Gifted Services

CHAPTER 16 OF PENNSYLVANIA CODE

Included in this section (see docs below) are the district procedures, documents and forms associated with the screening and identification of Gifted children within the Springfield School District. Chapter 16 of the PA Code outlines and defines the regulations and responsibilities each school district must adhere to while identifying and programming for Mentally Gifted children.

"Mentally gifted is defined as 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." (22 Pa. Code §16.1). In other words, Gifted services are specifically afforded to those students that not only demonstrate highly intellectualized and exceptional academic & thinking skills; but these children must also require specifically designed instruction and programming that exceeds what is provided in Springfield’s dynamic and differentiated classroom learning environment.

Intellectual ability is not equated with an IQ score alone. Intellectual ability is and should be a reflection of a range of assessments including a student's performance and potential. The following serves as a general description of the qualities of a mentally gifted child.

IQ 130 or higher

The term “mentally gifted” includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher, when multiple criteria as set forth in Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability. Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone. The determination shall include an assessment by a certified school psychologist. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(d))

IMPORTANT NOTE: No one test or measure is sufficient to determine giftedness, and the evaluation and testing literature recognizes that there is a margin for error in any standardized testing. The standard error of measurement also applies when reporting IQ.

IQ Below 130

A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability (22 Pa. Code §16.21(d))

If a student's IQ is less than 130, other factors, such as academic performance, demonstrated achievement and other observed skills must strongly indicate gifted ability in order for that student to be admitted to a gifted program. Because disabilities and bias factors may mask gifted abilities, districts are cautioned to examine discrepancies between ability assessment results and academic achievement or demonstrated skills, and discrepancies among ability sub-tests.

The Springfield and Morton communities are blessed with many talented, high-achieving, and inquisitive children. However, it is often difficult for districts to engage in the process of screening for Giftedness because most students that proceed through the initial screening process do not ultimately end up being identified as a Gifted child in need of specially designed instruction. We want to assure you that our administrators, teachers, and school psychologists will be caring, supportive and responsive to parents throughout the entire screening & evaluation process.

Being asked to proceed to Level II screening is both an exciting and stressful process for families. Please do not hesitate to contact your child's counselor or administrator to speak with them if you have questions or concerns around how this may impact your child and/or family. One of the most difficult conversations a school can have with a family is explaining to a parent or guardian, that their child is highly talented, high achieving and creative, but does not qualify under Chapter 16 for Gifted Services. We recognize that for some families there can be both joy and disappointment at the outcome of this process.

Most experts in the field of Gifted research believe that approximately 3,000,000 children in the US qualify as “Gifted”. This represents roughly 6% of the school-aged population. We have included a link to the National Association for Gifted Children which highlights many of the FAQs related to giftedness.

Chapter 16 of the PA Code requires that we screen and actively seek to identify those children within our communities in need of specially designed instruction for gifted educational services. It is important to note that the screening process is a district driven, on-going, process. Parents, as outlined in the Chapter 16 regulations always have the right to request an evaluation for Gifted Services. For more information regarding this type of request and the district’s responsibility regarding such a request, please contact your child’s guidance counselor or building administrator for more information. We have also included the Education Law Center's document on, "The Rights of Gifted Students in PA."

Springfield's screening process follows Chapter 16's guidance in identifying Gifted students within the school district. We utilize multiple criteria in making such a determination. Multiple criteria, as defined by the state are:

Achievement

A year or more above grade achievement level for the normal age group in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests able to accurately reflect gifted performance. Subject results shall yield academic instruction levels in all academic subject areas. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e)(1))

The assessment instruments should have high enough ceilings to reflect accurately academic performance in the gifted range. Assessment should yield performance and achievement data beyond basic skills and should be used for appropriate instructional placement. The assessments should show not only what the student knows, but also where there is a need for instruction. These data form the basis for decisions as to where, in specific content areas, specific courses or curriculum, a student should begin the learning experiences for the year. The results of the testing must provide instructional levels in all academic subject areas for use in determining educational placement.

Rate of Acquisition, Rate of Retention

An observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability. (22 Pa. Code§16.21(e)(2))

Rate of acquisition is the rapidity or speed at which the student is able to acquire, understand and demonstrate competency or mastery of new learning. Rate of acquisition and rate of retention of new materials/skills can be defined as how many repetitions the student needs before the student masters new information/skills and can use the information/skills appropriately any time thereafter. This data can be obtained by simple procedures such as Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA), direct observation and reporting from parents, teachers or supervisors. An example of acquisition/retention: the gifted student with approximately one to three repetitions of new knowledge/skills is able to achieve mastery at a faster rate than a student who requires four to eight repetitions.

Rate of acquisition/retention is used to adjust the pace of learning for the gifted student.

Demonstrated Achievement

Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e)(3))

Another criterion is the student’s demonstrated achievement, performance-based skills or expertise that shows a high-level of accomplishment, and indicates exceptional interest and motivation in specific areas. These may be documented in permanent products, portfolios, demonstration of skills, awards, community involvements or others. Example: a student is a member of the high school debate team and has qualified for the state finals in grades 9, 10 and 11; a student loves to write poetry and has a folder of many unpublished works.

Early Skill Development

Early and measured use of high level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e)(4))

Assessment of early and measured use of high level thinking skills could include checklists or inventories such as Guilford’s or Bloom's Taxonomy. It could also include anecdotal notes that document developmental milestones that are reached earlier than average students reach the milestone, or that a student has mastered skills beyond that child's age level. Skills charts often accompany grade level texts. Examples of a skills list:

  • The average kindergarten student uses symbols and letters to represent words.
  • The average third grade student uses a variety of sentence structures.
  • The average sixth grade student writes effectively using standard grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling in a final draft.

  • Using the above skills chart a kindergarten student who spells common words correctly, makes appropriate and varied word choices and/or understands common capitalization and end punctuation would demonstrate achievements that are a result of early and measured use of high level thinking skills.

    Intervening Factors Masking Giftedness

    Documented, observed, validated or assessed evidence that intervening factors such as English as a second language, disabilities defined in 34 CFR 300.8 (relating to child with a disability), gender or race bias, or socio/cultural deprivation are masking gifted abilities. (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e)(5))

    Some students may have their gifted abilities masked by such factors as ethnicity, socioeconomic status or disability. Data specifically tied to the student’s learning environment is used to make decisions on remedial/coping strategies and specially designed instruction. For example: An economically disadvantaged household where educational resources and opportunities are lacking, a household in which English is not the first language or a household including parental problems such as alcoholism, divorce, spouse/child abuse or incarceration may have a masking effect on the student’s identification as gifted.


    Further FAQs can be answered by clicking on the links included below.

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