TAG Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
On April 11, 2019, Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. held a Superintendent Chat around Talented and Gifted services. Below are the answers to the questions received.
If you have additional questions regarding TAG, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is our philosophy regarding Talented and Gifted services?
The Local Plan for Gifted education 2012-2016 (PDF) states, “All students will reach their maximum potential when they are taught a rigorous curriculum in a climate of high expectations. We have the responsibility to ensure that all students learn. Students are motivated to learn when the learning is relevant to them. Students achieve when their progress is supported, monitored, and celebrated.”
Who are the Talented and Gifted?
All young people have talents and gifts; however, the Virginia Department of Education defines “Gifted students” as those students in public elementary and secondary schools beginning with kindergarten through graduation whose abilities and potential for accomplishment are so outstanding that they require special programs to meet their educational needs (VAC Virginia Board of Education; VAC 20-40-10 et seq.Virginia Board of Education; VAC 20-40-10 et seq.).
Talented students are those who demonstrate above-grade achievement in core subject areas and need above grade level instruction to continue to grow and be challenged.
What is our current identification process?
Identification is based on multiple criteria. The state recommends that school divisions use three or more criteria to identify students for gifted services. Listed below is the following criterion:
- Ability testing (required for General Intellectual Ability)
- Achievement testing
- Work samples
- Rating scales, checklists, questionnaires
- Individual interview
- Record of in-classroom observations
- Other valid and reliable measures
If my child was identified as a TAG candidate in first grade, will my child be reassessed in third grade?
Yes. All students take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) in third grade. This test provides additional data for referrals and placement decisions for the fourth grade services in specific academic aptitude.
What do the demographics of Talented and Gifted students look like compared with all students?
The chart on the left (All) shows the overall demographics of ACPS as of June 2018. The corresponding chart on the right (Tag Identified) shows the makeup of TAG identified students. This comparison shows the disproportionality among the subgroups. This has focused our efforts on changing identification practices.
What will you do to change how TAG students are identified?
Some of the efforts under discussion include the a) use of growth measures for students new to the English language, b) observational forms to use in classroom settings, c) establishment of a Talent Search Team which will use a combination of classroom lessons designed to bring out gifted behaviors, and d) observational forms to capture the student responses. We will continue to offer assessments in other languages (when available), seek to find alternative, culturally responsive and inclusive assessments, as well as seek alternative pathways to TAG services, i.e. Young Scholars.
How are Talented and Gifted services currently delivered?
General Intellectual Aptitude (GIA)
Beginning in kindergarten, students are served via a Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) which outlines the differentiated learning experiences planned for the student during each quarter. Research-based curriculum is available to the general education teacher or Talented and Gifted teacher, as well as individualized projects based on the student’s interest area. Designed and described to be in-class differentiation, the TAG staff in each building is available to assist with these services and provide appropriate resources.
Specific Academic Aptitude (SAA)
Beginning in fourth grade, services for students with needs for an above grade level differentiated curriculum in English/Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science or Social Studies are served in the following ways:
- ELA and Math: full time instruction by a teacher with gifted endorsement in a separate setting
- Science and Social Studies: a DEP is developed by the general education teacher in collaboration with the TAG teacher and the student is included within the regular classroom.
- In middle school, all TAG identified students are clustered within open enrollment Honors classes and provided with a DEP which extends the differentiation beyond the Honors curriculum.
- In high school all students are served through Honors, Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses with the Northern Virginia Community College. Summer Residential Governor’s School opportunities are also offered.
What is the difference between math and language arts Talented and Gifted curriculum at the fourth- and fifth-grade level?
The ELA curriculum at these grade levels addresses grade level standards but utilizes additional materials and higher level texts for developing critical thinking, reading and writing skills. Supplementary resources which focus on developing advanced vocabulary and the development of how to use complex grammar in writing are part of the differentiated curriculum. Higher levels are also reflected in the newly adopted Fountas & Pinnell Continuum and implemented through a Comprehensive Literacy Program.
