MEETING THE NEEDS OF GIFTED CHILDREN IN PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

 

A POSITION PAPER BY THE PORTLAND PARENTS TALENTED AND GIFTED ADVISORY COMMITTEE (DTAC) 

REVISED AND APPROVED 2/27/02

DTAC position paper revision committee:

Margaret DeLacy, DTAC chair, Nina Bell, Linda Bley Greg Smith, Karla Urbanowicz, Jeff Werstler,  

 


 

CONTENTS:

 

INTRODUCTION


 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The document below represents a revision of a position paper entitled "Meeting the Needs of TAG children in Portland Public Schools which was originally written by members of a Portland Public Schools District Talented and Gifted Advisory Committee steering committee. The members of that committee were Marilyn Johnson, DTAC chair, Jeffrey Werstler, Vice Chair, Alys Allwardt, Margaret DeLacy, Michael Reid, and Sheila Weinmann. The paper was presented to the DTAC and adopted on April 18, 1996.

Aside from the fact that the document was five years old, several other factors made a revision desirable. On a national level, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has issued its own recommendations for Pre-K through Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards. (These can be found at http://www.nagc.org ). There has also been a considerable volume of new research on "best practices" and good program options for gifted students.

Since the original paper was drafted there have been several district-wide initiatives including a performance audit and the drafting of a new Strategic Plan, mission, core objectives, and goals for the district. Both the audit (and the subsequent District Audit Committee) and the Strategic Plan resulted in specific recommendations concerning the TAG program. The administrative structure of the district has also changed slightly.

Moreover, following a written complaint about the inadequacy of TAG services within the district, the State of Oregon has carried out an investigation and has written a compliance order that covered several topics also discussed in the original position paper. In some cases the State order has superseded our recommendations: for example, the State has issued specific rules concerning the timelines that are acceptable for providing TAG services once school begins in the fall. Our recommendations in the revision reflect those new State rules and recommendations. The implementation of the Oregon Education Act for the Twenty-First Century, and of state testing, benchmarks and standards, has also made some revisions necessary.

Many of the recommendations included in the original Position Paper have been carried out; others were not accepted by the district or have not been implemented. In addition, the TAG office itself has introduced some new practices; where we felt these were good ideas and were relevant to our concerns we have included them in the paper. For example, the TAG office now provides handbooks to new parents and has written a handbook for TAG students; we recommend providing such handbooks on a regular basis. Thus, the appearance of a recommendation in the position paper does not necessarily mean that a practice is not already in existence; it means that we support it.

We have reviewed every measure recommended in the original position paper, and whenever a recommendation appears in the revision it is because we continue to recommend it. Most of the practices listed under the "DTAC opposes" came from problems that our members have reported experiencing within the District; we hope that these sections will offer guidance on ways to avoid problems in the future.

Some sections of the new position paper have implications for all students throughout the district; for example, we are recommending that the curriculum for every subject and every grade level be communicated to ALL parents no later than Back to School Night for courses beginning in the fall. Others are applicable to many students who are not TAG students or to all students in the district; for example, we ask the district to recognize that academic frustration may lead to inappropriate behavior, withdrawal or depression. We strongly believe that every child has a right to learn every day.

The most significant change is a new section on Curriculum; we suggest that every school improve communication with parents and bring greater clarity to its programs by establishing a committee that will draft learning plans that specify in writing curriculum, instruction, and materials for every grade level and for at least three levels of learning within every grade level. We are also recommending that the TAG office establish a committee that can make recommendations for curriculum, instruction and materials to schools and that these recommendations be submitted to the Board for approval. These recommendations can be used by school committees in drafting the "high" level of curriculum and by teachers in drafting Gifted Student Plans. This will simplify an existing situation that is very confused and perplexing for schools, teachers and parents alike. In the past PPS had a Curriculum Department that advised schools; when the Department was dissolved no process was established to guide teachers in selecting curriculum and the process for obtaining approval for using curriculum that is adapted to individual student learning needs has not been clarified. Teachers do not know what they may and may not use in a classroom, nor how to obtain approval to use anything beyond the adopted curriculum that is handed out to them.

We believe every parent has a right to know what their child will be studying in a given class during the school year, what materials will be used, and what the learning goals are for that child. This knowledge should assist in transitions from elementary to middle to high school and from one school within the district to another.

