Q: I believe my child might be gifted. How does the school district identify a child as “gifted”?
A: According to Chapter 16, the term mentally gifted includes a person who has an IQ score of 130 or higher. However, Chapter 16 also states that gifted ability can not be based on IQ score alone. If the IQ score is lower than 130, your child may be admitted to gifted programs when other conditions strongly indicate gifted ability, such as achievement test scores that are a year or more above their grade level.
Chapter 16 requires all school districts to have a system of identifying students in the district who are thought to be gifted, but does not provide specifics, beyond the 130 IQ score, on what that identification system should be. This identification process is referred to in Chapter 16 as the GMDE or Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation.
In Central Bucks, the identification process has been broken into two parts: (1) screening; and (2) testing. According to Central Bucks, many children are screened to determine if they are candidates for gifted services. Standardized, brief aptitude tests along with academic performance and teacher recommendation are considered to see if specific criteria for further testing are met. Students who meet those criteria are recommended for further testing by a state certified school psychologist which includes an individual IQ test. Essentially, the process begins with teacher identification. Following teacher identification, an IQ screening test is given to the student (depending on when a child is being screened, the type of test will vary. It is usually the Naglieri aka NNAT in K and 1 or the K-BIT in grades 2-6.) If a score of 95% or higher is achieved on the IQ screening test, then the student is given the IQ test (Wechsler IV aka WISC IV) by the school psychologist.
Q: My child was identified by their teacher and took the screening test but, based on the results, there was no further testing and he did not take the IQ test. What can I do?
A: Under chapter 16, a parent can request at any time that their child be given the IQ test. See the form letters following these FAQ’s for a form letter requesting a GMDE.
In addition, you can request that your child be tested again if they do not meet the requirements for gifted identification following the first IQ test. However, the request for testing can only be made once each calendar year. In other words, if your child does not attain a 130 or higher, they have to wait one year before testing again.
Q: My child took the IQ test, but scored less than a 130. Can they still be identified as gifted?
A: Chapter 16 states that gifted ability can not be based on IQ alone. If your child scores less than a 130, but meets other conditions which strongly indicate gifted ability they can be identified as gifted. These other conditions include (1) achievement test scores that are a year or more above level; (2) observed or measured acquisition/retention rates that reflect gifted ability; (3) achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas that demonstrates a high level of accomplishment; (4) higher level thinking skills; and/or (5) documented evidence that intervening factors are masking ability level.
Q: I think my child might be gifted, but their classroom teacher has not recommended them for testing. Is there anything I can do?
A: Yes, see answer to question 2 above.
Q: Is there a time frame for the screening/testing/GMDE process?
A: The entire process must be completed within 60 days from the date you give permission by signing the Permission to Evaluate form. The GMDE must be completed within 45 days, the GWR (Gifted Written Report) which recommends whether your child is gifted or not based on the test scores and other information evaluated, must be written within 10 days after the GMDE report is completed and a copy of the GWR must be given to the parent within 5 days after it is completed.
What is the curriculum for students in the PEN program?
The CB PEN curriculum is designed to provide a seminar of inquiry and discovery. The subjects studied in PEN can both vary from and complement what students are learning in their regular classroom.
Several topics are typically covered within each grade level throughout the school year. The breakdown is as follows:
• Detective Science
• Computer Programming
• Ancient Cultures
• Inventions/Creative Problem Solving
• Economics in Colonial America
• The Amazing Mind
• The American Revolution
• Archaeology and Future Studies
• Editorial Cartooning and Law Studies
• Reading Credit
8th – 12th Grade
• Elective Credit
GIEP – Gifted Individualized Education Plan
Q: My child has just been identified by the school district as gifted. What does that mean in terms of their school day?
A: Once your child has been identified as gifted, chapter 16 provides that they are entitled to an education that is of “meaningful benefit” to them. Chapter 16 further states that each gifted student is entitled to a GIEP or Gifted Individualized Education Plan to determine on an annual basis how to achieve an education of meaningful benefit. Apart from mandating a GIEP, chapter 16 does not dictate to school districts how the goals in the GIEP should be achieved. It does not require a pull-out program for the gifted.
In Central Bucks, students participate in the PEN (Program for Enrichment) pull-out program in order to achieve an education that is of meaningful benefit. In the elementary program, in 2nd-4th grade, they are pulled out for 2 hours per week and in 5th and 6th grade they are pulled out for 2 ½ hours per week. In the secondary program, the PEN class becomes an elective course. See the tab on this website for Current CB Gifted Programming for more specific information on the programs currently in place in Central Bucks.
Q: What is a GIEP?
A: A GIEP is a student’s Gifted Individualized Education Plan. There are various components of the GIEP including: (1) a statement of your child’s present educational performance (PLEPs); (2) annual goals which will describe what your child is expected to learn during that school year; and (3) specially designed instruction that will be provided to your child in order to meet the goals.
In Central Bucks, traditionally the GIEP has been a “form” GIEP for each student which identifies the goals and educational program to be covered for that grade level through the PEN pull out program. The PLEPs have traditionally been a child’s report card and PEN report card for the prior school year. The GIEP meeting has traditionally been a group meeting at the PEN back to school night.
