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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

New, private high school for self-motivated learners

May 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Coming to the Atlanta area this fall: Sora Schools, a private high school catering to students who want to create their own educational path.

Sora Schools is for self-directed students, especially those with a passion that falls outside the bounds of traditional academics. Examples include computer science, writing or film-making.

At Sora Schools, students complete personal projects that utilize their passion and incorporate other academic elements, keeping them engaged while ensuring they’re exposed to a broad education.

School is mostly conducted online, with students meeting in person once a week in the Dunwoody area.

Spaces are available for the 2019-2020 school year.

Categories: In the schools

DeKalb Serendipity summer program for gifted students

May 16, 2017 1 comment

Registration is now open for DeKalb County School District’s summer program for gifted students. Serendipity is a four-day enrichment program open to gifted-identified students who are currently in grades 1-6, and who attended a DeKalb County public school in the 2016-17 school year. (If your child qualifies for the program, their school should send a flyer home with them about it, but “should” is the operative word here.)

This year’s Serendipity program will take place June 12-15 at Stone Mountain Middle School, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day. Cost is $200 per student. You can find additional details and a link to the online registration form in the 2017 Serendipity Flyer for Registration (PDF).

Registration closes May 31, 2017.

Categories: DeKalb, Summer programs

The LIFE School progressive high school in Atlanta

April 12, 2017 6 comments

For kids who are looking for something boldly different from the typical high-school experience, The LIFE School offers a highly personalized, integrated curriculum that is tailored to each student’s passions and life goals.

Located in southwest Atlanta, this progressive, private high school is ideal for a student who is independent and self-reliant. Students learn through a series of self-directed interdisciplinary projects, as well as through required internships.

The Life School is in its first year of operation. The school is pursuing accreditation through SACS/AdvancEd.

Categories: In the schools

Open enrollment for DeKalb magnet and charter schools through Feb. 22

January 19, 2017 2 comments

DeKalbApplications are being accepted for DeKalb County’s magnet and charter schools through Feb. 22, 2017, for the 2017-18 school year.

The school choice program now includes four high schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Preparatory Program: Druid Hills, Tucker, and MLK Jr. high schools. These schools join the IB elementary and middle schools in the DeKalb County system: Avondale Elementary School, Fernbank Elementary School, Midvale Elementary School, Druid Hills Middle School, and Tucker Middle School.

Also part of open enrollment are the high achievers magnet programs at Kittredge Elementary School, Wadsworth Elementary School, Chamblee Middle School, Chapel Hill Middle School, Chamblee Charter High School, and Southwest DeKalb High School. In order to apply to these programs, your child must achieve qualifying scores on certain standardized tests. If your child qualifies, you should receive a letter from your school — but we all know that letters sent home with children sometimes don’t make it into our hands, so if you think your child is eligible and you haven’t received an invitation to apply to the high achievers magnets, check with your school.

Now is also the time to apply to DeKalb’s elementary and high schools of the arts. Those schools require an audition packet, in addition to the standard open enrollment application.

The county’s school choice website offers a complete list of the available schools and an online application. Keep in mind that space in each school is limited. Open spaces will be assigned by a random lottery of all qualified applicants, scheduled to take place in May.

Categories: DeKalb, In the schools

Decatur Schools gifted survey

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

City of Decatur Schools is conducting a survey about its gifted education programs. If you have a student in the Decatur school system who has been identified as gifted and is receiving gifted services, you can complete the anonymous survey here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19DHj8C8pv5ar3Uhh7hM18TXAfPKxIxFyRLCNEvaVLYU/viewform?c=0&w=1

Categories: In the schools

DeKalb school choice applications delayed

February 3, 2015 Leave a comment

DeKalbOpen enrollment for school choice in DeKalb County is open now — but only on paper. This includes applications for the county’s high achiever magnet schools for the 2015-16 school year.

Online registration was scheduled to begin yesterday, but because of technical problems, it’s been pushed back to Feb. 10 — contingent on the IT department completing the integration of the old e-portal system with the newer Infinite Campus system. To make up for the delay, the county has extended the application period an additional week, to Feb. 27.

Between now and Feb. 10, you can submit a paper application for a school outside your attendance zone, although when I spoke with the school choice office yesterday, they seemed to favor waiting until next week and using the online system.

In the meantime, if you don’t have an Infinite Campus account yet, get one. If all goes as planned, your Infinite Campus account information will serve as your login for the e-portal, where registration for school choice will be hosted.

The school system will hold lotteries in March and April to assign the available spaces.

Visit the district’s school choice page to learn more.

Categories: DeKalb, In the schools

DeKalb offers ITBS testing for magnet school applicants

October 13, 2014 4 comments

DeKalb County Schools is offering ITBS testing for students who want to apply to its magnet programs, including the high achiever magnet schools at Kittredge / Chamblee or Wadsworth / Chapel Hill / Southwest DeKalb, but who lack qualifying test scores.

Who is this test for?

  • Students currently in grades 4, 6, or 8 who did not have qualifying scores for the high achiever programs when they took the ITBS test in 3rd, 5th, or 7th grade
  • Students in homeschool or private school in grades 3 through 8

If your child already has qualifying scores, there’s no need to register for this testing. It is only for students who lack the required test scores for admission to the magnet programs.

Download the PDF for more information and an application for the test. The deadline to apply is Oct. 24, 2014.

Categories: DeKalb, In the schools

Plans for DeKalb County Schools 2014 Serendipity summer program

May 7, 2014 2 comments

DeKalbEvery summer, the DeKalb County School District offers a day camp called Serendipity for gifted children enrolled in its public elementary schools.

Every spring, DeKalb County parents wonder when they are going to get the details of the program so they can plan their children’s summer schedules and get their kids registered. Two parents asked me about it this week, so I contacted DeKalb’s gifted coordinator, Donyell Atkinson. Here’s what she told me:

Serendipity 2014 is planned for June 16 to 19 at Brockett Elementary School in Tucker. The camp will meet daily from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

As for when parents can get full details and register, Ms. Atkinson writes, “Registration brochures will be distributed to the
local schools upon receipt from vendor.”

If you want to enroll your child, my advice is to check their backpack daily for the brochure.

 

Categories: DeKalb, Summer programs

New gifted school forming in Marietta

March 26, 2014 Leave a comment

A new private school for gifted children is accepting applications for 2014-15, its inaugural school year.

Atlanta Gifted Academy, located in Marietta, will serve children ages 3 to 12. The academic program will utilize Stanford University’s EPGY (Education Program for Gifted Youth) curriculum and project-based learning.

The school also is offering a series of week-long summer camps focused on various STEM topics.

Atlanta Gifted Academy was founded by Claire Anderson, a local parent with a master’s degree in education.

Categories: In the schools