The TAG math program compacts fourth and fifth grade math standards at the fourth grade level, so essentially students learn two grade levels of math in one year. The fifth grade TAG math program includes the sixth grade standards.
Is there a pipeline from elementary through middle and high school for Talented and Gifted students?
Yes, there is a continuum of services which change from elementary to middle and then again in high school. General Intellectual Aptitude (GIA) services beginning in kindergarten are in-classroom enrichment provided by the classroom teacher. In fourth and fifth grade, students may be identified for Specific Academic Aptitude (SAA) services which provide a separate differentiated curriculum in ELA and math, with in-class enrichment provided for science and social studies. Beginning in middle school, all services are provided via a Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) in an honors course setting. TAG identified students are clustered in the Honors classes to ensure opportunities to work with intellectually similar peers. In high school, students can select from a wide variety of honors, Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses. In addition, opportunities for summer residential Governor's’ School experiences in the Arts, Humanities and Science Technology, Math and Medicine are available.
Could there be a way to create a better program to deliver Talented and Gifted services?
There are a variety of instructional models that are well-researched and could be considered for delivering services. ACPS is studying these to see which might be a best fit for our students.
How do you plan to meet the needs of the TAG students in schools with very low TAG population?
Expanding programs such as Young Scholars serves as a promising practice which can be a pipeline to direct TAG services. In addition, the division is working towards establishing a Talent Search Team whose main responsibility will be to find students through alternative means who can benefit from TAG services.
When there are only a handful of TAG students in a grade level, how do you give them a peer cluster of 6-8?
This would be a rare occurrence, but in the case of our current separate service model for ELA, for example, a combo class of two grade levels can be created so there is a critical mass of identified students who can work together even though on different grade levels. Elementary schools commonly use flexible groupings to meet the instructional needs of all students.
What kinds of classes have TAG? What is the difference between an honors class and TAG?
General Intellectual Aptitude (GIA) TAG services are available starting in kindergarten. These services are in the general education classroom and described to parents quarterly through a differentiated education plan (DEP). Starting in fourth grade, specific academic aptitude (SAA) services are available for students who are above grade level in English/Language Arts, Math, Science and/or Social Studies. Separate classes for ELA and Math are taught a differentiated curriculum by a teacher with gifted endorsement. Science and Social Studies are serviced through a DEP in the general education classroom.
Honors classes are the setting for TAG services beginning in middle school. Because the classes are open enrollment, TAG students are clustered in the Honors section and provided a DEP to ensure additional differentiation beyond the Honors curriculum. The Honors curriculum includes higher level texts, additional opportunities to engage in high level discourse and discussion along with independent projects.
Has there been an assessment of the amount of instructional time sheets TAG EL students would receive a push-in model? How does the amount of time compare with the current pull-out model?
Some TAG students may see a change in their instructional time with the TAG teacher directly, however, as the classroom teacher employs differentiated methods in his/her lesson planning and includes the TAG curriculum materials in the instruction, the overall time the TAG students have engaging with the TAG curriculum should not change. The TAG teacher would also work collaboratively with the regular education teacher planning and providing support to students within the ACPS Comprehensive Literacy Framework.
What is the current service offered for students below grade 3? How is it determined where programs are available and who qualifies? What changes are being considered to these younger gifted kids?
Currently General Intellectual Aptitude (GIA) services begin in the lower grades. These services include in-class differentiation and enrichment. Parents receive a Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) each quarter to keep them informed of what their child is learning in a particular area. Qualification includes an ability test score and any two of our other listed criterion (i.e. grades, teacher rating scale, work sample, etc.)
In addition to GIA, many schools offer Young Scholars. Eventually Young Scholars will be available in all elementary schools in the division. This program does not use test scores for identification but targets finding untapped potential which can be nurtured through summer programming and specialized curriculum during the school year.