We also believe that the district must find much more effective ways to encourage the adaptation and modification of curriculum to meet individual learning needs. Given the current size of our classes, we feel that the district must move away from the idea that it should group students strictly by age and include a full range of abilities in every classroom. This makes it almost impossible for instruction to respond to the students' level of mastery.

Of all the topics we have discussed, we chose a few that we believe deserve special attention:


DTAC supports adoption of district policies that rely on research-based best practices for TAG students

DTAC supports a clear district policy that curriculum compaction, acceleration, flexible ability grouping and advanced classes are appropriate for TAG students.

DTAC supports district policies and procedures that hold schools accountable for selecting and providing appropriate instruction services for every student even in the absence of parent complaints. Not every parent, nor every TAG parent, can be expected to know what constitutes appropriate instruction or to ensure that it is provided. Because teachers, principals, and administrators are trained professionals, the burden of delivering appropriate services must be on them.

DTAC supports the principle that every child has a right to learn something new every day.

The full implementation of the policies included in this revised position paper would ensure that our children have a chance to learn.

 

 

ASSESSMENT

 

GOAL: to assess the appropriate level of instructional services for these children, and to maintain on-going assessment data
facilitating a continuous delivery of appropriate services throughout the students' time in the Portland Public Schools.



DTAC supports


1) availability of academic achievement tests for TAG 1st and 2nd graders to assess appropriate level of instruction.

2) Creation of a committee to evaluate and recommend specific "high ceiling" tests (especially out-of level tests) and
assessment tools appropriate for use with gifted students. Committee will develop steps for implementing use of these tests
throughout the District to assess, place and instruct gifted students.

3) Regular "Out-of-level" achievement testing to determine level of appropriate instruction and assess results. Examples are the computerized PALT test, the Explore test, and the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) when used for grades 5 through 9.

4) development of a formal, quarterly record-keeping system for out-of-grade level progress, particularly through
accelerated curriculum, to facilitate continued progress in subsequent years.

5) formal reevaluation of methods for assessing TAG students in individual disciplines, such as social studies and science.

6) Assessments that provide specific written information as to rate and level of learning and result in the actual modification
of curriculum and instruction.

7) Communication of standardized achievement test scores no later than 10 school days before the last day of school.



DTAC opposes


1) reliance on "low-ceiling" procedures and assessments as the sole method of assessing TAG students. Low-ceiling
assessments include grade-level assignments or work in age/grade classrooms. The Oregon Open-ended Math Assessment is a low-ceiling test. State multiple choice tests when given to students at the usual age for taking them are also low ceiling
assessments. High ceiling assessments include some nationally-normed aptitude ("IQ") tests, use of assessments tied to
curriculum or materials usually assigned to older students, and standardized tests given out of level.

2) time-consuming assessment of previously identified students before initiation of services in subsequent years.

3) Vague assessments, assessments predominantly based on observation or anecdotal information.


 

CURRICULUM [NEW SECTION ]



Goal: To ensure that every TAG student meets or exceeds rigorous academic standards and shows significant academic
growth every year. To establish system-wide standards for student achievement and the means to communicate them at each
school.



DTAC supports:



1) Curriculum that supports every student in achieving his or her very highest educational and personal potential.

2) Curriculum that ensures that students are well-prepared for further education or training including further education at
selective colleges and universities worldwide.

3) Opportunities for every student without regard to neighborhood, ethnicity, or family income to take advanced classes or
other courses at the high school level that fulfill the entrance requirements of major universities and ensure students are well
prepared to succeed if admitted. Opportunities for every elementary and middle school student to obtain the instruction
necessary to succeed in advanced high school classes.

4) Creation of a process by the District TAG office to select, evaluate, and disseminate learning goals, curriculum, and
materials that are appropriate for TAG students at various grade levels/subject areas. Meaningful parent participation in this
process. Approval of the curriculum and materials by the PPS School Board and Superintendent. Permission for schools to
use this curriculum without further paperwork.

5) School learning plans that specify in writing curriculum, instruction, and materials for every grade level and for at least
three levels of learning within every grade level. School curriculum plans that include the major topics to be covered and
learning goals for every grade and every academic subject. Possible modifications for TAG students included in the planning
process. Opportunities for parents to participate in this planning in a meaningful way.

6) A clear policy that schools and teachers will offer more challenging curriculum whenever it is appropriate.

7) Use of curriculum that is appropriate for the assessed instructional level of the individual student, including
curriculum/materials recommended by the TAG curriculum committee.


