Gifted Education Instructor: Melody Barber
From the start of the school year, the Pupil Services department is busy following the guidelines set forth by the state of Ohio for identifying and serving gifted students. Our Gifted Intervention Specialist is the paramount component of this process.
The Cardinal Local School District uses various grade-wide assessment tools to identify students who meet the definition of a gifted student according state criteria. These assessments include the MAP tests that are administered three times each year to all students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and the Cognitive Tests of Ability that are administered to all second graders in the spring.
The Pupil Services Director and the Gifted Intervention Specialist (GIS) review these test results after each assessment is completed to determine which students can be newly identified as gifted. Per the state of Ohio, once a student is identified as gifted they retain this status until they graduate. If a student is newly identified, the GIS will send the parent(s) a letter explaining the identification. Every year, Written Education Plans (WEPs) outlining the services being provided for each individual student are created by the GIS in conjunction with the student’s teachers and administration. This year over 100 WEPs have been written.
The Gifted Intervention Specialist offers various levels of assistance to all of our gifted students. In all instances, the GIS provides professional development to those teachers who have gifted students in their classrooms. This professional development gives classroom teachers relevant information on various topics such as: gifted characteristics and student identification; asynchronous development; learning styles and curriculum planning; and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. In first through eighth grades the students may be cluster grouped into specific classrooms, and for some, the GIS is able to co-teach the class to work directly with those gifted students. For others, the GIS assists the classroom teacher in designing lessons that will expand and stretch the students and promote the development of critical thinking skills. The GIS also oversees options offered to older students. Some students in eighth grade are subject accelerated, while high school students are provided opportunities such as honors classes, College Credit Plus courses (formerly known as Post Secondary Enrollment Options, PSEO), and advanced placement courses.
In addition, the GIS supports our gifted students through activities such as math and other competitions, enrichment and independent math projects, and book clubs. The GIS also provides coaching and planning with teachers, and consultation for specific students. In the spring, the GIS reviews all of the gifted students’ placements for the upcoming school year to assure the students are in the classes that will be most optimal for their ongoing unique development. She then collaborates with the Pupil Services Director to re-design the program to best accommodate the next year’s group of gifted students.
Our Gifted Intervention Specialist is the core of the district’s highly-rated gifted program that allows us to appropriately and adequately serve this unique and special population of students.