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Gifted & Talented » G&T Services FAQs

G&T Services FAQs

We invite you to review our Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs] to learn more about Gifted Education and our services in Franklin Lakes Public Schools. 

 

  1. What is giftedness?
  2. Is there a difference between “high achieving” and “gifted”?
  3. What is the continuum of Gifted & Talented services that Franklin Lakes provides?
    1. What is meant by “Tier I”, “Tier II”, and “Tier III”?
  4. How are students identified for Gifted & Talented services?
    1. What about twice-exceptional students and English Language Learners?
    2. What about students new to the district?
  5. What is the overall focus of the Gifted & Talented continuum of services? 
  6. What services are provided to identified students in the general education classroom?
  7. How can parents/ guardians give input about their child’s abilities? 
  8. Where else can I find information and resources about Gifted & Talented education?
  9. Who should parents/ guardians contact if they have additional questions?
  10. Are there commonly-held misconceptions about gifted education?
  11. Definitions
 
For additional information, please also consult with the FLPS Gifted & Talented Handbook.
 
1. What is giftedness?
 

“Gifted and talented students” means those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local school district and who require modifications to their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities (N.J.A.C. 6A:8, Standards and Assessment for Student Achievement, emphasis added).


2. Is there a difference between “high achieving” and “gifted”?
 

High-achieving students may not necessarily have giftedness. The table below offers clarity as to the distinction (Winebrenner, 2001).

High Achieving 

Gifted

  • Knows the answers
  •  Has good ideas
  •  Commits time and effort to learning
  •  Answers questions
  •  Is a top student
  •  Understands ideas
  •  Listens with interest
  • Is pleased with their own learning
  • High achievement, high growth
  • Asks the questions 
  • Has original ideas 
  • Performs with ease
  • Offers detailed and unique responses 
  •  Is intense 
  • Manipulates information 
  • Shows strong feelings and opinions 
  • Is highly self-critical 
  • High achievement, low growth

3. What is the continuum of Gifted & Talented services that Franklin Lakes provides?
 

Franklin Lakes offers a multi-tiered system of support for gifted education. All students in grades K–8 receive whole-class push-in enrichment to develop creative problem-solving skills. 


When the Body of Evidence in an individual student's learning profile points to a need that extends beyond the typical progression of student learning/development, a range of supplemental services may be provided to a student to support their growth toward individual potential. 


This continuum of supplemental Gifted & Talented services is designed to flexibly address a variety of individual needs including enrichment and extensions for those students demonstrating exceptionally high ability in a single or multiple content areas.


3a. What is meant by “Tier I”, “Tier II”, and “Tier III”?

Tier I: Differentiated classroom instruction to address the variance among individual learners by integrating gifted education within regular classroom settings. “Enrichment for All” opportunities provoke curiosity, creativity, exploration, problem-solving, investigation, and discovery.


Tier II: Targeted enrichment/extensions for high-ability learners who are demonstrably above grade level in a specified academic area. Learners can qualify on a temporary or longer-term basis based on the body of evidence the district has collected using multiple measures. Lessons are a differentiated extension of classroom content. Classroom-based and other assessments inform instructional planning for student needs.


Tier III: Specialized academic and social support for identified learners whose needs are unlikely to be met via Tier I or II services alone. Emphasis is on developing executive functioning skills of identified students and meeting affective needs through grouping with a  cohort of students with similar abilities.

 


4. How are students identified for Gifted & Talented services?

Following best practices established by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), a Gifted & Talented Specialist compiles multiple quantitative and qualitative data points for each student and develops a profile. These data points are developmentally-appropriate, culture-fair, valid, and reliable. 


A trained committee then reviews the student profiles to identify potential needs. This procedure is a blind review with all identifying student information redacted in order to prevent the possibility of influence, coercion, and/ or bias in the identification process.


