Northeast Kentucky Association for Gifted Education

Links to Schools in NEKAGE.  Scroll for Evaluating Gifted Programs.

Criteria in Evaluating Gifted Programs

  • Evaluate Your School's Gifted and Talented Program

    "Good schools will be supportive of all students' needs and provide adequate staff and procedures to embrace the distinct learning environments and special needs of the gifted child.  Students should not be expected to totally conform to the teaching style of teachers, rather, teachers should also learn to conform to the learning style of students."  Great schools will reach beyond that which is required and inspire students to reach beyond expectations." Brenda Martin, NEKAGE President.

  • Philosophy and Goals
    What is the philosophy and what are the goals of the program? Are the goals similar or different for different ages? If they are different, what are the differences and why are they different? Gifted children are gifted for life. They start out gifted and end up gifted. As a result, they have similar academic needs throughout their school years. Any differences in goals should be based on age-appropriate differences in instruction, but those differences should be based on what is appropriate for gifted children.

  • Acceleration and Enrichment
    Acceleration refers to the speeding up of instruction. Gifted children are fast learners and require little repetition of information. Enrichment refers to the increased depth of study of a particular topic. It extends the regular curriculum. Both are needed in some form.

  • Multiple Options
    Is the program a “one size fits all” program or are there various options for the different needs of the different types of gifted children? A profoundly gifted child has significantly different educational needs than does a mildly gifted child, for example. In addition, a child may be exceptionally gifted in math, but not in language arts. Multiple options are essential.

  • Student Learning Expectations
    What are the students expected to learn by the end of the program session? Learning outcomes must be clear. The students may have fun, but they must also learn something new. Any child could participate in fun activities, but a gifted program should be one that is designed specifically for gifted children.

  • Challenging Curriculum
    Gifted children need a stimulating curriculum. Without it, they can "tune out," losing interest in school. A curriculum for gifted children should require them to stretch their minds.

  • Flexibility
    Flexibility is needed in order to respond to the needs of individual gifted children. Rigid adherence to the system often prevents some gifted children from appropriate challenges. For example, a gifted 3rd grader may have mastered 6th grade level math. That child does not need to complete third grade math assignments. A school needs to be flexible enough to consider options for that child's math instruction. Another possibility is a gifted child musician. A junior high student with exceptional talent playing the violin could be allowed time off from school to take advantage of opportunities to study with exceptional violinists or take part in special musical programs.

  • Sound Identification Process
    Multiple assessment procedures should be used to determine which children would benefit from placement in a gifted program. Every effort should be made to include children who are frequently overlooked. These children include LD gifted, underachievers, and children from under-represented groups, like economically deprived and minority children. Too often schools rely on one test, usually a group test, or simply teacher recommendations for identification.

  • Staff Development Plan
    Teachers who have been trained to work with gifted children are much more effective than those who have not. Do the teachers who work in the gifted program or teach the gifted children have gifted endorsements? Does the school have regular in-service sessions about gifted children?

  • Guidance Component
    Gifted children often feel isolated or "different." They sometimes don't feel like they fit in socially with the other children. They also can be very sensitive and have a harder time than other children dealing with the day-to-day stress of school or growing up. The guidance can be individual or group guidance.

  • Honoring Academic Talent
    Schools must honor all talent areas in the same way athletic talent is honored. For example, pep rallies can be held for academics and artistic talent as well as for sports. Groups of students often participate in the Science Olympiad or local and state band competitions, and pep rallies could be held for these. Names of achievers can be listed or announced in the same way sports heroes are listed and announced.

The more of these criteria a school meets, the better it will be for your child.


Criteria to Consider when Selecting or Rating Schools in General

'Here are some guidelines to help you to evaluate schools in addition to various test scores.

Make a judgment about the overall quality of the school. You don't need to go strictly by the numbers you rate the school in each category, and you can also consider other factors, such as the level of student achievement and the physical condition of the school. Select a rating that reflects your bottom-line evaluation of how the school is meeting the needs of your child and how it is serving the community.

Principal leadership

Great principals, those who merit a rating of 5, create and maintain a culture of achievement and support throughout the school. They establish high expectations for academics and behavior, and do everything possible to attract, develop and support high-quality teachers. Great principals ensure that teachers have specific plans for student learning and ways to assess student progress. They have the courage and stamina to set ambitious goals for the school, and hold themselves and staff members accountable for showing progress toward these goals. In addition, they are accessible to parents and other members of the school community and respond to their concerns.

Teacher quality

Consider the overall quality of the teaching staff, not just your own child's teachers. Good teachers establish high expectations for academics and behavior. They are well organized and have a clear plan for what students should be learning on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. They know their subject matter, and they use multiple teaching strategies to reach students who come to school with varying skills and interests. They give regular feedback to students and challenge them to achieve their personal best. At the same time, they go to great lengths to care for and support students personally. They communicate openly and clearly with parents and work well with their colleagues.

Extracurricular activities

Consider the variety and quality of activities at the school. A highly rated school involves a large number of students in a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, the arts, and intellectual and cultural interests. Teachers and coaches who supervise extracurricular programs pay attention to character development, as well as the level of performance and commitment to the activity. Scholarships are available for activities that require a fee.

Parent involvement

Evaluate the quantity and quality of parent involvement. In a highly rated school, parents play important leadership roles on the school site council, PTA and in other organizations. A school with strong parent involvement attracts a large percentage of parents to school functions. The school offers a variety of opportunities for parent participation, such as school events, classroom projects and schoolwide committees. Parents are respectful of teachers and the principal, and the teachers and principal seek out and value input from parents.

Safety and discipline

In a school that merits a 5, the staff and parents work together to create and maintain high expectations for student behavior. Discipline procedures are clear and are carried out consistently. Bullying, gang activities and oppressive behavior, such as sexism and racism, are not tolerated. Students feel safe when they are dropped off at school, the campus is tidy, the restrooms and cafeteria are kept clean. The playground equipment meets safety codes, and recesses are well supervised. Schools that pay attention to safety do not provide easy access to strangers.

(Excerpt from