DTAC opposes:


1) Inflexible curriculum adoptions that are approved without meaningful community/parent participation, compel teachers to
use specific books/materials, or confine teachers to grade-level curriculum.

2) Cumbersome or unclear procedures for obtaining approval to use more advanced curriculum.

3) Use of "low ceiling" curriculum, or curriculum that forces students to learn at an inappropriate pace.

4) The idea that using curriculum or materials out of level hurts or robs a subsequent teacher. District policies or procedures
that in any way discourage curriculum compaction, instructional acceleration, or instruction out of level.

5) Instruction, scheduling, class placement adjusted to the convenience of adults that do not address the needs of the student.

6) Curriculum, instructional practices or class offerings that deny capable students the opportunity to fulfill their very highest
potential or that do not prepare them to contribute as citizens of our community.

7) Curriculum, instructional practices, or class offerings that place PPS students at a disadvantage in pursuing educational
opportunities beyond graduation.

8) Limiting the instructional opportunities of students because advanced classes are over-enrolled or under-enrolled. PPS
must meet the rate and level needs of every student.



RATE AND LEVEL PROGRAMS



GOAL : To provide each TAG child with appropriate instruction at their assessed level and differentiated rate of learning.



DTAC supports



1) flexible ability grouping.

2) curriculum compacting.

3) substitution of appropriate work and homework for work that does not meet rate and level needs.

4) teacher interaction/facilitation for independent or self-directed work/projects, particularly in elementary and middle
school. We recommend one hour facilitation for every 3-4 hours of independent work.

5) programs which facilitate group acceleration at every grade level including , honors, advanced, Advanced Placement
(AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes and programs that provide college credit or dual enrollment.

6 ) Maintenance of a central TAG office to provide advice and technical support to families and schools.

7 )Elimination of social retention as well as social promotion when it does not meet the academic needs of a student.

8) Methods that facilitate individual student learning at the most appropriate rate for that student and attainment of that
studentís very highest potential. Limited use of instructional methods such as cooperative learning in heterogeneous ability
groups that limit the rate at which a student can progress.

9) Access to appropriately accelerated classrooms, magnet schools or programs for every TAG student.



DTAC opposes


1) use of extracurricular programs to meet rate and level needs.

2) assignments that add to, instead of replacing, standard age-level curriculum.

3) assigning independent work that uses more than one third of the school week.

4) use of enrichment classes in lieu of rate and level instruction.

5) Use of TAG students as tutors for other students to the detriment of their own learning or in place of advanced and
appropriately modified curriculum.

6.) Use of TAG students as Teachersí Aides, office help, or custodians because they often complete assigned work more
quickly.

7.) Instruction that is not modified to meet the individual needs of diverse learners.

8.) Policies and procedures that assume every student born in the same year learns at the same level and rate.

9) Curriculum/instructional methods that assume that every TAG student has the same needs, interests or abilities.

 


SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL NEEDS



GOAL : To adapt TAG programs and policies in ways which ensure that the TAG child's social and emotional needs are met appropriately.



DTAC supports



1) recognition that TAG children are not necessarily more capable of taking charge of their own learning than other children
of the same age.

2) encouraging TAG children to pursue their academic or creative passions.

3) flexible grouping patterns that will allow TAG children to "be themselves" with intellectual peers.

4) maintaining reasonable work expectations for TAG children. Differentiated classroom work should not be excessive or
force children to choose appropriate instruction over age appropriate social, creative, or physical experiences.

5) recognition that academic frustration may lead to inappropriate behavior, withdrawal, or depression.

6) provision of individual or group counseling for children whose giftedness creates social or emotional distress.

7) recognition that mastery of a subject does not necessarily prepare a child to teach peers.

8) recognition of the diversity of TAG children with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, maturity, creativity, physical ability,
coping skills, and learning style, to name a few. Many have physical or learning disabilities.

9) education of principals, TAG coordinators, child development specialists, teachers, and parents about the
social/emotional needs of TAG children, (e.g., the warning signs of disengagement or social isolation). These efforts should
include meetings to inform and support parents.



DTAC opposes


1) the notion that TAG children will survive "no matter what" because of exceptional capabilities.

2) allowing TAG children to "float through" school, never needing to work hard, accept constructive criticism, or develop
work habits by meeting challenges.