Changes under development are the addition of a school year curriculum for both GIA and Young Scholars which will extend the academic challenge using research-based gifted curriculum.
When was the evaluation of Talented and Gifted services conducted?
The evaluation was conducted during the 2015-16 school year.
What did we learn from the 2016 Talented and Gifted evaluation?
Commendations included the following programmatic components:
- Fourth and fifth grade ELA and Math services
- Young Scholars
- AP/Dual Enrollment
- Acceleration Policy
The following areas for improvement and further development were provided in the report:
- Disproportional enrollment in TAG across the board
- All students needs access to advanced curriculum
- All teachers need training in gifted instructional strategies and differentiation
- Middle School Courses need to be redesigned with additional rigor
This was conducted nearly three years ago. Why has it taken so long to implement the recommendations?
During the 2017-18 school year, several immediate steps were taken to address recommendations in the report. These included: a) the expansion of Young Scholars, b) the addition of a TAG Elementary Instructional Specialist to the TAG office, c) alignment of new research-based materials to be used immediately in the GIA program along with training for appropriate staff, and d) a middle school curriculum resource from College Board was added to the middle school ELA curriculum to provide additional supports and rigor to the existing ELA curriculum.
ACPS also developed a Request For Proposal (RFP) and secured a national gifted consultant to work with the school division and to meet with the community and parents. Additionally, the division has started some professional development differentiation sessions with school principals, assistant principals, and licensed staff. There is also a commitment to continue focusing on differentiation next school year as part of our professional development focus. Finally, there continues to be a commitment to support more teachers becoming certified in Gifted Education.
A steering committee made up of representatives from 12 stakeholder groups was then organized to contribute and help analyze the revision process and maintain alignment with state regulations. During the course of this committee work, ideas arose suggesting that the elementary ELA services should be reviewed and consideration should be given to returning those services to the regular classroom with differentiation provided.
Since these changes would be significant and ACPS had a new superintendent, it was determined to implement the aforementioned changes but wait to make any final revisions until the incoming superintendent could be part of the process. Additionally, there was a commitment to not proceed without more extensive stakeholder input and that brings us to today.
Some changes will be proposed for the 2019-20 school year to primarily address the identification process and disproportionality concerns.
Planning and continuing professional development will be in place in the following years to address other recommendations (including the ELA services) resulting in a fully revised plan in the 2022-23 school year.
What are the next steps in ensuring we are meeting the recommendations that came out of the Talented and Gifted evaluation?
Each of the recommendations have been discussed to determine which can be implemented immediately and which require further planning. All recommendations may not be implemented as suggested. However, there will be efforts to address the root causes for the recommendations and design viable solutions. This process will include significant engagement and feedback opportunities for all stakeholder groups.
If the fourth/fifth grade model was 1 of 4 commendations, might it be a better use of resources to focus on recommendations, such as middle school and K-3 instruction?
This work is being done simultaneous to the study of the fourth/fifth grade model. K-3 instruction, materials and program design are all being enhanced currently. Middle School ELA now has a College Board supplemental program added to it to ensure better preparation of our students for the rigors of AP. In addition, the creation of additional courses potentially leading to high school credit is under discussion. A secondary consultant in gifted education will work directly with the middle schools next year.
Is there a committee that has been formed to address the plan and the recommendations?
The TAG Steering Revision Committee was created with representation from 12 stakeholder groups: Senior Leadership, Accountability, Administrators both from elementary and secondary levels, TAG Advisory Council, TAG teacher, Counselor/TAG Designee, Psychologist, English Learners, Specialized Instruction, Curriculum, Student Services/Equity, Family and Community Engagement Center and the TAG Program. In addition to this committee, ongoing opportunities to meet and discuss possible next steps have been taking place through events such as the recent Superintendent’s Chat, internal and external meetings of specific groups. The local plan is also publicly posted on the ACPS website.
Were there students on the committee?
