High Ability at Elkhart Community Schools

IC 20-36-2 Chapter 2. Programs for High Ability Students

Sec. 2. A governing body shall develop and periodically update a local plan to provide appropriate educational experiences to high ability students in the school corporation in kindergarten through grade 12. The plan must include the following components:

  1. The establishment of a broad based planning committee that meets periodically to review the local education authority’s plan for high ability students. The committee must have representatives from diverse groups representing the school and community.
  2. Student assessments that identify high ability students using multifaceted assessments to ensure that students not identified by traditional assessments because of economic disadvantage, cultural background, underachievement, or disabilities are included. The assessments must identify students with high abilities in the general intellectual domain and specific academic domains. The results of an assessment under this subdivision must be recorded with the student test number assigned to a student.
  3. Professional development.
  4. Development and implementation of local services for high ability students, including appropriately differentiated curriculum and instruction in the core academic areas designated by the state board for each grade consistent with federal, state, local, and private funding sources.
  5. Evaluation of the local program for high ability students.
  6. Best practices to increase the number of participants in high ability student programs who are from racial and ethnic groups that have been underrepresented in those programs.

 

High Ability at Elkhart Community Schools

The High Ability program at ESC addresses the needs of students with particularly high achievement and/or academic potential. Differentiated educational experiences are designed and delivered for students who are capable of success with rigorous academic challenges. High ability classrooms provide not only a specialized curriculum, but also rich classroom interactions with peers of similar achievement and/or ability levels.

 

BROAD BASED PLANNING COMMITTEE

The Broad Based Planning Committee (BBPC) meets on a quarterly basis and is open to the public. All building administrators, parents and teachers of high ability students are invited. One or more students from each secondary school is specifically invited as well. The meeting is facilitated by the High Ability Coordinator and is also often attended by other central office administrators and school board members.

The meeting dates are set and announced annually. Typically the meeting is attended by at least 20 individuals. Although the committee may ask to address other issues, the agendas for the meetings typically follow the following topics:

Quarter 1: Reviewing goals and identifying action steps
Quarter 2: Professional development needs; Parent support needs
Quarter 3: Examining performance data for students; programming implications
Quarter 4: Identifying priorities for next year and propose budget for grant application

 

IDENTIFICATION

Formal identification begins in kindergarten and continues through the years. Students can be identified as high ability in the areas of math, English language arts, or general intellectual (both) on nationally normed instruments. The standard cut score of the 95th percentile will be applied for eligibility.

Performance: All ECS students in Grades K-8 participate in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing provided by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Scores from the winter administration are used to identify students with high achievement levels.

Potential: Students in Grade K, 2, and 5 are administered the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAt) to identify those with high academic potential.

Standard Error of Measure: Students with scores that are two points or less from eligibility cut score for high ability identification, or at the 93rd or 94th percentile, will also be rated on the Scales for Identifying Gifted Students (SIGS).

Each spring families of students identified with high achievement and/or ability are notified by the district’s Instructional Leadership team of placement options. Elementary students found with high ability in both English language arts and mathematics will have priority access to self-contained settings in cases where space is limited.Program placement occurs each fall following the spring identification process. Instructional adjustments are made throughout the year as indicated by formative assessments.

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Each year, the IDOE High Ability Grant is written to sponsor the registration and conference/ travel of teachers, administrators and parents to attend the Indiana Association of the Gifted Conference. In addition, teachers attend high ability workshops sponsored by the IDOE and participate in all district professional development initiatives. On years when teachers have expressed interest in getting high ability licensure, the grant has paid to reimburse for coursework.

 

SERVICE DELIVERY

Upon identification, parents are notified of options to have their son/daughter attend a high ability centralized program or receive high ability services in their neighborhood school. The curriculum in both the centralized and the neighborhood delivery model includes alignment to high standards, differentiation, enrichment, relevance, acceleration, emotional support, and grouping with other students also identified with high ability. The difference between the models is evidenced in the numbers of students with similar needs in the same setting. The centralized program will include self-contained classrooms and large group placements as the numbers permit while the neighborhood program will be delivered in smaller groupings and possibly multi-age settings.

Students who qualify for high ability services in Grades 7 and 8 have opportunities to take high school courses offered at the middle schools. Such courses currently include honors algebra and honors geometry, as well as honors sections of language arts and social studies courses. Extracurricular clubs are varied and give students opportunities for quality experiences aligned with their passions. At the secondary level, honors classes are not restricted to only those students who qualify for high ability, but rather are scheduled for students based on a number of data points including high ability identification.

High Ability high school students in ECS have extensive opportunities. College credit is available to students prior to graduation, helping students find career pathways and saving college costs. Hundreds of college credits are available to students from Elkhart Community Schools through their success with Dual Credit and Advanced Placement (AP) course work. Graduates from the High Ability program are prepared for success wherever their interests take them.

 

Transfers

  • If a student was receiving high ability services in a previous setting, standardized testing evidence from that agency can be submitted for review by the ECS identification team. If the student received scores at or above the required percentile on an acceptable test in that setting, the results may qualify the student for high ability services at ECS without any additional testing.
    Students who are not enrolled, or not yet enrolled, with ECS may participate in high ability testing. The cost for participation is $60, refundable upon enrollment at Elkhart Community Schools. To register your child for testing, call the Instructional Leadership Department at Elkhart Community Schools, 574-262-5559.

 

Appeal Process

  • NWEA results for all students in grades K-8 will be reviewed each year by a district team.  Additionally, CogAT is used in grades K, 2, and 5 to look for cognitive potential for all students not already identified as high ability.  This thorough assessment strategy precludes the need to request additional testing in most cases and allows for equal opportunities.
  • Parents of students in grades 1, 3, and 4 who have not participated in CogAT the prior year may request this assessment be given on the off year by speaking to their building principal.
  • Parents of students who have previously been identified as high ability who believe that their students would be better be served in general education should contact the building principal to discuss their concerns.

 

Personalized Programs for High Ability Students with Special Needs

  • Instructional plans will be designed to meet the needs of all high ability students, including students learning English as a Second Language, students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and students with behavioral or health needs.
  • If your child with high ability is having difficulty in the High Ability program, first contact the educator providing high ability services. In elementary and middle schools, the High Ability Coordinator or the building principal may be able to assist as your next point of contact. Building principals are a good third tier of support if needed.
  • High ability services continue unless there is evidence that past testing is no longer relevant, when support plans have not been successful, or when a parent requests discontinuation of service.

 

EVALUATION

As recommended by the IDOE, the district contracts for an outside program review every six years.  The evaluators conduct interviews of administrators, teachers, students, and parents. They visit program sites and conduct walkthroughs of high ability classrooms.  In addition, they review documents and data related to the program. Finally, they provide a report that makes recommendations in the areas of Identification, Services, Curriculum, Instruction, Professional Development, Affective Needs and Program Effectiveness.

For additional Information about High Ability, please contact Breah Tolbert in Instructional Leadership at btolbert@elkhart.k12.in.us or 574-262-5720.