NISD Gifted Referral Process
MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL
INTRODUCTION AND INTENDED OUTCOMES
Thank you for joining us to learn more about the referral process for gifted services in Northwest ISD. We will share the purpose of gifted services, characteristics of students with GT instructional needs versus high achievement, and the timeline and deadlines for referrals and testing. We will notify you of any changes that impact your child(ren).
THE TEXAS STATE PLAN FOR THE EDUCATION OF GIFTED/TALENTED STUDENTS
This document is used to provide guidance to campuses and districts on how to implement gifted services in Texas. It states that gifted services provide "self-directed learning, thinking, research, and communication" and that the students identified for these services are "advanced in relation to students of similar age, experience, and environment." Students must qualify for services based on quantitative data such as test scores as well as qualitative data such as referral information. You may access the State Plan HERE.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "GIFTED" AND A NEED FOR "GIFTED SERVICES"?
Gifted is a term used in various settings and contexts. For this conversation, we will avoid the term and focus on gifted services. One is not better than the other, much like the ice cream and chocolate cake you see here. Both are delicious desserts, but each may fulfill a different need.
Because a school district is tasked with educating students, gifted services are provided to students who have instructional needs beyond the scope of the general education classroom. In Northwest ISD, students needing gifted services will take a combination of PreAP, AP, and GT courses. Students are encouraged to look at their strengths and passions and build a schedule that meets their academics AND social/emotional needs.
If you believe it is acceleration your student needs, then please visit https://www.nisdtx.org/departments/academics/advanced-academics/acceleration for more information.
WHAT DO WE ASSESS?
The verbal section measures a child’s ability to remember and transform sequences of words, to understand them and to make inferences and judgments about them.
The quantitative section measures a child’s understanding of basic quantitative concepts and relationships.
The non-verbal section measures reasoning using pictures and geometric shapes.
Capacity can vary by person, topic, subject, or skill. We all have different capacities to learn. For example, I may have a larger capacity to grasp complex concepts in math than I do in other areas like English or art.
LET'S APPLY THIS TO MICHAEL PHELPS...
Michael Phelps won 28 medals at the Olympics and 23 of them were gold. He has set record upon record for swimming and awards. Many attribute his success to four characteristics: exceptional lung capacity, relatively short legs, relatively large wingspan, and a relatively long torso. I'm sure you all agree that he has quite the capacity to do well in swimming because of the way his body was built. However, he also had great coaching and he worked to his capacity. That's like our students. They can have the ability to learn faster or deeper but they still must have a "coach" and work hard.
Now, for just a moment ask yourself this. What if you had his coach? Would you have Olympic gold medals? Maybe, but I can tell you I wouldn't. I don't have his capacity or ability, to swim, so having his coach would not be needed. I would never be an Olympic swimmer. We can apply this to some of the high achieving students we have in our schools who do not qualify for gifted services. They do not have the demonstrated need.
HOW DO WE KNOW IF A STUDENT NEEDS GIFTED SERVICES?
We look at multiple data points including teacher and parent input, aptitude and achievement. When a campus gathers all of this data, they are able to determine the educational need for gifted services.
WHAT IS A PERCENTILE?
A percentile demonstrates where a student performs compared to other students. In NISD, we use the age norms so the comparison is in a three-month window. Remember, the Texas State Plan requires that we consider students who are advanced "when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment."
Imagine that in the graphic below, each box represents a person. The 90th percentile is the same as 10 out of 100 students, who are all in the same age group. So when we talk about a student performing at the 90th percentile, we are saying that he is performing better than the grey students.
WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT TO SHARE IN THE REFERRAL?
This is a question we are asked all the time. Click HERE for a list of characteristics that may help you determine if your child has a need for gifted services. Click HERE for the list in Spanish. Sometimes it is helpful to think about the need for gifted services within specific content areas.
Most importantly, sharing examples of the observed characteristics is helpful for the campus placement committee to determine if the student has an instructional need for gifted services.
WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION IS NOT HELPFUL TO SHARE IN THE REFERRAL?
Sometimes it is helpful to have some non-examples of what not to share. The following things don't really help us understand why your student may need gifted services.
When you do provide us with examples, be as specific and detailed as possible.
Just like the previous example, the term creative has lost meaning because it has been overused or incorrectly used. A better way to share about your child is to say, "My child shows creative thinking when she or he..." and then give concrete examples.
Some children may be artistic, but we do not provide gifted services in the arts. NISD does have an amazing Fine Arts Department, so if this describes your child, please look into the many options they provide.
"MAKES GOOD GRADES" OR "HAS HIGH TEST SCORES"
Families often share that their child needs gifted services because they make good grades or they have high test scores. However, many students beyond the expected range of students who would need gifted services perform in that range.
"HAS WON AWARDS"
Also, some share about their child's awards for leadership, character, or even sports. None of those examples help identify a student who needs our services.
Families share that they feel their child would thrive in gifted services or that the teacher has suggested there may be a need.
Or they share that their child would benefit from the services. However, while the students may thrive or benefit, the services are designed for students who have demonstrated a need for them.
"IS BORED IN CLASS"
This statement is one of the more common that we hear from families. While bored is a term children often use to describe various feelings including disengaged, overwhelmed, or even disinterested, those do not indicate a need for gifted services. We recommend reaching out to the classroom teacher to discuss these concerns.
HOW DO I REFER MY CHILD?
After you have reviewed all the information in this newsletter, you can click the link in the question just below this one. That link will take you to another SMORE which will give you information on testing protocols, guidelines, timelines, and results.
You will need your child's student ID number. This is a 7-digit number. If you don't know it, you can access it in the HAC.
You will provide information in a questionnaire about your child, including information about your child's learning characteristics. It is best if you prepare for this before you start the form.
WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR REFERRALS, TESTING, AND RESULTS?
Please click HERE for all the information you need for referring your child. You also will find information on testing timelines and results posting.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens if my child is absent on the day of testing? We will schedule makeup testing as time is available.
Does my child need to be retested if s/he is already receiving services? Your child does not need to be retested once s/he has qualified for services.
My child did not qualify last time s/he was tested. Can s/he be tested again? Yes, students have annual opportunities to be referred for gifted services. In deciding if you should refer your child multiple times, consider the child's instructional needs and his/her response to potentially testing and not qualifying. Sometimes students internalize this as a failure because they do not understand the nature of this kind of assessment and process.