3) parents, teachers, and test administrators "pushing" TAG children to be the "best," or use of language which implies
"better than" others.

4) use of the words "TAG," "better" or "gifted" in front of students. This language may serve to further isolate children, or
imply that TAG students receive preferential (elitist) treatment. It is sufficient to call children from their classroom for
"math," "testing," etc.

5) isolation of a TAG child by practices or attitudes that tend to repeatedly differentiate the child in the classroom
community.

6) scheduling independent TAG work during socially important class times, such as during P.E., the artists-in-residence
program, etc



TIME WITH INTELLECTUAL PEERS



GOAL : To provide each TAG student sufficient time and appropriate experiences working with intellectual peers.


DTAC supports



1) clustering or grouping TAG children in classrooms at all levels.

2) giving TAG children at least 10 hours per week with intellectual peers during the school day.



DTAC opposes


1) Distributing TAG students evenly throughout all classrooms in a school.




GIFTED STUDENT PLANS (GSPs)



GOAL : To ensure that the planning process results in instruction that meets students' rate and level needs.


DTAC supports



1) Written GSPs for every TAG student in grades K-8 and upon request for grades 9-12. Forecasting process for high school students that addresses TAG needs.

2) a separate GSP (or section) for each subject in which a student is gifted.

3) GSPs that include specific assessment information concerning the student's current level of achievement and rate of
learning, including the grade level that is needed for appropriate instruction.

4) GSPs that contain services that are specifically linked to the assessment information, and can be shown to be designed to
provide each student with the rate and level of instruction that is needed.

5) GSPs that describe in specific terms, including materials, curricula, and class placement, the services to be offered to the
student.

6) GSPS that are clearly linked to the written curriculum plan created by every school and describe specific modifications to
the school curriculum, materials and learning goals for every student in every subject.

7) GSPs that describe services that are specifically tailored to the individual student and are different from those provided to other students performing at grade level.

8) GSPs that specify the work that will not be required of a student in order to release time for more advanced work.

9) GSPs that contain provisions for written evaluation at the end of every subsequent grading period, and specify what
activities, achievements, and student products will be included in the evaluation. This evaluation would most efficiently be
incorporated into the student's report card.

10) modification of a GSP if quarterly evaluation shows the plan to be unsatisfactory.

11) GSP's and quarterly evaluations that can be used by teachers in subsequent years for providing smooth articulation and
avoiding repetition of work already completed or curriculum already mastered.

12) Spring planning for the first quarter of the following year.

13} Written waivers of GSPs on parent request that are limited to one year.

14) Establishing and implementing a district-wide process for discovering and resolving disagreements about GSPs.

15) Providing parents with a letter explaining the steps that will be followed if there is disagreement over a GSP or parent
feels GSP is not being followed (this could be included in the parent handbook).



DTAC opposes


1) vague, generic, or "boilerplate" GSP's, that are written for TAG students as a group, do not address individual needs, or
do not differentiate instruction.

2) GSP's that describe teaching strategies or use adjectives such as "challenging," "open-ended," "cooperative" or even
"advanced" in place of providing specific information about curricula, materials, and grade level.

3) GSP's that include activities, such as field trips, that the entire class participates in, rather than activities that meet
individual needs.

4) GSP's that are not signed, do not satisfy the students or parents, are not carried out, or do not provide a mechanism for
certifying that they have been fulfilled.

5) Pressure or "encouragement" from teachers or schools to parents to waive GSPs. 



TIMELY DELIVERY OF SERVICES


GOAL : To ensure that TAG children receive services in a timely fashion.


DTAC supports


1) development of an appropriate gifted student plan (GSP) for each TAG student prior to the fall parent-teacher conference.

2) a verification process to ensure the existence of signed GSPs for all TAG students 1 week after fall parent-teacher
conferences. Administrative support for resolution of those cases with missing or unsigned GSP's.

3) initiation of appropriate rate and level instruction within:

     --Two weeks for previously identified students
     --Thirty days for transfer students or new referrals
     --By end of first nine weeks for all enrolled TAG students

4) written quarterly evaluations of student progress relative to their gifted student plans. These should be sent home with report cards.

5) timely reporting of all testing scores to parents. PALT and state multiple choice scores should be received by parents no less than 10 days prior to the last day of school.


