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What to look for in full-time gifted program?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My dd is being tested on Saturday for a full-time gifted program that would start next year. They are also taking into account her scores from last year, her participation in a one-day-a-week gifted program this year, an evaluation from her regular teacher, and a questionnaire that we completed about her, so I'm not sure she will be admitted. If she is, however, we have to decide whether we want her to go.


From what I know so far, here are the cons:


1) The site is about 20 minutes from our house and they are cutting the bus budget for gifted programs next year so we will have to drive her every day.

2) We will probably move our younger son, who will be in 1st grade, to the same school. Or we will have two kids in two different schools = more running around.

3) The program is just a classroom in a school that is in an area that is significantly more well-off than we are. Most of the children will be from very wealthy families and the whole school is a lot different than any school we have attended. For example, the PTA raises thousands of dollars each year to pay for full-time aids for most of the classrooms. This might be stressful if we are trying to be involved in the school, which we would want to do especially if our younger son is also moved.


Those are the practical concerns I currently have. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas about what I should ask, or if anyone has feedback on similar programs their children have participated in. I can't decide whether it will be worth it. Our other option is a science-oriented charter school that has a good reputation and a lot of great extracurricular activities, but she would be in a traditional classroom.

post #2 of 8

A couple things come to mind. Is this a multi aged classroom?  (you said the progam is just a classroom)

How does your DD work/learn best? Does she do better with group work and projects or direct teaching?

Alot of what to look for depends on what her score is. A kid with a gifted/IQ score of 130 is different than a kid with a score of 160. (just using IQ score, IDK what test your school is using).

Remember when you are looking at the program they are selling you the best parts they have.  The staff is all smiles, the classroom is clean and shiny, admin is sweet etc.  When you get there it could be totally different.

Also just because this progam works for your child next year it may not work the following year.  So getting into a program is only part of the battle.

In my short summary I would say look at your child, her likes/dislikes, stregnths and weakness and compare those to the program.


*I would give my front teeth to have a full day program that met my sons needs a 20 minute drive away. PTA moms or not, I would love to have something around here.

post #3 of 8

I would want to know exactly *how* they have changed the curriculum to make it a full-time gifted program.


Both of my kids are in our district's full time "highly capable" program. 


With DD, the only "problem" we have faced that even when the class was accelerated two full grades it still wasn't a true challenge for her.  Thtat was only her teacher's policy for two years, though, and then it went back to just a one year across the board acceleration.  It was still the best fit we have found *for her*, though.


With DS it has been harder because he has struggled in spelling (don't even get me started) and writing while the math is years below his skill/ability level.  I am less certain that it is the best fit for him, but he is very happy there so we will leave it until he is not.


There is a local private gifted school where I felt that they had the cut-off much too low for a full-time.  Their cut-off is 95th% while our district cut-off is officially 98th%, but because of space last year at least they only took 99th%.  We had one friend who went there for a year and ended up switching to the public school.  So, I would ask what the cut-off was and where your child is in relation to that (I'm sure for a child right at the 95th% the private school would have been a MUCH better option than a mainstreamed public school classroom.  For the kids in the 98th-99th%, though, it was not as good of fit).


I think fit in classroom comes down 95% to the teacher.  If our local school would have accomidated DS' math skills *in any way* I would have left him there.  I do think that the higher level thinking/discussions he gets in the gifted program are good for him, but with his writing and spelling challenges it has been demoralizing at times.  That said, at this point his writing would have him below average in a "normal" classroom as well.  That said, DS had a classmate who left the gifted program for her local school and *that* teacher totally accomidated her extra needs.


Good luck with your decision!



post #4 of 8
We are moving our DD to a full-time gifted magnet next year. It was a hard choice, but we were very impressed with the school after visiting and talking to other parents, Any possibility you can make contact with other parents?

Ironically, our concerns are sort of opposite in that the magnet is inside a very very *poor* school. However, I also suspect that the parents of the kids IN the magnet will be a lot wealthier than we are and than our general set of friends. I anticipate a bit of adjustment/weirdness on both ends.

We pulled her from another program that also had some very nice aspects....which was hard, but she was complaining a LOT about being bored. She naturally pushes herself and loves to be challenged, and I expect this to be a much better fit that way.