The members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee met and provided input and feedback, but there are no students on the committee. Student input through focus groups and surveys was done during the evaluation process and the results were presented as part of the overall analysis. Student equity audits which will address student perceptions are being conducted at every ACPS school. Additional student input through focus groups in middle and high school will be conducted in Fall 2019.
What did the committee recommend?
The Committee has yet to finish their work and have not voted on a final set of recommendations at this point. The Steering Committee recommendations will be taken into consideration along with other data points. Each sub-group of the committee may make their own recommendation.
What has been done since 2016 to improve TAG in the division?
Since 2016, ACPS has supported the expansion of Young Scholars, added a TAG Instructional Specialist to the TAG office, provided more than 60 teachers with the opportunity to earn their gifted endorsement (no matter what level they teach), provided research-based gifted curricula to all schools and all teachers, along with training, expanded our resources at the middle school level, and recently is leading the differentiation initiative for the division so all teachers can better met the needs of all students. The curriculum department has expanded training in differentiation and literacy instruction for all K-5 teachers.
Should we be changing what is working?
Any changes that occur will be based upon data, internal and external stakeholder feedback, research, superintendent, school and district administrators, and School Board feedback, while ensuring that student needs are addressed.
Equity and TAG
How does this fit into ACPS’ goal of ensuring a framework of equity?
Equity of services will be the lens through which all proposed and enacted changes will be viewed and evaluated. All students should benefit from a rigorous and challenging curriculum that meets their learning needs and addresses their strengths.
Assuming they will finally identify kids of color, how will the school handle a 40-50% identified rate?
Additional resources in the form of the differentiated instructional materials would be provided along with teacher training and/or additional TAG staff as needed.
How do we look at equity of identification and TAG services at schools across the city?
The ability to use multiple criteria and alternative tests give us many lenses to look for students who can benefit from TAG services. ACPS has a variety of assessments which can be used as needed. The universal screening process looks at all students annually, sometimes with testing, sometimes with other measures such as grades, school assessment data, work products or teacher observations. All ACPS schools offer the same types of services, however, the services can be tailored to the needs of each school. Principals schedule their staff to best meet the needs of their students. The DEPs provide an avenue to individualize for students.
Are special education students being looked at? It has been my experience that for minorities, especially black male students, teachers are quick to put those students on IEP so they cannot be identified as TAG students.
Students receiving specialized instruction are afforded every consideration and are equally eligible for TAG services. These dually-exceptional students are in our program, and efforts are in place to increase those numbers. School psychologists who conduct the special education evaluations are well versed in TAG identification and frequently refer students who they find as good candidates.
What are the demographics of TAG K-5?
K-5 TAG demographic data is not reported separately from the division wide data.
Why are the minorities numbers so low if the program has been a success?
Identification challenges are constantly being addressed. Our goal is to bring the underrepresented numbers more in line with the division demographics.
Why can’t a parent see the numbers by race, subject for TAG students in K-12 schools?
Individual school demographic data is not reported in order to ensure student privacy. However, division-level data and school specific data is available annually in the following format:
- Number and Percentage of TAG-Identified Students by School
- Percentage of TAG-Identified Students by Race
- Percentage of TAG-Identified Students by Special Programs
- Percentage of TAG-Identified Students by Gender
- Number and Percentage of TAG-Identified Students by Grade
- Number and Percentage of TAG Students by TAG Aptitude Area and Grade Level
In your collective efforts to get the TAG program to meet your desires, is the program being watered down? Is the funding for ACPS TAG in any way shape or form tied to the proportional demographics?
Actually, the TAG program is expanding to be more inclusive and support not only academic abilities, but also those of student interest and passion. Rather than being watered down, high expectations are set for all students by teaching the most rigorous curriculum to all. Funding is not tied to proportional demographics, but is tied to meeting both student achievement and equity goals. This frequently requires more resources and funding in order to offer a wider variety of services at various age levels. The Superintendent and School Board have been committed to providing teachers, resources and materials for the Gifted Programs.
