The rules on class sizes for gifted students

January 12, 2022 1 comment

Did you know that Georgia sets limits for the headcounts in gifted classes, including high-school AP classes?

I did. So when I found out one of the AP classes at my child’s school has more than 30 students, I decided to step into my advocacy role and dig a bit deeper into the rules. I got information from administrators at the school, district and state levels, and now I’m writing this post to share what I learned with you.

Let’s start with the rule itself. The Georgia Resource Manual for Gifted Education Services, which lays out how gifted students are to be identified and served in public schools in Georgia, states: “The total class size specified by the SBOE [State Board of Education] is 21 at the high school level.”

So why are high school AP classes so often larger than that?

First, public school systems in Georgia can get a “strategic waiver” from the state which allows them to exceed the state’s class size rules by a few students. These waivers allow extra students in all classes, not just gifted classes.

(Does your school system have a strategic waiver? Most do. You can check the Department of Education’s list to find out.) 

Second, the class size standards are treated more as goals than absolute requirements. Schools are expected to do what they can to meet the standards when possible, but if class sizes go above the limits, there are no consequences.

Nevertheless, if your gifted student is in a class that’s been designated as gifted or AP and the class has too many students, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the assistant principal who oversees scheduling. They may not know that state policy calls for smaller class sizes for gifted sections.

Always be polite and non-confrontational. Educators work hard and have to balance the needs of hundreds of students using limited resources.

Finally, be reasonable and realistic. If your school has two sections of AP Government, and each has 36 students, you can make a good argument that a third section should be added. Or if one section has 30 students and the other has 20, it’s reasonable that the two classes should be balanced to 25 students in each section.

On the other hand, if the school has just one section of AP Physics, and the class has 30 students, it may not be realistic to ask that the school break this class into two sections of 15. School funding formulas can rarely provide the financial support for classes that small.

I hope this is helpful in your advocacy for your student and for other gifted students in your school community.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Summer programs at Vanderbilt for rising 7th to 12th graders

December 22, 2021 Leave a comment

The Vanderbilt Program for Talented Youth has published the list of available courses for its 2022 Vanderbilt Summer Academy (VSA) and summer mentor immersion program.

VSA is a residential program for rising 7th to 12th graders with one-week and two-week options. It’s academically rigorous, and applicants are asked to show they can handle advanced work.

Class choices for summer 2022 will include marine biology, rhetoric, astrophysics, poetry, legal studies, mathematics, and many others. Students enroll in only one course from among the choices.

Priority registration for VSA will open January 6 and close January 13. Registration to fill open slots that haven’t been taken by priority applicants will continue after that.

Vanderbilt also has posted the courses of study for its 2022 mentor immersion program, a three-month program for rising 11th and 12 graders. Students select a single course of study. They attend four hours per week of small group meetings — all held virtually — with a mentor in their field of study. They then have additional independent research outside of classes. Priority registration for the mentor immersion program will be open from January 6 until January 27. Registration for remaining slots will continue after that time.

Need-based financial aid is available for these programs.

Categories: Summer programs

Applications open for UGA summer VetCAMP

December 6, 2021 Leave a comment

The University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine is now accepting applications for the summer 2022 session of VetCAMP, scheduled for June 12-17, 2022.

VetCAMP is a one-week, residential program for current high school sophomores, juniors and seniors with an interest in veterinary medicine. Students learn about what it’s like to attend veterinary school and see whether they have the skills to become successful veterinarians.

The application and all supporting materials must be submitted by January 24, 2022.

Need-based financial aid is available.

Categories: Summer programs

Vanderbilt PTY offers virtual mentorships for students in grades 10-12

October 12, 2021 Leave a comment

The Vanderbilt Program for Talented Youth is now accepting applications from students in 10th through 12th grades for the spring 2022 session of its Mentor Immersion program.

The five-month, all-online mentorship program will begin in January 2022. Small groups of students will meet online once per week to learn under the guidance of an expert in the field. Students should expect to spend an additional two to four hours per week on assignments, including a research project.

(Does this sound like too much for your child to take on during the school year? PTY will offer a summer mentorship program, with dates running May-August and June-September. Join the PTY email list to be notified when applications for summer are available.)

Most topics of study are in life sciences. Classes in rhetoric, leadership, and law are also available.

This program is rigorous and the application requires a transcript, test scores, and an essay. PTY will conduct its first round of application reviews on November 2, 2021. After that date, PTY will use a rolling admissions process to fill spaces that aren’t already taken.

