Issue #6 March 2021
From the Board
Hello NAGT Community,
I hope this month’s newsletter finds everyone doing well. It has definitely been an interesting and challenging year, and I think we have all found ourselves in unchartered waters. With so many different things to juggle, it’s hard to think about doing one more thing. But as we head into March, I hope you can find the time for a couple of things that impact gifted learners.
The first thing I hope you will consider doing is reaching out to your state legislators and letting them know why gifted education is an important part of public education. In the last legislative session, the GT allotment from the state was eliminated. While it was rolled into the basic allotment, there is currently no state funding specifically designated to gifted education. This means that a school district could choose to allocate money previously used for GT to any other program. While I don’t see this happening in NISD, it would be nice to have that protection for all gifted learners across Texas. Our state organization, TAGT, does advocate for gifted education and in fact, has several advocacy goals they are working on right now. I’ve listed them here, but to learn more about what you can do, please visit https://www.txgifted.org/advocacygoals.
Restore Dedicated State Funding for G/T Services
Ensure Compliance with State Plan
Maintain G/T Law in HB 3
Support Accountability Measures That Recognize G/T Students
Ensure Full School Funding
Encourage TEA to Collect, Disaggregate and Report Data about Gifted Education Programs
Encourage TEA to include Gifted Education in Texas’ ESSA State Compliance Plan
The other thing you can do is closer to home: make sure you and your neighbors are educated on the bond election in May. If approved by voters, the bond election will fund new campuses and renovations at schools across the district. While I am not telling you which way to vote, I am asking that you are educated about any future elections and the impact it will have on our gifted learners, now and in the future. And if you have questions or concerns, please reach out and ask. Learn more about the bond election here: https://www.nisdtxbond.org/.
In November, voters did not approve the bond election or the VATRE (voter-approval tax ratification election). A VATRE funds operational expenses, such as salaries, materials, electricity, and utilities. Unfortunately, the failed VATRE will impact gifted program staffing. NISD has been very blessed to have a GT Specialist at every elementary school; three of our schools have had two specialists for the past few years due to increased enrollment and higher numbers of gifted students. This has allowed campuses to meet both academic and social/emotional needs of gifted learners, as well as help classroom teachers with differentiation and enrichment. Because of the way school finance is structured and our status as a fast-growth district, the failed VATRE is causing NISD to make some hard decisions. One of those decisions is to bring all elementary schools down to one GT Specialist per campus. Some specialists will be going back to the classroom as classroom teachers. As a result, to make sure that all gifted learners are serviced, it is likely that some GT Specialists will be asked to go to additional schools to help out. This increased workload could present challenges for our GT Specialists. Be assured we are committed to providing the best services we can with the resources we have available. If district funding improves (either through legislative action or a future successful VATRE), we hope to return to current staffing levels in future years. If the Board calls for a VATRE on the November ballot, we will provide factual information about the proposal and polling dates and locations.
NAGT District Advisor
NISD Advanced Academics Coordinator
NAGT is committed to advocating for gifted and talented students in Northwest ISD. As a part of the advocacy effort, in the upcoming weeks, we will be asking NISD families to share their stories of #WhyGT matters! Please think about what it means to be a gifted learner or the parent of a gifted learner and consider sharing your story. Details are coming soon!
G/T awareness week (April 6-10)
During TAGT's G/T awareness week, parents, educators, and advocates come together to celebrate giftedness via online discussion and social media posts. The event is also designed to increase awareness and encourage support of gifted education in Texas by dispelling myths and providing a deeper understanding of the purpose of gifted education.
NAGT was proud to host a Zoom panel discussion with GT specialists from our district on October 26, 2020. Thank you to NISD gifted specialists Caitlin Andrews, Kelly Barrett, Kirstie Cooper, Lisa Degnan, Shelly Moses, Stacy Pickett, Marissa Randolph, and Kristy Schluter for sharing their expertise in educating our gifted students. They provided great insight into our kids. If you missed the discussion, the recording will be posted on the NAGT Facebook page. Thank you also to the parents who joined and shared comments and questions!
We kicked off our fall virtual book study on October 5, 2020. The book we selected is "When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers" by Judy Galbraith, M.A. and Jim Delisle, Ph.D. We had a great conversation and discussed the first chapter of the book at the kick off. We discussed chapters 2-4 of the book on November 4. During the discussion, we talked about identifying gifted kids and the emotional side of giftedness. Our third book discussion of the season on November 16 covered chapters 5-7 of the book. Our last discussion was on December 7 when the last chapter of the book was discussed. If you missed the discussion and would like to hear our discussion, you can watch our recording. You can also purchase the book on Amazon via NAGT website so that NAGT can get a little money back to invest in projects that benefit our GATES community.
We also held our Halloween Drawing & Writing contest in late October and sent out
12 Days of Gifted Guides, a fun and helpful email series featuring fun activities, gift ideas and resources, in December.
Last month, NAGT invited all gifted students to write a valentine to their gifted mind on Valentine's Day. You can check out the Gifted to Gifted session to see what our gifted learners love and appreciate about their gifted mind.
TAGT Highlights: Enrichment Programs
Our gifted learners can benefit from a variety of educational enrichment programs. You can find a list of summer camps, afterschool and year-long programs that focus on a wide range of subject areas around the country on TAGT website.
Gifted to Gifted: Valentine' Day Special Edition
Every month, NAGT will ask a GT Specialist and some gifted students to share their advice, insight, or recommendations with other gifted learners on a selected topic.
Topic of This Month:
What do our gifted learners love and appreciate about their gifted mind?
Watch this video to find out!
There are a total of 1916 bills filed for the 87th Session. Below are bills related to gifted and talented education and students that have been filed so far:
House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 27
HB 1302 (Guillen)
Relating to indicators of achievement under the public school accountability system. Includes addition of pre-AP/IB course completion, credit by exam, identification as gifted and talented, acceleration.
HB 1303 (Guillen)
Relating to an academic distinction designation for high student achievement under the public school accountability system. Includes addition of pre-AP/IB course completion, credit by exam, identification as gifted and talented, acceleration.
The Legislative Officer
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