The mission/philosophy of Polk County School Board’s Gifted Education Program is to ensure that each student achieves his or her potential through the provision of challenging and differentiated learning experiences. In delivering instruction that meets individual needs, endorsed teachers and mentors will consider the unique social, emotional and intellectual needs of the students in the gifted program.
The vision of Polk County School Board’s Gifted Education Program is to provide a collaborative climate where individual needs are recognized and served so that each student may achieve his/her maximum potential.
Gifted education is part of the student’s total educational program, not an add-on program. Gifted Education is the child’s right to receive the most appropriate education for his/her needs. The overall aim of the Gifted Program is to provide educational opportunities that help a student extend his/her learning, develop intellectual potential, enhance achievement and become aware of his/her affective needs.
Based upon the theories of gifted education, the goals for Gifted Education Programming include the provision of:
In order to meet these goals, students may receive specific instruction in the following skills:
Gifted youngsters are indeed exceptional in their thinking and learning behaviors. They are exceptional as a group, and even more so as individual members of that group.
The federal definition describes gifted students as those students who are capable of high performance in any of five areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic ability, creative thinking and production, leadership, and the visual or performing arts. Students who display such characteristics as well as a need for specialized instruction may be considered for eligibility in the Gifted Education Program.
Presently, Polk County’s Gifted Education Program focuses on identifying and serving students who are gifted in the area of general intellectual ability. These are the students who have superior intellectual ability, advanced mental ability and are capable of high performance. Many of the identified students may be gifted in other areas as well. Generally, ability levels of gifted students rank in the top 3-5% of the population.
The Gifted Education Program in Polk County Public Schools is a state mandated program for grades K-12. The school program options extend and enhance the regular education curriculum. There are state guidelines that describe how a student qualifies for the gifted program.
Instructional Delivery Models - In Polk County Schools, the instructional delivery models include academic enrichment, academic subject and consultation services. Differentiated instruction is used to meet the needs of the gifted learners as well as considering interest area, learning style and ability level. Upon entering the gifted program, students are expected to be present for the gifted instruction provided.
Resource Model: Grades K-5 - Teachers endorsed in gifted education provide service to elementary students as often as determined by the school’s administration. In collaboration with the school team, thematic units of study or academic subjects are studied. The thematic units are interdisciplinary and are based on the science, social studies, mathematics and language arts subject areas. Emphasis is also placed on fine arts, vocational awareness and technology. When students are assigned to the gifted program, they are responsible to the teacher of gifted for class work and/or home extension activities; on regular classroom days, they are responsible to the regular education teacher for class work and/or home extension activities. The gifted class is designed to meet the special needs of the gifted student and not “in addition to” the regular education program. Regular education teachers and teachers of gifted plan and coordinate learner’s needs as indicated in the student’s Educational Plan. Parents are encouraged to contact either the classroom teacher or the teacher of gifted if they perceive a problem with student progress or expectations.
Resource Model: Grades 6-8 - Students may receive direct instruction in various content areas from a teacher endorsed in gifted. The middle school teachers differentiate the curriculum to meet the needs of the gifted learners and document program differentiation in their lesson plans. Students may also receive gifted service in inclusion where the student remains with the regular education students and the teacher of gifted consults with the student’s academic team to determine progress on the Educational Plan goals. Best practices suggest that when students receive inclusion services, students also receive lab or seminar during the month to address their unique interests and needs.
Consultation Model: Students may elect to take advanced and/or AP courses. Dual enrollment, Collegiate High School and virtual school are available at the high school level. Consultation service is provided for gifted students where the teacher of gifted and the student’s grade level team work together to enhance the student’s academic and affective needs.
There are three basic steps to be followed in identifying students for gifted services.
The Gifted Education Classes are designed around research, best practices, Sunshine State Standards and students’ academic and affective needs. Gifted Education classes focus upon each child’s strengths, interests, abilities and other special needs. An Education Plan (EP) is written upon initial placement into the program for each student. Polk County’s Gifted Education Programming provides a continuum of services dependent upon the student and school site needs. Gifted Education services options may include:
There are several positive and constructive ways to be involved with gifted education:
New students previously enrolled in another Florida county are eligible for placement as soon as their participation can be confirmed through a request of records. Documentation of eligibility may be made via a call to the prior school (notation of which is placed in the student’s files). Parents should contact the child’s previous school to request the student’s gifted records are forwarded to the new school. The school site and the parent work towards this effort.
If a student is new to Polk County, and has moved from another state, the student is placed temporarily into the gifted program at the new school following verification of placement in the out-of-state gifted program; a phone conversation will suffice followed by written documentation from the previous school. Evaluation of the criteria used in the initial out-of-state gifted services takes place. If the criteria for gifted services differ from Florida’s criteria the student will follow referral for Polk County Schools’ Gifted Program; policy and procedures, within six months to determine if the student is eligible for gifted services in Florida. If out-of-state criteria for gifted services are comparable to Florida’s gifted services then the child is placed into the school’s gifted program using the regular procedures.
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