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School for the Exceptionally Gifted Minnetonka Public Schools School Board Report November 6, 2008 Logistics and Details


Table of Contents Introduction Rationale / Justifications Overview The Exceptionally Gifted Learner Student Testimonials Design of the Model Curriculum Teaching Methodology Staffing Administrative Responsibilities Social Impact Identification Exiting Procedures Expenses Location Scenarios Transportation Scenarios Expansion Scenarios Limitations Evaluation Conclusions Community Questions Site Visit Summaries p. 3 p. 4 p. 15 p. 16 p. 17 p. 18 p. 19 p. 23 p. 25 p. 25 p. 26 p. 31 p. 32 p. 32 p. 33 p. 34 p. 35 p. 35 p. 36 p. 36 p. 36 p. 38


Services for the Exceptionally Gifted

Minnetonka Public Schools For Implementation in 2009/10 Introduction: Susan and Jason sit at the same table in their fifth grade classroom. Although Susan is slightly taller than Jason their physical attributes are about the same. Both wear the typical attire for their age and at first glance they appear like your average 10 year old students. However, if one takes a closer look these two students are worlds apart. Jason is an above average, perhaps even what one might call a `bright' student. He learns at a fairly rapid pace, especially in math, and has no trouble keeping up with the rate of instruction. At times he works in a cluster with other bright math students and for the most part he does well in school. In addition, Jason is quite athletic and popular amongst his peers. Susan also does well in school, but, she is quite different than Jason. Over the years Susan has been increasingly isolated from her peers due to her insistence on discussing her passion for politics. In addition, her unwillingness to adapt to the nuances of the 5th grade social structure has left Susan with very few friends. Everything about Susan's approach to learning is different as well. Her penchant for reading has given her a vast repertoire of knowledge on a variety of topics; thus, she rarely learns anything new or interesting in the classroom. When she is confronted with new learning it seems that she memorizes the material at an extreme pace adding it to her already large quantity of knowledge. Susan, however, is quite shy and rarely speaks out in the classroom as she has learned from her past that it is not necessarily popular to always be right. When pressed, her parents admit that Susan does the majority of learning at home where she can focus on her interests without restraints or a schedule. Her parents are worried that her thirst for knowledge will eventually be diminished so they are attempting to provide her with as many new learning experiences as possible while they wait out the school years. As one can gather, Susan is not a typical elementary student. Neither is she a typical exceptionally gifted student. Susan is an exception, and along with thousands of other students nationwide, is not benefitting from the type of education a public school can offer. The nature of the exceptionally gifted student is vastly different than that of the regular student, or even the typical exceptionally gifted student. In the case of the exceptionally gifted child there have been numerous obstacles; the greatest of these being educational infrastructure. Schools, teachers, curriculum, classrooms, schedules, administration, educational theory, and societal norms have all played a part in difficulty of helping these exceptionally gifted students reach their full potential. While many of the exceptionally gifted students achieve quite well in school, there are many that do not. With school-wide enrichments and regular classroom differentiation, positive attempts are being made to help recognize and nurture the growth potential of these students. School-wide enrichments are often `in addition to' work and differentiation is becoming more widespread, but it is almost impossible to differentiate to the degree necessary to help in dealing with the pace, the breadth, and the depth a teacher must employ in reaching the needs of the exceptionally gifted. There are many challenges in a regular classroom for a teacher dealing with the myriad academic and social emotional needs of students. In many instances, the exceptionally gifted student is


underserved and unnoticed. While many of the exceptionally gifted students go on to accomplish many great things, they are not always appropriately challenged in school. Often, there is an assumption that the exceptionally gifted can achieve without much instruction. However, research suggests that the educational needs of the exceptionally gifted are extensive and require specialized instruction. If these needs are not met, some will camouflage their intelligence and some students will even purposefully underachieve to blend in with their classmates. Rationale Exceptionally gifted students are those students whose cognitive processing and memory capacity far exceed that of an average student. Furthermore, capacities are even far beyond that of the typical gifted student. Thus, the educational needs are very different. These needs cannot be met in the regular classroom even with deliberate differentiation and classroom enrichments. In addition, the exceptionally gifted child can often be a disruptive influence in the classroom due to the lack of intellectual challenge and/or the lack of true peer interaction. Others may tune out school and may appear as an average learner to the teacher or school. Thus, both need alternative programming. This proposed program is based on meeting the learning needs of the exceptional child; not to institute a form of educational elitism. Across the United States, the national norms for identification of gifted and talented students suggest that 5-8% is typical. Based on current identification procedures, Minnetonka Public Schools percentage stands at approximately 22% of the total student body. We can estimate that within that population there will be a small group of exceptionally gifted students; perhaps 1-2% of the overall student population. Indeed, over the last five years current testing procedures within the District have identified approximately one hundred students with an IQ 150+ on a consistent basis and between 65-80 students at the elementary level alone. We use the IQ 150+ Slosson scores due to the fact that the test general scores approximately five points higher than other standardized assessment tools such as the WISC IV and the Stanford Binet 5, two of the highly accepted measurements used by modern psychologists. See Graph below indicating numbers of students scoring in the IQ 150+ range at grade levels one through five over the last five years. Please note that West represents Minnewashta, Excelsior, and Clear Springs elementary schools and East represents Deephaven, Scenic Heights, and Groveland elementary schools. 2004/05

West East 4 5 6 7 7 29


West 5 3 11 15 6 40 East 7 5 4 8 7 31


West 7 5 5 11 13 41 East 4 8 4 4 7 27


West 6 8 9 5 11 39 East 4 7 11 5 4 31


West 1 6 8 9 5 29 East 8 4 8 10 5 35

Gr. 1 Gr. 2 Gr. 3 Gr. 4 Gr. 5 Sub Total

3 13 17 6 10 49







The number and percentage of students in Minnetonka identified for High Potential services has remained fairly consistent. The Instructional Models Task Force for High Potential models in March of 2005 found that 23% of the Minnetonka Public School students, or 1,066 students, in grades 1-8 had been identified for services. Two years later in 2006-07, 22% of the students, or 947 students, had been identified as needing High Potential services based on the High Potential Offices internal records. It must be noted here that fewer K-1 students are identified. Those numbers rise over time as more students are referred by teachers and families for testing. Further evidence of the validity of these numbers can be obtained from the North Central Accreditations evaluation of Minnetonka Public Schools High Potential Services. North Central Accreditation is an organization that routinely evaluates various aspects of specific school programs. In 1995, Dr. Karen Rogers of the University of St. Thomas Gifted and Talented Department was the leader of that accreditation team. Her findings state that having 23% of the Minnetonka population in the top 2% of test scores is rare, but given the socio-economic levels of this district it is not unusual. Minnetonka Public Schools may have larger numbers than most districts; however, given the general population and its access to excellent schools and abundant resources, the high percentage of identified students is not abnormal. The table below shows the current number of students who have been previously tested and their corresponding IQ score based on tests administered by High Potential staff using a standardized measurement tool for cognitive abilities labeled the Slosson. The number of students in Grade 1 grows as more students are recommended for high potential services. IQ Scores of 145 to IQ Scores of 150 149 and above 3 7 20 9 15 9 10 16 19 10

Grade 1 2 3 4 5

Based on a variety of studies (Kulik & Kulik, 1982, 1984, 1990; Rogers, 1991, et al; Rogers, Young & Lonergan, 2008) full-time gifted programs such as exceptionally gifted schools are the most effective learning environments for the exceptionally gifted learner. Kulik and Kulik go as far as to suggest that a full-time model is the only solution for meeting the needs of exceptionally gifted learners. The following points delineate further research based justification for such a program: Brain Based Research: · When students are not presented with learning experiences appropriate for their abilities, they lose motivation and sometimes even their interest in learning and school. Brain


research suggests that the brain will not maintain its level of development if students are not challenged. (Clark, B. (1997). Social ideologies and exceptionally gifted education in today's schools. Peabody Journal of Education, 72(3&4), 81-100.)


Brain research indicates learning takes place when students' abilities and interests are stimulated by the appropriate level of challenge. This often leads to problems for the exceptionally gifted: if the content and tasks that have been deemed suitable for their grade level are too easy, they won't be engaged, and as a result, they will not be learning. (Caine, R.N., & Caine, G. (1991). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.) Brain research provides a physical explanation for students' failure to learn. When tasks are not sufficiently challenging, the brain does not release enough of the chemicals needed for learning: dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, and other neurochemicals. (Schultz, W., Dayan, P., & Montague, P.R. (1997). A neural substrate of prediction and reward. Science, 275, 1593-1599.)


Justification for a Separate School for Exceptionally Gifted Students: Against: · Some may claim that a separate school works toward creating an elitist society; it is a violation of the bedrock egalitarianism that created public schools in the first place. This program will isolate students, who need to learn to interact with peers at all levels of ability to mirror the diversity found in American society. It is not how the real world is. They are going to have to learn how to learn, interact, and socialize with all types of people with different intelligences in real life. The exceptionally gifted have to learn to live in the real world. In the real world everyone is mixed together. Is it ethical to focus on more able pupils, or will this create an elite group?

For: · The wide appeal of egalitarianism often creates a leveling of experiences, depriving exceptionally gifted children of the opportunity to advance academically. Rather than accepting the need to develop exceptional talent, some interpret the American dream of equality as requiring the same experiences for all. Yet, President John F. Kennedy, more than 40 years ago, challenged the logic of this notion when he said, "All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents." (Frances R. Spielhagen & Bruce S. Cooper. Ed Week, 24, 31, 47-48. Published: April 13, 2005) Elitism is developed when a student is never challenged cognitively by either the instructor or his/her classroom peers. When Exceptionally Gifted students remain within the confines of the regular classroom they often develop elitist attitudes and opinions based on their perceptions of being quicker to learn and more knowledgeable than their 6


peers. They also develop poor work habits and poor organizational skills which can be detrimental to them once they are exposed to the real world and are unable to meet the demands placed on them by college professors or the work force. (Gross, M. (2003). Exceptionally Gifted Students (2nd ed.). New York: Routledgefalmer; Ruf, Deborah (2005). Losing Our Mind: Gifted Children Left Behind. Phoenix: Great Potential Press.)


