Identifying and Serving Students Who are Gifted in K-12

Identifying and Serving Students Who are Gifted in K-12

Reset and Restart Considerations

Ohio’s education community continues to work diligently during this unprecedented time to meet the academic and social and emotional needs of students who are gifted. It is important for districts and parents to work collaboratively during the 2020-2021 school year to continue to support these students.
 
This webpage is designed to support districts as they identify and serve students who are gifted during the 2020-2021 school year. It addresses specific requirements of Ohio Revised Code 3324 and Ohio Administrative Code 3301-51-15, the Operating Standards for Identifying and Serving Students Who are Gifted, as well as guidance specific to some frequently asked questions that have emerged regarding the 2020-2021 school year.

 


Identifying Students Who are Gifted

Districts identify students through whole grade screenings and individual referral opportunities using approved assessments. This section provides guidance for districts on the screening and identification of students who are gifted.
 
Gifted Identification Requirements: The gifted operating standards require districts to meet referral and whole grade screening opportunities for the identification of students who are gifted. When tests approved for gifted identification are administered, districts must do so in a healthy and safe manner according to local health departments, the Ohio Department of Health and State of Ohio guidelines. Districts should clearly communicate these testing procedures to parents. If students are unable to participate in testing in person due to health and safety concerns, districts should document this following local policies.
 
These assessments must be completed during the 2020-2021 school year, consistent with required timelines described in the gifted operating standards. For certain students who could not be tested during the 2019-2020 school year, the state superintendent of public instruction granted certain timeline extensions under the authority of House Bill 197. In these cases, districts have until Oct. 31 to complete assessments deferred from the prior year.
 
Administration of Test Levels: Districts should always administer the proper test level based on a student’s grade or age, as determined by the technical manual for that test. If districts have questions about the technical manual requirements, they should contact the publisher and ask to speak with someone who has expertise in the technical aspects of the test.
 
Remote Testing Considerations: Many publishers do not recommend using data from remote testing to make high-stakes decisions, including gifted identification. Keep in mind, districts should always administer tests consistent with the specifications in the publisher’s technical manual. Districts should clarify with publishers, specifically someone with expertise in the technical specifications of the assessment, if there are circumstances under which districts can test students remotely while still maintaining the validity of scores for gifted identification. Scores can only be used for gifted identification if they are valid per the publisher’s technical manual.
 
Visual or Performing Arts Ability Identification Using Online Platforms: If students have reliable internet access and the proper equipment, districts may consider using online platforms to identify students in the area of visual or performing arts. For example, students may submit examples of work using digital portfolios or through live or recorded performances using digital or online tools. When a district uses online platforms, the quality of images or video should not factor in the evaluation, unless the district is evaluating the student for digital arts or photography.
 
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Written Education Plans

Districts develop Written Education Plans for students when they are identified to receive gifted education services. The Written Education Plan guides gifted education services by describing measurable academic goals and may include goals to support social and emotional needs. The following section provides guidance related to Written Education Plans and the reset and restart of the 2020-2021 school year.
 
Developing Written Education Plans: When districts determine gifted education services should be provided to identified students, they must develop Written Education Plans in collaboration with educators who hold licensure or endorsement in gifted education. Depending on local circumstances, districts may need to adjust the way educators develop these plans, including the way educators collaborate. For example, educators responsible for the development of Written Education Plans may need to collaborate in remote settings instead of in person.
 
Educators develop Written Education Plans at the commencement of services, however, districts may find they need additional time for students to adjust to the return to school or new educational settings and for educators to gather the information necessary to develop appropriate goals for the service. To the greatest extent possible, districts should have Written Education Plans in place at the commencement of services. Where districts need flexibility, the Department encourages districts to have Written Education Plans in place within a reasonable amount of time from the commencement of services.
 
In addition to describing the goals for gifted services, Written Education Plans also must include the timeline and methods for reporting student progress toward goals for the service. Due to local circumstances, districts may need to consider alternative methods for reporting progress. For example, if a district typically sends home paper copies of quarterly progress reports, it may need to consider utilizing electronic forms of communication.
 
Written Education Plan Goals for Supporting Social and Emotional Needs: The pandemic may have affected students who are gifted in many ways, including food insecurity, loss of a loved one or increased economic instability at home. In addition, these students may feel uncertain and anxious about current circumstances. For these reasons, districts may consider adding social and emotional goals and supports to a student’s Written Education Plan.
 
Parent Copy of a Written Education Plan: Districts must provide a copy of the Written Education Plan to parents. Some districts and educators do this during parent-teacher conferences. While formal meetings for a Written Education Plans are not required, districts still may choose to meet with parents to further discuss the Written Education Plan or the student’s progress in services. Educators may hold these meetings in a virtual format, by telephone or in person. When held in person, districts must do so in a healthy and safe manner according to local health departments, the Ohio Department of Health and State of Ohio guidelines.
 
