PCA is excited to offer a piloted Gifted Education program on campus. The GATE Program is an academic initiative for reaching and challenging students who need more from the classroom in an effort to expand differentiated learning to students. Gifted education is a very important part of Special Education in Alabama, and high-quality gifted education programming is essential for the success of gifted students.
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, “intellectually gifted children and youth are those who perform or who have demonstrated the potential to perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth require services not ordinarily provided by the regular school program. Children and youth possessing these abilities can be found in all populations, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.” The National Association of Gifted Children defines “giftedness” as, “Individuals who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).
Similar to PCA’s Resource Center schedule, identified students in grades 3-5 will be pulled into a gifted class 2-3 hours per week to work deeper, as well as work with teachers to accelerate or compact grade-level work when needed.
PCA’s gifted program is led by Kim Stephenson. Kim is a state-certified gifted and special education teacher in grades K-12. She is completing her doctoral studies on giftedness/creativity at the University of Alabama. She also teaches gifted students for Duke University and serves on the Alabama Association for Gifted Children board as an advocate for Alabama’s gifted students.
Gifted students generally represent the top 3% of the population. PCA’s gifted students are identified in two paths:
1. Automatic eligibility with a total score of 130 or above on an individual aptitude test administered by a licensed professional or a score of 97% or above on the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking.
2. Matrix eligibility with a score of 17 of 20 possible points on the State Eligibility Determination Form. Points are assigned on the matrix in the areas of aptitude, gifted behavior characteristics, and performance.
In an effort to identify PCA’s gifted students, all second-grade students are given fun creativity lessons in the spring semester. At the end of the lessons, other fun activities such as transformation drawings or writing activities are given. The creative products, along with teacher ratings of gifted behaviors, achievement scores such as ERB/CTP or STAR scores (and possibly grades), as well as the NNAT3, a problem-solving screener, are accessed to provide an Alabama Gifted Matrix score. Scores range from 0-20; students with scores of 17 or higher are automatically identified. Students with scores of 12-16 indicate an above-average potential, but additional information is needed. Parents of identified students will be contacted with more information.
PCA’s gifted program aims to support gifted students in general education classes while also challenging them in the gifted education classroom. Program goals include:
- To implement gifted educational strategies to make a meaningful difference for gifted and talented students as well as for high-ability students.
- To consider either grade or subject acceleration for students who are advanced in their academic knowledge and skills.
- To implement curriculum compacting to streamline grade-level curriculum and avoid reteaching of already mastered content to the gifted student in order to enhance motivation for continued learning.
- To encourage cluster grouping of gifted learners with similar-ability peers within the general education classroom, providing gifted students opportunities for learning with their academic/intellectual peers
- To instill a sense of belonging and academic progress commiserate with knowledge, skills, and interests to helps teachers better serve their gifted learners.
- To implement pull-out programs allowing gifted students to share learning experiences with their intellectual peers. The social-emotional needs of the gifted can be best addressed within a pull-out resource classroom with the gifted specialist who is trained to recognize and meet their unique affective needs.
- To implement differentiation of instruction and curriculum allowing gifted students who have already mastered certain areas of study to move forward gaining new knowledge and skills.
Teaching practices include many of PCA’s traditional classroom strategies, but in a more challenging format, including, encouraging creativity, higher level thinking, inquiry-based learning and teaching, compacting the curriculum, flexible grouping, instructional technology, using primary sources in history, interdisciplinary language arts instruction, differentiated reading, modular scientific inquiry learning, rich in-depth mathematics instruction, as well as various student-interest led opportunities in foreign languages and the arts.
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Communication & Creative Expression
- Information Literacy: Research
- Information Literacy: Technology
- Autonomous Learner
- Executive Skills
For more information about PCAs gifted program, contact Kim Stephenson, Academic Director.