A big topic in ACPS has been equity. This obviously can apply to the disproportionate representation in TAG. What does equity mean in TAG? Will there be an effort to limit enrollment in THG (middle school honors program) to assist the adjustment of proportionality?
There will not be any efforts to limit the enrollment in TAG. The hope is that if alternative pathways for identification are developed to address the underrepresented populations, that this will significantly reduce our disproportionality. Equity and access are the goals that could help identify how to serve more students in TAG
How can we make sure that the TAG classes are accessible to all students who need them and keep them effective without expanding the standard and admitting students whose parents want them in TAG whether they need the services or not?
The TAG identification includes a wide variety of criterion that all students are measured against. Parents can refer their child but the decision to admit them into the program is based on the data collected, not by parental request. An appeal process is provided to ensure fairness. Also, school leaders, teachers, and other staff can identify students for TAG and support can be provided to ensure their success. ACPS is hoping that we can build trust within the parent community that we can find a majority of students needing these services through our school based data and screening tools. In the case where students are missed through this lens, individual referrals are accepted.
Push-in v. Pull-out Models
Can someone briefly explain the references to push-in us pull-out? What do these terms mean?
Push-in is a service delivered when the TAG teacher goes into the general education classroom, an inclusive environment, on a specified schedule to work directly with TAG identified students. Following the Division’s Comprehensive Literacy Framework, teachers differentiate curriculum and instruction, co-plan and utilize one of the numerous co-teaching models currently in place with push-in English learners (EL) and special education services. Curriculum is differentiated to meet the needs of all students’ learning needs.
Pull-out traditionally means students leave the classroom to participate in an enrichment activity designed to stimulate critical or creative thinking. This would be on a prearranged schedule. It does not provide full time instruction in any particular subject.
ACPS’ current fourth and fifth grade ELA and Math services are full time separate settings. Classes are full time instruction by a teacher holding a gifted endorsement and the curriculum is modified to accommodate the learning needs. Students do leave the classroom for this instruction. In that way, some refer to this as pull-out.
What is the guided reading model?
Guided reading (or small group differentiated instruction known as responsive instruction) is one part of the Comprehensive Literacy Framework where every student receives individualized instruction through small group and 1:1 conferring. Per the ACPS Literacy Guidelines (revised June 2018) the teacher works with groups of learners having similar reading processes, or with individuals supporting the readers in the strategic reading a variety of genres. The teacher uses data to select teaching points and provides mini-lessons before, during and after the reading. With the teacher’s support, all students individually read the entire text to themselves. In addition to TAG materials, resources include differentiated text, school leveled libraries, and new book club books and at Lyles-Crouch, Core Knowledge.
At what grades are these alternatives being discussed?
Fourth- and fifth-grade comprehensive literacy instruction in the general education classroom are currently under discussion.
Have we decided whether we support a model of push-in or pull-out yet?
No decisions have been made to date; however, the division’s Instructional Leaders support a push-in model for English Language Arts instruction.
Who proposed to take a deeper look at the delivery of Talented and Gifted services?
Our instructional leaders proposed the changes in the delivery of comprehensive literacy services in ELA fourth and fifth grades because it will provide a more equitable and inclusive classroom where talented and gifted students are recognized, valued, and empowered to develop their abilities through equitable access to differentiated and culturally responsive teaching within the regular classroom setting. In a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction, teachers integrate instruction with authentic reading and writing and experiences so that students learn how to use literacy strategies and skills and have opportunities to apply what they are learning in context. This allows students to engage in targeted reading instruction at their various levels, thus meeting their individual needs, while providing a broader range of exposure to text and perspectives. Differentiated instruction acknowledges students’ varied learning, social, and emotional needs by providing adaptations to the pace, depth and breadth of learning in relation to its content, process and product. Other stakeholder groups suggested additional ideas which would result in a more inclusive program as well.
