Back to School: What's new for gifted and talented students in Encore?
Dr. Schunn Turner, former principal at Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School and Lead Academy Middle School, has moved into the Metro Schools central office this year as the head of Gifted Services and the Encore program. Along with a new leader, there are several other changes coming to Encore this year. Dr. Turner outlines some of the big ones below.
by Dr. Schunn Turner, coordinator of gifted services
What is Encore?
Encore is a gifted services program that provides advanced instructional opportunities for students who are intellectually gifted or academically talented.
How do students get into Encore?
We are always seeking out children who qualify for gifted services. We will automatically test children who meet certain benchmarks in the classroom or on state testing. If you feel your child is eligible but he or she has not been tested, you can seek out a gifted determination from a psychologist. Otherwise, children will be tested at these times:
Prekindergarten Pre-K students who meet the state criteria for intellectually gifted when tested by a psychologist may participate in the Encore program at Robertson Academy.
Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade Every spring, K-2 students who perform above grade level in reading and math are invited to test for Encore eligibility.
Grades 4-8 Every fall, Students in grades 4-8 who scored advanced in reading, math or science (or all) on the previous year’s TCAP are invited to test for Encore eligibility.
All Year Long Throughout the year, students in any grade who meet the state criteria for intellectually gifted are invited to participate in Encore. That testing is done by school psychologists.
What’s new in Encore this year?
More Parent Involvement Encore is re-establishing the parent organization. The parents in this group will provide program feedback and help plan activities for Encore students and families. Encore families should look for information about the organization soon after the school year starts.
Enrichment Every Day This year, all students K-8 will get 30-60 minutes of personalized instruction every day during regular class time. For high performing students, Encore teachers work with classroom teachers to help build enrichment activities. That way the high-fliers in elementary and middle school will get enrichment every day, not just during Encore times.
Finding and Developing More Gifted Students Encore is changing the abilities test that determines eligibility. Research shows that the new test is better at identifying students from diverse backgrounds and students who have limited English proficiency.
One of our biggest goals in gifted education is to identify more students in more places who have academic talents. We need to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter where they come from or what their background.
Another way of finding and developing more academically talented students is a new pilot program called the Young Scholars of Nashville (YSN). It will be in 15 elementary schools this year:
- Alex Green
- Charlotte Park
- Park Avenue
- Tom Joy
This program will identify and nurture academic talents and gifts of K-2 students from minority and other historically underrepresented groups so they can get a head start on advanced academics. By finding and developing them early, they will be more likely to participate in advanced programs in later grades like Encore, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge and other programs designed for high achieving students.