This comprehensive universal screening process begins toward the end of each student’s Kindergarten year, and each student’s data is reviewed annually using the most current assessment data in order to identify potential needs. 

 

Multiple universal measures were  included in the 2022-23  identification process, which yield data that allows the district to norm and compare student performance compared to the grade-level cohort. These include:

    • Student Achievement Data (i.e., LinkIt benchmark assessments; 2023-24 identification: NJSLA will be included)
    • Student Diagnostic Data (i.e., IXL ELA and Mathematics Diagnostic assessment)
    • Abilities Test (i.e., CogAT: Verbal, Quantitative & Nonverbal subtests)
    • Creativity Data (i.e., Williams Creativity Tests of Divergent Thinking & Divergent Feeling) - measures the following cognitive thought factors: fluency, flexibility, elaboration, originality, vocabulary, and comprehension (as per the Williams Model).

 

Additionally, in an effort to gain a comprehensive and holistic view of a particular learner, parents/ teachers have the opportunity to formally provide additional qualitative information describing evidence of their student’s abilities as it pertains to markers of gifted behaviors.


SY 2022-23: In order to be formally identified for specialized G&T services, a student’s learning profile generally complies with the following Body of Evidence:

Tier II 

  • Two or more pieces of qualifying evidence*, one of which is quantitative;
  • Data from more than one source;
  • Data aligned to the area(s) of strength.

*Assessments and instruments must be reliable, valid, and culture-fair.

Tier III

  • Four or more pieces of qualifying (quantitative and qualitative) evidence*, one of which demonstrates aptitude (e.g., CogAT subtest);
  • Data from more than one source;
  • All points aligned to one or more areas of strength.

*Assessments and instruments must be reliable, valid, and culture-fair.


 

4.a. What about twice-exceptional students and English Language Learners?

Appropriate assessment alternatives and/or accommodations for English Language Proficiency and the special needs of students with Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans are utilized to plan for assessments. 


Qualitative data is also incorporated into the process which provides the opportunity for the affective aspects of a learner and other artifacts demonstrative of gifted behaviors to be considered. Committee decisions are final; there are no waivers for Gifted & Talented services. 


School Identification Committees are committed to identifying students whose abilities may be masked due to English language proficiency. The district utilizes NJDOE Gifted & Talented Guidance for English Language Learners to ensure identification processes are culture fair. 

 


4.b. What about students new to the district?
 

To ensure adequate time for the district to fully assess newly registered students (including kindergartners), the district will require one full school year in order to collect the multiple measures and evidence necessary to compare students with the local Franklin Lakes cohort. 


Meanwhile, Tier I services will be provided to all students. Parents/ guardians who wish to share qualitative information that demonstrates evidence of potential giftedness, i.e., anecdotes or student work samples, should feel free to share this with the classroom teacher(s) as part of the parent-teacher partnership. 


Additionally, school-based teams and individual teachers may also utilize processes such as consultations with the Gifted & Talented Specialist or Intervention & Referral Services to review available data/ evidence and determine if other measures should be taken.


5. What is the overall focus of the Gifted & Talented continuum of services?

The Franklin Lakes Gifted & Talented continuum of services aspire to support identified students in meeting their potential and addressing their specific learning needs by:   


    • Fostering self-reflective, analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in alignment with students’ instructional levels and the New Jersey Student Learning Standards;
    • Improving and enhancing students’ ability to think in novel or divergent ways;
    • Addressing the social and emotional needs of students demonstrating gifted behaviors;
    • Deepening student learning and facilitating growth; 
    • Expanding student interests, perseverance, and performance in an atmosphere where individual strengths and uniqueness are acknowledged and celebrated;
    • Providing time for students to meet and interact with similar-ability peers.