Under chapter 16, however, each child is entitled to an individualized GIEP to address their own abilities and educational present levels. Therefore, each parent is entitled to request an individual meeting with their child’s GIEP team (in Central Bucks that is usually the classroom teacher, PEN teacher, and parents; sometimes it includes the principal and/or school psychologist) to review their child’s demonstrated academic needs and abilities and determine a program of individual instruction that will be of meaningful benefit to their child. Some things that can be included are subject acceleration (in Central Bucks this is sometimes appropriate in math), subject compacting, pre-testing, alternative homework assignments, independent study, and/or participation in programs such as M3.
If the student has a demonstrated need, the school district must meet that need. The school district can require additional testing to determine if the student has a need. For example, additional subject area testing is usually required before a child will be accelerated. The school district can not refuse to provide specially designed instruction for a student with a demonstrated need just because it lacks staff or space availability or because it is administratively inconvenient. However, the school district is not required to provide individual tutors.
The GIEP is reviewed every year at a GIEP meeting. However, if requested by you or any other GIEP team member it can be reviewed more often.
Q: My child loves their PEN class, but is bored in the regular classroom. What can I do?
A: If your child is bored in the classroom, you should address your child’s individual academic needs through the GIEP process. You should request a meeting with the GIEP team including the PEN teacher and classroom teacher and develop goals and objectives for the GIEP. The GIEP should provide for differentiated instruction through, for example, alternative assignments, ability based grouping, and/or an independent study project with regularly scheduled class room time to conduct the independent study.
Q: I do not believe my child’s demonstrated needs are being met through the proposed GIEP. What can I do?
A: Chapter 16 provides that parents may request in writing an impartial due process hearing concerning the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of, or the provision of gifted education services to, a student who is gifted or who is thought to be gifted if the parents disagree with the school district’s identification, evaluation or placement of, or the provision of a gifted education to the student.
Mediation is another option for parents. Mediation provides for the assistance of an impartial mediator to assist the parents and the school district to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation is not mandated. However, if the dispute is resolved through mediation, a binding written agreement shall be prepared and incorporated into the GIEP.
Significant Legal Decisions
Anna S. v. Charleroi School District, 2001 Appeals Board decision – The school district did not implement an individualized GIEP for the student. The GIEP failed to identify PLEPs, failed to match her identified abilities with her goals and repeated verbatim goals from the previous year’s GIEP. The appeals board stated the school district must provide 270 hours of compensatory educational services.
Stefan S. v. Charleroi School District, 2001 Appeals board decision – The appeals board decided that the student’s high degree of need for academic enrichment and/or acceleration was not being met through an 80 minute a week pull out enrichment program. The school district was required to provide 16 hours of compensatory educational services available within the curriculum of the school district.
Mark S. v. Steel Valley, 2002 Appeals board decision – The student’s GIEP did not include present levels of educational performance (PLEPs). In addition, no attempt was made to address the student’s behavioral and emotional needs in the proposed GIEP. The appeals board stated that the school district must provide individualized gifted education, based on present levels of educational performance information that is sufficient in depth and scope for the development of a GIEP. The student was awarded 840 hours of compensatory education time.
Centennial School District v. Commonwealth, 1988 – The court ruled that school districts must provide individualized programs for gifted students, rather than mere participation in their state-approved district-wide gifted pull-out program.
Brownsville Area School District, 1999 – The court stated that school districts are not required to fund college level instruction or other education beyond the regular curricular offerings of the district.
Why Should the Public Support Gifted Education?
This question is often asked in a confrontational manner by those who believe that gifted children do not need special educational programs and services. Some sincerely feel that truly gifted children will remain gifted and fill their educational needs on their own- others feel that if teachers are doing their job, gifted students should be able to get by without the special attention that other typical learners need. The following are some ideas that those who hold such views should be asked to consider.
- Gifted learners must be given stimulating educational experiences appropriate to their level of ability if they’re to realize their potential. Giftedness arises from an interaction between innate capabilities and an environment that challenges and stimulates to bring forth high levels of ability and talent These challenges must bc available throughout the individual’s lifetime for high levels of realization of ability and talent to result according to research on the nature of intelligence and the brain, we either progress or we regress depending on our participation in stimulation appropriate to our level of development.
- Each person has the right to learn and to be challenged to learn at the most appropriate level where growth proceeds most effectively. Our political and social system is based on democratic principles. The school as an extension of those principles must provide an equal educational opportunity for all children to develop to their fullest potential. This means allowing gifted students the opportunity to learn at their level of development. For truly equal opportunity, a variety of learning experiences must be available at many levels.
- Currently, only slightly over 50 percent of gifted students in the United States are reported to be receiving education appropriate to their needs. There is physical and psychological pain in being thwarted, discouraged and diminished a person. To have ability, to feel power you are never allowed to use, can become traumatic. Many researchers consider gifted students to be the largest group of underachievers in education.
- Traditional education currently does not sufficiently value bright minds. Gifted children often enter school having already developed many of their basic skills. Almost from the first day they sense isolation, as others consider them different. Schools are not sufficiently individualized or flexible to allow modification in structure and organization. Most schools seek to develop skills that allow participation in society, not the re-creation of that society.
- When given the opportunity gifted students can pick their vest amount of knowledge to serve as a background for unlimited learning. When the needs of gifted children are considered and the educational program is signed to meet those needs” gifted students make significant gains in achievement, and their sense of competence and well-being is enhanced.
- Providing for our finest minds allows both individual and society needs to be met Contributions to society in all areas of human endeavor comes in overweighted proportions from this population of individuals. Society needs the gifted adult to play a far more demanding and innovative role than that required of the more typical learner. We need integrated, highly functioning persons to carry out those tasks that will lead all of us to a satisfying, fulfilling future.