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Gifted Academic Program

330 Mount Laurel Road
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
Phone: 856.235.3387

Mount Laurel's Gifted Academic Program

Please see the Mount Laurel School District's Gifted & Talented Program Handbook for more Information.
 

Mission

The Mount Laurel School District is committed to providing gifted learners from all backgrounds the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential.
 
Our gifted program delivers differentiated services designed to motivate and challenge students whose abilities differ significantly from their peers.  
 
Students develop and utilize their gifts to become contributing members of an ever changing global society.

Overview

Gifted learners come from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and possess unique abilities. These learners exhibit the potential to achieve in intellectual, creative, or artistic areas  They may possess strong leadership capacity or excel in specific academic fields.
 
Gifted learners are a unique segment of the district’s student population who require educational alternatives that teach, challenge, and expand their knowledge, while simultaneously developing their identity as independent and self-directed learners who continuously generate questions, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and ideas.
 
The Gifted Academic Program (G.A.P.) actively supports the Mount Laurel School District’s commitment to academic and personal  success for every student through the use of effective instructional practices, innovative resources, and ongoing professional staff development.
 
The Mount Laurel School District recognizes the special needs of gifted learners and offers a continuum of services which supports the entire school program through enriched and specialized learning opportunities to develop student skills in the following areas:

  • Content Knowledge and Inquiry - Students engage in challenging learning experiences aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and conduct research and analysis and independent study.
  • Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving -   Students use higher level thinking to identify local and global real-world issues and to develop and communicate solutions to these problems. 
  • Leadership and Identity - Students build self-direction and independence through flexible learning experiences which empower students to pursue areas of interest and aptitude.   Through self-reflection and work with peers, students develop a deeper understanding of community and responsibility.
  • Social and Collaboration - Students continuously interact with peers and the broader school community.  Affective education supports the unique social emotional needs of gifted learners.

Student Identification

The identification process involves three main steps:
  1. Student screening
  2. Gifted identification testing
  3. Student placement determination
 
Placement Process and Procedures
Universal student screening provides an inclusive process which considers all students. Screening establishes a pool of students who potentially qualify for gifted services and includes students new to the district, students who speak a primary language other than English, and students who have special needs or disabilities.    
Multiple measures of academic and cognitive data are collected, analyzed and then compared with normed local peer groups. This process identifies student strengths in content areas, as well as verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative skills in reasoning and problem solving. The following describes the three different areas of cognitive ability measured:

  • Verbal assessments test a student’s vocabulary as well as comprehension, verbal memory, and ability to understand and discover word relationships. These include analogies, sentence completion and classification.
  • Quantitative assessments measure student's abstract reasoning and problem solving abilities involving numbers. This involves solving number series, number puzzles, and number analogies.
  • Nonverbal assessments test a student’s reasoning ability using spatial and figural content. These include exercises with figure matrices, paper folding, and figure classification.
Students who qualify for the program receive recommendations for services based on their level of need.  Depending on the recommendation, students may receive specialized differentiation, push-in support and/or pull-out programming.  
 
Screening Timeline
Student screening occurs annually in the spring for all current second and fourth graders, including students already participating in the program. Determinations are completed prior to September. Kindergarten screening occurs mid-year with determinations made by the end of the 2nd marking period.
Students new to the district are screened upon entrance.
Gifted screening for the 2022-23 school year will take place for all students between May 16th and June 10th of 2022.

Placement Criteria
As outlined by the National Association of Gifted Children, data obtained from an assessment does not guarantee placement into a  gifted program.  Multiple measures of achievement and ability are reviewed to identify learning needs of the student to determine if additional supports are needed in addition to those providced within the mainstream classroom. Optional measures are used at the discretion of the review committee as needed to acquire additional information.

Gifted and Talented Instruction

Tiered Services
Program services are designed to meet the needs of identified gifted or high-aptitude learners and may differ based on the learning needs of each student.  
 
