The Gifted Screening Process (Last updated June 2018)
What Does “Gifted” Mean?
At East Vincent, our regular education teachers are highly trained in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of their students. Through guided reading, differentiated word study groups, writing strategy mini-lessons, math workshop, and more, the teachers provide instruction and learning activities that meet the needs of the students. However, students identified as gifted often exhibit academic strengths including rapid rate of acquisition, complex problem solving, and critical thinking skills that require specialized instruction beyond the general education curriculum.
In Pennsylvania, being mentally gifted is defined as having an “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 term mentally gifted includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria indicate gifted ability. Determination of gifted ability is not based on IQ score alone. A student with an IQ score lower than 130 may be eligible for gifted services when other educational criteria strongly indicate gifted ability. Students who are consistently performing more than one year above grade level in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests may be in need of specialized, individualized education plans (22 Pa. Code Chapter 16).
How Does the District Identify Gifted Students?
At the end of first grade, all East Vincent students will participate in a universal screening process, with the exception of students whose parents return the opt-out of gifted screening form that is provided prior to screening.
Students in grades 3 - 6 will be referred for phase 1 screening if their academic performance on multiple assessment measures demonstrate they are performing more than one year above grade level. The gifted screening team will use existing achievement data that measures students ability to work with above-grade-level content and skills to determine if a student should be referred for screening.
The universal screening process and/or phase 1 includes looking at the student’s instructional reading level, as assessed by the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, to determine if the student is currently reading AND deeply comprehending texts above grade level. Additionally, all phase 1 students will take a math pretest of skills one year advanced to determine their academic aptitude, or their ability to work with content not yet directly taught to the student.
Based on their performance in phase 1, some students will be referred for phase 2 screening. For first grade students who took part in the universal screening process, this will occur in the fall of second grade. In phase 2, students will complete the Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students (SAGES-2).
If the results from phase 1 and 2 demonstrate that the student is consistently performing more than one year above grade level, the school will issue a Gifted Permission to Evaluate. You will also be asked to complete a parent input form for students with potential giftedness. Once the Permission to Evaluate form is signed and returned, the school team will conduct a gifted multidisciplinary evaluation. A certified school psychologist will assess the student, and the classroom teachers will complete the Gifted Rating Scale (GRS). The team will prepare a written report that brings together the information and findings from the screening and evaluation concerning the student’s educational strengths and needs. At the conclusion of the gifted multidisciplinary evaluation, the school will issue the Gifted Written Report (GWR). The Gifted Written Report recommends whether a student is gifted AND in need of specially designed instruction.
Interpreting the Math Pretest Scores used for Gifted Screening
It is important to remember that the math assessment used in phase 1 is a pretest of the skills your child will be taught throughout the coming year. It’s purpose is to determine if a student is naturally performing a year or more above grade level. It's certainly not a problem for a student to be a strong math student, but not yet know how to do skills a year or more advanced. The student has not yet received instruction on these concepts, and he/she will be taught these skills over the course of the year. A “low score” on the math pretest does not mean the student needs extra practice or tutoring at home. It simply demonstrates that the student will be able to grow and learn within the general curriculum.
Interpreting the Reading Level Scores used for Gifted Screening
The instructional and independent reading level assessments determine if a student is reading AND comprehending at various benchmark levels. Some students are expert decoders and read fluently when given advanced texts, but they are not yet able to comprehend and analyze the text with the complexity and depth expected at advanced benchmarks.
If your child is decoding at or above grade level but has a lower comprehension score, this is not cause for concern. The classroom teachers differentiate instruction during guided reading, and your child will be taught the skills appropriate for his/her reading level during small group instruction. The reading level simply shows where your child is ready to learn and grow!
Understanding Classroom Performance Scores and the PSSA Results
Many students do extremely well on classroom tests and score advanced on the PSSAs, but are not gifted and in need of specially designed instruction. It’s important to remember that both PSSAs and classroom tests only measure how well a student works with grade level concepts and skills for which the student has received instruction. Students who score “advanced” on the PSSAs or earn high marks on classroom tests might not necessarily be able to do skills that are a year or more above grade level. Rather, these scores indicate that the student has a strong understanding of grade level content after instruction. For many of these students, their needs can be meet with differentiation within the general education classroom.
What If My Child Is Gifted?
Students who are gifted AND in need of specially designed instruction (because they are consistently performing more than a year above grade level) will be provided with a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP). The GIEP describes the education to be provided to a gifted student and includes:
- a statement of the student’s present levels of educational performance;
- a statement of annual goals and short-term learning outcomes which is responsive to the learning needs identified in the evaluation report;
- a statement of the specially designed instruction and support services to be provided to the student;
- projected dates for initiation, anticipated frequency, location, and anticipated duration of gifted education;
- appropriate objective criteria, assessment procedures and timelines for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether the goals and learning outcomes are being achieved;
- the names and positions of GIEP team participants and the date of the meeting.
What if my student is screened or evaluated for giftedness and does not qualify?
Our regular education teachers are highly trained to differentiate instruction within the classroom to meet the needs of all children. The classroom teacher(s) will work to ensure that your child’s needs are being meet, and your child is being appropriately challenged to stretch and grow.