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The gifted of Picayune

 Photo by: Cassandra Favre South Side Elementary gifted teacher Susan Spiers gave Picayune School Board members an update on the district’s gifted program at Tuesday’s meeting.

Photo by: Cassandra Favre
South Side Elementary gifted teacher Susan Spiers gave Picayune School Board members an update on the district’s gifted program at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Picayune School Board met Tuesday and heard an presentation about the district’s gifted program from South Side Elementary gifted teacher Susan Spiers.

The gifted program is for elementary students in second through sixth grades, Spiers said. The percentage of gifted students in the district is less than nine percent.

Spiers said students can be screened for the gifted program anytime between grades two and six and a mass screening is done each year for students at the first grade level.

“Students can also be referred to the gifted program by a parent, teacher, counselor, administrator, peer or self,” Spiers said.

Once a student is referred, Spiers said, teachers and parents receive referral packets to complete. If the child meets the criteria, they are sent to a psychometrist for an IQ test.

The scales for identifying qualifying students are based on general intellectual ability, creativity and leadership scores, Spiers said. A student must score in the 91st percentile with an IQ of 120 in order to qualify for the gifted program.

Emerging potential or twice exceptional students are students with learning disabilities, such as ADHD or Asperger syndrome, are also eligible for the gifted program, Spiers said. If they meet the criteria the IQ requirement is lowered to 115.

“This helps disadvantaged kids to get into the program,” Spiers said. “We can’t discount these children because they have an exception. Walt Disney, Einstein, Winston Churchill and Bill Gates were all thought to have learning disabilities.”
Spiers said out-of-state gifted students are automatically entered into the referral stages.

The gifted teachers utilize Blooms Taxonomy, Spiers said, a practice that encourages higher levels of thinking using knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Students spend about five hours a week in the gifted program, Spiers said. The largest class has about 12 students and the smallest has about six or seven.

The units of study for second and third-graders may include the topics of, Mexico, fairy tales or snakes.

The units of study for fourth through sixth-graders may include topics such as, Egypt, primates, India and King Lexicon/Middle Ages.

If gifted students score 56 or below they are then placed on a nine-weeks probationary program in order to bring up their grade, Spiers said. An intervention plan is devised to help the student meet his or her education goals during this probationary period.

“Our goal is to keep the children in this program,” Spiers said. “In my 18 years of teaching, I’ve only put about four children on probation.”

In other action the board approved:

­–Applying for a Naval Research Laboratory SeaPerch grant for the gifted program.

­­–Applying for an MDE Foodservice Equipment Assistance Grant in order to purchase convection ovens for the Roseland and Nicholson Elementary Schools.

The next school board meeting will be on Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the district office on Goodyear Boulevard.