6. What services are provided to identified students in the general education classroom?

The instructional model across all content areas emphasizes differentiated instruction which research suggests is one of the best practices. Differentiated instruction is a way of teaching that allows teachers to customize their instruction, activities, and/or assessments to meet the needs of the individual learners. For example, a teacher may differentiate a reading lesson by assigning students different books to read based on the student’s reading ability. A teacher may differentiate math homework by selecting different assignments and problems based on individual students’ needs and mastery levels. A teacher may differentiate a culminating assignment by allowing students to choose whether they want to take a written test, create a project that demonstrates their mastery of the concept, or give an oral presentation on the subject matter. 


In addition, all students receive enrichment lessons through the Curiosity Corner (Grades K-3), Discovery (Grades 4-5), and Cycle (Grades 6-8) programs.


7. How can parents/ guardians give input about their child’s abilities?

Each year, parents/ guardians and teachers are offered the opportunity to share anecdotal information about students through a Google Form posted by the district. Completion of a referral is optional and intended to provide supplemental information to the balance of district quantitative and qualitative data. 2023-24 Identification: All students entering grades 1-7 are universally-screened for potential needs regardless as to whether a referral is completed.


The referral form consists of a rating scale and open-ended questions regarding behavioral characteristics of creative children. It also provides a space to upload student work samples, such as documents, photos, and videos that demonstrate giftedness. 

 


8. Where else can I find information and resources about Gifted & Talented education?

National


New Jersey



 
9. Who should parents/ guardians contact if they have additional questions?

Parents/ guardians can contact the Gifted & Talented Specialists for any additional information.


Grades K-5 Gifted & Talented Specialist

Ms. Stacia Mascharka 

[email protected]

Grades 6-8 Gifted & Talented Specialist

Ms. Darlene Marte 

[email protected]



10. Are there commonly-held misconceptions about gifted education?

Myth:  All Children Are Gifted


Truth:  All children have strengths and positive attributes, but not all children are gifted in the educational sense of the word. The label “gifted” in a school setting means that when compared to others his or her age or grade, a child has an advanced capacity to learn and apply what is learned in one or more subject areas, or in the performing or fine arts. This advanced capacity requires modifications to the regular curriculum to ensure these children are challenged and learn new material. Gifted does not connote good or better; it is a term that allows students to be identified for services that meet their unique learning needs.


There are many other false and archaic beliefs about giftedness. Some of the most common misconceptions include:

  • Gifted & Talented programs are rewards for students who work hard in school, and if my child studies and works hard enough, they can become gifted.
  • Gifted programs are elitist.
  • My child will be more successful in school and in life if they are identified as gifted.
  • Gifted students make everyone else in the class smarter by providing a role model or a challenge.
  • Our students don’t need a gifted program. We provide highly capable children with extra work.
  • Children cannot be gifted if they have a disability.
 

The National Association for Gifted Children has compiled a list of other common misconceptions. 


* * * * * * * * *
11. Definitions

Creativity” is the process of developing new, uncommon, or unique ideas. The federal definition of giftedness identifies creativity as a specific component of giftedness. 


Differentiation” means modifying curriculum and instruction according to content, pacing, and/or product to meet unique student needs in the classroom. 


Enrichment” is defined as activities that add or go beyond the existing curriculum. 


"Gifted and talented student" means a student who possesses or demonstrates a high level of ability in one or more content areas when compared to their chronological peers in the school district and who requires modifications of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities. 


Identification” is the process of determining student need for services. 


"Instructional adaptation" means an adjustment or modification to instruction enabling a student who is gifted and talented to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in one or more content areas at the instructional level of the student, not just the student's grade level. 


Multiple measures” means the use of multiple indicators and sources of evidence of student assessment, of varying kinds, gathered at multiple points in time. 


Qualitative data” means criterion-referenced data, which provides holistic information about an individual student. 


Quantitative data” means norm-referenced data, which provides for the comparison of students within the local district/cohort. 


 “Twice-Exceptional” (2e) is a term used to describe a student who is both gifted and disabled. These students may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being gifted with learning disabilities (GT/LD).