The Sampson County Board of Education received an update on the school system’s Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program Tuesday morning during this month’s work session, one that showed success.
Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent of Academics and Student Services, reminded school board members of the program’s state and local standards — student identification, differentiated curriculum and instruction, personnel and professional development, comprehensive programming within community, partnerships, and program accountability — which include 48 practices the school system should use.
“The first plan (for the system’s AIG program) was put into place four years ago,” noted Macon, stressing that the county school system has one of the best AIG programs. “Now we’re implementing the second cycle of a three year plan.”
The plan for 2013-16 was recently reviewed by the state, Macon shared, and received a good response. “Out of the 48 practices, only one got a recommendation.”
“The plan is in good stead and we’re moving ahead,” he assured.
The ones at the forefront of transforming that plan into a reality for the county schools are seven AIG specialists. In conjunction with classroom teachers, they help instruct a total of 161 elementary AIG students, 312 middle school AIG students, 350 high school AIG students, and 67 gifted students at Sampson Early College High School.
Although not officially in AIG in early elementary school, K-3 students do participate in a nurturing program and are tested for AIG placement at the end of third grade. According to Macon, school officials consider reading and math skills, report card grades, and teacher observations in identifying potential AIG students.
Once children become AIG students in fourth grade, they are offered inclusion and resource time. In the sixth through eighth grades, they are often co-taught by a classroom teacher and an AIG specialist. In high school, AIG students take AP and Honors classes, participate in focus groups, and visit numerous colleges.
Under the second cycle of the system’s AIG plan, school officials will focus on strengthening instructional practices including rigor and relevance, improving student identification, giving more attention to intellectually gifted students, training some 20 teachers to become AIG certified, and make sure to continue spreading awareness of the characteristics of AIG student, shared Macon.
Honing in on the last area of focus, Carolyn Lane with Sampson County Schools talked with school board members about the characteristics that make a student an AIG student.
“AIG students have a wealth of knowledge and ability…Each one is different; they all have their own interests and abilities,” she said, noting that AIG students often “have a sense of how things should be.”
Lane added that AIG students are often the ones who question the teacher, have a mature sense of humor, and are perfectionists.
To help school board members better understand what goes on it an AIG classroom, Lane showed them pictures of AIG activities including students doing interactive math, working on projects they develop themselves, learning about fingerprinting in a CSI unit. She also shared with them an electronic book created by four fifth grade AIG students from Plainview Elementary School, a book they created specifcally for school board members to see.
School board member Glenn Tart expressed an interest in seeing the numbers of AIG students in the system broken down by school.
Fellow school board member Dewain Sinclair agreed and noted that he would like to see how the program has improved, particularly in the area of student identification, pointing out identification improvement was a focus of previous superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker.
“We were basically promised last year that there would be improvement,” added Tart, reiterating the desire to see evidence of that improvement in the future.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.