Gifted & Talented
In West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Schools, the Gifted and Talented (GT) Program begins in grade 3 and seeks to nurture the exceptional abilities of students by providing ongoing opportunities for enrichment and acceleration. As a student in the GT program, your child will:
- Be grouped with their academic peers within the regular classroom
- Participate in curriculum extension projects based on interest and/or academic strengths (opportunities vary each year)
- Work with the Gifted and Talented/Enrichment Specialist
- Have enrichment opportunities before, during or after school
Students in the Gifted & Talented Program participate in co-curricular activities such as National Spelling Bee, National Geographic Bee, Odyssey of the Mind and Noetic Math Challenge.
Each elementary and middle school has a gifted education teacher who works with students and collaborates with classroom teachers to provide appropriate challenge and differentiation for students.
Our two middle schools, Heritage E-STEM Magnet Middle School and Friendly Hills Middle School, have Gifted and Talented service models are specific to their building. You can learn more by clicking on their links for each school above.
In high school, students have access to a variety of rigorous coursework through classes such as Advanced Placement (AP), College in the Schools (CIS), Concurrent Enrollment, Project Lead the Way, and beyond. Additionally, students have the opportunity to explore a variety of career pathways and potential internships through opportunities provided at the high school within the Center for Applied Professional Studies (CAPS), Genesys Works, PIVOT Interactives, School counselors are available to help with post-secondary planning and support students through the Naviance program, which allows them to develop a personalized portfolio of their work and research colleges and careers. A guide to preparing gifted and talented high school students for graduation has been developed for families: English | Spanish.
- Mission & Goals
- Total School Cluster Grouping
- Identification Process
- Subject or Grade Acceleration
- Gifted & Talented Resources
- SPELLING BEE
- Gifted & Talented Advisory Council (GTAC)
- Odyssey of the Mind
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter
The mission of the West St Paul - Mendota Heights - Eagan Area Schools Gifted and Talented Program is to nurture exceptional abilities so that all Gifted and Talented students are provided with challenging and purposeful educational opportunities.
Attract and support Gifted and Talented Students by providing high level, challenging curriculum and enrichment during and beyond the school day
- Curriculum adoption process seeks high levels of rigor and challenge to provide pathways for students to excel and remain challenged.
- Teachers are trained and supported in their implementation of differentiated instruction and developing differentiated learning opportunities.
Provide an environment for students to experience positive interactions with intellectual peers
- In order to ensure that our students consistently have positive interactions with intellectual peers, we employ a gifted cluster model that places identified students in regular classrooms with other identified gifted students.
- The practice of clustering our identified students also allows teachers that serve the gifted clusters to be more intentional in their instructional design to better meet the need for increased rigor and challenge.
Provide opportunities, community, resources, and support for families of Gifted Students
- Through the use of the West St Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools Gifted and Talented webpage, information is posted for families to explore local opportunities and resources. Many schools also include information in newsletters.
- The Gifted and Talented Advisory Council (GTAC) meets several times each school year to explore a variety of topics that pertain to the gifted community. GTAC includes parents, teachers and administrators in the district.
Assist with smooth transitions for students from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school
- Through the relationships that are established between the Gifted and Talented Teachers in each Elementary and Middle School and our identified gifted student population, students have regular access to an adult in their educational lives that provides familiarity and serves as an advocate on their behalf during and beyond their transitions.
Teach and encourage gifted students how to negotiate and advocate for their academic needs
- During opportunities to work with groups of our identified students, our teachers model this skill set to further equip students with the tools they need to respectfully request increased challenge and rigor.
- This is also addressed through the encouragement of project based and inquiry-based learning and the further development of higher order questioning skills.
Employ a comprehensive and inclusive identification process that provides multiple entry points
- Our identification process includes a variety of factors including both quantitative and qualitative measures.
- We examine Cognitive Abilities Test scores as well as NWEA Measures of Academic Progress results and teacher checklists.
- We consider parent, teacher, and student nomination through the use of our web-based survey options.
Offer best practices and research-based professional development for teachers in gifted education
- The Gifted and Talented Coordinator facilitates monthly team meetings with the GT staff for professional development and curriculum planning.
- The Gifted and Talented Coordinator identifies and communicates local and national training opportunities to better meet the needs of our gifted population.
- Teachers have regular access to the gifted and talented resource library housed at the District Office.
The Total School Cluster Grouping Model (TSCG) is a specific, research-based, total-school application of cluster grouping combined with differentiation, focused on meeting the needs of students identified as gifted, while also improving teaching, learning, and achievement of all students.
The benefits of Total School Cluster Grouping are:
- Research shows that Total School Cluster Grouping improves the achievement of all students.
- Provide full-time services to high-achieving and high-ability elementary students.
- Help teachers more effectively and efficiently meet the diverse needs of their students.