One thing I am still antsy about is the reaction from other people. I found that I had some complicated ambivalence to work through when considering the implications of putting DD in a gifted program FT. If I had a different child with the same IQ (DD is on the high end of MG, supposedly) I might make a different choice. It's just that DD is basically begging for more.
post #5 of 8

My DD goes to a gifted magnet school (she's in preK).  What I've found is that the school has a general policy of accelerating only one grade level but individual teachers may choose to accelerate more.  So dd's class is doing 1st grade math now since they're all ready for it.  They also differentiate with reading groups--dd is in the highest reading group, along with 3 other fluent readers.  They do a lot of structured writing and revising and they keep a journal, which allows kids to move at different paces.  I don't envy the teachers, though.  I would think that the differentiation that good gifted programs need would become increasingly difficult as the grades progress.  I really like how involved all the parents are and how well dd gets along personality wise with many of the kids.  I wouldn't worry about the wealth of the parents and their ability to buy teachers aides.  It is only right that they should contribute needed funds if they afford it and if you can't afford it, you contribute to the community in some other way.  I personally can afford to donate money to my dd's school causes and programs but I work full time so can't really volunteer my time the way other parents might. 

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the input!


Zebra15, I am not sure what learning style she prefers/excels at. I hsed for Kindergarten, but she has changed a lot since then. And I've been so busy this year that I've only been in her classroom a handful of times. I'm hoping that her teachers will have some insight there, but not holding my breath. I also am concerned about it not working so well the next year, mainly because we would be making the decision to put both the children in that school, and I don't want them bouncing around every year.


TiredX2, those are good points. I do know that the cutoff is 99%, but I think they may make a few exceptions. Honestly, I can't get rid of my skepticism about my dd being in that group. I think this is partly because she is quieter and more reserved than most of the kids in her current GT program, and partly because I read on this board about the amazing things kids are doing, especially at such young ages, and she doesn't really do those things. So I'm interested to see her test scores. The administrators of the program seem to be pretty confident that they are accurate.


In the literature we have received so far, they claim that the kids get a lot of independent study time and are encouraged to dig deeper into subjects that interest them. That sounds good, but it doesn't really clarify what grade level they'll be working at. They use a different curriculum than the rest of the district, too.


Lorax, I know what you mean. I'm anxious about pigeon-holing her, and about how her social group is bound to be completely different. We are currently in a very low-income, Title I school where about 35% of her class are ESL students. From what I have seen, the students in the GT program do NOT represent the rest of the district and it will probably be a bit of a culture shock. I also feel bad about her losing her diverse friend base, though our current school is highly transient and many of the kids may not return next year. We went to a school function last night and I was looking around at the other parents and thinking about how different it will be at the other school. In a way, that will be nice because those parents will have the resources to spend a lot more time focusing on their kids, but at the same time I'm worried about the pressure, for myself as well as my kids.


Our other option, the charter school, seems to have a great sense of community and parental involvement, but also has a much more diverse population, both in ethnicity and class. My gut feeling is that my kids would do better socially there.



post #7 of 8
It's tough to switch schools midstream like this and lose an established social group, for parents and kids both. I'm pretty darn sure that the parents at DD's current school are a lot more like us than those at the new school will be. I'm very comfortable there, and I am going to miss those parents. But, as I keep telling myself, it isn't supposed to be about MY comfort. In our case, DD is doing okay socially at the current school but I really feel like a better fit is out there for her.

I will be honest with you and say that I am still having doubts. Can you go back to your current school if the new one doesn't work? We can't, and that's part of it. If I felt like I had an out, I would worry less.

You don't say much about your daughter's current school situation. Does she like it? If she is in GT, how well is it meeting her needs? Do they differentiate for her in the regular classroom? In our case, DD was just getting very little in the way of accommodations and the situation appeared very unlikely to change. I felt like this was sorta kinda okay in 1st, but really would not be okay by 4th or 5th.
post #8 of 8

some quick thoughts:


-my son also tested high w/out being obviously super-advanced in academic skills. The school he is currently going to seemed confident as well that he was a great candidate (offered him a big scholarship) and he is thriving there. He was NOT unusual in his class (there are *some* very obviously advanced kids but others similar to him. from what I've read and heard, with early reading and such, while having it is an indication of giftedness, NOT doing that is not the reverse). Don't worry too much about a board like this one- I imagine that people don't come on the gifted board to announce that their 99%+ kid is still not really reading and often confuses the digits of 6 and 9 at 6 years old? I certainly didn't ;)


-my son (now in kindergarten) has so far been in private schools for the past 3 years where our lifestyle is much more modest than most. It hasn't been a problem, though he certainly notices it (other people have bigger houses, more stuff, go skiing on vacation etc). I mean to say, be prepared to talk about it, but so far its been fine. I will actually think more on this as he gets older- by high school age I think that might be socially a lot harder (being the "poor kid" even if you are in the scheme of things fairly privileged).

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