Building the Future, One Child at a Time

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1 Natick Public Schools 13 East Central Street Natick, Massachusetts FAX (508) Peter Sanchioni, Ph.D. Superintendent (508) Building the Future, One Child at a Time Anna P. Nolin Assistant Superintendent (508) Dear Families: Happy New Year! In January of each year, we seek to identify students who may become eligible for our gifted and talented programs and resources. This document outlines the process and programs at all of our schools K-7. Gifted Program Overview There are two instructional pathways to reach potential academically talented and gifted learners. The pathways are a continuous, flexible, and fluid process. Academically Talented Learners Development of individual academic talents, in the areas of English Language Arts and mathematics, through the existing curriculum through flexible grouping including individual and small group instruction in the regular education classroom. The focus of lessons is related to student s individual strengths, emphasis on mastery, and problem solving. Curriculum focus: Curricular and Instructional Differentiation, Curriculum Compacting, Accelerated and Advanced Placement courses Goal: 1. To assist students in becoming individuals who are capable of self-initiated action, intelligent choice, independent learning. 2. To develop skills in problem solving, creativity, and research. 3. To provide creative and intellectual stimulation through contact with other high- ability students. 4. To provide enrichment opportunities, resources, and services throughout the school community. Identification as Academically Gifted Learners Development of individual academic talents beyond the existing school curriculum in those students formally identified as gifted. Curriculum focus: Challenging curriculum of high level content at a rigorous pace combined with higherlevel thinking skills, problem solving, inquiry and creative productivity. Development of self-direction, risk, curiosity, imagination, and inter/intra-personal relationships. Goals: 1. To provide creative and intellectual academic stimulation through contact with other high-ability students. 2.To provide opportunity for academic accomplishment beyond the realm of the regular education experience

2 Academically Talented Learners Identification Process Audience: Grades four through seven Tools: Multifaceted, Holistic, Authentic, Objective, Norm- and Criterion-referenced Assessments: National and State Standardized Assessments with scores above 98% Behaviors: Intellectual activity that can be observed and documented to a significantly higher degree when compared to age/grade level norms by teachers, parents, self, and peers. Creative Productivity: Products, special talents and inventions observed and documented as noticeably beyond those of age/grade level norms. Process: Building administrators will review assessments as noted below. Note: Students must meet all criteria to be identified in the grade level/school list for academically talented learners. Building administrators will forward this information to the Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment by mid-february. Identification Process Building administrators will review assessments as noted below. Please use the provided grid with student data, by grade level/school. Note: Students must meet all criteria to be identified in the grade level/school list for academically talented learners. This review and identification process will occur annually throughout the month of January. Scantron letters will be sent at the end of January and Scantron testing will be conducted through the month of February-- prior to break. WASI permission letters will be sent to families the last week of February. Parents will schedule WASIs through the month of March for April-June service delivery at the elementary level. Middle school service delivery will commence the next school year. The offices of Student Services and the Office of Teaching, Learning and Innovation work together to support this program and its students. Review of assessments Assessment Norm or criterion Grades administered Academic areas Threshold score Scantron Norm and criterion Grade 6 Reading and Mathematics 2 grade levels above MCAS Criterion Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Developmental Reading Assessment, I and II Grades K-4 Literacy Benchmark at start of school year NPS mid- and end-of-year Criterion Grades 2-8 Mathematics 98% correct

3 mathematics assessments What do we offer these students? Natick Public Schools Support Structures for Academically Talented Students Type of Support Students Supported Delivered By Balanced Literacy Model Differentiation Content Process Product Environment Enrichment Activities Challenge centers Independent and small group projects Project-based learning VHS OR other virtual online and blended learning opportunities After-School Enrichment Activities After school elementary enrichment Math League Math Counts Robotics Future City Odyssey of the Mind Destination Imagination Acceleration Middle School mathematics leveling, gr. 7-8 High School leveling, AP courses Online or blended learning classes All students, K-8 All students Academically Talented Learners and all learners Academically Talented Learners Teacher and Specialists Teacher and specialists Parents Teachers Community Members (all activities dependent on student interest and school s ability to provide staff/parents to assist) School Team Academically Gifted Learners Identification Intelligence Testing Scores Audience: Grades four through seven Assessment: Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI)

4 Benchmark: IQ 130 and above, and two composite scores greater than 130 Meets Academically Talented learner criteria via assessments (noted above) Gifted Services Each year, we review our program offerings in order to make them more diverse and strengthen them each year. Starting in grade 4, students identified will be eligible for math and/or ELA screening and programming depending on the data surrounding their eligibility. Students who qualified for gifted services typically demonstrate their gifts in ELA OR math, so we provide programming to meet that identified strength. Listed below are the services and groupings that allow us to challenge both our advanced and gifted learners. Definitions for programs are then listed below. Student eligibility is determined in the spring of each year for service delivery that spring and in subsequent years. The screening tests for these programs are not ones that students can study for, or get materials in advance. In addition, intelligence testing cannot be completed several times in a year without invalidating results. Meeting the Needs of All Learners While the academically talented and gifted identification processes are detailed here, they are not the only way that children with advanced or developed capabilities can be challenged. We uphold the expectation that all staff will strive to meet the demonstrated abilities of students no matter the program or grade. Often, a conversation between teachers and families allow teachers to know how challenging work is for a student and for tailoring to be done. Entry into a formal program is just one way we meet the needs of our students. Throughout all the grades, we seek to group advanced and gifted students together for team and classroom placements to ensure that children have like-capability students with them for some portion of the school day and for project/group work. Grade 4 Classroom Differentiation and Leveled Texts/Projects ELA/MA/SCI and SS Pull-Out Mathematics for 8 sessions at the Brown School in Spring of the 4 th grade year (math leaders in system work with these students) Grade 5 Extension Block Time ELA Extension Block Time MA Online and virtual schooling options MA, ELA, SCI and SS (dependent on student maturity and family participation) see course offerings below Grade 6 Extension Block Time ELA Extension Block Time MA

