Thursday, May 7, 2009

That time of year...2nd grade screening for gifted and talented programs

As the screening process for 2nd graders was completed last month, I thought I'd write a little bit about what approach our district uses in order to place a student in one of the G & T programs. Most of what I'm writing about came in a handbook given out at open house this past fall which I'd be happy to share more of by request.

Our district uses a "matrix approach", like many others I'm sure, to screen children who were nominated by teachers or parents for placement in the programs. What this means is they use many ways to gather data to make an informed decision. Listed on a table in the handbook are the following: nomination form; academic progress as measured by standardized/normed tests like the DSTP (our state standardized test), Gates-MacGinitie reading test; a school ability test which is the OLSAT (Otis Lennon School Ability Test)- group IQ test; a grade level writing prompt; a grade level math problem set; a parent inventory of observed characteristics; and other additional data tools such as the PETS/HOTS activities used with 2nd graders in the ACT program, as well as some kind of creativity index.

Committees (staff trained to recognize and understand gifted characteristics) convene to then analyze scores and make placement recommendations. According to the handbook, "No one score or measure will exclude a student from placement in the appropriate program". As far as minimum scores on various screening instruments, there is no information listed in the handbook.

Personally I don't have experience with the matrix approach, since my son needed early intervention and we didn't go the traditional route. I'd love to hear any one's stories of how their children were screened by their district for entrance into a gifted program. I do know that I would have appreciated having the screening before my son went into kindergarten, but there are so many folks in education who believe that kids even out by 3rd grade, hence the wait until the end of 2nd grade. For those people who believe that kids even out by 3rd grade, tell me this- do you really think that a kindergartner who was found to read on a middle school level will stop progressing in his reading?

I won't even try to write more on the subject, since I believe that Laura Vanderkam's blog ( does a spectacular job on discussing the waiting until 3rd grade identification in her January 9, 2008 article. It is well worth a look!

Thanks for reading,