What do principals think about the fourth- and fifth-grade pull-out?
Instructional leaders have proposed to have the ELA services in fourth and fifth grade be delivered in the general education classroom with TAG curriculum differentiation aligned to the comprehensive literacy framework for the following reasons:
- Within the comprehensive literacy model, students are flexibly grouped according to their strengths, needs and interests to maximize their potential
- This differentiated approach allows the LA teacher to facilitate the collaborative development of higher level thinking skills and opportunities for independent application to address content standards.
- This model is aligned to the Profile of a Virginia Graduate which emphasizes development in the areas of Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Collaboration, and Citizenship.
- The general education classroom environment provides students with a global experience, using interactive learning techniques to relate standards and concepts to the greater context of what it means to be a citizen in a real world.
Where can I read the recommendation from principals?
At this current time, the proposal is still in draft form and has not been released publicly in a final form. There is a draft available in the Talented and Gifted Advisory Committee documents posted for discussion at their February 11, 2019 meeting. Ongoing input has been given from the elementary principal group.
What was the driver for these recommendations?
Having TAG students collaborate and learn in a more inclusive environment ensures that all students’ identities, languages, abilities and talents are recognized and affirmed. The general education classroom setting allows for diversity of thought and the ability to problem solve and critically think about information that comes from a variety of experiences.
The Comprehensive Literacy Framework in the general education classroom is designed in such a way that TAG students will benefit from it and alleviate the need to leave the classroom for instruction at their level. The newly adopted reading resources are well-researched, were selected by teachers, ensure differentiation, focus on reading, vocabulary, writing. These resources provide depth, complexity and engagement for diverse learners.
How does the push-in model versus the pull-out model impact staffing?
Current allocations would be reviewed and recommendations made if determined more staff is needed. No reduction in staff is anticipated. Co-teaching, co-planning, teacher collaboration does not require additional staff yet would result in increased learning opportunities for TAG students.
Pushing TAG into the classroom seems like an impossible task. How can schools ensure the integrity of the content
Providing TAG instruction in the classroom is not an impossible task. It is a task that we have prepared for and successfully implemented in other areas such as EL and Special Education. TAG fourth and fifth grade ELA and math are currently the only programs that is function outside of the general education classroom setting. Instructional leaders have researched and developed options for implementation. The TAG office, Office of Talent Development, Curriculum Specialists from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and school leadership teams will develop an implementation plan to continue to provide training, resources and additional supports to ensure systemic progress. ACPS Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Principals, and the TAG Coordinator will monitor the program through onsite reviews, meetings with school leaders, discussions with teachers, and classroom visits.
Who makes a structural push-in and pull-out decisions? How are these decisions tied to funding?
The decision to use a push-in, pull-out or separate service model rests with the final Local Plan. As it is in revision, these topics are up for discussion. The superintendent will determine the best direction based on his review of the data, research on current gifted models, community engagement and information provided through the Steering Committee stakeholder groups such as the Instructional Leaders. These decisions are not dependent upon funding at this point. Once a decision is made, funding needs will be determined.
Why is this option on the table? What metric suggests this would be an improvement?
The Comprehensive Literacy Framework has research to support the successful use of this approach for high achieving students. This would allow all students to learn in the same environment, share in discussions and not separate out any particular group. Data collection will be ongoing to measure the progress of each student.
Why are we proposing to throw out one of the few things found by research and extensive engagement to be working?
The recommendations from the evaluation are only one source of research findings. It needs to be assessed alongside other data points that take into consideration the local context and our specific needs.
If the assessment specifically praised the pull-out/current TAG model why are we thinking about discontinuing that? Why pay for a professional assessment if we are going to ignore at least some of the conclusions?
As part of the review process there have been opportunities for stakeholder groups to challenge the evaluation results. The evaluation in and of itself does not have to be wholeheartedly accepted. Many times the results/recommendations are not operational for a variety of reasons. Opposing positions allow for deeper study and discussion before reaching a decision.