5 Online and virtual schooling options MA, ELA, SCI and SS (dependent on student maturity and family participation) see course offerings below Grade 7 Online and virtual schooling options MA, ELA, SCI and SS See included information on course offerings below Leveled Math Classes and Opportunities to Explore other courses in Mathematics through Blended Learning Options MA Grade 8 Online and virtual schooling options MA, ELA, SCI and SS See included information on course offerings below Leveled Math Classes and Opportunities to explore other courses in Mathematics or Science through Blended Learning Options MA Grades 9-12 Course leveling Electives AP courses Online and Blended Learning Options Definitions Classroom Differentiation and Leveled Text and Projects All Grades On all teams and in all grades, it is the norm for teachers to give students pre-assessments for particular units of study to determine who knows what about the unit. Children are grouped and re-grouped according to needs. Students who demonstrate mastery of skills will be pushed to other skills or asked to go more deeply into a study of subject, comparison of subjects. Students may be asked to design projects of their own to extend an area of study. Some of these projects exist and have been tried with students already and some will be tailor made to your child. At times, your child will not demonstrate mastery and will have to go through the course of study at hand, but rigor level is always a consideration for students. If your child is a strong reader, increasingly complex texts will be selected for them on the same topics and themes others use to master the same material. However, it is not the norm for a student to be advanced all the time. Grades 5/6 Extension Block Time Time built into the day where students are required to work on extension work. The schedule alternates between MA/ELA extension blocks (e.g. A, C, E, day for math, B, D, T for ELA just an example). While other students may receive counseling services or support services, advanced students will be given, when appropriate, challenge work to extend the work conducted in classes. Work is linked to the units being studied and students may not realize that more difficult or alternative work will be doled out to them during this time. Math Instruction Grades 5/6

6 The research about math instruction for our elite math students indicates that given the nature of math and the students elite capabilities, they need to be able to accelerate their study during upper elementary and middle school grades. We have several years of experience in doing this. For students in grades 5 and 6, during extension block time, students will be able to participate in math enrichment experiences with an advanced math teacher via an online interface TECCA. This will occur 1-2 times per week and additional work will be assigned for students based on their time with their teacher. Please note that your child will still be expected to demonstrate mastery in the grade level math material; gifted services is in addition to the regular math class and may require time at home to complete expected work. In grade 6, an advanced level curriculum has been created for use within the regular classroom as a companion to the Big Ideas grade 6 curricula. As students become ready for such challenges, after completing expected class work, these experiences will be made available to students. Leveled Math Classes Grades 7/8 At the end of grade 6, students are grouped according to math ability after a study of their math scores across a portfolio of assessments. Some students will go into regular math classes, some into accelerated and some into elite. Gifted status does not necessarily mean that children are ready for accelerated math instruction or skipping grades, in fact, doing so for some children may be detrimental. The entire grade 6 year serves to assess children with a variety of assessments local, state and nationally-normed. We use these assessments to determine placement. A detailed overview of this process can be found on our website and on the district s curriculum, instruction and assessment site. If a child is able to move to elite math pathways, again, the child will be taught by a math teacher in conjunction with the use of an online math curriculum product sponsored by one of our online vendors. That math teacher will see the children on a rotating basis working with the online learning coordinator to support the student. Student must be independent and responsible to log in and complete virtual work. Online Coursework All secondary schools have online learning coordinators who serve as the liaison between your child, you, and online instructors. The course catalogues used by NPS at this time are listed here: TEC online academy Connections Academy Google Ed X (Just sign up and go! Totally independent from the school) Grad Point courses: Your student can take any virtual course for which he/she has met the prerequisite. Work is conducted during flex time blocks, extended blocks, study halls and as elective course offerings at NHS. Extensive work and study at home is a must. Student must be responsible for independent work. Please know that the courses are actual high school coursework but do not count for the high school transcript unless the student is enrolled at NHS. Texts are high school in nature. Of course, just because your child has qualified for this program, you do not have to accept any services for him or her. We will always seek, during the regular course of the classroom work, to challenge him or her to the fullest. Our teachers examine their data sets collaboratively after each major assessment and preassessment to determine how to design instruction and meet the needs of the varied learners in the classes.

7 Sincerely, Anna P. Nolin Assistant Superintendent Teaching, Learning & Innovation

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