The tiered framework detailed below integrates elements of differentiated learning into the general education classroom and provides opportunities for students in need of additional opportunities and resources in particular areas where student strengths are demonstrated.  
 
Tier 1: Enrichment and Consultation- Services for ALL students
This model provides an opportunity for the classroom teacher and gifted and talented specialist to collaborate on modifications to specific assignments or units for students within the regular instructional program.  This consultation supports many students who would benefit from leveled and tiered curriculum materials and assignments.   Students participate in classroom experiences which may include supports such as independent projects, differentiated learning centers, and flexible grouping.  Whole class enrichment activities provide opportunities for differentiated group and independent learning experiences.
 
Tier II: Enrichment and Specialized Services
Tier II services are designed to support the student who requires additional services beyond the traditional classroom.   Learning experiences for these students may include assembly programs, guest speakers, field trips, interest-based clubs, or additional coursework.   Some Tier II students may be identified for “pull-out” instruction to work on specific goals.   Gifted and Talented specialists provide opportunities for students to develop self-directed learning skills, research authentic problems or topics, and communicate what they have learned to an audience.  

Tier III: Acceleration or Advancement
Advanced classes, mentorships, differentiation and independent study may be options for students who have been identified for the gifted and talented program and require additional support.
 
Grades K-2

  • Identified students receive differentiated instruction in the general education classroom with a gifted program teacher consulting with the classroom teacher to provide support in identifying material which enhances critical and creative thinking skills.
  • Students identified will receive differentiated whole class enrichment from the gifted and talented specialist in collaboration with the classroom teacher through a push in model.
  • Students identified as needing additional support may receive individualized opportunities within the classroom provided by the gifted and talented teacher with collaboration from the classroom teacher.

Grades 3-4
Students identified for pull-out programming will meet in small groups with the gifted and talented specialist as follows:
 
Students meet twice per cycle week with the Gifted and Talented specialist.
 
Grades 5-6
Students identified for pull-out programming will meet in small groups with the gifted and talented specialist as follows:
Students meet for two class periods per week with the Gifted and Talented specialist.

Grades 7-8
Middle school students in grades 7 and 8 who have been identified as gifted receive differentiated instruction within their core content classes and may participate in learning opportunities such as independent projects or flexible group activities. Students may qualify for specialized placement in specific subject areas. 

Notification

EXIT CRITERIA / CONTINUED PLACEMENT OF STUDENTS IN GIFTED PROGRAM
 
An enrolled student who is experiencing difficulty in gifted and/or mainstream courses or no longer meets the pre-established criteria, may be exited from the gifted program. Ongoing assessment will be used to monitor student progress and ability to maintain the rigor of the program. Progress reports will be used to record a student’s growth toward meeting expectations and communicate any concerns during the school year.  

Parent Appeal Process

Parents or guardians of students found ineligible for services within the gifted program have the right to appeal the decision.   Written notification must be given to the building principal and the gifted and talented teacher stating the request for appeal along with any support for reconsideration.   The screening committee will review the child’s information to determine if further screening or consideration is required.  The committee will inform the parents/ guardians of their decision within 10 days of the appeal.

Contact information

For any questions or concerns, please contact your school’s gifted specialist or the department supervisor.

Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Curriculum Supervisor - Matt Saul
[email protected]

Gifted Specialist - Countryside School - Kelly Kuchera [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Fleetwood School - Stacy McCord [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Hillside School - Jacob Schwing [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Larchmont School - Chris Bowman [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Parkway School - Kelly Schew [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Springville School - Priscilla Heredia [email protected]
Gifted Specialist - Hartford School - Katy Stafford [email protected]

Mount Laurel Board Policy - Gifted And Talented Program

See - Board Policy 6171.2

Strengthening Gifted And Talented Act

In January, 2020, the State of New Jersey Passed a new law (CHAPTER 338) governing Gifted and Talented Education.
An Act concerning gifted and talented students and supplementing chapter 35 Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.
 
