What Georgia law requires

To be an effective advocate for gifted children — whether that’s supporting your own child’s education, or advocacy on a larger scale — it helps to know what Georgia law says about gifted education.

By law, all public schools in Georgia must offer gifted services to all students who have been identified as gifted.

This is in sharp contrast to states like New York, where for years parents have criticized a system that doesn’t have enough seats in its gifted schools for all the gifted kids who need them, and the seats that are available are doled out based on a high-stakes test the children take in preschool.

The State of Georgia provides additional funding to schools based on the number of gifted-identified students they have. That funding is meant to support the specialized education gifted students need.

The law requires that every gifted student receive “at least five segments per week (or the yearly equivalent) of gifted education services.” A segment is defined as one-sixth of an instructional day. That’s fairly easy to measure in middle school and high school; if a 7th grader is taking six classes, at least one of them should be providing a gifted curriculum. It’s a bit trickier in elementary school, where the school day may be divided into longer blocks of time. I asked the state gifted office for a rough definition of a segment, and they said it’s a minimum of 45 minutes. Multiply that by five, and the state requirement comes about 225 minutes of gifted education services per week.

I’m not suggesting that parents keep a log book of the exact number of minutes of gifted services their child is getting. Sometimes gifted segments are missed in favor of school assemblies or required testing. Or sometimes the teacher of a gifted class is out for a week or two. Making a big stink about minor shortages in gifted class time isn’t going to win you any friends at your child’s school, and to be a successful advocate for your gifted child, you’re going to need friends at the school. So, be patient and understanding when you can. But if gifted services time is consistently below the state standard and you decide to speak up, mentioning “five segments per week” to an administrator at the school will let them know you know the law.

The state gives public school systems some flexibility in how they deliver gifted services. Students can be taught advanced academic material in a small group within their classroom, or they may go to a separate classroom and be taught material that doesn’t relate to a specific academic subject.

Regardless of the “delivery model” that’s used, the teacher should have a gifted endorsement — a sort of specialized teaching certification.

You can read a lot more about the state’s requirements in the Georgia Gifted Resource Manual.

There’s one kind of accommodation you won’t get in Georgia: early entrance to kindergarten. Georgia law says a child must be 5 years old or older to begin kindergarten in a Georgia public school, and must be 6 or older to begin first grade.

None of these laws or regulations apply to private schools.

Public charter schools can choose not to offer gifted services, although I’ve never heard of that actually happening. The Georgia Department of Education issued a memo on this topic, which says charter schools that don’t identify and serve gifted students will lose their gifted funding.

This page was updated on Oct. 2, 2019. If you find an error in the links or the information presented here, please submit a correction using the Contact page on this site. Thank you.

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