Gifted and talented program: What parents need to know

A recent policy revision means that HISD students will have more equitable access to the district’s gifted and talented (G/T) program. Under new board policy, once a child qualifies to receive gifted-and-talented services, they will continue to receive services unless a parent or guardian requests otherwise.

The proposal is designed to ensure that students identified as gifted and talented are able to retain that designation and remain in the district’s G/T program throughout their tenure in HISD, regardless of which school they attend. Previously, HISD focused solely on core academic areas in which students can be considered gifted, but now they will also consider creativity, fine arts, and leadership. Adding three new content areas ensures that the district is better aligned with the state’s education plan for G/T students.

Currently, all HISD students are tested for the program in kindergarten and then again in fifth grade. During the 2013-2014 school year, more than one-third of the district’s 3,527 gifted fifth-graders were removed from the program after taking the requalifying test in fifth grade. The vast majority of exited students — more than three-quarters — were Hispanic.

To make sure all students are demonstrating success in the G/T program, schools also would be required to:
● develop personalized “gifted education plans” detailing how they plan to meet each G/T student’s individual academic needs
● establish campus-based committees to help identify G/T students and develop and carry out the personalized plans

The HISD Board of Education approved the first reading of the proposal in November, and the second reading at the Dec. 10 meeting. Policy change proposals must be approved at two different readings before going into effect.

If you would like more information about the new board policy for gifted and talented services, please consult this FAQ or contact your campus Vanguard coordinator. You may also contact HISD Advanced Academics at 713-556-6954 or AdvancedAcademics@houstonisd.org.

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