By Kim Walter - firstname.lastname@example.org
After being put in place last year, Warren County Public Schools will have until this July to be compliant with the state's Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students.
Janet Myers, the county's Gifted Education coordinator, presented the school board with the new regulations at last Thursday's meeting for approval. In the past, five-year plans were sent out by the state's Department of Education, but now plans are approved by local school boards, she said.
The approved plan is good until 2015, and came with the addition of a few regulations that may better serve the county's program and students.
Before, students were identified in general intelligence aptitude or specific academic aptitude in math or language arts. However, Myers said a local choice was made to do away with the specific academic aptitude.
Another regulation will require that all students in every grade level be screened every year for the program.
"The earlier we can identify these students, the better," Myers said.
Two new sections were added to the plan and they describe the different kinds of services offered to K-12 participants. Students should be spending time with other gifted students, take part in more challenging courses and work independently at times.
Each year, a certain part of the gifted program will be reviewed in depth for effectiveness. Myers said this year professional development was looked at.
"We're fortunate enough to be able to provide funding for six teachers to get gifted endorsements," she said. "We really need teachers with them so we can get more in each of our schools."
The teachers have been taking courses through Shenandoah University. Currently there are only "a handful" of endorsed gifted teachers.
For the 2011-2012 school year, 237 students were identified as gifted in Warren County, which is 4.4 percent of the total student population. Myers said she still has a few more referrals to cover before the end of the school year, which might bring the amount to about 4.8 percent. There were 253 students identified by the end of last year.
Myers said referrals can be submitted by teachers, parents and even fellow students, after which students are screened to figure out what services would best fit them. She added that 5 percent of the students being identified as gifted was the minimum amount she'd like to see.
All in all, Myers viewed the new regulations as a good thing.
"I think it made us all take a closer look at what we're doing to see if we're meeting the needs of our students and making sure they're challenged," she said.
In the future, Myers said she'd like to have additional school-based staff as she is the only real staff member in the department. However, that would come "as funding allows."