Exceptionally gifted students are highly sensitized to their surroundings. The exceptionally gifted must live in a world where disease, hunger, poverty, oppression and torture are real. Exceptionally gifted kids see this, know this, and are consumed by this. They are passionate in their desire to improve the world, to solve these human problems. It is our responsibility to provide them an avenue in which to develop these sensitivities in a dynamic and positive approach to life and learning. (Dawbrowski, K. (1964). Positive Disintegration. Boston: Little Brown & Co.; Piechowski, Michael M. (2006)."Mellow out" They Say. If I Only Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright. Madison, WI: Yunasa Books.) Exceptionally gifted children should spend the majority of their school day with others of similar abilities and interests. Both general intellectual ability grouping programs (such as school within a school, exceptionally gifted magnet schools, full-time exceptionally gifted programs or exceptionally gifted classrooms) and full-time grouping for special academic ability (such as Magnet Schools) have produced marked academic achievement gains as well as moderate increases in attitude toward the subjects in which these students are grouped. (Rogers, K. B. (1991). The relationship of grouping practices to the education of the exceptionally gifted and talented learner. (RBDM 9102). Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented; Rogers, K. B., Young, M. & Lonergan, R. (2008). A Best-Evidence Synthesis of the Research on Academic Acceleration 1990-Present. Initial Research Reported at the Wallace Symposium in the spring of 2008, Belin-Blank Center, University of Iowa.) The School District is not creating an elite group; these students are already here. True to Minnetonka Public Schools mission statement: this is an attempt to continue meeting the needs of all children. A classroom of exceptionally gifted students is a heterogeneous class. These children are not all equal and the same. They have different backgrounds, interests, abilities, personalities, and, goals some of which tend to be extreme. In addition, the range of abilities even within the exceptionally gifted classroom can span more than four standard deviations, an enormous spectrum of learners.




Meeting Children's Needs beyond the Regular School Boundaries: Against: · A current High Potential Program already exists in all of our schools. In addition, high levels of differentiation are occurring at all our school sites.


For: · The TAGT Position Statement on Grouping states, "The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented believes that the most effective way to serve exceptionally gifted students is to group exceptionally gifted learners with their intellectual peers and to provide appropriately designed curriculum that addresses the learning and affective needs of this unique population." (TAGT, 1993). Dr. Karen Rogers states in her research synthesis, `The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner' that "students who are academically or intellectually gifted and talented should spend the majority of their school day with others of similar abilities and interests." (Rogers, 1991). If it is our mission to meet the learning needs of all our students we must place exceptionally gifted children in classes with similar children headed by a teacher trained in the education of such a unique child. Our investment in education is an investment in our country's future and has a direct bearing on our personal futures. We must maximize opportunities for each child to reach potential. In addition, the range of exceptionally gifted learners is wider and more diverse than any single classroom (a span of at least 5 standard deviations) with each group requiring a different type of education. If we are to meet the learning needs of all our children we must teach to the exceptionally gifted child as well in a setting that promotes their academic achievement. (Rogers, Young & Lonergan, 2008.) Researchers and advocates of Gifted and Talented education bemoaned shortcomings of instruction for exceptionally gifted students in most schools. In essence, pull-out programs, special classes, accommodations within grade levels, and other Gifted Education strategies that accommodate the moderately gifted learner have failed to meet the needs of the exceptionally gifted. (Kay, K., Robson, Brenneman, J. F. (2007). High IQ Kids: Collected Insights, Information, and Personal Stories from Experts. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Press; Davidson, J. & Davidson B. (2004). Genius Denied-How to Stop Wasting our Brightest Young Minds. New York: Simon & Schuster.) Exceptionally gifted students experience increased vulnerability when they spend large portions of their time in inappropriate educational settings. The more an exceptionally gifted child's abilities differ from the norm, the more inappropriate the educational program offered in the regular classroom. Even when the teacher presents new information, the instructional pace is unbearably slow, forcing the child to endlessly practice skills mastered in less than half the time taken by the average student (Stanley, Keating, and Fox, 1974; Stanley, 1976; Gross 2002). Part-time pullout only relieves boredom of regular classroom for a few hours. The learning pace of the program may be geared to the level of the moderately gifted. Forcing a student with IQ of 164 to learn at pace of an average child, or even pace of moderately gifted, is akin to placing an accomplished high school violinist in a sixth grade orchestra. The exceptionally gifted student who is forced to stifle his or her love of learning in an inhospitable environment may withdraw or develop behavioral issues, which in some cases manifests into psychosomatic symptoms such as underachievement and/or a poor self concept. (Roedell, W. Source: Roeper Review, The Roeper School 1984 Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 127.)





Researchers found elementary schools can eliminate 24 to 70% of high-ability students' curriculum by compacting without any negative affect on test scores or performance. Consequently, allowing our exceptionally gifted students to work at an appropriate pace will allow them to use that bought time to further investigate problems and develop both their learning and interests more holistically. (Reis, S. M., & Purcell, J. H. (1993) An analysis of content elimination and strategies used by elementary classroom teachers in the curriculum compacting process. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 16(2), 147170.) "The achievement level of high ability students falls dramatically when they are required to do routine work at a routine pace. (Kulik, James A. (Spring 1993). An Analysis of the Research on Ability Grouping. Storrs: University of Connecticut, the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.) Cooperative learning opportunities don't usually challenge exceptionally gifted and shouldn't be substituted for specialized programs and services for academically talented students. A lack of attention to the needs of the exceptionally gifted may result when cooperative learning used for this population, who require more advanced content and faster pacing. (Robinson, A. (1991). Cooperative learning and the academically talented students (RBDM 9106). Storrs: University of Connecticut, the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.) Systematic observations conducted in 46 3rd and 4th grade rooms with high-ability students and average-ability students, found little differentiation in the instructional and curricular practices, including grouping arrangements and verbal interactions, for exceptionally gifted students in the regular classroom. In all content areas in 92 observation days, exceptionally gifted students occasionally received instruction in homogeneous groups (21% of the time), and targeted exceptionally gifted students experienced no instructional or curricular differentiation in 84% of the instructional activities in which they participated. (Westberg, K. L., Archambault, F. X., Jr., Dobyns, S. M., & Salvin, T. J. (1993). An observational study of instructional and curricular practices used with exceptionally gifted and talented students in regular classrooms. (RM93104). Storrs: University of Connecticut, the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.) All children can learn and all children have areas of strength. Nevertheless, it is a fact that some students learn more quickly and are capable of a higher level of work than their chronological peers. Exceptionally gifted students need different content and instruction in order to meet their needs. (Winner, E. (1996). Exceptionally gifted children: Myths and realities. New York, NY: Basic Books.) In general, most schools are not adequately equipped in dealing with the exceptionally gifted child. Teachers and administrators are not informed about such students during pre-service training, and the very interventions which benefit these children, such as radical acceleration and full-time ability grouping, are not viewed as options. These







interventions are not discouraged by the research community which freely acknowledges their usefulness, but by the educational establishment which holds to organizational procedures and teaching methodologies which benefit the majority of students in school, and not the exception. (Miraca Gross. Benbow, C.P. & Stanley, J.S. (1997). Inequity in equity: How "equity" can lead to inequity for high potential students. Psychology; Public Policy and Law, 2(2), 249-292; Kay, K., Robson, Brenneman, J. F. (2007). High IQ Kids: Collected Insights, Information, and Personal Stories from Experts. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Press.) · More than 50 years ago, Hollingworth noted that "In the ordinary elementary school situation, children of 140 IQ waste half their time. Those above 170 IQ waste practically all their time (Hollingworth, 1942, p. 299). Recent research confirms this is still the case today; (Silverman, 1993, Renzulli & Reis, 1991). The vast majority of exceptionally gifted children are caught in an "age-grade lockstep routine," (Stanley, 1978, p. 3) which offers such children academic work five to eight years or more below their intellectual level (Gross, 1993; Stanley, 1978). (Gross, M. U. M. (1993). Exceptionally Gifted Children. London and New York: Routledge. Stanley, J. S. (1978). Educational nonacceleration: An international tragedy. Gifted Child Today, 1(3), 2-5, 53-57, 60-63. Hollingworth, L. S. (1942). Children Above 180 IQ, Stanford Binet: Origins and Development 180 IQ, Stanford Binet: Origins and Development. Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World Book Company. Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. M. (1991). The reform movement and the quiet crisis in gifted education. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35(1), 26-35. Silverman, Linda (1993). Counseling the Gifted & Talented. Denver: Love Publishing.) Exceptionally gifted students are not superior to others; they show great potential in many areas and are intense and highly energetic, demanding continual stimulation. They have extraordinary perception and capacity for complex cognitive reasoning and learning in intuitive leaps. They are deeply motivated, with a compelling drive to create. They are sensitive and possess a keen, sophisticated sense of humor, relating better to adults than to their peers. Existential concerns often overwhelm them. In short, they generally do not fit with their classroom peers. (Gross (2003). Exceptionally Gifted Children (2nd ed.) London: Routledgefalmer; Gilman, B., Karnes, F. (ed.) & Stephens K. (ed.) (2008). Challenging Highly Gifted Learners. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press; Davidson, J. & Davidson B. (2004). Genius Denied-How to Stop Wasting our Brightest Young Minds. New York: Simon & Schuster.) Talented students from accelerated classes outperform the same students from nonaccelerated classes of the same age and IQ by almost one full year on the gradeequivalent scales of standardized achievement tests. Talented students from enriched classes outperform control students from conventional classes by four to five months on the grade-equivalent scales. (Kulik, J. A. (1992). An analysis of the research on ability grouping: Historical and contemporary perspectives. (RBDM 9204). Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.) Studies found students in special schools tended to score highest on standardized tests and other measurements compared to students of the same abilities in regular school





settings. Viadero, Debra (April 5, 1995). "Special Programs Found to Benefit Exceptionally Gifted Students" Education Week. · Exceptionally gifted students who achieve in school acknowledged the importance of being grouped together in honors and advanced classes for the academically talented. Underachievement for others began in elementary when they weren't provided with appropriate levels of challenge and never learned to work. (Hébert, T. H., & Reis, S. M. (1999). Culturally diverse high-achieving students in an urban high school. Urban Education, 34, 428-457; Reis, S. M., & Diaz, E. I. (1999). Economically disadvantaged urban female students who achieve in school. The Urban Review, 31(1), 31-54.)

