Granite Falls district begins change of
challenge program in elementary schools
For the past 12 years, Granite Falls’ schools, and other districts around the country, have had a similar challenge program in place for those identified as gifted children.
These challenge students participate in a self-contained classroom as a separate entity from the general population of the school. The idea behind such a classroom is that it would allow those students the opportunity to excel in their studies and to challenge them in such a way as to bring out their full potential.
The uniqueness of the program in Granite Falls, according to one parent, is that it offered a challenge program for those in kindergarten thru second-grade.
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) says the following is a federal definition of giftedness.
“The current federal definition of gifted students was originally developed in the 1972 Marland Report to Congress, and has been modified several times since then. The current definition, which is located in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.”
However, it does note that States and districts are not required to use the federal definition even though many do.
Furthermore, the definition of gifted or giftedness by the NAGC states that there is no universally agreed upon answer, and that the interpretation of the word “gifted” seems limitless.
When the current challenge program in Granite Falls ceases in its present format, which includes those children who are identified as gifted and those who show the potential, will any of the children be left behind?
According to Kathy Grant of the Granite Falls School District, the answer is no.
“Every child will be served,” she said.
The change, Grant explained, was brought forth and determined by a committee.
“What we have done is changed the delivery model,” she explained. “We are switching the model to a multi-age so that the highly capable kids will be in a multi-age grades two, three, four, and five program.”
Grant also acknowledged the delicacy of the nature of the issue and the concern of any parent because their child may be affected.
“All the students will continue to be served at their academic level. We’re just delivering those services differently,” Grant reiterated.
She also stated that the change will not be immediate, but a gradual one taking an entire year to accomplish.
“I think it’s also good for parents to know that we’re taking the full school year, this coming school year, the 2008/2009. We’re using that whole year as a transition phase to change the delivery model,” Grant said.
She also acknowledged that this is a necessary time for adjustment for everyone including staff as they look into all the little details to assure the success of the challenge program, which is to meet the needs of all the students.