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
 
C.18A:35-34  Short title.
1.     This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act."
 
C.18A:35-35  Definitions relative to gifted and talented students.
 
2.     As used in this act:
       
          "Gifted and talented student" means a student who possesses or demonstrates a high level of ability in one or more content areas when compared to his chronological peers in the school district and who requires modifications of his educational program if he is to achieve in accordance with his capabilities.
         
          "Instructional adaptation" means an adjustment or modification to instruction enabling a student who is gifted and talented to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in one or more content areas at the instructional level of the student, not just the student’s grade level.
 
C.18A:35-36  Instructional adaptations, educational services for gifted and talented students.
 
3.   a. A board of education shall ensure that appropriate instructional adaptations and educational services are provided to gifted and talented students in kindergarten through grade 12 to enable them to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards at the instructional level of the student.
 
4.     A board of education shall:
  (1)   ensure that appropriate instructional adaptations are designed for students who are gifted and talented;
  (2)   make provisions for an ongoing kindergarten through grade 12 identification process for gifted and talented students that includes multiple measures in order to identify student strengths in intellectual ability, creativity, or a specific academic area. School districts shall ensure equal access to a continuum of gifted and talented education services. The identification process shall include consideration of all students, including those who are English language learners and those with Individualized Education Plans or 504 plans;
  (3)   develop and document appropriate curricular and instructional modifications used for gifted and talented students indicating content, process, products, and learning environment, and including, but not limited to, additional education activities such as academic competitions, guest speakers, and lessons with a specialist;
  (4)   take into consideration the Gifted Programming Standards, Position Statements, and White Papers of the National Association for Gifted Children in identifying and serving gifted and talented students;
  (5)   provide the time and resources to develop, review, and enhance instructional tools with modifications for helping gifted and talented students acquire and demonstrate mastery of the required knowledge and skills specified by the standards at the instructional level of the student; and
  (6)   actively assist and support professional development for teachers, educational services staff, and school leaders in the area of gifted and talented instruction.
 
C.18A:35-37  Coordinator for gifted and talented services.
 
4.          a. The Commissioner of Education shall appoint a coordinator for gifted and talented services.  The coordinator shall have teaching experience and specialized knowledge in gifted and talented education. The coordinator shall be responsible for providing support by identifying and sharing research and resources to school districts as they develop, implement, and review their local gifted and talented services. The coordinator shall be responsible for reviewing the information about gifted and talented services provided by each school district to support implementation of the provisions of this act.
 
5.          Each school district shall file with the coordinator a report by October 1, 2020 and thereafter on a schedule that coincides with the school district’s New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum review pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-11).  The report shall include, but not be limited to:
 
  (1)   the gifted and talented continuum of services, policies, and procedures implemented in the school district;
  (2)   the total number of students receiving gifted and talented services in each grade level kindergarten through grade 12 disaggregated by race, gender, special education designation, and English language learner designation;
  (3)   the professional development opportunities provided for teachers, educational services staff, and school leaders about gifted and talented students, their needs, and educational development; and
  (4)   the number of staff employed by the school district whose job responsibilities include identification of and providing services to gifted and talented students.
C.18A:35-38  Complaint for noncompliance.
 
5.           a. An individual who believes that a school district has not complied with the provisions of this act may file a complaint with the board of education.  The right to file a complaint shall be set forth in the board’s policy on gifted and talented education.  The policy shall be linked to the homepage of the board’s Internet website.  The board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter.
 
6.            The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the board's written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.
 
C.18A:35-39  Information available on website.
 
7.             A school district shall make detailed information available on its website regarding the policies and procedures used to identify students as gifted and talented and the continuum of services offered to gifted and talented students.  The information shall include the criteria used for consideration for eligibility for the gifted and talented services, including the multiple measures used in the identification process to match a student’s needs with services, and any applicable timelines in the identification process.
 
8.             This act shall take effect in the 2020-2021 school year.