A Special School: Is there a Need? · No one would question the innate dignity of all human beings and the essential right of all children to grow intellectually. But those bottom-line premises must not obscure the reality that some people simply learn faster and at higher levels than others. Our society admires and even exalts an exceptionally gifted athlete like Tiger Woods, whose early precocity engaged our imaginations and encouraged parents to put golf clubs in the hands of their 3-year-olds. But children who display unusual cognitive ability challenge the sensitivities of critics, who contend that appropriately differentiated academic experiences for highly able children are somehow unfair to other children. (Frances R. Spielhagen & Bruce S. Cooper Frances R. Spielhagen (2005). The Unkindest Cut: Seven Stupid Arguments against Programs for the Exceptionally Gifted. An American Educational Research Association/Institute of Education Sciences postdoctoral fellow at the College of William and Mary's Center for Gifted Education, in Williamsburg, Va. Bruce S. Cooper is a professor of education and the chair of the division of educational leadership, administration, and policy at Fordham University, in New York City. He is the author of the forthcoming book Homeschooling in Full View-- A Reader Vol. 24, Issue 31, Pages 47-48 Published: April 13, 2005.)


Is it Fair to All Enrolled Students: · Zero-sum reasoning dominates the appropriation of limited resources in education. The much-needed attention to bringing all students up to a certain minimum standard of proficiency has resulted in a covetous use of funding. No one questions or begrudges the myriad special services and programs provided for students with specific learning needs that hinder their progress. Nevertheless, exceptionally gifted students are expected to drift along with the tide, garnering whatever they can from the educational experiences offered. Once included in the parameters of the law then known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, PL 94-142, services for the exceptionally gifted--and the allocation of funds for those services--have become regarded as frills that deduct from the common good. (Frances R. Spielhagen & Bruce S. Cooper Frances R. Spielhagen. Ed Week: Vol. 24, Issue 31, Pages 47-48 Published: April 13, 2005; Farkas, S. Duffett, A. & Loveless, T. (2008). High Achieving Students in the Era of No Child Left Behind. Fordham Foundation Report)



Based on the latest findings from an eight year study conducted by the Fordham Institute (national non-profit organization affiliated with educational research: that examined the impact of NCLB on high achieving students, the following trends were found: 1. While the nation's lowest achieving students made rapid gains from 2000-2007, the performance of our top students is languid. 2. Teachers are much more likely to indicate that struggling students, not advanced students, are their top priority. 3. Low achieving students received dramatically more attention from teachers. Eighty-one percent of teachers reported that struggling students were their top priority. 4. Eighty percent of teachers reported significant amounts of one-on-one attention for struggling students; only five percent of teacher said they would spend the same amount of one-on-one time with the academically advanced students.

Exceptionally gifted students learn without assistance: · Seeing as exceptionally gifted students quickly master the basic educational goals of the curriculum, or arrive at a particular grade level or class having already learned the basic curriculum, they present a challenge to educators. Frequently, highly able students are encouraged to work independently, and many respond well to this encouragement. But some essential questions remain: What are they learning? Are they moving forward, working alone and in isolation? Are they learning at all? And, more important, what are schools doing for these students? Exceptionally gifted programs provide the time and space for children to learn at their own pace, with peers of similar capability and interests, and to grow both intellectually and emotionally. (Frances R. Spielhagen & Bruce S. Cooper Frances R. Spielhagen. Ed Week: Vol. 24, Issue 31, Pages 47-48 Published: April 13, 2005; Gilman, Karnes, & Stephen, 2008; Gross, 2003.)

Why can't we just group them together within regular classrooms? · Cooperative learning in the heterogeneous classroom should not be substituted for specialized programs and services for academically talented students. Cooperative learning models have not been compared to special education programs and services for academically talented students in the research literature. Thus, no clear superiority for cooperative learning in the heterogeneous classroom over specialized programs and services for academically talented students have been established. Even advocates of cooperative learning have acknowledged the need for separate course offerings for academically talented students. (Robinson, N. M. (1993). Parenting the very young, exceptionally gifted child. (RBDM 9308) Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented; Gilman, Karnes, & Stephens, 2008.)

Exceptionally gifted students must be in heterogeneous classes because they are needed as role models and leaders: 12


It is not the responsibility of the exceptionally gifted child to be a leader or a role model. In fact, many resent or evade that title as it places them in the uncomfortable position of being the classroom know-it-all. Indeed, a classroom of exceptionally gifted students is already a heterogeneous class. They naturally compose a diverse classroom based on their diverse backgrounds, interests, abilities, personalities, goals. How are they the same? They are intensely intense, super sensitive, and critically critical. They are extremes of extremes. They possess an intrinsic energy that is either in full speed or at full stop. There is no middle ground. They have an incredible memory and an extended attention span when engaged. They set high standards of performance for themselves and for others. Compromise is difficult. Judgment lags behind intellect and they just might not be a role model at all. All children deserve the opportunity to take leadership within their classrooms. Removing the dominant personalities of the exceptionally gifted students allows others to take these roles. (Gross (2004). Exceptionally Gifted Children (2nd ed.) New York: Routledgefalmer; Gilman, B., Karnes, F. (ed.) & Stephens K. (ed.) (2008). Challenging Highly Gifted Learners. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.) Slavin (1987) reported positive effects of subject-matter ability groupings at all cognitive abilities. Kulik and Kulik (1997) found that in the absence of high achieving students, lower ability students were able make greater gains in achievement perhaps due to the release of pressure from unrealistic expectations on those children. (Slavin, R. E. (1987). Grouping for instruction in the elementary school. Educational Psychologist, 22, 109127. Kulik & Kulik (1997) Grouping Practices for Gifted and Talented Northwest Education; 3, 1, 20-29) Exceptionally gifted students set such high standards for themselves and for others that peer relations may become strained. They feel intensely that they must do a comprehensive job. Thus, when other group members fail to perform to the same level of expectations, the exceptionally gifted student tends to take responsibility for the work expectations of the whole group. When this occurs, the other students fail to learn. (Gross, M. (2004). Exceptionally Gifted Children (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge Falmer.)



Exceptionally gifted students should help struggling students achieve: · Every student deserves the right to learn to the limits of his or her abilities and desires. Students are not teachers. Peer tutoring has a role in education but it is not fair to exceptionally gifted students to take on the responsibility to teach their fellow classmates. Their job is to learn. Their very nature is to forge ahead at full speed. Each time they wait, momentum and interest is lost. Every student has the right to learn to his or her potential -- even if that student is exceptionally gifted. Exceptionally gifted students are prone to underachievement, if not taught at the appropriate pace. They are capable of much more than is currently offered them. Each individual has individual capabilities. Due to the ceiling on standardized tests, exceptionally gifted students scoring in the 99th percentile are not necessarily learning to the extent of their capabilities or being exposed to new material at their level. Shouldn't we allow students to learn and teachers to teach?


Every student should be encourage to reach his or her potential but not at the expense of others.


Overview: The purpose for creating a separate school or program is to meet the unique educational needs of the exceptionally gifted learners. Many of these students achieve quite well, but many also represent an under-served population of learners within Minnetonka Public Schools: the exceptionally gifted, non-performing student. This model is specifically tailored to meeting the needs of exceptionally gifted individuals. This program will emphasize an instructional approach that is highly accelerated and thematic in nature accompanied by an emphasis on addressing the social and affective needs of exceptionally gifted students. The pace and style of instruction would be designed so that its delivery would be appropriate to learners who can process and comprehend material at a rapid pace for long periods of time, a methodology that would not be appropriate for the average learner, or even the typical gifted learner. The existing Minnetonka curricular standards would be met, but in a much shorter time period. The School for the Exceptionally Gifted could be any number of models including a single site school at an undetermined site, a school within a school, an east and west site schools, or some other option. Any of these sites would be appropriate to develop a model designed to meet the extreme learning needs of the exceptionally gifted student. These needs include extended learning periods in fields of interest, a curriculum that exceeds the pace and coverage of subject areas taught in the regular classroom, an emphasis on inquiry based, real world problem solving opportunities, and experiential learning. The following points outline the basic overview of the exceptionally gifted school plan: · Curricular resources would be derived from multiple sources including existing district materials as well as supplemental materials such as Jr. Great Books and the College of William and Mary curriculum (see curricular scope and sequence, lesson samples below) Teaching Methods: The teacher's primary role is that of a facilitator of knowledge. The teacher must adhere to a constructivist approach to teaching that places the child at the heart of the program. The teacher must encourage the child to explore his/her world through a variety of interdisciplinary fields and ensure that the knowledge and experiences gained are valuable and still aligned to state standards and goals for learning. The teacher must also understand the nature of the exceptionally gifted child and be prepared to assist in the intellectual, emotional, and social development of the child. Identification of the students will be based on a five step process (see below) that will include at least one district approved current standardized test score of IQ 150+. Enrollment will be determined in the spring for the following school year. The program would be geared toward students aged 8-11 with growth expected to accommodate children aged 6-14. This growth will be based on interest; numbers, space, and teacher availability (see expansion details below). Staff will be hired within Minnetonka Public Schools unless qualified applicants cannot be found. The social impact of the program will be varied. In general, every study has reported positive social impact on students enrolled in a separate program for exceptionally gifted learners. The same is true of the parents of enrolled students, however, in every case in




· ·


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· ·


which such a program has been proposed there has been varying amounts of public criticism. The two primary charges are that of elitism and social isolation. Both can be refuted (see below). Other concerns relate to the programs impact on the neighborhood school, the middle schools, and the community in general. Please refer to the social impact section below. This school will not be an immersion school but will have a comprehensive language component. Students will be allowed to opt out and return to their regular school in the fall of the school year. Opting out must occur by Oct. 15th. Details are described in the Identification section below. Transportation: there are different scenarios for transportation depending on the location (see scenarios below). Expenses: Expenses for start up include transportation, staff development, materials, supplemental curriculum, library, technology, and typical classroom start up costs (see expanded list below). Additional costs may be incurred for language specialists. Parent Involvement is essential but also must be appropriate. A Steering committee will be formed made up of parents and school staff whose primary responsibility will be to raise and deal with concerns about the program. This committee will not have the power to make curricular or operational decisions.

