Program Services

According to the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, programs for Gifted/Talented students must include an array of options, flexibility in grouping, and flexibility in acceleration or pacing (State Plan 3.1, 3.5, 3.8). In addition, the following are suggested program components that assist in serving culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) Gifted/Talented students. G/T program services should:

  • Include intensive intervention early on in the gifted program to realize the students’ full development of their potential in order to prepare students for advanced academics and programs before they have the opportunity to enroll.
  • Consider that gifted students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds may not have experienced the same learning opportunities and exposure to a myriad of learning strategies; therefore, encourage appropriate scaffolding of the curriculum.
  • Support personalized learning for CLED Gifted/Talented students.
  • Encourage mentorships between CLED Gifted/Talented students and adults with similar interests and backgrounds from the community.
  • Focus on gifted student strengths and interests.
  • Provide opportunities for CLED gifted students to engage in culturally relevant experiences that reflect the values of their respective cultures.

Gifted students may be served in any one or more of the service models identified in the campus-level PEIMS codes.  

Social and Emotional Needs

The Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students indicates districts must (3.11) “Develop and implement services to address the social and emotions needs of gifted/talented students and their impact on student learning.” All gifted students have social and emotional needs, but culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) gifted students have additional social and emotional considerations. Awareness of and attending to these various social and emotional needs is essential to the success of gifted CLED students in gifted programs. Support for these students can be attained through small-group meetings with students from like backgrounds or concerns, mentorship programs, and individual relationships with teachers. 

When academically successful or being serviced through a gifted program, CLED gifted students are faced with the possibility of being rejected or isolated from peers and may resort to underachievement (failing to work up to potential). Taking advanced/challenging classes, studying, and academic achievement may be perceived as “acting white” and can threaten a student’s sense of belonging. In addition, many CLED gifted students have rich communal backgrounds with very strong family ties. Participation in services that remove them from this communal environment may raise identity issues. Any of these identity pressures can impact experiences, feelings, and possibly even behaviors in gifted programs. Social and identity issues often increase with the level of giftedness which may enhance sensitivity, perfectionism, self-criticism, and self-destructive behaviors.

Once identified for Gifted/Talented services, the program may not be responsive to CLED students’ needs. They become confused and overwhelmed with newfound struggles and may be at risk of exiting the program. Therefore, gifted teachers must develop a knowledge base of the various ethnic/racial groups in their classrooms to create enriching activities suited to their students’ specific needs. Gifted CLED students must have both affective (social/emotional) and cognitive needs met in the gifted classroom. For instance, assisting students in building identities to include multiple areas, such as high academic achievement, home-life, peer relationships, and society integration will help to meet these cognitive needs. Provide assistance with grit (perseverance) for challenging work, coping skills for addressing peer issues, and a dual-identity for gifted and cultural belonging. Educational opportunities for these students must include developing cultural identity and high academic achievement (with scaffolding, when necessary).

Scott, Michelle.  Socio-Emotional and Psychological Issues and Needs of Gifted African-American Students: Culture Matters. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning, Volume 2, Number 1 (23-33). Spring 2012.

Olszewski-Kubilius, P. and Clarenbach, J.  Unlocking Emerging Talent; Supporting High-Achievement of Low-Income, High-Ability Students. NAGC (2012)

Out-of-school Options and Special Opportunities

Provisions in the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students include providing students “Out-of-school options relevant to the students’ areas of strength…” (3.6), and “information concerning special opportunities…is available and disseminated to parents and community members” (3.2).  Some options to consider for your school or district include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Destination Imagination — Texas Destination Imagination is a problem solving educational organization that strives to promote creativity in the young people of Texas.  Students in grades 1-12 are eligible to participate. 
  • Odyssey of the Mind — Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. 
  • Create a school chess club.
  • Mathleague.org — The mathleague.org program includes a number of services focused on enhancing the quality and quantity of competitive mathematical opportunities available to students everywhere. Mathleague.org offers a variety of programs for students in grades 3-12. 
  • Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS) — A not-for-profit corporation dedicated to stimulating enthusiasm, fostering creativity, and strengthening intuition in mathematical problem solving. Five monthly 30-minute contests are administered at your school or other location at your convenience. 
  • USA Mathematical Talent Search — The USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS) is a free mathematics competition open to all United States middle and high school students.  
  • Roots and Shoots (A program of the Jane Goodall Institute) — Roots & Shoots enables young people from the pre-school to university level to continue to coordinate projects locally that promote care and concern for the environment, animals, and human communities. Through constructive activities, the participants of Roots & Shoots groups all over the world become more aware of how their actions that affect their local community and the environment as a whole. Roots & Shoots provides resources with suggestions for starting a club, for appropriate projects at different grade levels, encourages activity reports and portfolio submissions, celebrates club projects in their newsletter, and offers to connect clubs in different parts of the world to promote cultural understanding. 
  • Whyville — In Whyville, students interact with other participants, as they learn about science topics in an open-ended, exploratory way, invent things and have the ability to do hands-on activities at home and post their results on the site. Teachers can create classrooms to use as an activity for students to explore. 
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame (multiple STEM related programs) — Children gain insight and inspiration while finding opportunities to take risks and develop new ideas. All programs use a parent-paid model, meaning parents pay the tuition. If parent funding is not an option, all of the educational programs also qualify for Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Migrant Education and Early Learning Challenge funding, as well as state and local district resource funding.
  • Code.org — You don’t have to be a software developer to teach computer science. 
  • Afterschool Alliance — A resource to assist in improving your afterschool STEM program or getting involved in afterschool STEM for the first time. Included is a funding guide and exploration of the curriculum, professional development, and evaluation tools specifically developed for teaching STEM in the out-of-school-time environment.  
  • Texas Academic Decathlon — The premier academic competition for high-school students in the U.S.
  • MATHCOUNTS — MATHCOUNTS provides engaging math programs to U.S. middle school students of all ability levels to build confidence and improve attitudes towards math and problem solving.
  • Texas Association for the Gifted/Talented Enrichment Program Listing