Parent or Guardian Signature on a Written Education Plan: Districts must make a reasonable attempt to obtain a parent or guardian signature on a student’s Written Education Plan. Districts can document parent or guardian signatures in writing through standard mail or electronic means such as email attachment, scanned signature or a photograph of the signature. An email read receipt, however, does not constitute a signature on a Written Education Plan. In addition, a district cannot deny a student services due to the lack of a signature on a Written Education Plan.
 
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Gifted Education Services

Students who are gifted have diverse academic needs and require differentiated instruction that provides the appropriate level of academic challenge while allowing for the development of critical and creative thinking skills. When districts provide gifted education services, there will be noticeable differences in both curriculum and instructional materials compared to the general education curriculum. Such differences may include depth, breadth, complexity and pace, allowing students opportunities to access advanced content that is complex and challenging. This differentiated instruction should match students’ levels of readiness to allow for growth and align to goals on students’ Written Education Plans. The following section provides guidance for districts related to the reset and restart of gifted education services.

 
General Guidance Related to Gifted Services: Whether districts educate students in face-to-face, hybrid, or remote learning environments, districts need to ensure they appropriately implement the Operating Standards for Identifying and Serving Students Who are Gifted. With regard to gifted education services, this includes, but is not limited to, the development of Written Education Plans, parental notification (for example, no service letters, placement decisions and reporting progress) and ensuring designated providers of gifted services meet qualifications.
 
Providing Equitable Services in Remote Learning Environments: Districts should consider curriculum and instructional materials in the context of various forms of delivery such as remote learning or in person. Ohio law requires districts to provide identified students with an equal opportunity to receive any gifted service available in the district. Regarding the different educational options that many districts may provide to students in the fall, including face-to-face, hybrid or remote learning options, districts must provide access to any available services regardless of a student’s learning environment.
 
Due to differences inherent in face-to-face, hybrid and remote learning environments, including differences in student population sizes or district staffing, the Department understands it may not always be feasible for districts to provide identical service settings across different learning environments. While districts have flexibility regarding the format with which they deliver gifted services across learning environments, districts must ensure services are of similar quality and align with the district’s gifted program, including the criteria for receiving services and service goals and expectations. 
 
It is important to note if districts do not provide students who qualify for gifted services at a particular grade level with access to gifted services due to their learning environment (such as a remote learning environment), then districts cannot report services at that grade level to parents (Written Education Plans) or the Department via the Education Management Information System (EMIS).
 
Instructional Time in Remote Learning Environments: Districts must follow any instructional time requirements for particular gifted service settings. However, the methods for providing and documenting instructional time may differ in remote learning environments. Remote learning environments may include synchronous (in real time), asynchronous (not in real time) or a combination of the two as deemed appropriate for the grade level and individual needs of the student as defined in a Written Education Plan. In addition, some districts may utilize a hybrid model that combines face-to-face instruction with remote learning.
 
Regardless of the format used, the critical consideration regarding instructional time is how much time students spend engaged with the course materials and activities. Students must have direct access to the designated service provider who must monitor and interact with students in systematic ways, similar to a face-to-face course, by using the district’s remote learning platform or other methods established by the district. Districts may document instructional time in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, the use of teacher schedules, chat and communication tools, email or video conferencing.
 
Advanced Learning Opportunities: Whether districts educate students in remote learning environments or via face-to-face instruction, districts should consider advanced learning and other educational opportunities for identified students. Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, aims to ensure every child is challenged, prepared and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who fulfills his or her individual definition of success. This includes continuous access to advanced learning opportunities such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Credit Plus, as well as other educational opportunities such as internships, mentorships and early high school graduation.
 
Focusing on Potential when Determining Academic Placements: In some cases, districts may not have access to data sources typically used for identifying and placing students into gifted education services. As a result, some students with potential for advanced learning opportunities may have yet to achieve formal gifted identification.
 
Therefore, districts may want to consider focusing on a student’s potential for advanced learning rather than identification status. While districts may not yet formally identify these students as gifted, and therefore cannot report services to parents or the Department, districts still may provide access to advanced learning opportunities to these students in gifted service settings. This will facilitate the equitable placement of students in formal gifted services once the district is able to complete the gifted identification process and also will help ensure students make adequate academic progress.
 
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Professional Development for Designated Service Providers

Building teacher capacity through professional development in gifted education is necessary for teachers to meet the academic and social and emotional needs of identified students. By embedding gifted education in strategic planning, prioritizing adequate funds and resources, and providing designated service providers with professional development in gifted education, leaders sustain a commitment to instruction that is rigorous and challenging for all students. The following section provides guidance related to gifted education professional development requirements and the reset and restart of the 2020-2021 school year.
 
Completing Professional Development Requirements for the 2019-2020 School Year: Ohio's ordered school-building closure meant that some designated providers of gifted services were unable to meet gifted professional development requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. These educators have until Oct. 31, 2020, to meet annual minimum clock-hour requirements for gifted professional development for the 2019-2020 school year.
 