Do students have a way to make their voices heard within ACPS if they feel their TAG needs are not being met?
Individual TAG teachers have students evaluate lessons and self-reflection is a common practice. The evaluation suggested more counseling and social/emotional services be available to TAG students addressing their unique needs. We are also in the process of completing equity audits where students will be able to offer their feedback on their perceptions around instruction. Additional student input through focus groups in middle and high school will be conducted in Fall 2019.
TAG Opportunities at High School Level
Does it mean you don’t get into AP if you are not identified as Talented and Gifted?
No, AP classes are open enrollment for all students.
What other things are available for high school TAG students?
Along with Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment courses, high school TAG students are eligible to apply for Governor’s School summer programming. This is a competitive selection process for rising juniors and seniors.
Middle School and TAG
Why don't TAG classes in middle school have separate classrooms like elementary?
Open enrollment for Honors courses has been in place for the last 10 years. In this setting, the research shows that if gifted students are clustered in these classes and are taught a rigorous curriculum, they will continue to grow. To provide additional differentiation, the Differentiated Education Plan (DEP) was put in place to address specific differentiation that is provided to the TAG identified students in the Honors environment.
What do we do for our middle school students now to make sure they receive the support needed?
Each middle school has a TAG Resource teacher who is the onsite support for both the TAG students and the Honors teachers. They monitor the clustering and scheduling efforts, collect and review DEPs and work with students on extracurricular or service-learning type projects.
What quick win initiatives are in place or planned to address the middle school TAG challenges?
The continued emphasis on the use of College Board/Springboard supplemental resources in ELA will support the middle school students to develop strong skills needed for future success in AP classes. As ACPS reviews how coursework at the middle school might be enhanced, it is considering making a path in all core content areas that leads to attaining high school credit while in middle school. This already exists for math.
As a parent with a 7th grader at J-H who is in honors classes and not being challenged, how/when will ACPS get around to dealing with the middle school programs?
Recognizing the need for more rigor within the middle school program, ACPS is developing courses and training to address this issue. Starting next year, a secondary gifted consultant will be brought in to work directly with middle school Honors teachers. In addition, work will begin on curriculum changes that will result in new course offerings at the middle school level which may lead to high school credit.
Dual Language and TAG Services
How are dual language students supported in Talented and Gifted services?
Bilingual TAG teachers are sought to teach the TAG math classes at both Dual Language schools.
Do Dual Language schools have Spanish-speaking Talented and Gifted teachers?
Currently only MVCS has a bilingual TAG Math teacher.
How are you making sure dual language students can access TAG math without losing opportunity for Spanish immersion?
ACPS is continually recruiting bilingual teachers for their Dual Language schools. The division will continue to provide additional training to any teacher to attain their gifted endorsement.
John Adams does not have a Spanish-speaking TAG teacher.
Not at this time. ACPS is always recruiting and offering to help teachers get appropriate gifted training if they are bilingual.
How do parents keep themselves informed of all changes being made in the program?
We are always looking for additional ways to communicate, but right now there are multiple ways to stay abreast of changes.
- TAG Advisory Committee meetings are monthly and the agendas and minutes are available online.
- TAG website
- TAG information nights are held at schools annually.
- School communication includes newsletters.
- Community meetings such as the Superintendent’s Chat. There will be additional community engagement opportunities when significant changes are proposed.
What check ins are in place to determine if differentiation is in fact taking place?
Each school has a TAG Designee who collects and sends the DEPs to the TAG Office when completed. The school level administrators would be the onsite over site to the implementation. Teachers should report to parents how the students are doing with completing their differentiated tasks.
How do we know if proper social/emotional needs and academic rigor needs are being met? Who/what makes that determination?
