Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Talent Development Program Mission

Support and implement a high quality, innovative talent development program that is responsive to the diverse and dynamic needs of exceptional learners.

Why identify students as “Gifted and Talented (Talent Development identification)?”

The State of Maine Department of Education Chapter 104 directs all State of Maine School Districts to provide supportive services for students identified as Gifted and Talented (Talent Development).

“Gifted and talented children” shall mean those children in grades K-12 who excel, or have the potential to excel, beyond their age peers, in the regular school program, to the extent that they need and can benefit from programs for the gifted and talented.  

Children with exceptional General Intellectual Ability and/or exceptional Specific Academic Aptitude usually comprise 3-5% of the school population.  Students with exceptional Artistic Ability usually comprise 3-5% of the school population. 

Identification Process

When

  • Screening will take place at the end of second and fifth grades
  • The parents/guardians of students identified to receive services will be contacted before the  beginning of third and sixth grades to set up an ILP meeting. See more about ILPs below.

How 

The Talent Development Evaluation Team, which includes an administrator, talent development teacher and classroom teacher, will use a “blind” process  for selecting students as “identified” to receive talent development services.

Objective and subjective criteria used in this process include:

  • universal cognitive and academic achievement assessment scores
  • Behavior Rating Scale

Can I have my child tested by an outside evaluator?
You can have your child tested, but the district is not required to accept the evaluation as a directive to “identify” a student for talent development services.  Given that, if there is concern that a student demonstrates unmet needs, an Individual Learning Plan can be designed to support the student’s learning and social needs and challenges regardless of identification.

What if a parent or school personnel disagrees with the decision of the evaluation team?

Parents or guardians, and school personnel, including school counselors, teachers, and principals may appeal the decision of the committee by submitting a letter of appeal to the principal of the school or the Assistant Superintendent, Pender Makin. You will be contacted within a short period of time and the next steps  will be addressed.

We are moving into the Brunswick School District. How will my child’s previous identification as a gifted student be handled?

Your child’s previous identification should be noted in his/her file, but this does not guarantee identification within the Brunswick School Department’s system (as each school selects the top 3-5% from that population).

How are talent development services provided?

The service model planned for the school year 2016-2017 will benefit all students and the school system as a whole because:

  • Teachers will receive targeted support for meeting diverse needs in the classroom.
  • The impact of our TDP teachers will be maximized.
  • The services provided will be more available to more children.
  • Parents decide whether or not to inform students about their identification status.
  • Exceptional learners who are not officially identified will receive differentiated instruction and may also have an ILP designed for them.

Individual Learning Plans (ILP)

An ILP is an individualized learning plan specifically designed for an individual student.

The ILP offers direction for teachers working with that student, including student strengths, interests, and needs, and specific ideas about tailoring materials, assignments, instructional strategies, and differentiated assessments.

The ILP is a guiding document and is shared with the classroom teacher, TD teacher, and parent(s).  This plan can be revisited and revised at any time to better meet the student’s learning and social needs, challenges, and growth.

Identifying Students

Students identified to receive talent development services will be supported by an Individual Learning Plan.  ILPs can be used with any student who demonstrates significant need in order to support their learning.  Students identified to receive services do not need to be told they are “identified.” It is a parent’s choice to inform the student, or not.  Flexible grouping structures will allow identified TDP students and non-identified students to work together in ways that allow students to contribute their unique strengths and challenges within a diverse context that reflects the larger society in which they live

Curriculum 

There is not a specific, separate, “Talent Development Curriculum.”  The talent development teachers, like all of the Brunswick School Department teachers, base their instruction on the Brunswick School district approved curriculum which is based on the Maine Learning Results and Common Core Standards. All teachers are able to add depth and complexity, select innovative exemplars and assignments, and vary the pace to meet diverse learner needs. Our talent development teachers work with the regular classroom teachers to share ideas for customizing curriculum and instruction in ways that improve the educational experience for all students.  At the macro-level, the TDP will look very much like high quality instruction within the regular classroom.

At the individual level, supports and options may include:

  • differentiated instruction (content, product, exemplars and assessment), with consultation and collaboration between talent development and classroom teachers,
  • independent study,
  • visiting specialists,
  • seminars on various topics based on student needs and interests,
  • workshops,
  • small group work in and out of the classroom,
  • field trips,
  • honors or advanced level courses, such as Advanced Placement,
  • mentorships,
  • counseling sessions,
  • flexible and dynamic grouping within the classrooms,
  • variety of social learning configurations within the regular classroom which offers students class time with:
    • diverse peers
    • peers with similar academic ability or performance levels,
  • advanced content and pacing of instruction,
  • original research or production,
  • problem finding and solving,
  • higher level thinking that leads to generating products,
  • focus on issues, themes, and ideas within and across areas of study, and
  • provide support necessary for students to work at increasing levels of complexity

Professional Development for Brunswick School District Teachers

Brunswick School District teachers engage in professional development to better understand:

  • the needs of students with exceptional abilities,
  • differentiating curriculum content, instruction, strategies, products and assessments;
  • managing flexible group patterns,
  • individualized learning plans, and
  • skills to recognize and respond to individual student strengths and needs.

For example, this year:

  • Over 50 teachers have participated in at least one professional development event to improve capacities for meeting exceptional needs in the classroom.
  • A state/national expert in differentiation provided training and consultation on a Saturday in December. Many teachers K-12 attended the session.
  • This same expert will return on May 9thto offer another session. The TDP will be a supporting member at that session.
  • We are leveraging the internal expertise of our own teachers who have considerable skill and experience with these practices.
  • Many of BSD teachers have offered colleagues informational classroom success stories and materials.
  • Our teachers have been offered the opportunity to apply for compensation and materials for engaging in after school, summer, and weekend work to create differentiated unit designs, instructional plans, and materials.
  • All staff members are offered educational literature, books, and helpful websites that guide the development and implementation of differentiated instruction.

Communication Process

Parent feedback will play an important role in your child’s ILP, and will allow teachers to make any necessary adjustments in classroom practice that might better meet your child’s needs.  If there are any concerns, cheers, comments, or questions regarding a student’s learning we encourage the following order of communication:

  1. Classroom teacher-educational professional who knows your child’s program and performance first hand,
  2. Talent development teacher (Grades 3-5 Andrew Kosak; Grades 6-8 Peter Stevens; Grades K-2 LEAP, Overall Support K-12 Sharon McCormack)
  3. Building administrator(s)-in charge of the school’s systems, schedules, logistics, teaching practices, supervision, and overall student well-being: Coffin School, Grades 1-Multiage 1/2 Steve Ciembroniwicz, Principal; Harriet Beecher Stowe School, Grades 2-5: Catherine Folan, Interim Principal; Joshua Levy, Assistant Principal, ; Brunswick Junior High School, Grades 6-8 Walter Wallace, Principal; Lisa Cushman, Assistant Principal; Brunswick High School, Grades 9-12: Shanna Crofton, Principal; Tim Gagnon, Assistant Principal
  4. Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Pender Makin-oversees the district’s implementation of the TDP in the context of our school system as a whole and is committed to supporting a high quality, innovative, TDP model that is responsive to the diverse and dynamic needs of exceptional learners within a public school system that serves students of all abilities, backgrounds, and interests.