Is Your Gifted Student Being Supported in Public School?

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Is Your Gifted Student Being Supported in Public School?
Learn about how your gifted child can thrive in public schools across the country who are enhancing their diverse gifted program opportunities.
While nearly all public schools are required to provide specific programs to help support the needs of struggling students, many public school leaders and parents assert that students with gifted abilities should be entitled to the same opportunities. 

With the success of these special needs programs, which include one-on-one support, smaller class sizes, and modified curriculum options, many public schools are beginning to apply the same approach for gifted children, creating programs and classes that are targeted to their unique needs and abilities. “TAG” programs, which stand for “Talented and Gifted,” are growing in popularity in public schools. Proponents believe that TAG programs will help gifted students to enhance their own diverse learning abilities. 

Who are “Gifted” Students?

 Each TAG student possesses unique and diverse abilities, and subsequently, many public schools and states have their own forms of “gifted” assessments. For example, the Des Moines Public Schools of Iowa adhere to a strict state-mandated law regarding the assessment and qualifications of TAG children. According to Des Moines Public Schools, TAG students are required to meet an array of criteria, including:
  • Students who require classroom / curriculum modifications, including differentiation, advanced class placements, and/or accelerated pacing.
  • Students who demonstrate a high potential for advanced learning.
  • Student performance scores within the 95th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the Cognitive Abilities Test, and/or the Torrance Test of Creativity.
  • Student performance scores within the 90th percentile of the Naglieri Non Verbal Aptitude Test.
  • Students must submit teacher recommendations, a student portfolio, and may also need to engage in additional assessments / tests. While each state and school has its own form of assessing and identifying TAG students, Des Moines’ approach is a solid representation of the intense evaluation process that most schools enforce. 
New Public School TAG Programs and Their Benefits
To provide all students with essential accommodations, challenges, and academic support systems, public schools’ TAG programs have demonstrated great strides in recent years. Specifically, Portland Public Schools have been highlighted for their unique approach to meeting the educational needs of gifted students. 
According to the district, “Portland's program focuses on meeting the student's instructional level and rate of learning every day in the classroom across the curriculum.” With the Portland TAG approach, TAG teachers assist their students on a case-by-case basis, assessing a student’s cognitive level and abilities in order to constantly challenge the student with appropriate pacing and curriculum content. 
Overseeing this process, the Portland School principals engage in staff and parent meetings, and they serve as “on-site resources” for the children in the gifted program. Additionally, Portland Schools provide students and faculty with the assistance of a designated “TAG” office, where teachers on special assignments work with various schools and educators in order to enhance the programs, assist in budget planning issues, and engage in informational support sessions.  
In addition to Portland Public Schools, Lakewood Public Schools of Ohio have also earned attention for their outstanding TAG programs. Specifically Lakewood Public High School stands out as an institution providing kids with support both in and outside of school services. As Lakewood High School reveals, students meeting the unique TAG requirements are provided with an array of rigorous courses, including Advanced Placement and personal research options in order to engage in challenging and fast-paced learning. Adding to this, “Other services to meet the needs of gifted students include Post Secondary Enrollment Option, Independent Study and community activities that enrich the academic experience.”
In addition to the curriculum perks of Lakewood’s TAG courses, the district also offers advanced students summer learning opportunities as well. For example, students can enroll and participate in Ohio’s Summer Honors Institute program, where high school students explore more in-depth studies of educational and career topics. Adding to this, students can also participate in various clubs and expos, including engineering expos, community service clubs, and subject-based clubs. With the help of the TAG counselors of Lakewood Public Schools, students requiring extra attention, challenge, and rigor are provided with support both in and outside of the typical classroom.     
If your child is talented and gifted, he or she needs special public school support to flourish to full potential. Consider the types of TAG programs that have been implemented across the nation and rally your school district to strengthen their support for gifted children.

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