The Exceptionally Gifted Learner: The following are characteristics of the exceptionally gifted learner. Exceptionally gifted children may not possess all of these characteristics, but will display many of them consistently given the appropriate environment. The characteristics are: Classroom Related: · Processing time-four times the rate of average students and even much faster than the typical gifted student · Memorization: an unusual capacity to memorize material after limited exposure · Levels of concentration-ability to stay focused on an interest area to the exclusion of normal functions such as eating or sleeping · Social isolation: often these students feel very different from others and search for similar intellectual, not necessarily age related, peers · Argumentativeness · Extreme intensity and depth of feeling · Ability to visualize models and systems (generally a preferred method of learning) · Ability to learn in great intuitive leaps General: · Abstract thinking: an advanced ability to think in theoretical terms · Detection and intellectual curiosity-the ability to detect underlying patterns within complex relationships · Rapid and thorough comprehension of the whole idea, concept · Curiosity: extraordinary degree of intellectual curiosity


· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Perceptiveness: ability to see many sides of an issue Fascination with words and ideas Extensive vocabulary Awareness of detail High degree of emotional sensitivity Ability to think in metaphors and symbols (may have a preference to do so) Highly idiosyncratic interpretation of events Highly developed morals and ethics: early concern for moral and existential issues Unusual early insight into social and moral issues Extraordinarily high energy levels Extreme need for the world to be logical and fair Conviction of correctness of personal ideas and beliefs Ability to empathetically understand and relate to ideas and other people Need for precision in thinking and expression

As is evident above, the nature of the exceptionally gifted learner is both unique and complex, requiring a distinctive learning environment that cannot be accommodated within the regular classroom. Consequently, the nature of the curriculum and the methodology of instruction must also be tailored to the exceptional needs of this learner. For more information please read the following student profiles: Minnetonka Student Testimonials: Over the last few weeks, two teachers (one High Potential and one regular education) interviewed both exceptionally gifted students and their moderately gifted peers. The following are quotes in relation to school, a separate school for the exceptionally gifted, and the social impact of an alternative school setting. Exceptionally Gifted Students: · "I wouldn't mind being separated from my classmates. In fact, I would welcome the opportunity to be with kids like me." · "The best way I learn is when I am given choice; in school, I feel like I never have a choice." · "Being taken out of accelerated programs would be like taking my foot off the accelerator and stepping on the brake!" · "I am annoyed when I have to do work that I already know." · "School is a colossal waste of time!" · "I drift off into my own little world." · "I want to be a good kid. I know that I'm a good kid, but I don't feel like it at school because I'm not paying attention to the teacher or learning." · When a child was asked if he would like to be in an environment where kids think like him, he responded, "When!" · "I know that I am different, and I have a hard time verbalizing my feelings with other students, but I really like who I am."



"I hate the unknown! I feel a deep desire to make order out of chaos. I want to know all the answers."

Moderately Gifted Students comments on Exceptionally Gifted Students: · "He is so different, he's a walking dictionary, and he really needs to move up a grade." · "Yeah, I know she's really smart. I think it's cool that she does seventh grade math." · "He uses too many big words that I don't understand. I can't talk to him." · "I don't get it. His humor doesn't make sense to me." · "Where does she come from? She's like from a different planet." Design of the model: The model would be implemented as a relatively small school program at one or two building sites, or in a separate facility. Depending on the number of students who enroll, this model might incorporate the use of two or three classrooms that are multi-aged and loosely based on the continuous progress model for schooling. Each classroom should be equipped with the same features as any other classroom within Minnetonka Public Schools. The following points are related to the design of the model: · Two to three classrooms to begin (see expansion scenarios below) or one large classroom with a divider and activities room. · Two knowledgeable teachers teaching students aged 8-11.* · Flexible class schedule with emphasis on in-depth exploration of subject areas (see daily schedule). · Technological access similar to regular classrooms. · Classroom furniture same as the regular classroom. · Extensive in-class library/media. · Space designed for student investigations/explorations/experiments. · Existing curricular materials will be used along with supplemental materials that will need to be purchased such as Jr. Great Books and the College of William and Mary Curriculum. · Location: Possible sites to include the DEC and one or more school buildings. Based on discussions with building principals the option of having two sites (both east and west) within the elementary buildings seems to be the most plausible solution. · Classroom vision (See Teaching Methodology) · Encore/Specials will provided with chronological peers. · Ideally students would continue to focus on foreign language acquisition: It is not the intention of the program to draw students away from the immersion program. However, those students that choose to enroll from the immersion program will have access to continued language instruction in either Spanish or Chinese. It is recommended that the program start slowly and grow over time based on its success and parental interest. *It is recommended to start with this age group because students at this age are considered upper elementary or intermediate where the methodology and difficulty of the curriculum becomes


more rigorous and increases in pace. It is recognized that an exceptionally gifted child ages six or seven is quite capable to participate in such a program, but we must start where we have the greatest need as well as the greatest numbers. In addition, starting with this age group allows the program room to grow at either end of the age spectrum (see expansion details below). Curriculum: The curriculum will be thematically based and process oriented with in-depth studies that fit into a model of continuous learning focused on diverse interests and characterized by `real world' problems, situations, and solutions. All themes of learning will be standards driven and interdisciplinary in nature. The following outlines a possible scope and sequence of one year's curriculum for students aged 8-11: September: My World (math focus) a. Math: Statistics and Data Analysis b. Language Arts: Text to text, self, world (making connections between literature, ourselves, and the world) Teaching the skills of compare and contrast, cause and effect, authors viewpoint, theme, perspective, and, character analysis. i. Writing: literary analysis and response, newsletter articles, narratives, journaling, and, creative writing. c. Humanities: Civic Duty, what is the role you take on in your family, school and community, what is expected of you in this role? Self Identity and value/belief system. d. Science and Technology: Our environment, to expand cause and effect and impact as humans in the changes of our environment. Compare Natural and controlled environments. e. Service Learning Project: Student directed based on knowledge from unit. Resources: CMP I & 11,, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, The College of William and Mary Reading , classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits, Field Trip to Carver Park, web based resources such as or Journey North (web based science site). October: The Rules of the Game a. Math: Algebra, Number Theory, manipulate numbers, mental strategies, algorithms vs. discovery. b. Language Arts: Non-fiction genera study of fiction and non-fiction. Consequences and Implications, making judgments and generalizations, cause and effect of changing rules, sequence of events and demonstration speech, pre-reading and post reading strategies, and word analysis. c. Writing: Sequence of events, organization of paper, and demonstration speech, journal, creative


Humanities: Survival, Theory of Knowledge, Authority and Power, who makes the rules? Societal influences, family, community, friends, school, church and government. e. Science and Technology: Theories of origin, growth, change, knowledge (theory) f. Service Learning Project: Student directed based on knowledge learned. Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits. Nov/Dec: The Fragility of Relationships a. Math: Measurement, Geometry, Spatial Sense, fraction-decimal-percents, measure in standard and non-standard forms including metric. b. Language Arts: Analogies, Characterization, conflict resolution, compare and contrast, cause and effect, connection to our self and our world, symbolism, authors intent and theme of the literature, literal vs. figurative language, connotations, word study, c. Writing: persuasive, organization of paper, journal, creative d. Humanities: historical analysis past and present, how does history inform us of today, "pieces of history" direct implications of... e. Science and Technology: Simple Machines, relationships of parts to parts and parts to whole, physical science, f. Service Learning Project: Student directed based on knowledge learned. Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits, Field Trip. Jan: 21st Century a. Math: Chance & Probability b. Language Arts: Comparing Authors and literature (bridged and unabridged); Generalizations and informed judgments; Classification and categorization; inserting details; fact & opinion; predicting & drawing conclusions; similarities & differences (compare/contrast); cause effect; - Writing: Persuasive, Non-fiction, Fiction, Technical c. Humanities: Industrial revolution; timeline and rate of progression; using what we know today to shape tomorrow d. Science and Technology: Technology: pros and cons; timeline of technology e. Service Learning Project Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits. Feb: Oceans of Humanity a. Math: Estimation; Interpolating; Number Concepts; concepts analysis (looking at traits of different concepts); symbols



b. Language Arts: compare & contrast; quality/values/perspectives (looking at judgments, stereotypes...); character traits and character analysis; setting; symbolism - Writing: poetry & public speaking; paraphrasing; different ways to express (music, theatre, art...) c. Humanities: human characteristics and how we impact the world around us; cause and effect; categorize; patterns of change and the evidence; personality and multiple intelligence identification and application; d. Science and Technology: nature/nurture; time, continuity, and change e. Service Learning Project Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits, Field Trip. March: Geotopia a. Math: coordinates; topography; geometry; math within geography b. Language Arts: details; generalizations; classifications; cause and effect; summarizing & paraphrasing -Writing: technical, factual, observational writing c. Humanities: geography shaping people and events and places; comparing geography and analyzing the impact on people, places, resources. d. Service Learning Project Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits. April: Inquiry a. Math: Problem solving; strategies; analyzing games (chess, cribbage, towers of Hanoi, pentominos, left out,); locker problem; handshake problem; problem posing; brain busters; EQUALS math (toothpick problems, continental math) b. Language Arts: Levels of Questioning (Blooms Taxonomy); Evidence and inference; characterization; Hypothetical thinking (If I was the author, character...If I were in this /that setting); empathy; My view vs. author's perspective; author intent-writing: interviews c. Humanities: Looking at how and why civilizations developed in the ways they did? Asking the what ifs...(i.e. the printing press had never been invented, the library of Alexandria burnt down, Abraham Lincoln didn't sign the proclamation to free the slaves...) in order to encourage students to engage in critical thinking exercises about the importance of inquiry and the future of possibilities. d. Science and Technology: Using scientific processes to inquire and then experiment based on the students' natural interests e. Service Learning Project Resources:


CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits, Field Trip. May/June: Our World a. Math: math in our world; studying trends over time (stock market, In trade...); data analysis on global level (currency, deficit???); b. Language Arts: conceptualize and create themes; creative synthesizing; c. Humanities: guest speakers from a variety of professions; simulations; d. Science and Technology: invent a tool or resource that aids in the scientific process, which is related to an ongoing interest-based / service learning project e. Service Learning Project Resources: CMP I & 11, Jr. Great Books, Trade Books, classics, History Alive, FOSS Kits. Service Learning: Service Learning opportunities are an integral piece to each of the units as they provide the students with prospect of applying their learning to real life situations. In addition, the extreme sensitivity and the innate need to develop a high code of ethical behaviors compel the exceptionally gifted child to act upon his/her learning. This experience is the culmination of personal fulfillment for this child. Other Curriculum: · · · · Health--lessons and activities from The Great Body Shop Organizational skills and work habits Social/Emotional instruction Music, Physical Education, Art--students would be in the regular classes with their age mates or will be taught by visiting specialists from nearby elementary/secondary buildings. Expert Guests


The curriculum would be at a faster pace and greater depth. Research and technology would be woven into all disciplines. Much of the learning will be student directed based on interest areas. Community experts and mentors will be included whenever possible. In addition please review some of the sample lessons created for Unit 1: My World (attached). Tentative Daily Schedule: A Day in the Life of Exceptionally Gifted Students Classroom Time 7:00-7:30 7:30 7:30 ­ 8:30 8:30 ­ 10:30 Teacher A Prep Students arrive Specials (Music PE) Language Arts Block Teacher B Prep Specials (Music, PE) Math/Science Block Time 7:30 ­ 8:30 8:30 ­ 9:30 9:30 -10:30


10:30- 11:30 11:30-12:30 12:30-2:30 2:30 2:30 ­ 3:00

Humanities Lunch Math/Science block Students dismissed Prep

Humanities Lunch Math/Science block Language Arts Block Students dismissed

10:30-11:30 11:30-12:30 12:30-1:30 1:30-3:30 3:30

Teaching Methodology: The teaching approach will be child centered, holistic, and constructivist in nature. This means that the teacher, in cooperation with the student and family, must develop and maintain individualized learning plans for each child enrolled in the building. These learning plans will include learning profiles, interests, assessment data, family information, goals and expectations, and a chart of student progress that must be maintained on a monthly basis by both the student and teacher. In addition, the teacher's primary role will be to facilitate learning through multiple curricular fields while ensuring that each student is engaged and cognizant of what is being learned in order to apply those learnings to real life problems and scenarios. It is also the teacher's responsibility to design and conduct appropriate learning experiences related to the theme that is being taught. The teacher must also be knowledgeable of the exceptionally gifted students learning characteristics and be adept at applying those characteristics to areas of learning for maximum academic growth in all fields. The teacher must be flexible, knowledgeable, honest, trustworthy, and have the ability to adapt a student's schedule easily to accommodate intense learning periods. Furthermore, the teacher must be able to nurture and grow the exceptionally gifted child socially and emotionally. They must be able to deal with the highs and lows that each child experiences with greater intensity at various times during the school year. Finally, this teacher must be an adept communicator with students, parents, and administration in order to maintain a high level of school functionality and inclusiveness on the parts of those directly tied to the program and beyond. The following is a sample of the exceptionally gifted classroom: Overview of Classroom: Inspired by natural curiosity about the world, meaningful questions are asked; investigations ensue. A genuine search for new understanding, coupled with the desire to know, leads to active learning in which students act upon their questions and curious urges. Rather than the teacher telling the students how to address a problem or answer a question, the students decide what to try and which paths to take. This student-centered/ student-initiated learning encourages students to make connections to previous learning, simultaneously leading to the construction of new knowledge. Students question each other, discuss their ideas, describe relationships and patterns, explain paths and strategies, and defend processes and conclusions. Activities and Investigations: Topics are connected to each other and central themes thread through all activities. Everything is interdisciplinary and inquiry-based. The themes are the hub; all activities and disciplines are spokes connected to the hub. Authentic, interesting activities are driven by real-world applications. Skill development and new understanding occur in a context of inquiry and problem solving and are purposefully embedded in authentic situations, rather than taught in isolation. There is an emphasis on meaning, understanding, and connecting. For Example, the


teaching of math is not relegated to math topics alone but to how that math influences all areas of knowledge including music, science, fine art, health, technology, etc. Communication: Students question and challenge each other; discuss their ideas; describe relationships, connections, and patterns; explain processes and strategies; defend ideas; and verbalize reasoning. Everyone is engaged in an open discussion (basketball type discussion), rather than one student and the teacher going back and forth, excluding others (ping-pong type discussion). Parent communication will be ongoing, both electronically and traditionally. Questioning: Questions encourage divergent and higher-order thinking. There are more student-generated questions than teacher-generated questions. Students are asked to explain why and how. The teacher never tells what he/she can ask with proper and appropriate questioning. Multiple Perspectives: Different strategies and paths are encouraged and acknowledged. Creative solutions and approaches are rewarded and valued. The teacher is neither too judgmental nor too affirming about ideas and responses; thus, avoiding finalizing a solution to a problem prematurely and discouraging new thinking. Teacher Role: The teacher is a facilitator, a problem poser, an encourager, a support, an inspirer, and a provider of empowerment. He or she ignites passionate, ongoing fires of fierce wonderings within the children. Students identify their own approaches, strategies, and solutions, instead of the teacher presenting them. The teacher asks provocative questions and provides time for inquiry where students construct their own knowledge. The teacher presents paradoxes and allows students to examine discrepancies. The teacher moves about listening, observing, and redirecting thinking with questions when necessary. The teacher models problem-solving strategies, rather than presenting finished solutions. The teacher takes advantage of teachable moments, even when they are not planned. Rather than evaluating only the products, the teacher celebrates the processes and basks in the glowing discussions. The teacher encourages tolerance for ambiguity with open-ended problems and challenges. The teacher cares for his/her students and teaches them to care for each other. Student Role: Students construct their own knowledge. They take charge of their learning, initiate questions, make decisions, and investigate to draw conclusions. They discover and discuss patterns and relationships and generate different solutions. The lessons revolve around the ideas that students generate through their own curiosities and investigations. They are inquiring, exploring, problem-solving, and creating, rather than passively absorbing teacher talk. Students collaborate with each other, compare strategies and processes, and celebrate each other's ideas. Students use their intuitions and follow their hunches, rather than do exclusively what the teacher says for them to do. Students are making connections between disciplines, topics, ideas, themselves, and the broader context of the world. Students have an identity beyond their exceptionally gifts and


are passionate about their talents without apologies; feelings of alienation dissipate. Students learn something new every day, and they are empowered to learn. Grading: The students will maintain a portfolio that consists of projects, self projection and reflection of learning goals and expectations, student/teacher evaluations (continual formative assessment, rubric, feedback form, unit assessment, and journaling). Report cards could be summaries of teachers' observations, anecdotal records, areas of growth and areas of strength and hopes for the future. Reporting to parents will include the student's Individual Learning Plan and quarterly progress on goals including: · Observations · Areas needing more focused attention · Areas of growth · Areas of strength Both students and teachers will adhere to the scope and sequence of the curriculum and ensure that students are proficient on all state standards and assessments. Atmosphere: The following elements are present: recognition and appreciation for differences; alive with laughter and discussion; safe and fun community; compassionate and caring; questioning and problem-solving; wrestling with ideas and fierce wonderings; lingering in possibilities; a continual thirst for knowledge and drive to learn Physical room: Round tables; student personal stations, assistive technology (SMARTBoard, laptop/PC's, Sound Theatre, etc.), quiet space with comfortable furniture, library/media area, lab space. Ideally the space would be one large classroom space with a divider and one break out area for more physical activities. Access to outdoor activities located in a natural setting would also be appropriate. Staffing: Hiring staff will be accomplished within the district. The program will only hire those applicants that have some experience and training in the field of teaching exceptionally gifted students and have demonstrated success in working with this population of unique learners. If these applicants cannot be found within the district, teachers from outside the district will be invited to apply. All applicants must follow the hiring procedures set forth by Minnetonka Public Schools Human Resources Department. Administrative Responsibilities: Elementary Site Scenario: The administrative responsibilities would be aligned collaboratively between the building principal and the program director.


The building principal's responsibilities will include: · Student safety, student's rights, daily building operations, attendance, teacher evaluation, student budgeting, special ed. needs, capital budgeting, structural issues/nuances, and student transportation. The Program Directors responsibilities will include: · Day to day operations of the program · Curriculum, staffing, program facilities, classroom support, classroom instruction · Parental involvement · Program regulations · Application/Identification and enrollment · Daily discipline · Program communications Both the building principal and director will be responsible for: · Scheduling of specials, lunch, and recess · Maintaining positive atmosphere and relationships between students and teachers of both programs · Mediation of any disputes between the programs Social Impact: Socialization of the students is an important concern. Depending on the location, students in this program could be with their age mates for lunch and recess. Access to Art, Music, and Physical Education and perhaps a home advisory will have to be determined. Possibilities could include bringing the specials teachers into the facility or having the students attend these classes within the building or, if at a separate site, at the closest regular school building. Most exceptionally gifted students, however, already tend to isolate themselves with students with whom they share an interest or are of a similar intellect. Ongoing efforts will be made to assure that students interact with their age mates appropriately. And although no one can mandate friendships, it is important that students cooperate, intermingle, and interact with chronological peers and adults. The following points validate the importance of meeting the exceptionally gifted child's social and emotional needs. · Students allowed early entrance to elementary school averaged six months ahead in achievement when compared to age peers during the same year. These students showed improvement in socialization and self-esteem compared to slight difficulties faced by advanced students who were not accelerated. (Rogers, K. B. (2002) Re-Forming Gifted Education: How parents and teachers can match the program to the child. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.) "Kids who don't have access to true peers, particularly among exceptionally gifted, tend to have significant ongoing problems," says clinical child psychologist Maureen Neihart, PhD, explaining the exceptionally gifted child's need to interact with others who share same interests, abilities and drive-qualities they seldom find in 'normal' same-age peers. Indeed, they may be teased for their abilities, hide their talents to avoid being singled out, 26