Tuition for the program is $2,750. Need-based financial aid is available.

Categories: Enrichment

October workshops for grades 2 through 12 at Georgia Tech

October 6, 2021 Leave a comment

The next session of Georgia Tech’s CEISMC programs will be Saturday, Oct. 23, and will be loosely tied into a Harry Potter theme.

K.I.D.S. Club, open to students in grades 2 through 5, will feature topics including catapults, potions, and “the magic of plants.”

Students in grades 6 through 12 can enroll in STEAM Workshops, with topics such as polymers, coding, and 3-D modeling.

The October workshops will be held in person, on the Georgia Tech campus, with the exception of one online option — a session on code, craft, and storytelling for middle-school students.

Future CEISMC workshops will be held on November 20 and December 11.

Categories: Enrichment

Take part in a global birdwatching event this Saturday

October 4, 2021 Leave a comment

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites anyone interested in birds or citizen science to take part in its October Big Day this Saturday, October 9.

By participating, you’ll be joining thousands of other birders around the world who are making note of birds they see. As with other citizen-science birding events, October Big Day helps scientists see patterns in bird populations and migrations.

You can be part of Global Big Day by watching for birds for as little as 10 minutes, anytime during the day, at any location — although if you’re looking for a birding hot spot, the Cornell Lab can make suggestions. You’ll log the birds you spot through the free eBird mobile app. I use this app myself. It’s not completely intuitive, but it’s pretty easy to learn using the online tutorial. Once you learn to use it for October Big Day, you can continue using it anytime to submit lists of the birds you see, as often (or as rarely) as you like.

If you’re new to birding, you may want to also download the Cornell Lab’s Merlin app, which can help you identify birds by size, by coloring, and even by song.


Categories: Enrichment

“Madam Math Circle” for girls

September 22, 2021 Leave a comment

Madam Math Circle invites girls in grades 4 through 7 — or girls who feel they can handle 4th- to 7th-grade math — to free, weekly, online classes that will nurture their love of math, connect them with like-minded peers, and prepare them for competitive math programs including Math Olympiad, Math League and the AMC 8 exam.

Madam Math Circle was founded in August 2020 by two high-school students who were disheartened by the lack of female participation in math competitions. Classes are taught by high-school students with a passion for math.

Classes will meet via Zoom on Sundays this fall, starting this Sunday, September 26, from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern. (Don’t be confused — the calendar on the Madam Math Circle site shows the class time as 4 to 5 p.m., but that’s Pacific time.) Class spaces are assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Want to see what a class is like before you register? You can watch previous classes in their archive.

Categories: Enrichment, Uncategorized

Georgia Tech’s CEISMC program returns to in-person this month

September 15, 2021 Leave a comment

The CEISMC program at Georgia Tech will host STEAM Workshops for students in grades 6 through 12 and K.I.D.S. Club classes for students in grades 2 through 5 on Saturday, September 25. Both programs are taking place on the Georgia Tech campus.

The sessions for elementary and middle-school students focus on various aspects of coding. High-school students will learn the basics of computer-based 3-D automotive design.

Categories: Enrichment

Virtual STEAM classes for grades 1-8, presented by Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education

September 14, 2021 Leave a comment

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education will host its Saturday Exploration Program for elementary and middle-school students online this fall.

Class topics include digital storytelling, animation, drone engineering and 3D modeling.

Classes will meet weekly for five Saturdays, October 16 through November 13. Cost to enroll is $125 for GAGE members, $150 for non-members. Registration deadline is October 9.

Categories: Enrichment

Emory Math Circle registering for fall

September 8, 2021 Leave a comment

The Math Circle program at Emory University is now registering for its fall 2021 classes, which will be a mix of online and in-person sessions.

Middle-school sections will be held online, via Zoom. Lessons have been reworked for the online format. Each online session will be 40 minutes long.

Two sections for high-school students will be held in person, on the Emory campus. In-person classes will meet for 75 minutes. Students enrolling in the high-school sections must show proof of vaccination and must wear masks in the classroom, in accordance with Emory policy.

A separate online section will be offered for high-schoolers who prefer the virtual format.

Math Circle is a free enrichment program for middle-school and high-school kids who are fascinated by mathematics and who want to explore math topics beyond what’s taught in the typical classroom. Classes meet twice a month on Saturdays. The fall 2021 session starts in mid-September and runs through mid-December.

Categories: Enrichment