THE GIFTED EDUCATION PROGRAM AT PMSD
The Pennsylvania Board of Education established new regulations regarding gifted education. Chapter 16, Special Education for Gifted Students, became law on December 9, 2000.
The mission of the Pocono Mountain School District is “to prepare all students for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.” Pocono Mountain School District is committed to providing quality gifted education programs which encompass the following objectives: expansion of academic attainments and intellectual skills; stimulation of intellectual curiosity, independence and responsibility; development of originality and creativity; development of a positive attitude toward self and others; and development of desirable social and leadership skills.
What is the definition of Mentally Gifted?
The definition of mentally gifted is “outstanding intellectual and creative ability the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.”
The identification of a student in the Pocono Mountain School District as mentally gifted is based on multiple criteria in compliance with federal and state laws. This criterion includes the following:
- An I.Q of 130 or higher (may not be based on I.Q. alone) Students must be evaluated by a certified school psychologist.
- Achievement test scores
- Acquisition and retention rates
- Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas
- Higher level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, academic interest areas, communication skills, foreign language aptitude, or technical expertise.
- Evidence that intervening factors are not masking gifted abilities
What happens if a student is thought to be Mentally Gifted?
The law requires a series of procedures to be followed by a school district when assessing students who are thought to be mentally gifted. Parents have the right to be partners with the school staff in all aspects of that process from the evaluation to the decision over which programs, services and placement procedures are appropriate to meet their child’s needs. The procedure involves a screening process, Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE), Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP), if appropriate, and Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).
Members of a Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation team (GMDT) includes parent(s)/ guardian(s), current teacher(s), certified school psychologist, persons familiar with the student’s educational performance, and/or cultural background, and persons familiar with educational techniques. Referrals for a gifted evaluation may be made by parents/guardians or teachers. Parental requests must be in writing and are limited to one per school term.
What programs and/or services are available?
A student who is identified to be mentally gifted is in need of specially designed instruction (SDI). In the Pocono Mountain School District a gifted student is supported by a Gifted Multidisciplinary Team (GMDT) and a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) team. All GIEP’s are reviewed and/or revised at least once a year.
Gifted students have unusual learning qualities and needs. The Pocono Mountain School District provides programs to gifted students which enable them to learn at different rates, to learn different material earlier, and to think at a level different from their classmates. GIEP’s are matched to the identified need, age, and developmental level of the individual student. GIEP’s are unique to the student and consciously designed to promote acceleration, enrichment, or both.
Whom do I contact if I have questions and/or concerns?
If a parent/guardian has questions or concerns regarding their child’s regular or gifted education program they should contact the school directly and schedule a conference with the classroom or gifted education teacher. Additionally, the principal and/or guidance counselor at each school are available to assist any parent/guardian with the educational programming of the child.
Further information about Chapter 16 and Gifted Education may be accessed through the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
Administrative Staff for Special Education
Dr. Betsy Gustafson
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education
570-839-7121 Extension 10181