- Weave gifted education and talent development “know-how” into the fabric of all educational practices in the school.
- Improve representation of traditionally underserved students identified over time as above average and high achieving.
At the end of each year students' achievement will be evaluated and defined using a variety of data and classroom performance. Once achievement has been defined students will be placed into classrooms to create balance of ability and achievement levels along with meeting the special needs of individual students. Every year students' achievements will be evaluated utilizing students' performance in the classroom and recent data. This annual evaluation is an ongoing effort to meet the needs of all students and to provide the best educational experience.
At the end of each school year, the academic performance of students in grades 2-7 is evaluated to identify children who should receive Gifted and Talented (GT) services for the following year. Performance measures include, but are not limited to, the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), reading and math assessments from Northwest Evaluation Assessment (NWEA) Measures of Academic Performance (MAP), and the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST).
Alternate Identification is an additional option for students who may be very high academic performers but do not qualify for GT services using the standard measures. Please contact the program coordinator for more information regarding Alternative Identification.
Tier 1 of the Gifted and Talented Program focuses on the training and support of all teachers in the practice of differentiated instruction. This impacts all students, especially those achieving at high levels, as it offers different learning opportunities that extend beyond the general classroom expectation.
Tier 2 of the Gifted and Talented Program focuses on the practice of Total School School Cluster Grouping. Clustering is a "common gifted education practice that places a group of high achieving, gifted, or high ability students in a classroom with other students and with a teacher that has received training or is willing to differentiate curriculum and instruction for these target students" (Gentry, 2008). Tier two elementary students also work with the Gifted and Talented teacher in their school.
Criteria for Tier 2 Identification is a combination of:
- Cognitive Ability Test - Composite Score of 125+
- Cognitive Ability Test - Single Subtest Score (Verbal, Non-Verbal, Quantitative) of 125+ scores at the 96th percentile or higher in both reading and math on either the NWEA MAP or FAST assessments.
- Teacher Recommendation
- Parent Recommendation
Tier 3 of the Gifted and Talented Program focuses on the implementation of curriculum extension projects. These projects serve as curricular extensions that allow students to grow in order to develop their academic and social skills through problem solving, higher level thinking skills and creativity. In order to offer students appropriate academic challenges, clustering is also used for Tier 3 students.
Criteria for Tier 3 Identification is a combination of:
- Cognitive Ability Test - Composite Score of 130+
- Cognitive Ability Test - Composite Score of 125+ and scores at the 98th percentile or higher in both reading and math on either the NWEA MAP or FAST assessments.
- Teacher Recommendation
- Parent Recommendation
Minnesota Statute 120B.15 indicates that a school district must adopt procedures for the academic acceleration of gifted and talented students. These procedures must include how the district will:
- Assess a student's readiness and motivation for acceleration
- Match the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum to a student to achieve the best type of academic acceleration for that student.
School District 197 has three ways in which students have an opportunity for academic acceleration. These methods are listed below, and you can learn more about each by clicking on them.
Application for Early Admission to Kindergarten
Solicitud de admisión temprana al jardín de infantes
Application for Early Admission to First Grade
Solicitud de admisión temprana al primer grado
Grade Acceleration Request Form
Formulario de solicitud de aceleración de grado
Whole Grade Acceleration Procedure
COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS
- University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP)
- Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented
- Hoagies' Gifted Education
- National Association for Gifted Children
- The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented
- Davidson Institute for Talented Development
- The Center for Gifted Education
There are many lists available for recommended reading by Gifted and Talented students.
SUMMER ACTIVITIESSummer is an ideal time for students to discover and explore new interests and activities. April is a good time to collect flyers and information about these programs and begin making selections of summer activities. Some things to consider:
- Older students may want to consider selecting activities to build their future college application resumes, such as volunteer service, internships, or paid employment.
- Networking with family friends and neighbors may reveal occupations and organizations that would provide mutually beneficial summer internship or employment opportunities.
- Groups of friends and neighbors may consider creating small group activities like book clubs (see suggested reading list below) or weekly practice ensembles for band or orchestra students with an end of the summer neighborhood outdoor concert. Parents could also decide to carpool to a summer day camp.
- Some students may practice entrepreneurial skills with their own lawn care, child care or tutoring service, or tennis or music lessons for younger children.
- Self-directed students may want to keep daily writing journals or begin writing their first novel.
District 197 participates in a multi-district summer program for gifted and talented students with courses described at http://giftedtalented.org.
There are many opportunities for organized summer camps in our local communities, greater metro area and statewide:
You can access the online registration by clicking here.
Click here for the spelling word list.
The 2021 Spelling Bee event marks the 24th year that the Optimist Club of West St. Paul is hosting the District 197 Spelling Bees.
