COMPASS - Gifted Education
Creating Opportunities to Meet Potential and Stretch Skills
Missoula County Public Schools recognizes that some students have exceptional, intellectual and creative abilities that vary from those of the general population. We are committed to making the necessary accommodations for these exceptional students.
The term "gifted and talented" means children of outstanding abilities who are capable of high performance and require differentiated educational programs beyond those normally offered in public schools in order to fully achieve their potential contribution to self and society. The children so identified include those with demonstrated achievement or potential ability.
Students can be referred for identification for gifted services by parents, teachers, counselors and other educators and can occur as early as kindergarten. Qualifications for Gifted Education Services is considered based scores from the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) and other information provided by teachers and parents. The CogAT measures Verbal, Quantitative and Non-verbal Reasoning.
All students in 2nd grade in MCPS are screened using the CogAT and referrals are made for those students. Referred students are tested with the CogAT during two testing windows, one in the fall and one in the spring.
When a referral is made, the referral from is sent to the school counselor who manages referrals in each school building. The data, which includes grades, the most current standardized test scores and a teacher rating form, is collected and analyzed by the classroom teacher, counselor and principal to determine if further testing is warranted.
If further testing is recommended, a parent packet is sent home which includes a parent permission to test, "Getting to Know Your Child" and "Things My Child Likes to Do". When all information is gathered, it is returned to Gifted Education Services.
A student is identified for services when 2 scores of a possible 4 scores are at or above the 95th percentile (CogAT - Verbal, Quantitative, Non-verbal and Composite Scores) or when 3 or more scores are clustered just below the 95th percentile. Final decisions are made by school teams. If the team cannont meet consensus, more information is requested from the teacher and/or parents. This information or data must not be something already gathered. Parents can appeal the decision but will be expected to provide additional data as well. Parents will receive a letter and test results after decisions have been made. A student, who qualifies as "Gifted" in other districts, will also qualify as "Gifted" in MCPS. Documentation of their qualifications needs to be included in their file. This can include a letter from the previous district that states that they are officially identified as "Gifted" students.
MCPS provides a variety of services for all students. These services are available for gifted and high ability students on an as needed basis. Support services include but are not limited to school counselors, school psychologists, mentors, resource room, curriculum specialists, Gifted Education Specialists and additional school programs.
Parents are welcomed advocates for their gifted child's appropriate placement, curriculum and social and emotional needs. Periodically throughout the school year, district-wide parent meetings are planned as well at individual schools as requested. Meetings include presentations on understanding the academic, social and emotional needs of gifted children. These meetings also give parents an opportunity for parents to give input on the MCPS gifted program. Relevant materials and books are available for parents through the Gifted Education Library.
In turn, parents support the program by volunteering in classrooms with small groups of students, by attending field trips and through the annual student conference at the University of Montana.
Professional Development will focus on instructional management, instructional delivery and curriculum modification which are the three key components of the gifted education delivery system and will be aligned with MCPS District Goals.
The evaluation of Gifted Education Services will include the following areas: identification of gifted students, program options and teacher training and support. In order to improve services, input from teachers, parents and students will be included in the evaluation process when appropriate.