Officials: Gifted and Talented Programs Help with Dropout Rates
KREX News Room
CLIFTON, Colo.- Teacher Heather O'Brien educates many students every year but only a select few like Isabelle Haderlie in her Gifted and Talented Program, or GT.
“It gives us a lot of opportunities to learn in different ways based on what areas we are strong in,” said Haderlie, 8th grader at Bookcliff Middle School.
Local school officials believe up to 10 percent of area students are gifted and talented, and have them enrolled in special school programs. The district wide courses serve the needs of advanced students who require a little more of a challenge in the classroom.
“These are the kids who are the Steve Jobs, who are the Bill Gates of our society,” said O'Brien. “They're the movers and the shakers, and we have to keep them engaged for our future generations.”
O'Brien says most GT students are eager to learn but sometimes, their needs are overlooked.
“It’s an enormously difficult job to have kids in your class at the 8th grade level who can’t read at a 2nd grade level, all the way up to kids that can read at a college level,” said O'Brien. “How could you possibly differentiate enough?”
Officials with the gifted program say it helps classrooms teachers with ways to support these students.
“It’s a pull-out program to help make sure those kids needs get met and then self advocacy,” said O'Brien.
Officials say if the desires of these students are left unmet it could end with them getting into some sort of classroom trouble or even worse, hindering their ability to graduate.
“Without providing a challenge for the student, for those gifted and talented students, for those advanced students, they actually have higher drop out rates than even lower students because they get bored with school,” said Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator for School District 51 Heather Baskin.
There are four categories officials use to identify students as GT. They must qualify in at least two: Aptitude, Achievement, Behavioral and Characteristics, and Performance.
Baskin says this year they're making sure they look more at minority students and others who are often unidentified.
“Dual Immersion Academy will be accepting students who are high verbal after kindergarten,” said Baskin. “Normally, it’s just those students that are in kindergarten. But now, it’s 3rd, 4th, 5th grade. If we have a high verbal student, that student could come into a classroom that is a dual language classroom throughout the day.”
So these students could be challenged now rather than later, officials see this program as a necessity because though some may be still young, they're looking to the future.
“I think about that all the time,” said Haderlie. “If you get a good foundation, you could just grow on it.”
If you're feeling that your student’s needs aren’t being met, there's a GT information meeting on Wednesday, August 28 at 6 p.m. at Bookcliff Middle School. For more information: ww.mesa.k12.co.us