DTAC opposes:

1) Delaying services until a GSP is formally approved at the fall conference. All students are entitled to learn at the
beginning of the school year. GSPs should ratify services already in progress





TEACHERS OF TAG STUDENTS



GOAL : To provide each TAG child with a teacher prepared to make appropriate adjustments to instruction to address
diverse rate and level needs.



DTAC supports

1) TAG teacher training program and/or a process by which teachers identify themselves as willing and able to
teach/facilitate students needing curriculum adjustments up to four grade levels beyond the class.

2) provision of at least one pathway through each elementary school taught by TAG identified teachers.

3) development of a team approach by teachers of TAG students within each school to ensure the smooth articulation of
services from year to year, and to facilitate the appropriate grouping of students.



DTAC opposes


1) equal numerical distribution of TAG children into all classes

2) placement of TAG children with teachers who do not want them and/or resent their need for a differentiated curriculum.

3) placement of TAG children with teachers whose teaching style does not facilitate flexible grouping.




COMMUNICATION (issues not discussed by specific topic elsewhere)



GOAL : To make optimum learning experiences possible by establishing excellent communication between and among
teachers, parents, students, principals, and administrators.



DTAC supports:

Regular parent involvement including:

1) Production and distribution of a handbook for TAG parents. Providing handbooks to every TAG family upon their childís identification and providing handbooks to all families following significant policy changes, or at least once every five years. Making copies of handbook available in every school.

2) Making sure that all TAG children and their parents are aware of the advanced programs which are already available.

3) Providing a TAG bulletin board in every school and posting the name and phone number of the DTAC Parent Liaison on the bulletin board.

4) Communication of TAG information in school newsletters on a regular basis.

5) Including information about existence of "SALMON TAG FOLDER" (Studentís TAG folder) in Parent TAG Handbook

6) Use of building meetings for parents of TAG children at least twice a year.

7) establishment by principals of building TAG committees, on which parents are represented. Use of a specific process for electing parents to the building TAG committee; they should not be informally chosen by a TAG coordinator or principal.

8) encouragement of all TAG parents to attend meetings which discuss the evaluation of their own child, and to supply
relevant information.

9) TAG parent representation on all regional and district committees involved in TAG planning.

10) provision of timely information to parents about DTAC meetings.

11) Formulation of effective methods for communicating with families in their home language.

12) Production of TAG materials in several major languages, with flyers in those languages giving information on how to
obtain TAG information posted at every school.

13) Providing every PPS parent with specific written information concerning the topics to be covered, curriculum to be used, major assignments, and learning goals, in every academic subject no later than the date of the school's back-to-school night for classes beginning fall term and within three weeks of the start of spring term for second-term classes.



School information:

14) communication of guidelines, for teaching TAG children, to all principals and teachers. Such guidelines should include:
teaching at rate and level, ability grouping, need for time with peers, advanced assignments in replacement for regular work,
etc.

15) bringing nationally recognized TAG experts to the district for teacher, administrator, and parent workshops, lectures, or
symposiums.

16) a clear and concise appeals and complaint process, including

a) communication to all principals, TAG coordinators, teachers, and parents regarding the chain of responsibility for TAG
implementation and the appeals process.

b) timely and accurate recording of all complaints, appeals, and their resolutions. This will aid in identifying trends.



Student information:

17). Production and distribution of handbooks for middle school and high school TAG students



ACCOUNTABILITY



GOAL : To provide checks and balances to ensure that appropriate TAG services are consistently delivered throughout the
district.

DTAC Supports:

District/Central TAG Office


1) A clearly defined "chain of command" in which the district is ultimately responsible for delivering appropriate services to TAG students and for communicating that chain of command to parents. This chain of command should include a clear role for the districtís central TAG office.

2) Delivery of TAG services that is not wholly or principally dependant upon parent demands and complaints but instead is
PROACTIVE and driven by the needs of student.

3) Procedures provided to principals that will enable them to ensure that teachers consistently provide appropriate
instruction to TAG students.

4) District TAG implementation guidelines that will increase uniformity of services provided throughout the district and
improve transitions between grades and between schools.

5) Clear authority for the central TAG office to review and, if warranted, require correction of school-level documents that
establish or should establish how TAG services will be provided at the school.

6) Clear authority for the central TAG office to review and, if warranted, require correction of GSPs for individual TAG
students.

