The Englewood Cliffs Gifted and Talented Program (GATE) strives to provide services to children with special educational needs. Gifted children require a myriad of educational opportunities which maximize their unique styles, interests, and aptitudes. Curricula must provide rigorous and differentiated experiences that will foster positive attitudes toward continued learning. As a result, problem-solving, critical thinking and creative production of ideas set the foundation for GATE program offerings.
The Gifted and Talented Program nurtures students’ aptitudes and talents. Exposure to experiences beyond the scope of the regular grade level curriculum broadens students’ range of interests. Additionally, the Gifted and Talented Program provides for the interaction of identified students in small specialized group settings under the guidance of educators who are sensitive to the uniqueness of gifted children.
Throughout the gifted and talented curriculum, content and activities are selected which afford maximum skill development in the cognitive domains. Higher level thinking skills are imperative to the realization of the gifted student’s potential; therefore, the development and refinement of critical thinking skills are at the core of each curriculum. In addition, the curriculum provides the opportunity to exercise creative talents as a complement to cognitive abilities. Creativity can be thought of as the cornerstone of progress. For this reason, the creative skills of fluency, flexibility, divergency, originality and elaboration are stressed.
Because a creative, original idea which is not communicated effectively has limited impact, the development of communication skills in the gifted student is essential. The communication skills addressed throughout the curriculum include verbal and non-verbal communication, interpersonal skills, listening skills, and written expression.
Due to the varied and unique needs of gifted students, innovative educational opportunities are essential to an effective, engaging, and comprehensive program.
The Englewood Cliffs school district is committed to meeting the needs of our gifted learners and has created an environment that addresses our students’ unique learning styles. In addition to staff trained on differentiation strategies, the following program offerings are in place:
Kindergarten: Literature-based classroom experiences that correspond with individual reading levels and personal interests; individualized word lists that accelerate reading fluency; differentiated math and reasoning enrichment challenges.
Grade 1: The Project Primary pull-out program strengthens convergent, divergent, analytical, and visual/spatial problem-solving skills. Identified students are challenged to communicate their ideas verbally and in writing. Furthermore, math aptitude is strengthened through a variety of problem-solving activities.
Grades 2-8: Students engage in rigorous, interdisciplinary themed-units of study that foster problem-solving, creativity, communication, and decision making. Projects challenge students to apply academic and creative abilities in meaningful ways while recognizing connections to the real world. Field trips, competitions, and gifted outreach programs support and enhance the gifted child’s educational experience. Other enrichment offerings include: the Spelling Bee (3-8), Science Fair (6-8), Math Counts (6-8), Music Programs (Band: 4-8, Wind Ensemble: 6-8, Honors Band Auditionees: 7-8 ), School Musical Productions (3-8 ) and Set-Design (6-8).
Annual screening of students is conducted using multiple measures for identification for the pullout GATE program. These measures align with the interdisciplinary nature of program offerings and reflect the community of learners we serve.
Kindergarten: Teacher Observations, Individual Reading Levels, Math Benchmark Scores
Grade 1: Grade-level data is used to determine Project Primary participation: Math Pre-assessment results, Reading Levels, Words-Their-Way (or another similar assessment), and Modified Renzulli Teacher Recommendation Checklist Scores. Students in the top 20% of 3 of the 4 areas above qualify for Project Primary participation.
Tier 1: Each school year grade-level data is analyzed to determine the need for further screening for the GATE program. Any of these three indicators would warrant further gifted testing: Top 15% of locally normed grade-level data in both ELA and Math, a Cognitive Skills Index Score of 130 or higher (done in spring of grades 3,5,7 - used for identification in grades 4,6,8), or a Modified Renzulli Teacher Recommendation Checklist Score of 85% or higher. Any of these three results will warrant further screening using gifted testing instruments (Tier 2).
Tier 2: There are two levels of gifted testing: K-3 and 4-8. A child may take either one or both assessments. The results of these assessments are placed in a rubric and points are awarded for scores. The rubric also includes grade-level data (Math/ELA), grade-level Cognitive Index Scores (3,5,7), and the Modified Renzulli Teacher Recommendation Checklist scores. Each school year, a child's rubric profile is updated with the most recent information. Students must meet the district’s GATE Target Score of 13 (out of a total of 20 points). The Target Score is intended to reach recommended student participation levels of 8-10%. The specific grade-level rubric for identification can be obtained from the teacher of the gifted and the school principal.
The GATE identification process is annually reviewed and ongoing to ensure that the needs of students are met. Final selection decisions are made in coordination with classroom teachers, the teacher of the gifted, and the school administration. Annual participation decisions for grades 2-8 will be communicated in writing to parents of students under consideration in October; Project Primary candidates will be determined in December. Moreover, curricular goals for identified students will be shared with parents.
Decisions about entrance into the Gifted and Talented Program (GATE) reflect a demonstrated need for additional services. Multiple measures are employed that utilize both quantitative data (formal test scores or assessments) and qualitative data (teacher observations of students' behaviors, characteristics, and achievement). Although we stand behind our identification process, parents may reach out to the GATE teacher to request information or appeal a decision. If necessary, a meeting may be scheduled with the parent, gifted coordinator, and/or district administrator to discuss the matter. After reviewing all the data, the administrator will reject or affirm the district’s decision and communicate that information to parents. If you have further questions, please contact the teacher of the gifted, Elise Andersen at [email protected].