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Gifted and Talented: Behind the Test Scores

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Gifted and Talented: Behind the Test Scores

Gifted and Talented during a large group meeting.

Gifted and Talented during a large group meeting.

Lora Danker

Gifted and Talented during a large group meeting.

Lora Danker

Lora Danker

Gifted and Talented during a large group meeting.

Alexis Haggstrom, Journalist

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The U.S. Department of Education estimates that about 3.2 million students across America are enrolled in Gifted and Talented programs.

 

Prairie High School’s resident Gifted and Talented advisor, Lori Danker, oversees 190 of them.

 

“Our program here at Prairie is as good as any of them,” said Danker, “but there is always room to improve.”

 

The program itself is comprehensive; each school year there are three identification meetings and five annual district council meetings.

 

“Ongoing identification is considered best practice,” said Danker.

 

The identification process is based on pathways. Such pathways, like creativity, equal access, and the more traditional means of identifying like MAP and cognitive abilities scores provide opportunities to students with strengths in all areas and all social classes.

 

Senior Peter Lande has been identified for the Gifted and Talented program since third grade.

 

He is an active participant of GT sponsored Technology Group which caters to those with STEM interests; his focus is on programming. Lande acknowledges how being in the program has shaped him as a student.

 

“If I hadn’t been a GT student, I probably wouldn’t be on the same path at all. But, it’s not really the fact that I’m a GT student, it’s the fact that I have a willingness to learn. GT is just a label, it just means that you’re a certain group of people that need certain help,” said Lande.

 

Junior AJ Kozich was also identified early on. He is involved in Technology Group’s cyber defense team. Kozich credits the Gifted and Talented program with the additional opportunities he has been offered.

 

“I don’t think I would get as high in life as I am now… It helps you as you get into the future, you get more exposed to opportunities and extracurricular activities,” Kozich said.

 

Sophomore Kaitlyn Sellon is gifted in both Mathematics and English. Sellon works with the Peer to Peer mentoring program. She cites the GT program in helping her academic confidence.

 

“I feel like it’s helped me become more confident in my learning capabilities as people have been telling me that I have a great work ethic…I feel like [that] since I’ve been taught that since third grade that I’ve ended up getting better GPA and scores on my tests,” said Sellon.  

 

The praise associated with GT shouldn’t only be confined to those within the program. Sellon states how students of all types can benefit.

 

“I feel like even if you’re not in GT, we should still push that if they have the work ethic they can achieve,” said Sellon.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Gifted and Talented: Behind the Test Scores”

  1. Lori Danker on April 3rd, 2019 4:23 pm

    Thank you for the opportunity to spread awareness around gifted and talented programming. There is so much misinformation…so many biases…so your article is helpful in breaking through those misconceptions.

  2. Paul Knaus on April 15th, 2019 12:25 am

    Alexis,

    Thank you for your insightful article. The quote from Peter Lande resonated with me (“…it just means that you’re a certain group of people that need certain help”) because a key aspect of a teacher’s job is to identify the needs of each learner and adjust instruction accordingly. This is a colossal task. It’s also imperative. We are committed to reaching this ideal. It will require increased collaboration, and I’m looking forward to continued collaboration with the Gifted and Talented Program.

    Mr. Knaus
    Instructional Coach
    Prairie High School

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