7) Assessment of principals that includes their success in meeting the TAG goals in their schoolsí improvement plans

 

Cluster/Group/Region/Director of Student Achievement (DOSA)


8) DOSAsí ensuring that TAG services are being delivered in schools by reviewing TAG goals in school improvement
plans, developing procedures by which inadequate plans can be rejected, and establishment of procedures to ascertain the
quality of service delivery within a cluster in the absence of complaints.

9) DOSAs ensuring that continuity is provided to TAG students at points of transition between elementary, middle, and high
school and that placements are appropriate in light of previous instruction. ]

10) Prompt response by DOSAs to parent or student complaints as established by the PPS appeal and complaint procedures.



School/Principal/Grade Level Teams


11) Inclusion of TAG services in School Improvement Plans including quantifiable expectations for academic advancement
of TAG students, establishment of policies for identification, and assessment, services for gifted and exceptionally gifted
students, and measures to implement flexible grouping.

12) Clarity in the TAG Building Plan and TAG building budget. The Plan should:


--a. demonstrate the school will support a culture of providing TAG services that include acceleration, ability grouping, and
advanced instruction/classes.
--b. include specific information about how TAG services will be provided, including how and when for each discipline at
each grade level;
--c. establish how the school will provide for and use out-of-level assessment to ensure appropriate rate and level instruction;
--d. establish out-of-level expectations for TAG students;
--e. commit to providing TAG services within two weeks of the beginning of the school year for all identified TAG students.
--f. set out methods of communication with parents of TAG students including out-of-level grading as part of the normal
grading process.


13) Parent input into TAG Building Plan and TAG building budget.

14) Principals ensuring that GSPs are signed, quarterly GSP evaluations completed, and TAG services are delivered in
individual classrooms.

15) Consistent use of appropriate instructional modifications for all students including TAG students as one criterion used by
principals in assessing teacher performance



Teacher


16) Adoption of methods to demonstrate to parents that appropriate rate and level instruction is taking place (i.e. that work
for TAG students is differentiated) and facilitate parent support including portfolio nights and/or sending student work home
on a regular and frequent basis..




PARENTS' AND STUDENTS' RESPONSIBILITIES



Goal: To foster effective teamwork among parents, students and district staff


Parents should :


1) when advocating for their child, try to establish a positive, cooperative approach with the teacher.

2) discuss their child's previous educational experiences, temperament, and learning style with the teacher.

3) have frequent discussions with their child about what the child is learning and which aspects of what they are learning
excite them. When appropriate, they should give feedback to the teachers.

4) review and approve GSPs. They should be certain that GSPs are written to address the child's assessed level and rate of
learning.

5) regularly view the child's portfolio.

6) attend meetings in their own schools for parents of TAG children.

7) follow the appropriate procedures for appeals and complaints.

8) understand and communicate that being "advanced" is not the same as being "better."


Students should :


9) discuss with their parents and teachers the things they are learning and suggest ways to improve their educational
experience.

10) complete contracted assignments in a timely manner.

11) behave responsibly.

12) behave respectfully toward other students and all staff members.

13) not abuse special responsibilities, e.g., release off campus for independent study.

14) understand that being "advanced" is not the same as being "better."

15) try to learn to work with both age and intellectual peers where cooperation is appropriate.

16) request and accept counseling when appropriate.





DATA COLLECTION AND EVALUATION




GOAL : To determine compliance with the state TAG mandate, satisfaction with provided services, and to fine tune services.


DTAC supports



1) separate surveys of teachers, parents, and students to locate successes to be duplicated and to locate and correct problem
areas.

2) follow-up studies of district policies and programs, such as early entry, to determine which programs have been
successful and which students have benefited from these programs.

3) District-wide meetings of principals, TAG coordinators, and parents to review TAG program implementation no less than
every five years.

4) retention of district research [test] and evaluation department and continued administration of PALT and other
standardized tests.

5) Collection and analysis of data concerning individual student gains from one year to another year.

6) Inclusion of TAG goals in school and district improvement plans.

 



NOMINATION




GOAL: To nominate all potential TAG students



DTAC supports


1) written notification in home language to every family OF parents' right to nominate their child for TAG services. The
nomination information should inform parents that both tests of intellectual aptitude (such as "IQ" Tests) and tests of
academic achievement may be used to identify students. This information should also be included in the student handbook of
rights and responsibilities sent to every family.

2) responsibility of teaching staff to nominate ALL potential TAG students, with subsequent parental consent. Teachers are
encouraged to nominate any student they feel has a chance of TAG identification even if student's PALT or state test scores
are below the 97th. percent.

