Gifted and talented education has often been the cause of much debate. What does a gifted child look like and how are they to be supported? Does a continuum of service work best, or an extraction program? How do we identify gifted learners in a consistent and equitable manner? What is the end goal?
At St Edmund’s College, we are working to answer these questions and implement services that will revolutionise gifted education in the future. We are working through a three pronged process of identification that includes parent feedback, teacher feedback and external cognitive assessment. We will also be starting a mentoring program in 2018 and have commenced a ‘Big Picture’ projects group over the past semester. This group will aim to support our young men in designing their own projects that aim to solve the problems of the wider community. The ‘Big Picture’ projects group meets on Thursday afternoons in the library.
An information evening was also held on Wednesday, June the 21st which also hosted Jonathan Ramke, a Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Neuropsychotherapy Practitioner who specialises in supporting children with diverse learning requirements. He spoke about the PEO model of identifying behaviour and helped parents develop home-based activities to support accelerated child development.
The future for Gifted learning at St Edmund’s will look at how we can encourage relevant assessment with a wider world focus that will allow students to engage with learning at their appropriate cognitive, emotional and physical level. It is an exciting new venture and we look forward to working with you to support the learning of all our students.
Identification is three-pronged and can be instigated by any of the relevant stakeholders. In order to be identified as Gifted or Talented, a student must complete the CogAT test (or other Psychologist administered IQ testing) that demonstrates the child as at least one standard deviation above the norm for their age group. This test is administered at the school and can be requested by a teacher, parent or caregiver, or a student. In addition, the student’s parents or caregiver and their teachers will complete checklists that give a broader understanding of the student’s individual needs.
Twice-exceptionality (a determination of giftedness accompanied by another diagnosis) is common among the Gifted, and all supports offered will encourage the student to achieve at their best level whilst also considering multiple learning and social needs.
Once identified, the student’s level of giftedness is determined by the number of standard deviations above the norm and multiple opportunities may be offered to ensure that learning occurs at a level that best fits the individual. This may include: subject acceleration and telescoping, extension within age group classes, extension in Cocurricular activities, mentoring and real-world immersion experiences and connections with other Gifted learners around the country. Each child’s learning profile will be different; so the family, Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Director of Teaching and Learning or Head of Junior School will work together to craft a program that best fits the needs of the child.
Raising Gifted children also presents with unique and interesting opportunities. We offer parent information courses to help in understanding Giftedness in children and look forward to starting a parent support community in 2018.
This checklist enables parents to give specific feedback on the behaviour and developmental milestone of the student in their home environment. This helps in identifying the unique areas of interest for each student and gives a fuller picture of the social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing of the child.
This checklist enables teachers to give specific feedback on the behaviour and engagement exhibited by students in the classroom. This helps in identifying students who may normally go unidentified or who may be disengaging if learning is not pitched at the right level.
The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a multiple choice test written by Dr. David F. Lohman and provided by ACER Australia. It is administered by the school at no extra cost to families. It is used to measure cognitive development among children and is often used to identify gifted children. The CogAT was first published in 1968. The most current version of the CogAT, the CogAT Form 7, was published in 2011.
The CogAT is made up of three sections, called batteries: the Verbal Battery, the Quantitative Battery, and the Nonverbal Battery. These batteries can be administered separately or together, depending on the specific needs of the child. They are designed to assess specific reasoning skills in each area that correlate strongly to academic success. More specifically, the CogAT measures cognitive development, the ability to learn new tasks, and problem solving abilities. Because much of its content is nonverbal, the CogAT is also very useful for testing students who are not native English speakers.
We are striving to include multiple opportunities for Gifted students to explore their world outside of the classroom through co-curricular offerings. We are currently offering a STEM group, a Big Picture Project group, Debating and an Extension Mathematics group to enrich academic learning. We are looking to add Literary opportunities in 2018.
Big Picture Projects
The Big Picture Projects group meets on Thursday afternoons from 3:40pm – 5:00pm in the Library. The focus of this group is to allow students to integrate knowledge in both theoretical and practical ways by building projects from conception to completion. We currently have a wide range of projects being run; from creating, editing and publishing music to an app which will rate the validity of a website.
Maths Enrichment Club
The Maths Enrichment Club meets each Thursday and Friday in the Library from 3:35pm – 4.30pm. Members attend on either one of those days but not both. The Club has 36 members who have achieved very high marks in their school assessments and in external tests such as NAPLAN. The idea of the Club is to give boys the opportunity to explore topics not covered in the Australian Curriculum, including problems from number theory, logic and applied mathematics. Apart from excellent results in school assessments and external testing, members need a genuine passion for Mathematics.