Submitted at the August 2011 School Board Meeting
Dear Dr. Lyons and School Board Members:
The Gifted Advisory Committee had a slightly different mission this year than last year in that we spent a considerable amount of time evaluating the impact of the new state regulations for gifted education on our school system. Even though we have until 2012-13 to be in full compliance, the committee members agreed with Mr. Kendall’s recommendation that we begin work on a revised plan for gifted education this year. Throughout our meetings this year we focused on retaining the best of our current model while making required modifications in our testing and identification procedures to come into compliance with state regulations. While we have made substantial progress toward a new plan, for the 2011-12 we recommend the continuation of the existing 2005-10 five-year plan with the following recommended amendments:
1) Second grade students will no longer take the Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT). The version of the test we have been giving is no longer being produced and adoption of the new on-line NNAT-2 is expensive and the reviews of the new test have been highly criticized by gifted education researchers.
2) Since the new state regulations require a nationally normed standardized test in grades K-2 and we need to replace the second grade test, adopting one new test to cover all primary grades is advisable. We recommend using the SAGES-2 test, currently in use in Rockbridge County. Mr. Kendall reports that Sharon Patterson, Rockbridge County’s gifted education coordinator, has been pleased with the test as a screening tool for gifted education. The SAGES-2 also aligns well with our programming in that it has three subtests: a) a math/science subtest, b) a language arts/social studies subtest, and c) a general reasoning subtest. Since we recommend the continuation of existing enrichment programs in math and language arts we feel this test is a good fit. Mr. Kendall would like to pilot the test this year to evaluate its effectiveness. If it is deemed satisfactory by teachers, Mrs. Clark, and Mr. Kendall this test will be recommended for school board approval in the 2012-13 plan.
3) The labels “Language Arts Enrichment” and “Math Enrichment” will replace previous program names such as “Primary Enrichment” for grades K-2 and “Quest” for grades 3-8. The Language Arts Enrichment program will still use elements of the “Junior Great Books” program, but the broader label allows flexibility for more writing and research. Although the “Math Mentors” label will be discontinued, the program will continue to seek community volunteers to assist in the Math Enrichment program.
4) Parents will be informed how enrichment services will be provided at each grade level, through delivery models such as: small pull-out groups (used primarily in grades K-3); regrouping across the grade level in a specific subject area (as is currently the practice in first grade math); though regrouping within a single class (as is currently done with reading groups in grades K-5); or through co-teaching with Mr. Kendall working with a classroom teacher on a regular basis (most popular service model in grades 4-6).
Mr. Kendall will continue to revise the local plan through the summer and will present it for your review in November 2011. He will then make any requested revisions and submit the revised plan for your approval in April, so that there is time to review the effectiveness of the SAGES-2 screening test planned for March for all second graders and any kindergarten and first graders who have been referred for testing by LCS staff or parents.
With this letter we have submitted our current draft of the K-2 identification for your review. Please share any comments or concerns with Mr. Kendall. All Waddell teachers will have an opportunity to respond to the criteria on line (it was presented to the staff at the May 2011 faculty meeting) through Survey Monkey. Mr. Kendall will present these responses to the Gifted Advisory Committee at its first meeting in September.
Here is a summary of 2010-2011 accomplishments for the gifted education program:
The Gifted Advisory Committee elected to delay its parent surveys this year because of School Health Advisory Committee surveys that were being conducted in the spring time frame. We feared our response rate would suffer if parents were hit with “another survey” in the same timeframe. The 10-question Gifted Advisory Committee surveys will be sent out electronically on August 10 through Survey Monkey, and results will be shared with the full committee in September and a summary report of that data will be presented to the school board in November.
Thank you again for your continued support of a full-time gifted education coordinator who can continue to extend programs in grades K-6. He continues to be available to 7th and 8th grade teachers as a curriculum consultant and through supporting the LDMS Science Fair.
Mary Webster, Chair