Q. What is the structure of the high school gifted program?
A. Gifted services are delievered through students' core English classes in grades 9-12 as well as in freshman social studies classes through Gifted Problem Solving (which replaces World Geography) and Gifted Government (which replaces Government).
Q. Does WGHS offer a gifted fine arts program?
A. No, it does not. We offer only an academic program.
Q. How does a student get into the gifted classes?
A. By meeting the criteria indicating giftedness as determined by the district's testing procedures.
Q. Are incoming Hixson students re-tested for the WGHS Gifted Program?
A. No. Once identified as academically gifted in the district, no matter at what age, students are able to participate in the program until they graduate.
Q. If a student opts out of gifted programming for a while, must he or she be re-tested to get back into gifted classes?
A. No. Students are welcome to opt out for a while and re-enter gifted classes later with no penalty.
Q. What if a student coming from another district was in his or her previous school’s gifted program? Does he or she automatically go into the WGHS program?
A. No. The student must be re-evaluated for the WGHS Gifted Program, as districts may have different identification criteria. Parents should fill out a nomination form at once to begin the testing process.
Q. How can students be recommended for testing? How long does the process take?
A. Any parent, teacher, staff member, or student can recommend a student for testing. There is a link to our nomination form, which should be sent directly to Sarah McGrath (WGHS Gifted Program Coordinator) or Kristy Jackson (WGSD Gifted Program Coordinator). The actual testing process depends on availability of the district’s tester as well as the student’s schedule.
The following questions relate specifically to the Gifted 9-12 English classes:
Q. As far as the gifted English classes go, must a student be gifted in English in order to be in them?
A. No! The student must meet the criteria for gifted identification. That’s it! Many of our students are not particularly gifted in English. Many are mathematically, logically, scientifically, creatively, etc. gifted. The teachers in the program understand and meet this challenge with a variety of strategies.
Q. Why is the program run largely through the English department if students are not necessarily gifted in English?
A. At the high school level, students have no room in their schedules for a pull-out or elective class, so it was decided that if WGHS wanted students to be able to participate in a gifted class, it should deliver services through a core class. English was deemed most flexible and suitable to deliver gifted content through.
Q. So are the gifted English classes the same as honors English classes? If not, what’s the difference?
A. No, they are not. The similarity between Gifted English and Honors English is that they offer challenging content at a relatively fast pace, which is why both gifted and honors classes offer honors credit
There are two big differences between Honors English and Gifted English:
- The population of a gifted class is more diverse than that of an honors class (a gifted class is not a class only of students skilled or interested in the language arts, as honors English classes are). In a gifted class, the sole admittance criteria is gifted identification, so students come with a variety of strengths and struggles.
- The teaching methods in a gifted class differ from the teaching methods in another English class. To administer gifted services, gifted certified teachers incorporate a variety of teaching methods in order to meet the needs and styles of the learners.
Q. What’s the difference between Gifted 11 AP English and Gifted 12 AP English classes and regular 11th and 12th AP English classes?
A. The similarities and differences are the same as those between Gifted and Honors classes, with similar rigor and pace but different student populations and teaching methods. In addition to the similarities mentioned above, though, students in Gifted 11 AP English and Gifted 12 AP English will also be instructed toward the AP exams and have the option of taking them at the end of the course.
Q. If a student is failing or underachieving in other classes and / or in the gifted classes, shouldn’t he or she be removed from gifted classes?
A. No! Gifted education is not a privilege for achieving students but a form of special education, and there is no grade requirement students must meet to stay in the program once they are in it.
Q. Would it be better to remove a failing or underachieving student from a Gifted English class and put him or her into a regular English class where he or she may do better?
A. Not necessarily. It must be considered WHY the student is doing poorly. If it is a matter of work ethic or motivation, that student will likely do poorly in another English class, too, as all English classes require reading, writing, and homework. If the student will do average or poorly in any English class, then it’s likely better he or she remain in gifted programming in order to continue to be exposed to gifted instruction, like-minded peers, and challenging ideas.
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