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— The programs in the Gentry Public Schools are built on a fundamental belief in serving the needs of all students as unique individuals. Gifted and talented individuals have special characteristics and learning styles and their potential for accomplishment is such that they require special provisions, experiences and services not provided for in the regular instructional program.

The Quest program is committed to providing a program for identifying and meeting the needs and interests of these gifted students.

Students enter the Quest program through the selection procedure. Students in any grade are first recommended by teachers, parents or community members. They may recommend themselves or be referred on the basis of previous participation in another G/T program or exceptional test scores. The screening process then consists of collecting and compiling data on nominated students to facilitate decision making for the students who are most in need of Quest services. Both objective and subjective instruments are used in the process, including teacher recommendations, a school ability test, a creativity test, a parent checklist, achievement tests and grades. All information is compiled and presented to a school-based identification committee.

The identification committee considers each student and makes recommendations based on collected data in a blind identification. No single criteria or cut-off score is used to include or exclude a student from placement in the program. Letters are sent to parents indicating the committee placement decision, but the parents and the recommended student make the final decision regarding participation in the program.

The district’s program for identified gifted and talented students features the utilization of gifted strategies within the existing K-12curriculum to provide appropriate differentiated opportunities. Students do not have more work; the emphasis is on different work based on modifying the content, process, or product for part of the school day. Enrichment, acceleration, differentiated lessons, honors/AP classes and individual or group interest-based learning are all means to that end. Programming begins in the K-2 classes where all students meet with the gifted and talented teacher for 45 minutes a week. After most students are identified in the third grade, they join the pull-out class for grades third through fifth, which meets 30 minutes every day. Students in sixth through 12th grades are served with advanced classes as well as differentiated activities in the regular classes. Additionally, students meet with a gifted and talented teacher monthly.

The existing curriculum is further modified by emphasizing the acquisition and use of higher-level thinking skills, divergent thinking and production skills, opportunities for independent study, creative thinking, and skill development in coping with exceptionality. Basic skills are not deemphasized; they are integrated within the content areas.

Programming for gifted students must cultivate, nurture and develop their potential abilities in general intelligence, creative or productive thinking, exceptional leadership and specific aptitudes. Programming must also provide opportunities to interact with their peers and to work in materials that challenge their abilities and encourage them to expand their abstract thinking and reasoning abilities.

Maximizing the potential of gifted and talented students requires essential commitment and cooperation between school, community and home. The gifted and talented program is designed to facilitate that cooperation and to cultivate within the student a desire for excellence and a sense of productive responsibility.

School News, Pages 9 on 12/02/2009

Print Headline: Gifted and Talented program seeks to serve individual needs

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