Gifted Education

  • Overview of Gifted Programming in Pennsbury

    Gifted programming is provided for our identified students in accordance with Chapter 16 (Pennsylvania’s Gifted Regulations). Pennsbury’s gifted support continuum of programming is overseen by Michele Spack, Director of Elementary Education, and under the supervision of Matthew Levin, grades K-8 and Meredith Laden, grades 9-12. There are designated gifted support teachers in all of our school buildings. 

    Data Used to Screen Students

    Universal assessments are completed for all students during their elementary years. From this data, profiles of cognitive ability are gleaned, and this data is viewed alongside with measures of academic performance. One universally administered measure of ability is the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT®). The CogAT® is a group-administered assessment of ability. This is a measurement of Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal reasoning skills.  Beyond the scope of universally administered assessments, there are opportunities to provide students with academic enrichment. 

    How Do Students Get Referred for a Gifted Identification Process?

    Universal assessments are completed for all students during their elementary years. From this data, profiles of cognitive ability are gleaned, and this data is viewed alongside measures of academic performance. A student can be referred for an evaluation to determine their eligibility and their need for gifted support programming either by parents or by representatives from the school district. If parents request an evaluation, this must be presented to the school district in writing. Parent requests for a gifted evaluation should be directed to your child’s building-based principal and/or school counselor. It is at this time that Gifted Procedural Safeguards are shared with parents to help to provide a procedural framework for the process.  If an evaluation is agreed upon by the school district and the parent, a Gifted Permission to Evaluate is issued to the parents within ten calendar days of the written request. Conversely, if data does not support the need to proceed with an evaluation, the school district may issue to the parent a letter of denial, which would be documented within a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) form.

    How is Gifted Eligibility Determined?

    Once a formal evaluation timeline has been established, a Gifted Multidisciplinary

    Team (GMDT) shall be formed, and this team will help to determine the student’s eligibility and need for gifted support programming. 

    The determination of gifted eligibility must include a summary analysis and evaluation completed by a Certified School Psychologist. School psychologists are qualified to determine a child’s eligibility for gifted services and to determine their degree of need as well. During the evaluation process, psychologists will look for any intervening factors that could mask a child’s eligibility for programming. 

    Eligibility for gifted services is based upon the regulations outlined in Chapter 16. A summary of these requirements includes the following:

    1. Mentally Gifted means: a person who as an IQ score of 130 or higher OR when multiple criteria (*) indicate gifted ability.  Determination of gifted ability is not to be based on IQ score alone.  Deficits in working memory and processing speed cannot be the basis for an ineligible IQ score.  A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability.  Determination of mentally gifted must include an assessment by a certified school psychologist.
    2. (*) Multiple Criteria defined:
        • A year or more above grade level for the normal age group in one or more subject areas, as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests.
        • Observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability. Rate of acquisition is the relative ease with which a student learns new information or acquires skills. Rate of retention is the ability of the student to retain and use information or skills in meaningful ways.
        • Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas.  Evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio/research, and team judgment.
        • Early and measured use of high level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communication skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise.
        • Documentation, observations, validated or assessed evidence of any intervening factors (i.e., ESL; gender, race bias; socio/cultural deprivation are masking gifted abilities.  

    At the end of the evaluation process, the school district will complete an eligibility determination report (documented in a Gifted Written Report, also known as a GWR) within 60 calendar days–not to include summer days–which may lead to the development of a GIEP.

    What is a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP), and who Qualifies for These Services?

    A GIEP is the annual program designed to address the identified strengths of a student. The GIEP Team consists of a student’s parents, a gifted support instructor, a regular education teacher, and a Local Educational Agency (LEA)/District Chairperson. 

    The student’s identified areas of strength are captured through targeted goals and objectives within the GIEP, along with program modifications and specially designed instruction. The GIEP contains sections to update annually on the student’s academic and cognitive based strengths. The goals outlined within the GIEP are progress monitored annually.

    The GIEP team will look to determine how the student’s profile of unique strengths should be addressed, as documented within the NORA form, which accompanies the annual GIEP. This includes if a student requires enrichment, acceleration and/or a combination of enrichment and acceleration as part of their programming. 

    Gifted Resources

Contact Us

Michele Spack
Director of Elementary Education/Gifted Programming
Matthew Levin
Supervisor of Gifted Programming Grades K-8
Meredith Laden
Supervisor of Gifted Programming Grades 9-12