and have difficulty establishing true friendships. The problems arise when there is a mismatch between exceptionally gifted students and the education system or family, says James Webb, founder of the Social and Emotional Needs for Gifted Children (SENG). "There is really little inherent in being an exceptionally gifted child that creates emotional problems," he explains. (Smith, Deborah (May 2003). Cultivating otherwise untapped potential: Psychologists are developing programs to identify exceptionally gifted children earlier--and to ensure their success. Volume 34-number 5 APA.) · No study has demonstrated any permanent or significant negative effects of acceleration on social and emotional development. The present study also found no negative effects of acceleration on social and emotional development. In fact, some evidence of positive effects is presented. The similarity of findings is strong support for the claim that there is no validity to the argument that acceleration is harmful to the social and emotional development of exceptionally gifted youths. (Pollins, L. (1983). The effects of acceleration on the social and emotional development of gifted students. Johns Hopkins University Press.) The influence on the exceptionally gifted child's awareness of being different, and the resultant pressure to underachieve for peer acceptance, can hardly be overestimated. Research suggests that the more exceptionally gifted, the greater becomes the social pressure to moderate his or her achievements (Hollingworth, 1926; Silverman, 1989; Gross, 1993, 1994. Louis Terman and his colleagues observed this even in the first few years of their landmark study of 1500 exceptionally gifted children in California.) Hollingworth, L.S. (1926) Gifted Children: Their Nature and Nurture. New York: Macmillan; Terman, L.M. & Oden, M.H. (1947). Genetic studies of genius (Volume 4): The gifted child grows up. Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press; Silverman, L.K. (1989). The highly gifted. In J.F: Feldhusen, J. VanTassel-Baska, & K. Seeley (Eds.), Excellence in educating the gifted. (pp. 71-83). Denver: Love; Gross, M. (1993) Exceptionally Gifted Children. London: Routledge. Gross, M. (1994). Radical acceleration; Responding to the academic and social needs of extremely gifted adolescents. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education. 5(4). 27-34.) The majority of extremely gifted youth in Gross's study (1993) state that for substantial periods in their school careers they have deliberately concealed their abilities or significantly moderated their scholastic achievement in an attempt to reduce their classmates' and teachers' resentment of them. In almost every case, the parents of children retained in the regular classroom with age peers report that the drive to achieve, the delight in intellectual exploration, and the joyful seeking after new knowledge, which characterized their children in the early years, has seriously diminished or disappeared completely. These children display disturbingly low levels of motivation and social selfesteem. They are also more likely to report social rejection by their classmates and state that they frequently underachieve in attempts to gain acceptance by age peers and teachers. Those exceptionally gifted students who were radically accelerated, and their teachers and parents, believe strongly that they are now much more appropriately placed, both





academically and socially. These students display higher levels of motivation, and they report that pressure to underachieve for peer acceptance has significantly diminished or disappeared completely. The radical accelerants have positive attitudes towards school and believe they are warmly regarded by teachers. They have a greater number of friends and enjoy closer and more productive social relationships than they did prior to acceleration. They have significantly higher levels of social and general self-esteem than do children of equal intellect who have been retained with age peers or who have been permitted only a single grade-skip. (Wright, Beth (Fall 2002). Performing Arts Instruction for Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted Children. Gifted Education Press Quarterly, 16, 4.) · It is important to understand that exceptionally gifted children are often loners on the playground not because they lack play knowledge or are unsociable creatures, but because their advanced intellectual development causes them to "organize the play into a complicated pattern, with some remote and definite climax as the goal" and to use vocabulary not yet accessible to age peers. (Hollingworth, 274) (Hollingworth, L. S. (1942). Children Above 180 IQ, Stanford Binet: Origins and Development 180 IQ, Stanford Binet: Origins and Development. Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World Book Company.) Peers are often confused by the exceptionally gifted because it is difficult to identify with their superior cognitive abilities. They may downplay the degree of superiority of the exceptionally gifted by invalidating feedback. If this feedback is internalized, a selfconception may be constructed based on underrating the self. (Clark, 1979) reported on a young female student who spent 18 years believing she was not intelligent because she asked more questions than her peers. During a conversation with her parents, she found she has an IQ of 165. School personnel advised parents not to discuss her extraordinary IQ with her. This resulted in a low level of academic self-esteem and the ridiculous selfconception of being stupid. It can be threatening for teachers and administrators to know that a student has more information about a subject, and understands more than they do. They may respond by giving these students and their parents inaccurate information about cognitive abilities (Grost, 1970), by highlighting mistakes, and by insisting that learning occur in a particular fashion, usually lock-step. These teachers help to engender in the extremely gifted a self-concept based on a diminished view of true potential, all of which results in poor self-esteem. Another reason why the exceptionally gifted may have a poor self image is that they are often praised only for acting intellectual. This leads to an exaggeration of the ultimate value of intelligence and the belief that only by being smart can one be accepted. Thus, social skills, such as ability to empathize with less able others or to engage in small talk, are developed slowly. This leads to an emotional distancing of the exceptionally gifted from others as well as to an emotional distancing from their own emotional life. (Powell, P. & Haden, T. (Feb. 1984) The intellectual and psychosocial nature of extreme exceptionally giftedness. Roeper Review, 6, 3, 131-- 133.) Growing Up Gifted: Developing the Potential of Children at Home and at School Prentice Hall; 7 edition (April 23, 2007); Grost, A. (1970). Genius in Residence. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.)




The exceptionally gifted know they don't fit in well even in normal gifted programs, but may not know why. The reality is they're a tiny minority of a minority. Even most schools that have sincerely tried to do something for exceptionally gifted students are lacking knowledge about serving this population. These young people need to know all this if they are going to understand that they are not at fault for their extreme isolation from their age-peers, or for the lack of caring and understanding on the part of teachers and other adults. And it's these students more than any others who generally have the greatest need, desire, and ability to manage their own learning. (Draper Kauffman, Doctor of Education and parent of an exceptionally gifted child. Exceptionally gifted children have better social adjustment in classes with children like themselves; the brighter the child, the lower the child's social self-concept in regular classrooms. Social self-concept improves when children are placed with true peers in special classes. (Silverman, Linda (2002). "What We Have Learned About Gifted Children 1979-2002," The exceptionally gifted have a more difficult time finding compatible peers (Gallagher, 1958, Hollingworth, 1942 and O'Shea, 1960) suggested problems of communication may be one root cause of the exceptionally gifted child's involuntary isolation. Four-year-olds who enjoy playing monopoly and checkers have difficulty finding same-age playmates with similar skills (Roedell, Jackson, & Robinson, 1980). With their advanced conceptions of group organization, the exceptionally gifted may develop adult-like mannerisms with others, and be accused of being overly assertive. When efforts to be accepted fail, a highly able child may withdraw from social interaction. Once a 4-yearold, previously diagnosed as emotionally disturbed because of tendency to withdraw from social interaction, was enrolled in a program for the exceptionally gifted, his friendly, outgoing manner demonstrated his emotional disturbance had merely been a reaction to having no intellectual peers on his own level with whom to interact (Roedell, Jackson, & Robinson, 1980). The term `peer' does not, in essence, means people of the same age, but rather refers to individuals who can interact at an equal level around issues of common interest (Lewis, Young, Brooks, & Michelson, 1975). Given a choice, exceptionally gifted students tend to form friendships with others of similar mental age (O'Shea, 1960). The potential social alienation of exceptionally gifted children can be avoided by special efforts to help such students find companions with similar interests and abilities. Unless such efforts are made, the exceptionally gifted run the risk of being labeled different by their age mates, and may internalize this designation and become socially isolated. (Roedell, W. (1984) Vulnerabilities of Highly Gifted Children. Roeper Review, 6, 3, 127130. Wendy C. Roedell is an exceptionally gifted education consultant for the Northwest Gifted Education Center at Educational Service District No. 121 in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Roedell is co-author of Exceptionally Gifted Young Children (Teachers College Press, 1980), and a Contributing Editor of this journal.) Gallagher, 1958 Gallagher, J.J. (1958). Peer acceptance of highly gifted children in the elementary school. Elementary School Journal, 58, 465-470; O'Shea, H.E. (1960). Friendship and the intellectually gifted child. Exceptional Children, 26(6), 327-335; Lewis M., Young, C. Brooks I., &




Michelson, L. (1975). The Beginning of Friendship. In Lewis, M. & Rosenblum (Eds.) Friendship and Peer Relations. New York: Wiley.) · The `nerd' or `geek' stereotypes of exceptionally gifted children prevalent in the media and popular culture are part of a growing anti-intellectualism in American society. This attitude creeps into educational discourse because most teachers have not been trained for the education of the exceptionally gifted. As a result, the exceptionally gifted students are alienated and can be made to feel different by their teachers and peers. (Frances R. Spielhagen & Bruce S. Cooper (April 13, 2005) Ed Week, 24, 31, 47-48.) In action research conducted during the 2007-2008 school year at one of the Minnetonka Public Schools elementary buildings, a group of fourth grade students who were enrolled in sixth grade math were accepted, respected, and appreciated by their older classmates. This group of accelerated students wrote stories about this part of their educational experience as being the "best thing" that ever happened to them in their educational career. The fear of speaking up in class, participating, and doing their best work was nonexistent; they felt proud of their accomplishments, and this undoubtedly helped their self-image and self-esteem. This year (2008-2009), these same students are now doing advanced math investigations as fifth graders. They proudly call themselves the "nerd herd", and they have stated that this math block is the best part of their day. They wish that their entire day could be like this; a theme based investigation type approach where the students drive the instruction. There is some evidence that labeling a child exceptionally gifted has a positive impact on his or her self-esteem. The label of exceptionally gifted may influence a student to have more confidence in his or her own ability. This has also been noted in the literature with regard to the Pygmalion effect and self fulfilling prophecy. The majority of studies seemed to indicate somewhat higher levels of general and academic self-esteem for the exceptional group. (Hoge, R. D., & Renzulli, J. S. (1991). Self-concept and the exceptionally gifted child. (RBDM 9104). Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.) Achievement increased when exceptionally gifted students were grouped together for enriched or accelerated learning. All children benefit from being grouped in their ability groups when curriculum is adjusted to aptitude levels of the group. When exceptionally gifted are grouped together and receive advanced enrichment or acceleration, they benefit the most because they outperform control group students who are not grouped and do not receive enrichment or acceleration by five months to a full year on achievement tests. (Kulik, J. A. (1992). An analysis of the research on ability grouping: Historical and contemporary perspectives. (RBDM 9204). Storrs: University of Connecticut, the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.)





