Gifted Education Services


Identification

Students can be identified as gifted in language, mathematics, social studies, and science. The can be identified in one area or multiple areas. Students may refer themselves for evaluation for giftedness, or they can be referred by a peer, teacher, parent, administrator, counselor, or a gifted education resource teacher.

The following multiple criteria are used to determine eligibility for services:

  • Aptitude Test Scores (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test and Cognitive Abilities Test are administered; PSAT scores may also be used; other aptitude test scores from within the past three years can be used if available or submitted by a parent)
  • Classroom Performance Measures (Grades, SOL scores, and AP test scores, when available, are used)
  • Teacher and Parent Input (Parents and teachers are asked to complete reports about the student)
  • Student Input (Students are asked to complete a report and submit work samples; normed achievement test scores may also be used when available)

The process for identification can take up to 90 instructional days, but generally is completed within two months. Once the information is gathered, the case is reviewed by a school-level profile development committee and then sent to a county-level Identification and Placement Committee comprised of an administrator, counselor, classroom teacher, and gifted resource teachers. The decision of the committee can be appealed by a teacher, parent, or the student, as long as the appeal is submitted within 90 instructional days of the committee's decision.


Delivery of Services

The following options are available for students identified as gifted:

  • Pre-AP and AP Courses: Advanced classes are not limited to students identified as gifted, but are seen as a vital part of services in high school. The courses provide acceleration and differentiation as a part of meeting the needs of gifted learners.
  • Seminar Services: 18 hours of direct resource services are offered per year. Students meet in small groups of their intellectual peers to participate in discussions and activities which foster 21st Century Thinking Skills. During distance learning, seminar services will be offered during the flexible distance learning times at the start and end of the day, as well as during the Monday virtual day.  When in-person instruction resumes, students will be pulled in groups from classes to receive their seminar services. If a student finds the class he/she is pulled from is too disruptive to his/her academic performance, resource teachers will work with the parent and student to find the best option.
  • Conference Services: If a student does not want to be removed from the gifted program but does not want to attend seminar, the student may be placed on "conference" status with parent permission. The student would meet periodically with a resource teacher to discuss academic goals and achievement.
  • Conference with Independent Study: Students with extremely focused interests can complete an independent study project instead of seminars. This option allows them to create their own "center"; the student would need to be self-motivated in order to develop and execute the plan. In this situation the resource teacher would act as an advisor and facilitator to the student.
  • GEMS: During senior year, students have the option to take GEMS (Gifted Education Multidisciplinary Seminar), which is a one-credit course open to gifted students and AP Scholars. Seniors who do not take GEMS are offered seminar services.
  • Academic Summer Residential Governor's School: Sophomore and Junior students may apply to attend academic summer residential governor's school.  This program provides students with month-long learning opportunities on college campuses. Students may apply during both sophomore and junior years but may attend only once. Admission is competitive, but tuition, housing, and meal costs are covered by the county.
  • Governor's School at Innovation Park: As sophomores, students may apply to attend the Governor's School @ Innovation Park for their junior and senior years. This is a 3/5 day program for STEM-minded students that is in partnership with George Mason University.  The program is not limited to gifted students, but requires strong ability in math and science.
  • Specialty Programs: While specialty programs and school activities are not a part of the gifted program, gifted students with focused interests are encouraged to choose a specialty program.  At WSHS, students can choose to become involved with AP Scholars, Project Lead the Way, SALC, and others.

Curriculum

The gifted curriculum is a skills-based curriculum, not a content-based curriculum. This means that students are taught how to think, not what to think. The curriculum is divided into five strands:

  • Critical thinking: using deduction and induction to practice Elements of Thought (Richard Paul) to analyze arguments, use meta-cognition, and create and explain one's understanding of the world
  • Creative thinking: using FFOE (flexible, fluent, original, and collaborative thinking) in addition to effective elements of creativity to develop new ideas and to problem solve
  • Conceptual thinking: using identity, curricular practice, and curricular connections to gain a deeper understanding of paradigms and abstract concepts
  • Communication: using oral, written, and non-verbal communication to express complex ideas
  • Collaboration: working with peers to explore different concepts and gain empathy for the thinking of others (understanding why people think the way they do)

Each year, there is a thematic focus to the seminars:

  • 9th Grade: The overarching question is if man discovers or imposes order in/on the world. Students discuss areas of human activity (such as art, history, language, and math) and human identity (such as personality, utopia, heroes/ideal people) and consider if the systems in place are natural or man-made.
  • 10th Grade: The overarching question is how does science shape mankind's understanding of reality. Students consider  paradigms in science and discuss topics in theoretical science to evaluate the accomplishments and limitations of scientific knowledge.
  • 11th Grade: The overarching question is how do political and social structures shape identity. Students discuss defining characteristics of the United States and its citizens. They deal with topics like loyalty, wealth, and rights in order to refine abstract thinking skills. They consider how their personal experiences have shaped who they are.
  • 12th Grade: The overarching question is how do philosophical concepts shape reality and identity. Students discuss topics in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. Students will also consider the roles of materialism and idealism as major themes in philosophy.

Documentation of Services

Each year, parents will receive an evaluation of their child's progress in the gifted program. The evaluation consists of a rubric on which the teacher and student rate the student's critical, conceptual, reflective, and collaborative thinking skills. The evaluation also consists of a narrative portion completed by the resource teacher.

Each year, students complete/update a Differentiated Service Plan. In high school, students receive differentiation in the classroom by taking advanced courses. Thus it is vital that students discuss their career and academic goals and develop a plan for courses and activities to meet those goals. High school students must learn to take responsibility for their own learning and achievement in order to be prepared for their future.


Seminar Attendance

Once a parent has signed the permission slip for the student to attend seminars, the student is expected to attend seminars. If the parent wants the student to have the option to attend seminars at his discretion, the parent needs to communicate that to the resource teacher. This will help to avoid situations where the parent believes the student is receiving services but the student never attends.

Gifted staff is willing to work with parents and students to pull students from classes where there is minimal impact to academic progress.  We realize this can be a complicated process, and we therefore encourage parents and students to communicate with resource teachers when there is a problem.

When students are attending seminar, they are asked to arrive at the start of the period.  The gifted teacher will update the attendance for the students.  It is the student's responsibility to check in with the teacher either before or after a scheduled seminar to pick up work. Students are expected to make up any missed work while they are at seminars.  Students have the legal right to attend the seminars; if a classroom teacher impedes that right, through refusing to allow the student to leave or through coercion, we encourage the student or parent to contact a gifted resource teacher or administrator to express their concern. 

Additional Program Information

Virginia Gifted Education Regulations (PDF)

Opportunities for Gifted at High School (VA Advisory Report) (PDF)

PWCS Gifted Education Plan (PDF)

Please contact Mr. Eberly or Ms. LaPlant with any questions or requests for additional information about the gifted program.