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Archive for February, 2021

How are schools evaluating students for gifted services during remote learning?

February 18, 2021 1 comment

This is the time of year when public schools would ordinarily be evaluating children to see if they qualify for gifted services, administering tests that score the students on such characteristics as creativity and motivation. I was curious how metro Atlanta school systems are handling gifted evaluation this year. I had three primary concerns:

  1. Many kids didn’t take standardized tests like the Milestones exams last spring, and those standardized tests are often used as a screening tool to identify students who should be evaluated for receiving gifted services.
  2. How were the schools administering the tests used for gifted evaluation if kids aren’t attending school in person?
  3. Would students already identified as gifted be able to maintain their gifted eligibility if they didn’t take Milestones and similar exams to demonstrate their continued need for gifted services?

I reached out with these questions to the gifted education departments of six metro Atlanta school systems: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, plus Atlanta Public Schools.

Ordinarily, when I get information from school officials, I read through it and write a summary. But some of these answers are so complex and detailed, I wanted to share them in full. In contrast, DeKalb’s answers were brief and vague, and I don’t want to guess at their meaning.

Below are the responses I received from Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton county schools, verbatim. Cobb County and Gwinnett County didn’t reply to two requests. APS responded to say they were waiting on answers from senior leadership, but they haven’t yet sent me any information. If I do hear back from any of these systems, I’ll post an update.

If you have questions about your child’s gifted eligibility, I suggest you reach out to the gifted specialist at your school, and if necessary, to the gifted education department of your school system. (You can find links to the websites of the gifted education departments on each system’s page under the Gifted Ed in Local Schools area of GiftedAtlanta.com.)

Clayton County
My questions are in bold. Their answers are in regular type.
First, is it correct that students who have already qualified for gifted services in a prior school year will not lose their gifted eligibility if they don’t take the usual standardized tests this school year? The gifted students of CCPS will continue with their gifted services whether they took an end of the year summative assessment.  Our continued services are based on the child’s performance, passing gifted classes, and teacher/school input.  Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, gifted services were continued for the 19-20 school year. 

Will they be able to continue uninterrupted with their gifted services, not only through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, but also in the 2021-22 school year? Yes, we will continue with gifted services for students into the next school year of 21-22.  CCPS works for the benefit of the student and we understand that our present situation is the best we can make it for our students.  We work to make sure that all gifted students receive gifted services and we are continuing our efforts to identify gifted and talented students. 

I’d also like information about how students who are not yet qualified for gifted services need to proceed. I’m thinking here mostly of students in the primary and elementary grades. If they don’t take the in-person standardized tests, will they be able to qualify for gifted evaluation? And, additionally, if they do qualify for evaluation, how will those evaluations be conducted this school year? Yes, CCPS has implemented a talent search this fall.  We have modified our eligibility process to the virtual format since CCPS has remained virtual since March of 2020.  Students are able to take normed referenced tests through an electronic format.  CCPS began testing students again in early November.  Our elementary schools are back to testing and our secondary schools will hopefully begin testing in late February.  The CCPS gifted program wanted to make sure that all teachers were trained for online testing and felt comfortable with the process.  We are very lucky to work with so many fantastic educators who want the best for our children. 

DeKalb County
I am in receipt of your communication.  We appreciate your support of the DeKalb County School District.  As it pertains to gifted identified students, they will continue to receive services without interruption.  Students seeking gifted eligibility will continue to follow the guidelines as established by the GaDOE and DCSD.  Those guidelines can be found in the links below. 
https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/gifted/

I sent a subsequent email, asking for more detailed answers to my specific questions about screening and testing while children are not attending school in person, and received this response:
Thank you for reaching out to learn of how the district will begin or continue gifted evaluation during virtual and hybrid learning. Principals have received guidance on gifted services, testing, and evaluation for this year.  Please encourage the parents to contact their local principal for more information. 

Fulton County
My questions are in bold. Their answers are in regular type.
First, is it correct that students who have already qualified for gifted services in a prior school year will not lose their gifted eligibility if they don’t take the usual standardized tests this school year? Will they be able to continue uninterrupted with their gifted services, not only through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, but also in the 2021-22 school year?  Fulton County Schools adheres to State Board Rule 160-4-2-.38 Education Program for Gifted Students.  This indicates that students who have been identified as gifted and receive gifted services shall continue to receive services provided the student demonstrates satisfactory performance in regular and gifted education classes, as described in our local continuation criteria.  Therefore, once identified as gifted in the state of Georgia, students do not need to take any additional assessments to maintain their gifted status.

I’d also like information about how students who are not yet qualified for gifted services need to proceed. I’m thinking here mostly of students in the primary and elementary grades. If they don’t take the in-person standardized tests, will they be able to qualify for gifted evaluation? And, additionally, if they do qualify for evaluation, how will those evaluations be conducted this school year?  Fulton County screens all students for possible referral for gifted testing.  The screening, referral, and identification processes have continued in the 2020-2021 school year for both face-to-face and remote learners. While tests for determining gifted eligibility must be given in a face-to-face setting by a trained administrator, parents of remote learners who have been referred for gifted testing have been given the option to have students attend testing sessions in the school building or delay testing until a future testing cycle.

Categories: In the schools

Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend

February 10, 2021 Leave a comment

The Great Backyard Bird Count will start this Friday, Feb. 12, and continue through Monday, Feb. 15. This worldwide citizen science project, which started in 1998, is a cooperative effort among the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Birds Canada.

To participate, you’ll watch the birds in your back yard for as little as 15 minutes on any of the four days. You can do more than one day, or watch longer if you want. You count the birds and send in your data, either by using an app you download to your phone, or by entering your counts on the eBird website.

Not only can you collect data for these projects, but you can also view the data being collected all over the world — a great opportunity to see scientific research in action.

Categories: Enrichment

Saturday morning virtual enrichment classes for students in grades 1 through 8

February 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education will host their next Saturday Exploration Program starting February 20, 2021. Classes will be online, taught by live instructors.

These Saturday classes cover a variety of STEAM topics including game design, 2-D and 3-D animation, drones and more.

Cost to enroll is $125 for GAGE members, $150 for non-members.

The deadline to register is this Friday, February 12. UPDATE: GAGE has extended the registration deadline to Feb. 19.

Categories: Enrichment

Harvard Debate Council accepting nominations for its Diversity Project

February 7, 2021 1 comment

Harvard College is now accepting nominations for the 2021-2022 Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. This is an extended course of study, headquartered in Atlanta, in which Black high-school students learn philosophy, political science, rhetoric and more, taught by Harvard’s assistant debate coach. The ideal candidate is highly motivated and is interested in debate, politics, or the humanities.

Students who are accepted into the program will meet three Saturdays per month, starting in August 2021 and continuing through June 2022. They will then attend a two-week summer residency at Harvard College. After their year of learning, students give one year of service to the organization and their community.

To be nominated, a student must be in grades 8-11 and live in metro Atlanta. Debate experience is not required. Nominations are due by February 28, 2021. The application will require a school transcript, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, and other elements.

Need-based financial aid is available.

Categories: Enrichment