Sampson County School officials are working on measures to improve education for academically gifted students.
Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent of Sampson County Schools, presented highlights and notable changes regarding the Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program. School officials are required to update and present a plan every three years. The process, which mandates that the Department of Public Instruction provides comments, began several years ago.
“This is our third cycle of writing our three-year plan to present and send to the state board,” Macon said.
Currently, more than 900 students are receiving AIG services in the district. Macon said 16.2 percent of the district’s population are identified as AIG, while the national average is 6.12 percent. According to school officials “giftedness” can be determined by using multiple measures such as outstanding student achievement, aptitude, artifacts and observation.
“The process of identifying students is structured to match diverse student needs and multiple student options,” school officials stated in a report.
From 2013 through 2016, students were required to attain 4 out of 5, with one requirement being aptitude. Up until 2019, students must attain 3 of 4, with aptitude being one. Different instruments and observation scales are used as criteria.
Another notable plan changes include the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, a measure of aptitude test that is administered in second grade; and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a group-administered K–12 assessment intended to estimate students’ learned reasoning and problem solving abilities. The scores for these tests have been adjusted from the 90th percentile to the 88th percentile in certain categories.
“Based on our demographics, we believe 88 is the mark to hit, identify and not miss any of our AIG students,” Macon said.
Macon added that intervention measures will be used for school officials to improve and maintain high performances of students.
“The thought process is, once AIG, always AIG,” he said in regards to making sure students stay on track. “We got to work with students to make sure they’re performing at that grade level.”
To improve the program, Macon added that plans are in the works to bring a chapter of PAGE (Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education) to Sampson County. The group may include parents, teachers and others coming together to help gifted students.
“It’s basically getting stakeholders together to work on things that will help and advance developing AIG (students),” Macon said. “AIG specialist are working on trying to start a chapter for us in Sampson County.”
The Sampson County Board of education is scheduled to approve the plan at an upcoming board meeting.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.