Identification: Identification of the students must include multiple strategies and several steps. The first would group students with an IQ threshold of 150+ on the District's existing testing tools. Teacher checklists and referrals that include general indicators of exceptional ability and unique characteristics such as long attention span in areas of interest, rapid processing rates of comprehension and memorization along with other indicators would be administered. Family checklists might include some of the same things, but could expand to what types of learning and interest areas are exhibited at home. Also, student interviews, portfolios of work, and other academic indicators would be used. Note: For the first year of operation, using existing records, the High Potential department will identify students and send letters inviting interested students/parents to attend various information sessions and to apply for the program. Current High Potential teachers and elementary building principals will also be asked to help identify those students for whom this program might be a fit. The criteria used will be students that have tested above IQ 150 + on the district's current identification tools (the Slosson). The following is a possible outline for application into the program after the initial year: STEP ONE: Contact the Program Those interested in learning more about the program would contact Minnetonka Public Schools High Potential Department for more information or view the website at Application Fees: Many programs have application fees for non-resident students and some have application fees for resident students as well. This is to off-set the cost of the assessment. If there is an application fee, the recommendation would be $250 one time non-refundable fee for nonMinnetonka residents STEP TWO: Parental Orientation The program conducts guided tours including a Q&A session with staff/administration, classroom visits, and a chance to visit with some of our students. These orientations are held once per semester. Please contact the school to schedule a visit. STEP THREE: Application and Testing Following the school visit interested parents should have a better idea of whether this program might be an option for their child. To apply to the school please submit a permission to test form to the school. Entrance requirements are the following: 1. Up to date Standard IQ test score of +145 (WISC IV: GAI index) * exceptions to be made for twice exceptional learners and students from culturally diverse backgrounds. In those instances a combination of the Naglieri Non-Verbal test of cognitive abilities and the Indicators of Exceptionally Gifted Students matrix will be used.


2. Interview with perspective student 3. Submit Portfolio of learning/work 4. Evidence of Indicators of Exceptionally Gifted Students briefed/examined

STEP FOUR: School Visit Once the application and supporting documents have been received the applications committee will review each student's portfolio. If a student is accepted into the program they will be invited to visit the program for a full day to ensure compatibility with the school program. STEP FIVE: FINAL DECISION The application committee and the parents/guardians of the applicant meet to determine the final decision. Time Line: Jan. 15th: Initial application due Feb. 15-28: Testing phases Mar. 15: Application and Interviews complete Mar. 20th-Apr. 20th: School Visits May 5th: Final Decision Based on the pace of instruction, knowledge acquisition, and rigor of the curriculum, the teacher should be aware of those who are potentially misidentified for the program. Communication with the family will be essential as it is quite likely that the students who are not successful will quite possibly be very frustrated. In this occurrence, exiting procedures will be in place to ensure a smooth reentry in the regular school population. Exiting Procedures: Students/parents may choose to opt out of the program if for any reason they feel that they are not fitting in academically or socially. We do encourage families to make that decision by October 15th of that school year so that the student will be able to transition back into a regular classroom setting within the neighborhood school. The same procedures will be implemented if the staff feels that the fit between the school and the student is not working. Expenses: Start up costs would include the following: · Materials for two classrooms: The physical materials of desks, chairs and the like are in a classroom already. Since students are moving from one location to another, there may have to be some shifting


· · · · ·

· · · ·

around of instructional materials, but generally those materials already exist. Some new materials would have to be purchased to support the curriculum. For example, if a literature series like Junior Great Books is used; those books would have to be purchased. Buildings have a budget for classroom supplies based on the number of students. Dollars from that budget will be used as well. Training: Staff development funding Transportation: TBD. Possibilities range from families providing their own transportation to the site to providing separate bus routes for just these students. Technology: May already be provided within an existing building Staffing: Cost neutral for core and specials. There may be some cost for language instruction. Administration costs: If at an existing building the costs would be neutral based on the presence of administration at each site. Some costs might be incurred in terms of travel by the program Director if the program is situated at multiple sites. Daily supplies: Same as typical classroom budget Service Learning: Similar to costs incurred for field trips Para Support: May be already provided within an existing building Identification Costs: Based on type of identification tool used and how many students are qualified for standardized IQ testing.

Staffing may be cost neutral depending on the numbers of students identified for the program. The teachers who would teach this class are already part of the School District; they would simply be shifted from other assignments. Staffing is based on enrollment and if students were to be shifted from one school, the staffing would shift accordingly. In fact, based on the number of students who are part of the program, enrollment in a specific school(s) may be reduced enough to actually reduce FTE overall. Location Scenarios: A site(s) has not been determined, but some scenarios are described below. The three scenarios are of a single elementary school site, two elementary school sites (one on the east side of the District and one on the west side) and a site not connected to an elementary school. Although placing the program at one, or both, of the middle schools was considered it is not in the best interests of the students to place them with students who are so much older. Based on two clusters of students (40-50 students) Single Site: Elementary School Building Pros: · Two clusters of students with two instructors means the students can have greater interaction and collaboration with each other on a regular basis including experiences both in and out of the classroom. · Teachers will have the ability to interact and co-facilitate classroom activities as well as joint lesson planning and discussion. · Administrative logistics for one site would be easier than two separate sites. · Students part of the elementary site atmosphere. · Students participate in Specials, lunch, recess with chronological peers · Elementary structure/facilities already in place. 33

· · Cons: · · · ·

Access to curriculum. Teacher access to facilities/other teachers.

Finding the space for two full classrooms in one building might be difficult Loss of the neighborhood school dynamic. Central Hub busing/transportation is more costly. Students may be separated upon graduation to middle school.

Two Sites: East/West locations in Elementary Buildings Pros: · Maintain neighborhood school dynamic · Finding a single classroom at an elementary site is easier than two. · Students part of the elementary school atmosphere · Students participate in Specials, lunch, recess with chronological peers · Elementary structure/facilities already in place. · Access to curriculum. · Teacher access to facilities/other teachers. · Students would not be separated upon graduation to middle school. Cons: · · · · Isolation of students from cognitive peers. More administrative work and less on-site supervision. Less planning/collaboration with program staff. Less flexible grouping within the program.

Single Site: Off Elementary Campus Pros: · Teachers and students together at single site. · Program not part of elementary schools that already house multiple programs including Immersion, RSK, etc. · Central Administration Cons: · · · · · Students and teachers are isolated without access to elementary facilities, peers, specials, playgrounds, atmosphere, etc. Finding a location with access to two classrooms suited for elementary aged children might be difficult. Central hub transportation could be costly. May include rental costs. Loss of the neighborhood school concept.

Transportation Scenarios: A. Parent Option Plan 34

B. District Transportation Options - Shuttle - Direct Busing Expansion Scenarios: The intention of the program, given its success, is to grow to encompass students aged 6-14. A. Site Expansion: If the program is to be housed within a single school expansion would begin with students that are chronologically labeled 2nd and 1st graders. These students would be looped together into a single classroom and would require all the facilities and staff needed to build another classroom for this group of students. The methodology of teaching and thematic nature of the curriculum would be similar, but would be designed to meet the age appropriate needs of the learner. B. Multiple Site Expansion: Should the program be housed in two separate locations the same procedures as dictated above would be followed with a looped classroom for six and seven year olds to be established at each site. C. Middle School Expansion: Another phase of program expansion would involve first year graduates moving into the middle school setting. It is recommended that single classroom programs be implemented at both Middle School East and Middle School West with all the facilities and staff required to continue the program. The curriculum will be built upon the foundations of that which was taught and learned at the elementary site(s) along with other accommodations needed to meet the needs of the middle school student. D. High School Expansion: There are no plans for high school expansion at this time given the wide array of courses and opportunities currently available to the high school student including options for enrollment in AP and IB courses at the ninth grade level. Limitations: As a new program, there may be some difficulty in the areas of identification of those students that may not have been appropriately identified. There may also be some growing pains in the early adoption of a program that is different in its philosophy and methodology. Finding age appropriate materials may also be difficult especially in terms of literature wherein some texts may not be accessible to the student due to inappropriate content. Finally, this program must be seen as a program that is meant to meet the needs of a population of diverse learners, not those whose needs can be meet with the existing resources provided by the district.


Evaluation: This program will be evaluated through on-going parental and teacher surveys. Additional research and evaluation will come from the University of St. Thomas and the High Potential department. One specific area to examine is the impact on the students who are both part of this program and those that are part of the regular classroom structure. For example, some research indicates that the long-term effects of having high potential students in a regular classroom actually limit some students' achievement. In terms of social emotional impact, research will be conducted on student well-being and overall growth of both the exceptionally gifted classrooms and the regular classrooms. Due to its relatively small size, the program should be able to adjust itself on a continual basis. A full program review conducted by an outside source may be necessary, but only when the program has been established and running for at least three years. A longitudinal study will be conducted to follow students after exiting from the program. Early Intervention: It is recommended to develop a program of early intervention to reach potential students before they begin to camouflage their abilities. It is suggested that some training should be given to early childhood education specialists and administrators to equip them with the tools needed to understand the traits of the exceptionally gifted learner in order to be proactive in local identification. In addition, all elementary principals should be versed in the same procedures. Immersion: Language specialists would be provided on a regular basis for those students who opt into the school from the immersion program. The model would not be an immersion model but an exposure model with supplemental training supplied by software such as Rosetta Stone or similar computer based programs. Conclusion: Based on the evidence put forth it is highly probable that a school designed for the unique needs of the exceptionally gifted learner could be operational by the 2009/10 school year. Not only would this program benefit the exceptionally gifted student but also the greater Minnetonka Public Schools community as it strives to meet the learning needs of each and every one of its students. Questions from community: How are students identified for such a program when some of its potential candidates `camouflage' at an early age? This is indeed a large issue, however, it first must be said that not all of these students camouflage. Through our on-going assessment procedures we are able to find a number of these students already. Those that do camouflage do offer a greater challenge and thus we must


