In addition to the typical battery of tests fourth-graders take to qualify for Gifted and Talented services, students can also enter the program via referrals from parents.
“If a parent believes that his or her child shows a talent or giftedness in one the gifted and talented areas, then you have the opportunity to complete a referral form,” MCPS Gifted and Talented Coordinator Lesli Van Why said. The gifted and talented areas include: General Intelligence, Creative/Divergent Thinking, Leadership, Visual/Performing Arts, or in a specific academic aptitude (this includes language arts, math, science, and social studies).
Parents can access a referral form from the MCPS website by going to www.marion.kyschools.us and then selecting: Programs - Gifted and Talented - Referral Forms. Parents can also request a referral form from their child’s teacher.
Van Why also noted that these referrals can also come from a variety of people other than parents.
"Students can refer themselves, coaches can refer the students, music teachers, dance teachers -- anyone in their lives who sees they are gifted and talented in an area,” she said. “That just means that they are demonstrating an ability that’s more advanced.”
After the referral form is returned to the child’s teacher, the teacher will begin collecting evidence to demonstrate giftedness.
However, according to Van Why, it’s also a good idea for parents to have evidence available.
“[Evidence] could include artwork so that we could build a portfolio. If it was music, it could be a video. We could also set up an audition for dance and for voice,” she said. “There’s also a Visual-Spatial Relationship giftedness. That’s when you see kids who with their Legos are building beyond just the directions from the set. You can take pictures to document that.”
Each referral requires three pieces of evidence, which will then be reviewed by a committee.
And while the formal testing to enter the Gifted and Talented program currently occurs in the fourth grade, students can be referred at any grade level, Van Why said. Those students identified before the fourth grade are considered a part of the Primary Talent Pool.
“We work with [the Primary Talent Pool] kids, and provide enriching opportunities to help them get into the GT services that are formally identified in fourth grade,” Van Why said.
Parents of those fourth graders who qualify for gifted and talented services based on testing will receive a letter indicating their child has been identified as soon as the results are in, Van Why said.
However, starting at the end of this school year, third graders will go through the Gifted and Talented testing so there’s not a lag in receiving services at the beginning of fourth grade.
Van Why also wanted parents to know that there are already enrichment activities in the works for the school year.
There are two “Super Saturday” events scheduled for November 16 and March 14, which are open to students in the Primary Talent Pool and Gifted and Talented students through the ninth grade. There will be separate activities for Gifted and Talented students in grades 10th through 12th.
Additionally, the GT program will hold parent forums throughout the school year.
“Those are evenings where you can learn about gifted characteristics. We’ll talk about anxiety and stress, perfectionism; we’ll talk about executive skills. And this will be a time when parents can get together and support one another,” Van Why said.