FAQ regarding gifted support services in Downingtown Area School District*
When do gifted support services “start”?
In DASD, all children are screened in the spring of first grade. They are administered a screener exam. The scores on this screener indicate whether your child should receive the full evaluation for gifted services as done by a school psychologist. Please note that in the state of Pennsylvania, it is your option to request the full evaluation from kindergarten on, as per Chapter 16 law. For further information on Chapter 16, please see the Pennsylvania Department of Education website (http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/gifted_education/7393),
and also see the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (giftedpage.org) website to learn more.
Update: October 16th, 2017. Since DASD was audited in April 2015,for gifted support services, DASD’s screening procedures for gifted have gone under a major change. Chapter 16 just states that districts must screen, but doesn’t actually say how. It is commonly accepted in the gifted education world that a one time screening process isn’t adequate. Children are now screened using a matrix/rubric developed by Carrie Dickmann, DASD Special Education Supervisor over Gifted Education. Please note that this doesn’t change your option, via Chapter 16, to request the full evaluation. Notable about the new screener process is that is includes multiple data points versus just the SAGES, and expands beyond just the 1st grade year. Please see here for an example: Gifted Matrix K-6 – SCREENER 1 Mar-June
What do I have to do to get my child in to the program?
Please note that there is no program, per se. DASD follows Chapter 16, which says a child must have an IQ of 130 (although the score can be weighted via teacher input or parent input so as to not miss those with learning disabilities or other mitigating needs) and be in need of specially designed instruction. Chapter 16 says a parent can request a full evaluation of their child from kindergarten and up from the district. You may request this through your child’s teacher or school principal. This request should be made in writing, and the school district has 10 school days to respond to you with a document that says “Permission to Evaluate.” After you sign this and return it, then the school district has up to 60 school days to schedule and perform the full evaluation. After the evaluation, you will receive a Gifted Written Report, which will explain the results. If your child is identified gifted AND in need of specially designed instruction (meaning what is offered in the regular education classroom is not enough), then you will receive a note about a GIEP. GIEPs are more fully explained by watching the webinars posted at: http://downingtowngifted.org/webinars
What does gifted services look like at DASD?
At DASD, GIEPs are the document that governs your child services. At the elementary level, there is a mix of enrichment, subject acceleration, and pull outs (where your child meets with their gifted teacher and other gifted students). All of what your child needs is determined through the GIEP, and what services are provided are a direct result of that process. At the middle school and high school levels, children are afforded more flexible scheduling, so support services vary based on decisions taking that in account and working with your GIEP team. Cluster Grouping, or grouping gifted kids together in a classroom so they can be more easily serviced by their gifted support teacher, is also commonly used.
How do I learn more about gifted support services at DASD?
When your child is designated as needing a GIEP, you will meet with your child’s teacher, gifted teacher, and principal to discuss your child’s needs. You play a vital role in this process, and should educate yourself on the GIEP and what chapter 16 says. The Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education maintains a website with information (giftedpage.org), and you can also consult the PA Dept of Education (see previous answer for link), as well. Currently, the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, maintains a hotline for parents (see the website for the number). Other general websites, like hoagiesgifted.org are also very helpful. Also, please make plans to attend the Downingtown Area Gifted Education Network monthly meetings to network with other parents. Speakers are brought in on subjects like GIEPs. You can also email questions to email@example.com. If you are new to the district, start with your school’s principal, listed on the DASD website. In addition, the Chester County Intermediate Unit has a gifted education liaison that is available to you. The website for the CCIU is cciu.org, and the current liaison is Patricia Egnor, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a concern about my child’s gifted support services, but I’m new to it all, what should I do?
It is important to remain collaborative with your child’s educators, they want the best for your child. You should attempt to address the issue first through your child’s teacher, and their gifted teacher, and if necessary, the principal. You do have the right to call a GIEP meeting at any point (they renew annually, but if needs change for your child, you can request another GIEP meeting). Email is an excellent way to communicate with your child’s educators. If you still feel like the issue isn’t addressed, then you should contact the gifted administrator over gifted education, listed under pupil services on the DASD website. If you wish to gain outside advice, the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education maintains a hotline, and also there is the gifted education liaison at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (see previous answer). You may also contact the PA Dept of Education as well, you should have received a copy of your parental rights with your GIEP that also lists resources and info. You can also email DAGEN at email@example.com, and we will endeavor to help you as best we can.
I would like to support gifted education in the DASD district, what can I do?
Please consider joining our parent organization, Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education as a member. They work on many levels throughout the state for educators and parents. For more info, visit giftedpage.org. In addition, consider volunteering your time with DAGEN. For information about volunteer opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See resource page for additional info.
*These FAQs are maintained by DAGEN, not by DASD, and only on a voluntary basis and as a service to the public. DAGEN is not employed by or receives funding from DASD. This is purely a volunteer endeavor. Any comments regarding the FAQs can be directed to email@example.com.