Students are provided educational alternatives throughout grades 9-11 that teach, challenge and expand their knowledge while simultaneously stressing the development of an independent learner who can continuously question, apply and generate information. Curriculum is developmentally appropriate and provides both enrichment and acceleration with an emphasis on critical and creative thinking skills. In grade 9, curriculum includes compacted grammar, usage, and punctuation skills, analytical writing based on literature, creative writing, and independent projects. In grade 10, curriculum includes additional work on critical reading and writing skills through the use of the Great Books literature, research, and vocabulary. In grade 11, curriculum includes interpreting literature by reading, discussing, and analyzing representative texts and various periods of American literature, composing multi-draft critical essays, and synthesizing four novels in an independent project. Each class leads into the next with AP English Literature and Composition at the senior level.
Program Rationale Statement
The program for high-ability students is designed for students whose intellectual capacity and aptitudes, academic achievement, and rate of learning demand experiences apart from the regular curriculum. It provides diverse and appropriate learning experiences and environments that incorporate the academic, psychological, and social needs of the students. The Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program is committed to the belief that every child possesses boundless potential and to providing each identified child with guidance in discovering, developing and realizing his/her potential as an individual and as a member of society.
To identify students whose intellectual capacity and academic achievement require services, standardized measures, district standards, and teacher recommendations based on widely used gifted questionnaires are used. In grades 3-8, the top 3-5% of the population is selected for services with the 3% used at the lowest grades when it is most difficult to identify the gifted students. Beginning in grade 9, the number increases to 10% as the classes become more accelerated academically and many new students enter our system. Selection criteria for secondary students typically use cognitive ability test scores at 98%ile or above and total battery (composite) academic achievement test scores of 98%ile or above. The expectation in the program is that students willingly challenge themselves and work to their potential. Students previously in the program continue to receive services as long as their performance is satisfactory. Assessments and other tools used include MAP reading and language arts scores, Otis-Lennon School Ability Test scores, teacher recommendations, PAWS reading and writing scores, and grades in language arts.
Students are rank ordered based on the assessment criteria which includes Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), grades, courses taken, prior performance, and teacher recommendation. Staff members in the GATE program meet to discuss and finalize placement. Longitudinal records are always used to determine initial placement in the program.
Parents and students receive letters of explanation if they are aware of being screened and are not selected. However, since the GATE staff reviews every student’s scores every year, most students are unaware that they are being screened. Parents and students may contact the GATE teacher involved to discuss the decision. If they wish to appeal further, they may set up a conference with others, including other teachers, counselors, and the principal.