Providing Qualifying Professional Development During the 2020-2021 School Year: In order to report general education teachers designated as providers of gifted services, they must continue to meet annual minimum clock-hour professional development requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. Due to health and safety concerns, many districts are implementing remote learning models for instruction. As a result, some teachers may be newly designated as providers of gifted services during the 2020-2021 school year. All teachers designated as providers of gifted services, including those newly designated, must meet annual minimum clock-hour professional development requirements by the end of the school year.  
 
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Social and Emotional Needs of Students Who are Gifted

Students who are gifted require caring and supportive educators who are responsive to their academic and social and emotional needs so students can meet their full potential. This is especially critical within the context of COVID-19 and the reset and restart of the 2020-2021 school year. Identified students not only need access to challenging and rigorous instruction, but also educators equipped to support their unique social and emotional needs. This includes supports for asynchronous development, underachievement, perfectionism and a heightened awareness of social issues. This section provides resources for districts related to supporting the social and emotional needs of students who are gifted.
 
Supporting the Whole Gifted Child: In these unprecedented times, it is important to remember Ohio students, including students who are gifted, may require additional supports beyond those typically provided in classroom settings. These needs may include mental, behavioral, physical health, wellness, nutrition and safety needs. The Department offers many resources to help districts, families and community partners address the individual needs of each child.
 
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Academic Acceleration for Advanced Learners

Academic acceleration is a research-based intervention that matches curriculum to a student’s readiness to learn and is appropriate for any student who demonstrates advanced knowledge of one or more content areas. While accelerated students do not require gifted identification, academic acceleration is often an appropriate curricular option for students identified as gifted.

General Guidance on Acceleration: Districts must implement acceleration policies, including early entrance to kindergarten or first grade, subject acceleration, whole grade acceleration and early graduation. For certain students who could not be evaluated during the 2019-2020 school year, the state superintendent of public instruction granted certain timeline extensions under the authority of House Bill 197. In these cases, districts have until Sept. 30 to complete evaluations deferred from the prior year.
Some districts may not have access to data sources typically used for acceleration evaluations. These districts may need to consider alternate data sources. Districts should use a variety of data to carefully consider students referred for acceleration to determine their readiness for accelerated placement.
 
Early Entrance to Kindergarten: Ohio law requires public school districts to have policies for early entrance to kindergarten. School districts have the flexibility to determine their own processes and criteria for these evaluations when a child turns 5 years old after the district’s age eligibility date (either Aug. 1 or Sept. 30), but prior to Jan. 1. School districts are only required to use a state-approved process for early entrance when a child turns 5 years old Jan. 1 or later.
 
Districts should use a variety of data aligned to state and local kindergarten expectations. This data should allow districts to carefully consider children referred for early entrance to kindergarten and include academic, social and developmental factors to determine a child’s readiness for accelerated placement.

Acceleration Committee: Acceleration evaluation committees ultimately determine accelerated placements after careful consideration of a variety of data (for example, academic, social and developmental factors). Keep in mind, acceleration committees must include parents as members.

Districts may hold acceleration committee meetings in virtual formats, by telephone or in person. When held in person, districts must hold these meetings in a healthy and safe manner according to local health departments, the Ohio Department of Health and State of Ohio guidelines.
 
Written Acceleration Plan and Transition Period: When acceleration committees determine a student needs acceleration, the district should carefully consider the supports provided to students during the transition period, including a possible extended transition period and increased academic and social supports based on the needs of the student.

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Reporting and Accountability

COVID-19, Ohio's ordered school-building closure and subsequent emergency legislation (HB 197 of the 133rd General Assembly) have had substantial impacts on the state's accountability system and Ohio School Report Cards for the 2019-2020 school year.

Reporting Data EMIS: There currently are no changes to reporting gifted education data for the 2019-2020 school year or 2020-2021 school year. As in previous years, report cumulative gifted identification data and only report data for newly identified students and for screening, assessment and gifted services that took place during the school year. Districts can only report gifted services if they were provided consistent with the gifted operating standards, including any required professional development clock hours for teachers providing gifted services. Districts should use codes for gifted services that best represent the service provided to the student regardless of the face-to-face, hybrid or remote learning environment.

The Gifted Indicator: No components of the Gifted Indicator were calculated for the 2019-2020 school year, as several elements are unavailable due to the cancelation of spring tests. In addition, many questions still exist regarding the status and details for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite these questions, the Department encourages districts to continue to work diligently to meet the academic and social and emotional needs of students who are gifted. If future legislation impacts the calculation of the Gifted Indicator for the 2020-2021 school year, the Department will communicate this information to districts when it is available.

Gifted Education Data on District and School Report Cards: Available gifted education data for the 2019-2020 school year can be found in download files, including identification, services, screening and acceleration.

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Additional Related Resources  
For questions regarding gifted education, contact the Ohio Department of Education's Office for Exceptional Children at gifted@education.ohio.gov.
 
Note: This webpage includes links to external resources. The list of links is not comprehensive, and the Ohio Department of Education does not endorse any products promoted at the external sites. The Ohio Department of Education is making the above external links available to support engaging students in learning.
 

 

Last Modified: 9/23/2020 8:26:31 AM