employ every means necessary, including teacher and parent referrals, formative assessments, and possibly the use of a Stanford-Binet Intelligence test. As an additional note, other schools, such as Bloomington's Dimensions Academy, have identification procedures in place that seem to be working well. They rely exclusively on NWEA scores in addition to a stringent student performance contract. Are exceptionally gifted students really that different? The short answer is yes and no. Some of these students do very well in the traditional school setting. These are those extremely intelligent students who also happen to be high achievers as well and have the ability to adjust to their current settings. For these particular students the traditional schooling model does work because it allows them to achieve at an accelerated rate. In addition, these same students tend to be very active in the community and keep themselves busy with extra-curricular activities. These are not the students that we are hoping to attract, although they would be welcome to participate. It is the student that is not performing well in the classroom due to the inability of the system to meet their intellectual needs that we are hoping to attract. It is this student that, in study after study as referenced in In Defense of Appropriate Education for the Highly Gifted, does not perform well in the classroom and on standardized assessments. It is this student that experiences `disconnect' with their schooling that in turn can only lead to troubling circumstances such as behavioral issues, social isolation, and affective disorders. The fact is that when we examine the learning characteristics of the exceptionally gifted child it does not match with the regular notion of schooling just as the learning characteristics of the special needs student does not fit in with the instructional strategies of the regular classroom. What are the social effects on the student and the rest of the student population? Any parent or student that does not wish to be part of the program has the option to remain in their neighborhood school. However, this should not limit the options of those students that wish to partake in a classroom of mental peers characterized by highly accelerated, thematic instruction that allows for longer periods of curricular exploration. The social effects on the well-being of the exceptionally gifted student as well as the rest of the student body are yet to be determined. However, the research indicates that in many cases, these students are already isolated as they do not fit in with their grade level peers. The existing research on the social and emotional effects of placing exceptionally gifted students in the regular classroom shows that there can be negative emotional consequences that this `odd duck' feeling can have on these highly sensitive children. Dr. Richard Cash, in a recent conversation, states the problem this way; "We tried to integrate our students (the ones identified as highly gifted) as much as possible in the Art, Music, and PE classrooms as well as in the lunch room, but the fact of the matter is that they end up sitting together on their own anyway." Clearly, the essential goal of this project is to give those struggling exceptionally gifted students a deserved opportunity to learn. If we can be successful in this venture, the social and emotional needs will also be addressed. How will the District pay for this?


While there will be some start up and maintenance costs (see Expenses) we believe that they will be minimal as we are still serving Minnetonka students using Minnetonka teachers within existing facilities. However, there will be additional costs in terms of materials, transportation, and training which will have to be paid out of a budget yet to be determined. Can such a program exist within an existing school system? While we do expect issues related to the development of a new program as well as growing pains we believe based on other sites visited that a exceptionally gifted school-within-a-school could co-exist within the District and become a welcome addition to the District as it moves to meet the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social needs of every student on the spectrum. Site Visit Summaries: Four case studies of existing exceptionally gifted models or programs both locally and nationally are located below: A) Lighthouse Program Visit: Spring Lake Park Public Schools (Program for Insatiable Learners) Bill Keilty: Director Overview: · Fourth year of existence · Non-grade level: Ages approx. 10-18 · Two full time facilitators · 16 students (06/07); 25 students (07-08), 30+ (08/09) · Exclusively in-house program located at the high school within the Industrial Tech. Department · Cost neutral Identification: · Students enter through invitation only o Spend a day with the class o Interview/portfolio presentation o Past academic performance o Sample writings o Interest areas o Ability to work independently and with a team o Open enrolled students are charged a one time testing fee of $250.00 Problem Based Learning: · Everyone begins at the 6th grade level after which a needs assessment is done by the teaching team (Everyone is an "A....not yet". This means students begin with an A and are expected to maintain that standard)


· · · · ·

Competition is large part of curriculum (online competitions, history day, science fair, Inventors Fair, Eco-competitions, etc.) Community work is expected and encouraged: try to apply to problem based learning Use of technology is a very large piece of daily work/instruction Each student has an LP3 or personal profile of learning that includes on-going activities, portfolios of work with labels that explain connections to learning Activities are created by facilitators/students and then tied to standards/learning goals/credits

Typical School Day: · Morning meetings: student circle (social emotional needs, on going issues, events: community, national, global) · Students log in to Blackboard: build/receive assignments, work expectations, engage in discussion based on question prompts, and parental communication · Students work on various activities o Experiential learning based on curricular themes o Soft ware driven programs/competitions (e.g. Civilizations, Sim City type) o Helping to organize community events/expeditions (e.g. The class helped to plan an alpine expedition in the Andes Mountains and helped the scientists organize, track (satellite), and delineate new findings) o Critical thinking activities o Guest speakers/lecturers o Learning to become autonomous learners o Interdisciplinary-thematic o Every two weeks the students do specials (art, phys ed., music) o Students still responsible for NWEA and MCA testing o Students may opt to participate in AP courses Facilitators Requirements: · Continual communication with students · Align student work with benchmarks/learning standards · Facilitate themes: work expectations, assignments, speakers, and others · Student support · Maintain student Learning Plans Exiting Procedures: · Interventions are usually organic: some kids just do not fit in or cannot work under these conditions Intangibles: · Up to a 2 year adjustment period as students settle into a new methodology of teaching and learning · Parents are heavily involved B) PEGS: Program for Exceptionally Gifted Learners


St. Louis, Missouri Director: Michelle Ryder Overview: · 17th year of existence (1991) · Began with one profoundly gifted elementary student · State funded Magnet school drawing students from 3 counties · Resides in Pattonville School District at one elementary building (5 classrooms), one middle school (2 classrooms), and one high school (1 class) · 124 students enrolled · Cost neutral Identification: · Minimum 140 IQ on the WISC IV (parents must provide) · Parent Information · Teacher Information · Student Interview · Student Activity (class participation) · Applications reviewed and decisions made by PEGS advisory board · Parents must provide a WISC IV standardized assessment completed by a contracted psychologist Curriculum: · Use of International Baccalaureate (PYP, MYP, DP) · Also includes Foreign Language component · Music, Art, PE is integrated with reg. school population · Individualized instruction · Highly qualified teachers Instruction: · Accelerated learning through curriculum compaction · Advanced training in critical thinking and research skills in all academic areas · Creative production of projects based on topics of special interest to students · Special assistance with social and emotional growth · Mentors to enrich and extend learning in their areas of expertise · Mainstreaming for fine arts and physical education with same age peers Typical School Day: · Not unlike the regular school day but with longer class periods and less transitions · Students are generally self motivated and are working at their own pace which means that students in the same class will all be in different spots in the curriculum (students are encouraged to read when finished assignments/activities early) · Students are required to participate in a brain friendly exercise regiment each morning before instruction takes place


Transportation: · Parents are responsible for transporting students to and from PEGS Intangibles: · Very few cases of students exiting the program (each occasion has been related to extreme social emotional behaviors). Students moved back to their home districts · Parents involvement is heavy (volunteers) but limited in terms of programs decision making · Very little behavior management issues · Highly regarded program nationally C) Freidel Middle School Rochester, MN Principal: Monica Bowler Overview: · Located at one central site in downtown Rochester · 2nd year in existence servicing 6th and 7th graders · School within a school program · Approx. 50 students enrolled 08/09 · 3 full time teachers employed · Some start-up costs Identification: · Students must score minimum of IQ135+ on the SAGES 2 measure of cognitive abilities · Alternative testing date: SAGES 2 used for open enrolled students · Portfolios of work · New identification model being developed Curriculum: · Heavy use of the College of William and Mary Curriculum · Fine Arts, Physical Ed., Technology/Media classes taken with regular classroom students Instruction: · Inquiry based and student centered. · The teacher facilitates the movement through the curriculum but the students dictate the pace and breadth of instruction Typical Day: · Students take core courses with three full time staff including Social Studies, English/Language Arts, Science, and Math · Students are integrated with chronological peers in Fine Arts, Phys. Ed., lunch and advisory · Program maintains a schedule similar to the rest of the students within the building


Transportation: · Central bussing system · Some students spend up to 45 minutes on the bus each way · Parental car pooling Intangibles: · Struggling to identify culturally diverse students · Heavy parental involvement · The school principal commented on the lack of disciplinary issues within the program. The greatest offense: students unwilling to stop reading in the halls and in the classroom. Student Comments: · Out of four groups of students identified in both sixth and seventh grade all indicated the following sentiments about the program: o All really enjoyed participating o All spoke of being freed to actually learn something new and exciting at a pace that kept them engaged o Many spoke of the lack of bullying that they had previously experienced in their regular school buildings o Many endured long bus trips to and from school but all indicated that the sacrifice was well worth the reward of being able to learn o All enjoyed the freedom to explore many fields of study related to the topics being taught in the classroom D) Dimensions Academy Bloomington, MN Director: Richard Cash Overview: · Located in Oak Grove Intermediate School within Bloomington Public Schools · 2007/2008 attendance: 130 students grades 4-8. · Attendance grows each year to accommodate extensive waiting list. · Use of lottery to add students · Start up costs exceeded $40,000.00. However, the site was cost neutral within one year of operation. Dimensions now generate in excess of $250,000.00 for its District on an annual basis. Identification: · Began with students with standardized test results at IQ 140+ · Moving to include NWEA results. Students must score at or above the 98% in both Math and Reading · The rigor and pace of the curriculum also drives identification in terms of currently enrolled students Curriculum:


· · ·

College of William and Mary Curriculum Includes courses in Math, Science, Social Studies, and English/Language Arts Fine Arts, Health, and Phys. Ed. taken with chronological peers

Instruction: · High paced, rigorous curriculum taught in a somewhat traditional environment · Emphasis on classroom discussions · Taught by regular classroom instructors Typical Day: · Similar to Friedell Middle School in Rochester (see above) Transportation: · District provides hub transportation to in-district students · Parental car pools Intangibles: · Exiting strategies include family coaching and movement back to home school within the first few months of the school year · Have had more students leave than other programs: parental expectations, student expectations, type of classroom programming · Will not expand to include 1-3 grade students · A large portion of enrollment are open enrolled students · Heavy parental involvement Other Local Sites: Atheneum Academy, Inver Grove Heights Public Schools; Gateway, South Washington County Public Schools; Capital Hill Gifted & Talented Magnet, St. Paul Public Schools; the GATE program, Stillwater Public Schools;



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