3) Identification of all TAG students including those who may be more difficult to recognize because they are disabled,
culturally different, low income, or ethnically disadvantaged or are members of an ethnic minority group.




IDENTIFICATION AND REPORTING




Goal: to identify all TAG students


DTAC supports: 

Identification Process


1) Prompt testing (within 60 days) of nomination

2) written parental notification in the home language prior to testing, specifying the date and nature of individual tests to be
administered, and that permission be obtained..

3) Parental option to be present during the individual testing of kindergarten and first graders. Pros and cons should be
discussed with the parents who feel this option is appropriate for their child.

4) An identification process that employs a range of nationally standardized identification tests including both tests of
intellectual aptitude and tests of academic achievement. Examples of aptitude tests are the WISC, the RAVEN Progressive
Matrices, and '"IQ" Tests. Examples of achievement tests are the Woodcock-Johnson, the Portland School District PALT
Tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Oregon State Tests. Both achievement and aptitude testing should be available to every nominated student in grades K-12.

5) Selection of the most appropriate test(s) for each student by TAG identification committees at each school, assisted and
advised by a central TAG office, based on a student's traits, attributes and behaviors ("TABS").

6) Information to parents at time of nomination that a range of tests are available including both achievement and aptitude
tests. Information to parents and classroom teachers within ten days of test results to enable them to collaborate in decision
process.

7) A uniform process for identifying new TAG students at the high school level.

8) a UNIFORM process for identifying potential TAG students within one month of transfer into PPS

9) acceptance of scores at or above the 97th percentile for Portland Area Levels Tests (PALT) or nationally-normed IQ or
achievement tests as sufficient to identify a student for TAG services. Parent OR STAFF evaluation could provide the second piece of documentation required by law. When there is conflicting evidence, the benefit of the doubt should favor
identification.



Reporting of identification decision



10) Written communication of decision to classroom teachers and parents, with relevant interpretive information, within 10
school days. if student is identified, notification of area in which student was identified and right of parent to view TAG file.
If student is not identified, notification of parental right to appeal decision denying TAG status AND request additional
testing.

11) Uninterrupted TAG services once a student has been identified unless and until contradictory information is obtained.



DTAC opposes




1) Use of a single test score or teacher report as the basis for disqualification from TAG.

2) Delay of services in subsequent years while efforts are directed at identification or reidentification of additional TAG
students.

3) Delaying teacher nominations under the assumption that PALT scores will identify more children in the spring.

4) Undue reliance on PALT scores to identify students.

5) Discouraging parents from nominating a student because the student's PALT score is below the 97th. percentile.



EARLY ENTRY



GOAL : To maintain the option of early entry, where appropriate, for the families of gifted children.



DTAC supports


1) communication of available programs to the families of young gifted children.

2) Providing a screening and counseling process before initiating testing.

3) Reduced or waived screening fees for families whose children qualify for free or reduced lunch.

4) retaining the existing district testing of potential early entry candidates.

5) REVIEWING the criteria for early entry, especially with respect to physical maturity and motor skills.

6) counseling families after testing regarding the benefits and disadvantages of early entry.

7) allowing family's wishes to strongly influence the final decision for early entry, provided that the child meets the criteria
for TAG identification.

8) regular follow-up counseling for children accepted for early entry

9) Providing in-service training to administrators and teachers on the research on the benefits of appropriate early entry and
acceleration and on district procedures for evaluating early entry candidates.




EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED STUDENTS



GOAL : To establish a mechanism for providing appropriate rate and level education for exceptionally gifted children


DTAC supports

1) recognition that:

--a.) there is a larger variability in intellectual capability at the upper limits of testing.
--b.) 'exceptionally gifted' children have abilities so great that their instructional needs and rate and level of learning are
distinct from those of other TAG identified children.

2) establishment of a policy for the identification of 'exceptionally gifted' children.

Possible indicators are:

     --tested mental age that is 1.5 times the mean
     --demonstrated ability to perform at five or more grade levels beyond age-appropriate grade level material in one                       or  more subject areas
     --exceptional performance in several areas assessed using a multivariate model such as the Frasier model, and obvious
          distinction from classmates

3) grouping exceptionally gifted children with intellectual peers for at least 1/3 of their school day to facilitate learning and
diminish sense of isolation. As these children are quite rare, this may mean grouping into only one or two schools in the
district. (Note: skipping 1 or 2 grades will not group the exceptionally gifted child with intellectual peers and should not be
used as the sole modification to their academic program.)

