Students with gifts and talents, advanced or accelerated learners are found throughout our schools, in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The Evansville Community School District (ECSD) has a long history of providing programming to students with gifts and talents organized under the Wisconsin Pyramid Model and aligned to the 1998 NAGC Gifted Program Standards.
In November of 2010, the National Association of Gifted Children released its updated PreK-12 Gifted Programming Standards
(NAGC, 2010). These standards represent a shift in emphasis from a “GT Program” where students are placed into specific groups, to a continuum of services including strategies and interventions for students demonstrating a need. The NAGC PreK-12 Standards address not only the academic needs of students, but also the social and emotional needs. In addition, these standards address the needs of twice exceptional students and students from diverse backgrounds (racial, cultural, socioeconomic, gender, etc.). In response to these new standards and the growth of the Response to Interventions (RtI) model, the WI DPI recommends that districts use the RtI model to serve students with advanced, accelerated, or gifted learning needs.
So what does this mean? In an RtI framework, identification for services for advanced learners looks a bit different than in the more traditional model that districts have used in the past. Identification shifts away from identifying and labeling children as “gifted” or “gifted and talented” to identifying specific educational services that students require at a given time. These needs will likely change over time as children develop and grow.
Services also change. The emphasis moves away from specific activities and programs to research-based strategies that are most often implemented in the classroom. Examples include flexible grouping, pre-assessment, and the use of differentiated lessons and assignments. Other strategies are more school-based, such as subject or grade acceleration. This model also acknowledges that student needs will change over time and that the level and type of services needed must be responsive to those changes.