based on key concepts and essential questions,
  • Activities to increase academic stamina,
  • Strategies to increase student engagement and motivation.
Middle School Students who are identified as Mentally Gifted are similarly grouped with other high-functioning students, within advanced classes, so that their need for rigorous, challenging and engaging curriculum may be met in a meaningful way.** The teachers of these classes utilize methods and strategies for meeting the unique needs of these students, including their need to be challenged beyond the regular curriculum. The Gifted Programming Specialists meet with students, their parents, teachers and their guidance counselors to plan for their class selections, based on their achievement and interests. In addition, these students are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular opportunities to meet their need for challenges and support their interests. These opportunities include Odyssey of the Mind, Musical Groups, National History Day, Math Counts!, Sports Teams, Theatre Arts, and After-School Interest-Based Clubs.
 
High School Students who are identified as Mentally Gifted, meet with Guidance Counselors, Gifted Programming Specialists and their parents to self-select courses which will meet their curricular needs as well as their interests. These courses may include Advanced Level Courses, AP Courses, or Dual Enrollment College Courses.** Their future plans for college and career are discussed and considered when these selections are made. High school students are also encouraged to become involved in extra-curricular offerings such as Sports Teams, Musical Organizations, Theatre Arts Productions, Internships, Community Service Opportunities and Interest-Based Clubs.
 
 
**Such a model for clustering gifted students is consistent with Principle #8 of the Guiding Principles from the 2004 PDE Gifted Guidelines: Gifted students benefit from being grouped with their intellectual peers for a significant part of their instructional day. Ellen Goldring's meta-analysis of regrouping research studies confirms that: "Re-grouped classes produced significant gains in achievement, particularly when classes were offered in science and social studies." 
                                                              --
Karen Rogers, Re-Forming Gifted Education, 2002
 
 
Screening and Gifted Identification Process:
 
In adherence to Chapter 16 PA Regulations for Gifted Education, the Allentown School District supports a multiple criteria method for identifying eligible students who may be gifted.
 

Students may be referred for gifted screening by a classroom teacher, a school administrator or a parent/guardian. The Gifted Programming Specialists then gather student data and share that information with the entire child study team, including the guidance counselor, the school psychologist, the child's teacher, the school administrator and the parent(s). Student data is gathered from a range of sources, including standardized test scores, teacher and parent inventories and classroom performance data. This provides the team with multiple criteria to obtain a clear picture of the student's strengths and needs and indicates whether further psychological testing to determine academic giftedness is warranted. 

"True rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so that he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels."

                                                                                       -Barbara R. Blackburn, 2008