4) providing a specialist, possibly a tutor, to meet the academic and high level thinking needs of exceptionally gifted
children. Teachers are not generally certified to prepare curriculum 5 or more grade levels beyond the assigned class.

5) regular counseling (yearly assessment with follow-up if indicated) for exceptionally gifted to address issues, such as
sense of profound isolation.

6) Provision of curriculum and instruction adapted to meet their individual learning styles and academic needs



DTAC opposes:


1) the practice of skipping a single grade as a comprehensive solution for exceptionally gifted children; further modifications will be necessary.




GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED STUDENTS




GOAL : To provide alternative educational opportunities for TAG children who are isolated due to low numbers of TAG
children at their local school.


DTAC supports



1) offering regional or district-wide grouping by administrative transfer of TAG children whose local school provides
fewer than 5 intellectual peers. (For example: 2 first graders gifted in math, 1 third grader gifted in science, 1 fourth grader
gifted in language arts, and 1 fifth grader gifted in math do not constitute 5 intellectual peers.)

2) informing parents of the option of district-wide or  regional grouping of TAG children. Providing information to the
parents regarding the potential benefits of placing their child in a classroom with opportunity for interaction with intellectual peers.

3) development of a written comprehensive plan to meet the needs of geographically isolated TAG children at a
district-wide or regional site or sites). This plan will be communicated to all parents of geographically isolated
children in the spring.

4) development of an alternative plan to meet the academic and social needs of geographically isolated TAG children who
are not attending regional or district TAG programs.

5) regular counseling (yearly assessment with follow-up if indicated) for geographically isolated TAG children who chose to remain at their local schools.

 


SELF-CONTAINED ACCELERATED PROGRAM


GOAL : To continue to review the professional literature and retain the option of a self-contained accelerated program to
meet the rate and level needs of students whose needs are not easily met in the neighborhood classroom.



DTAC supports



1) a "magnet" school option to provide a program of full-time appropriate instruction for students whose academic rate and
level needs are not easily met in the neighborhood classroom (see positions on Exceptionally Gifted and Geographically
Isolated.)

2) equal access for all TAG students in the PPS service area whose rate and level needs are not easily met.

3) utilizing such a program as a demonstration project to develop curricula or refine appropriate strategies for instruction of
TAG students throughout the district.

4) part time options for students who prefer to remain in their neighborhood schools but have single subject acceleration
needs that cannot be met at the local school.

5) provision for the social and emotional development, as well as the academic needs of these students.

6) continued review of the professional literature as a basis for determining the appropriateness of a self-contained
accelerated program.



TAG BUDGET


GOAL : Assuring that the benefit from TAG funds are maximized for TAG students.


DTAC supports



1) using TAG funds to achieve appropriate rate and level instruction for EVERY INDIVIDUAL TAG STUDENT

2) maintaining centralized expert TAG staff for such purposes as communication, testing, teacher training, "trouble-shooting",
evaluating programs, overseeing TAG policy, and monitoring delivery of TAG services.

3) funding teaching assistants, tutors, off-campus or college classes, and/or special education teachers when necessary to
deliver rate and level instruction.

4) Local schools accounting to families and the central TAG office for both the usage of funds and the actual use of the
resource purchased with the funds.

5) Seeking extra funding through grants, for example, to develop or adapt curriculum for rate and level instruction, facilitate
curriculum compacting, review national resources, evaluate current rate and level instruction, etc.

6) Adequate district funding to maintain a central TAG office staffed at a ratio of one F.T.E. to every 500 TAG students}

7) Adequate district funding to maintain a TAG coordinator in every school

8) Adequate district funding to provide gifted student plans for every TAG student in grades 1-8 and as needed for high
school students, and to cover any costs incurred by spring planning

9) Adequate district funding to provide appropriate curriculum/materials and rate and level instruction for every TAG
student.

10) Adequate district funding to ensure that appropriate testing and assessment is available for every TAG student including
central TAG office support for testing as needed.

11) adequate funding for bringing nationally recognized TAG experts to the district for teacher, administrator, and parent
workshops, lectures, or symposiums.



DTAC opposes


1) using TAG funds for extracurricular activities or "enrichment" programs.

2) using TAG funds to purchase items needed to enhance general school programs.