The members of the Clinton City Schools Board of Education and the Academically and Intellectually Gifted Team are one step closer to agreeing on a new plan for the school’s gifted program.
During the board’s work session Thursday night, the third review of the plan brought more changes and recommendations from the AIG specialists, in the hopes of meeting the wishes of board members in the middle. Nearly six hours of meeting time has been spent on the issue between four meetings and two prior reviews.
According to Debbie McDuffie, AIG specialist and teacher at Sampson Middle School, since the initial presentation of the 2016-2019 plan in November, the team has convened for many meetings, taking the board’s recommendations and adjusting the plan as requested.
“Some changes have been made,” McDuffie said Thursday night. “What we are presenting will broaden our scope of services.”
Over the last two months, board members and team specialists have met on an individual and group basis to discuss the plan and what changes needed to be made to the current plan and allow the school system to better serve all students. In the previous meeting, several board members expressed their concerns about the team not listening to the board’s advice and making any changes they have recommended.
In the team’s final recommendations, the new AIG plan will identify gifted students as AG (Academically Gifted) and IG (Intellectually Gifted). Students who are currently serviced through the AIG program either receive content replacement services or resource services. In conjunction with PowerSchool, the school’s grading and information system, students who are in content replacement will now be identified as AG and students who are in resource will be identified as IG.
“IG will focus on developing intellectual skills and not academic skills,” McDuffie shared with the board. “Hopefully, we will be able to pull more students in other areas.”
The team is also requesting a change in the requirements for placement, even though those recommendations haven’t been made publicly by board members.
“We want to make sure we aren’t missing any children,” Lisa Green, AIG specialist and teacher at Sunset Avenue School, said. “There are a lot of children with a high IQ, but are scoring low on the achievement tests. We want to make sure we are servicing all gifted children, in every area.”
In the new plan, to receive placement in the AG portion of the program, a student must meet two of three categories. The new requirements are:
• A student must score 92 percent or higher on the Naglieri Nonverbal Aptitude Test
• A student must score 90 percent or higher on the Iowa achievement test
• A student must be recommended by a teacher or score Level 5 on the End of Grade tests
In the new plan, to receive placement in the IG portion of the program, a student must have a 92 percent or higher on the NNAT and one other of the following criteria:
• A student must score 80 percent or higher on the Iowa achievement test
• A student must be recommended by a teacher
“Many of these students aren’t prepared to come in and take the achievement test,” Green stated. “By adjusting the numbers, we are opening the gates for some very bright children to enter the program.”
Services for students on the K-2 level will be available to all students in those grades. The new program, K-2 Think Lab, is much like the current nurturing program, as students are not tested until the end of second grade and not identified as gifted until that time.
“The purpose of the Think Lab is to explore ability and uncover gifted potential,” Green said. “With this part of the plan, we are tapping into not just one area of strength, but all areas.”
According to Green, at the K-2 level, an AIG specialist will visit all classrooms and provide whole group lessons to encourage critical, creative and higher order thinking skills. Based on that data collected from the AIG specialist during those whole group lessons, students will be placed in pull-out groups that are facilitated by the specialist.
“We want to see consistent behaviors and not flukes,” Green said. “These students will not be identified as AIG. We are trying to nurture that gifted potential.”
The significant drop in the number of kids being identified as academically gifted has brought great concern to board members, a concern that was brought to the attention of the team and audience at the first meeting in November.
At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, when students entering third grade were tested, only two students qualified for AIG placement, according to board member Carol Worley. Three additional students received private testing and have since been placed into the content replacement tier of the program.
With the updated recommendations to the plan, the team is confident more children will be identified as AIG and be placed into one area of the program.
The plan will be presented for final approval from the board at Tuesday night’s meeting and then be presented to the state for approval.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.