School counselors are the main point of contact for students social/emotional needs at each school. Since they are also an important part of the TAG identification process, they know who the TAG students are and can be the best resource to address any needs they are aware of. Research based social-emotional curriculum materials and strategies are used in the TAG and general education curriculum. These have been shown to provide academic rigor for gifted students. TAG teachers contribute to the curriculum units and share their approaches with one another regularly. TAG students in the general education setting are provided addition social-emotional supports by their general education teachers, guidance counselors, and school social workers.
Will there be metrics for TAG? Will ACPS look at test scores, SOLs, SRI, etc. to see if there is either negative or positive change for TAG students if changes are made?
These types of metrics are part of the data currently under study to help inform the decision of whether or not to make any change to the current model. It would be beneficial and make sense to use these same metrics to monitor the impact of any changes made over time; however, we will determine specific metrics during the strategic planning process. TAG student SOLs are monitored annually and reported out in November to the TAGAC each year.
The DEP is our paperwork only. There is no actual differentiation K-3. How could you manage this better? How can parents help?
The DEP is intended to be a communication method between home and school describing the differentiation being provided for your child. It is generated by the teacher with the support of the TAG teacher and resources provided through the TAG office. The best way to address the implementation is to discuss this with your child’s teacher, principal and TAG teacher directly.
How do we help address the social/emotional needs of students?
As was identified in the evaluation report, TAG students have a unique set of social/emotional needs. Student services are ensuring that these needs are included in the social/emotional work done at each school through the counselors. Some of the gifted materials we are now using in the program have social/emotional learning embedded in them as well. When working within a diverse, inclusive setting, teachers have a constant opportunity to address and support the social and emotional needs of the gifted student. Collaboration amongst peers of varying ability levels takes place, allowing for the development of global citizenship.
Teachers are key to making TAG successful. What incentives and training/education opportunities is ACPS providing to teachers to motivate them to become excellent TAG teachers?
TAG teachers are provided with a variety of supports to help them continue to grow and learn as professionals. Because many of them are standalone teachers at their schools, there are division monthly meetings where the teachers share their best practices and strategies with one another. Lessons, ideas and strategies are stored in a shared online document that they can contribute to regularly and refer back to when sharing their ideas. The teachers are also afforded opportunities to attend professional conferences where they can present their work along with learning from others. These avenues, along with opportunities to further develop their skills in differentiation, exist with our current initiatives. A TAG Teacher of the Year is selected annually to compete at the state level for recognition as well.
General Education teachers receive advanced training in the Comprehensive Literacy Framework along with training on differentiated instruction and responsive teaching. In addition, TAG and general education teachers are offered training on co-teaching models. Co-teaching models are well-established through EL and special education services. Teachers are engaged in ongoing professional learning community conversations, data analysis, and professional development related to differentiation and meeting the needs of all students included the talented and gifted..
What is ACPS doing to recruit and retain talented TAG teachers? Are new teachers being recruited?
This is an area for which ACPS is continually recruiting. In addition, ACPS continues to offer opportunities for full gifted endorsement through the College of WIlliam & Mary for our teachers. A local professional development option will also be offered for teachers who wish to enhance their understanding of gifted students and appropriate instructional strategies to use with these students.
What is the hiring and training process for TAG teachers? Is there district level follow-up?
The hiring process includes interviewing with the principal who has the vacancy along with the TAG Coordinator. Many of our TAG teachers hold a gifted endorsement on their license. In the event a teacher is hired for a TAG position that does not have this endorsement, they have three years to obtain it. However, we are going to develop more onsite differentiation support to help teachers build capacity in this area sooner than three years. ACPS provides full support for anyone seeking this endorsement either through the university of their choice or through our partnership with the College of William & Mary. Ongoing support and training occurs through monthly TAG teacher meetings and other professional development opportunities throughout the year.
TAG as a Name
Is the school system open to reconsidering the name of the TAG services?
Yes. This has been brought up before and discussed. Suggestions are welcome.