New Gifted and Talented Consideration Tool

Expanding Gifted and Talented Education Identification Efforts
Posted on 03/07/2022
student in science lab with goggles on

Students who are academically gifted and talented can show their potential in many ways. Metro Schools has a new process to help teachers better understand how to identify students who may be academically gifted and talented. The “Universal Consideration Tool” guides teachers to consider unique learning characteristics in addition to existing testing data as a part of the gifted and talented identification effort. teacher at whiteboard, students on floor listening

Historically, students were recommended for testing for Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) based on district benchmarks and/or teacher recommendation.

This year, using our new Universal Consideration Tool, every student currently in grades K to 7 will be considered for testing for GATE eligibility.

The Office of Gifted and Talented Education partnered with researchers from Vanderbilt University to determine best practices in identifying students for testing, criteria for receiving services, and service delivery options. The Universal Consideration Tool guides teachers through a student’s academic test scores (known as quantitative data) as well as their own observations on certain characteristics and traits (known as qualitative data). This encourages teachers – who know their students best – to consider a student holistically, including their unique strengths, as they make recommendations for gifted and talented testing. Any teacher in the school can recommend a student for testing consideration.

Gina Smallwood, Gifted and Talented Coordinator for Metro Schools, has led the transition and training for this new process, which will help further our commitment to Every Student Known and individualized student learning.

“The Universal Consideration Tool helps our teachers evaluate all students, and it gives every teacher in the district a voice,” Smallwood said. “Knowing our students on an individual level helps us better identify opportunities to cultivate academic talent."

“Gifted and Talented programs should be based upon multiple measures,” she added. “We wondered: ‘How do we create a recommendation process where we consider all students and not just the students who are traditionally recommended for testing?’”

What is Considered?

The Universal Consideration Tool allows teachers to consider students based on a set of different traits, attributes and behaviors, including motivation, problem-solving ability, and creativity - and how those characteristics may show up in the classroom.

GATE teachers trained fellow teachers in their buildings on how to identify these traits and attributes in every student in their classroom. The Office of Gifted and Talented Education also provided training for all principals and their MTSS teams.

Kristi Bell, a GATE teacher at Joelton Elementary School, facilitated the training session for her fellow teachers at Joelton. Bell walked teachers through multiple student learning scenarios while discussing different traits teachers should look for and how those traits may present in students.

Shelby Porter, a first-grade teacher at Joelton who participated in the training sessions, said the information included on the Universal Consideration Tool helped her understand how to observe students through a different lens, compelling her to look more closely at every student, even beyond assessing students for additional services.

“The tool walks us through a series of questions and makes us think about different aspects of our students, aside from just grades and test data,” Porter said. “The training changed how I assess a student, and even how I ask questions of them during lessons.”

Benjamin Slinkard, a GATE teacher at Shayne Elementary School, said this new process and the Universal Consideration Tool will help all teachers broaden their view and identify students who may typically be underrepresented in the Gifted and Talented program.

“Maybe a student who is learning English understands a concept, but can’t say it perfectly in English,” he said. “This tool and process gives us a chance as teachers to find those hidden gems and pull out that deep thinking so they can go on to do really great things.”

Common characteristics of Gifted and Talented students can be found on the National Association for Gifted Children website.

Gifted & Talented Webinar March 8

We invite all parents to join Metro Schools for a virtual overview of the MNPS K-8 GATE program at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 to review a few important topics and ask questions.

District leaders from the GATE department will cover information like:  

  • How and when are students considered for testing, including the new Universal Consideration Tool
  • How parents can be involved
  • GATE services and curriculum
  • Supporting the academic and social-emotional learning needs of academically gifted and talented children

The event will be held via Microsoft Teams Live, and a recording of the program will be available after the meeting.

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