Furloughs and Exit Considerations

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State Plan Guidance

(2.10) "Policy is adopted allowing student furlough (the opportunity for students to have a leave of absence from gifted/talented program services) for specified reasons and for a certain period of time without being exited."
(2.12) "Policy related to exiting of students from gifted/talented services is based on multiple criteria including student performance in response to services. Exiting of a student is finalized by committee decision after consultation with parents and student regarding the student’s educational needs."

One of the biggest challenges facing districts is to keep culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) students in the Gifted/Talented program once they have been identified. They should not be exited for trivial reasons, such as not making straight A’s or having a few behavior problems. The furlough and exit provisions are a means to help professional personnel look at the whole child and his/her circumstances before delaying services or exiting the student from the program.

Furlough

Reasons for furlough may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Increased demand on time caused by scheduling and/or outside interests
  • Emotional problems stemming from self, school, or home

Furlough should not be used as a disciplinary tool and should be granted without adding undue pressure on the student. The decision to furlough should be made by a committee comprised of the student, when appropriate and as determined by age and maturity; parent(s)/guardian(s); the student’s teacher(s); and the principal and/or the school counselor. The campus/district coordinator for the Gifted/Talented program should also be included.

If the student is granted a furlough, the date of re-entry must be stated. If the student elects to exit the program at the end of the furlough, exit policy procedures should be followed. The committee should assess the student based on the reasons for furlough to determine if G/T services is the best venue for the student. The furlough and re-entry forms shall be completed at the committee meeting and filed in the student’s cumulative records.

Exit

Student performance shall be monitored and evaluated. A student may be considered for exit if it is in his/her best interest and/or if program services do not appear to be the most appropriate educational placement for the student. The petition to exit the student may be initiated by a request from:

  • the parent(s)/guardian(s);
  • a teacher, school counselor, or administrator; or
  • the student himself/herself.

Exit from services will be finalized by committee decision. A conference should be held within ten working days of the request to exit. An exit committee should include a building administrator, the G/T teacher(s), the classroom teacher(s), a school counselor, and the campus/district G/T coordinator and must include the student and parent(s)/guardian(s) in the conference.

  • If a teacher initiates the petition, that teacher shall provide documentation from multiple sources to support his/her request for exit from services.
  • If a student or parent/guardian requests removal, the district should honor the request only after exhausting all options to assist the student after hearing the reason for the student or parent/guardian request. 

Should a student exit from program services, the process shall be accomplished in such a manner as to avoid adding undue pressure to the student or parent(s)/guardian(s). It shall be recognized that the purpose of G/T services is to best serve the academic and affective needs of the child.

Slocumb, P. and Olenchek, R. Equity in Gifted Education; A State Initiative. 2006

Evaluation of G/T Services

The Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students addresses the evaluation of G/T services.

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State Plan Guidance

(1.5) Annual evaluation activities are conducted for the purpose of continued service development.
(1.6) Long-range evaluation of services is based on evidence obtained through gifted/talented-appropriate performance measures such as those provided through the Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP).
(1.8) District guidelines for evaluation of resources used to serve gifted/talented students are established and used in selecting materials that are appropriate for differentiated learning.
(6.8) The effectiveness of gifted/talented services is evaluated annually, shared with the board of trustees, and the data is used to modify and update district and campus improvement plans.  Parents are included in the evaluation process, and the outcomes and findings of the evaluation are shared with parents (TEC §11.251 – 11.253).

In addition to ensuring that district Gifted/Talented services are compliant to the state plan, districts should create committees to evaluate program services in order to know if the program is meeting the needs and expectations of all stakeholders. In addition to evaluating their overall G/T program, districts should also evaluate their program to see if they are meeting the needs of the culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) students.