Thursday, January 28, 2021– Virtual District 197 Spelling Bees
5:30 p.m. Elementary contestants will “check in” by announcing their presence online. Microphones and cameras must be on. Optimist Club of West St. Paul will summarize rules.
Soon after the introduction, elementary school bee begins. Students who are eliminated should turn off their cameras and microphones. At the end of the elementary Bee, all school winners should have their cameras and microphones on to introduce themselves.
7:00 p.m. Assuming the Elementary Bee has ended, middle school contestants will “check in” by announcing their presence online. Microphones and cameras must be on. The rules will be summarized.
Soon after the introduction, the middle school bee begins. Students who are eliminated should turn off their cameras and microphones. At the end of the middle school Bee, both school winners should have their cameras and microphones on to introduce themselves.
MISSION: The mission of the Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee (GTAC) is two-fold;
Promote and enhance the goals and objectives of Gifted Education programming.
Build positive partnerships among schools, teachers, gifted education staff, administration, parents, and the community to support current gifted education services and to advocate for future programming needs.
MEMBERSHIP: The Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from stakeholder groups with interest and expertise in gifted and talented education. Minimally, there is to be one representative from each elementary (five in total), two from each middle school (four in total), two from the high school level and up to four student representatives at the middle and high school level. The community representatives shall currently have a child that is either;
formally identified as Gifted and Talented at the school
or that has been approved for one of the three types of acceleration under Gifted and Talented programming (Early Entrance to K/1st grade, whole grade level acceleration, or single subject acceleration beginning in 5th grade).
In alignment with our Strategic Framework, we have prioritized creating a diversified committee as the primary goal annually while establishing the committee. Diverse perspectives representative of the various school levels and schools will be sought. Diverse perspectives representative of our student population will be sought, including but not limited to:
In addition to these minimal requirements, there are opportunities to include at-large positions, which are to be determined by the Gifted and Talented Coordinator on a yearly basis. These at-large positions provide existing members with a temporary extension of their service in order to assist in developing continuity within and across the committee. Overall, there will be no fewer than 11 members and no more than 21 members.
TERMS: Initial commitments are for no less than two years and no more than four years. The Gifted and Talented Coordinator will initially set one third of the position terms to end in two years, one third to end in three years, and one third to end in four years. All subsequent terms will be three years unless replacing a member who leaves their position prior to their term ending. District administration may remove a member at its discretion. Time commitment includes some review of materials and reading outside of the meetings.
MEETING SCHEDULE. Typically, GTAC meets four or five times annually. It is still to be determined if meetings will be all in-person, all virtual, or a blend of the two. All GTAC meetings are open to the public as observers.
October (Time and method of meeting TBD)
November (Time and method of meeting TBD)
January (Time and method of meeting TBD)
March (Time and method of meeting TBD)
May (Time and method of meeting TBD)
EXAMPLES OF DISTRICT LEVEL TOPICS GTAC PROVIDES INPUT TOWARDS INCLUDE:
District-wide curricular review processes
District-wide strategic planning
District level policy reviews
Reviewing Gifted and Talented models at each level
Enrichment opportunities available to students (e.g., Spelling Bee, Odyssey of the Mind)
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students of all ages. Teams of students select a problem, create a solution, and then present their solution in a competition against other teams in the same problem and division. There are many nuances of the program that are explained further in this presentation (also available on the right-hand side of this page), but here are some of the basics of participation:
- Students work in teams of up to seven members under the guidance of an adult coach.
- Teams spend weeks or months, at their own pace, creating solutions to long-term problems. This includes Style enhancements described in the presentation.
- Team members come up with all the ideas fro their solution and do all the work themselves. Coaches may help teach skills and educate the team on ways of approaching the problem and of evaluating their solution.
- Teams work within the cost limit stated in the problem.
- Teams have 8 minutes to present their long-term problem solution in competition.
- Teams are scored for meeting the requirements of the problem and for creativity in categories specific to each problem.
- At the competition, teams are presented a spontaneous problem to solve on site.
- A team's standing in competition is determined by its combined Long-Term score, Style score, and Spontaneous score.
- To solve a problem, teams must follow the general rules, limitations in the problem, and clarifications issued during the year.
In competition, every team solves a spontaneous problem. Teams are only made aware of what they'll have to do to complete the problem upon entering the competition room. The spontaneous problem is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Spontaneous problems are "top secret." Teams participating in the same long-term problem and division will solve the same spontaneous problem. To ensure fairness, it is critical that no one discusses the problem outside of the room until all teams have competed.
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Winter 2019 (English)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Winter 2019 (Spanish)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Fall 2017 (English)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Fall 2017 (Spanish)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Spring 2018 (English)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Spring 2018 (Spanish)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Winter 2018 (English)
- Gifted & Talented Newsletter Winter 2018 (Spanish)