3. How can I recognize if my child is potentially a TAG student?
5. Are all children screened for TAG?
7. What types of tests are given to screen for TAG?
8. Once my child is identified, will they be retested in the future?
9. What should I realistically expect once my child is identified as TAG?
10. What does “rate of learning” mean?
11. What does “level of learning” mean?
12. Will my child be grouped with other TAG students?
13. How is TAG implemented in K-8 schools?
14. How is TAG implemented in middle schools?
15. How is TAG implemented in high schools?
16. What is acceleration?
17. What is ability grouping?
18. What is differentiation?
19. How will I know if my child is being instructed at the right rate and level?
20. What should I do if I feel my child is not being instructed at the right rate and level?
21. There aren't very many TAG students at my child's school. How can the school best meet my child's needs?
22. How can I request that my child skip a grade?
Early Entry into Kindergarten –
1. What is TAG? Talented and Gifted children are those children who require special educational programs or services beyond those normally provided by the regular classroom. An intellectually gifted or academically talented student is one who performs, or has the potential to perform, at or above the 97th percentile on nationally standardized tests of mental ability or academic achievement. In addition, multiple criteria are used, including social and behavioral data, academic history, classroom achievement, etc. No single test is to be used as the sole determiner of TAG identification.
In K-8 schools, TAG Instructional Plans are written in the fall outlining services for instructional level and rate of learning. In Middle and High Schools, TAG Instructional Plans are written upon request only. The forecast sheet is the official notification of programs and services.
2. What are the attributes of TAG students?
Learning: Retains and learns information easily; Uses complex language/has a large vocabulary; Shows strong memory, quick recall; Carries out complex instructions with ease
Skills: Reads/comprehends on an advanced level; Shows high level thinking; Uses advanced computations and/or complex math systems; Displays academic/artistic creativity
Interests: Demonstrates unusual or advanced interests; Is considered an “expert” on certain topics
^ Recognizes patterns & connections; Is a keen observer; Makes mental connections; Devises strategies to solve problems; Has “out-of-the-box” ways to solve problems; Is a Nonconformist
Motivation/Leadership: Is a Self- or Independent starter; Is an independent worker; Does not follow the typical path; Self-confident; Well-liked.
(These attributes are listed on the IDentification Process Form on the TAG website: www.tag.pps.k12.or.us - click on Identification, and scroll down to Parent/Teacher Nomination Process Form.)
^ See attributes listed above. Also, talk to your child’s teacher for classroom behaviors and indicators.
4. How is a child nominated for TAG? Either parents or teachers may nominate a student for TAG services. Parents may get copies of the IDentification Process Form from their neighborhood school, or they may download the form from our website. (Click on the Identification section.) The TAG identification schedule is posted on the TAG bulletin board in every school. Ask in your school’s office for the location of the TAG bulletin board.
^ At this point, not all students are screened for TAG identification. Both you and your child’s teacher must complete an IDentification Process Form for your child to be tested.
6. What can I do if my child’s teacher doesn’t think my child is likely to be TAG, but I do? You can fill out a nomination form and give it to your school’s TAG coordinator. The teacher is then obligated to fill out the Teacher Section of the form. We look at multiple criteria for identifying students for TAG in PPS.
^ We use the ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) to assess for academic talent in Reading and Math. (Performance on the OAKS-Oregon State Test- may be used as an indicator of academic talent.) We use the CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) and the NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) to assess for intellectual giftedness.
We also use and accept scores from such tests as the Stanford-Binet, Woodcock-Johnson, WIPPSI, and WISC if they were given within two years of nomination.
^ No further testing is required for TAG identification unless you wish the student to be tested in a different area later. If, at some point you want your child to apply for ACCESS (see description under #23), your child may need to test again to receive current testing information.
^ Your child’s teacher will create a gifted student plan each fall, which remains active until another plan is written the following year. The plan is based on assessments, observations and work samples, and will include strategies to modify the curriculum, if necessary. These modifications should enable the student to be challenged at their individual rate and level of learning.
^ “Rate of learning” means that students are challenged at the highest rate or speed at which they can comprehend and process information, concepts and ideas, while making it their own. A student would be able to demonstrate, work with, show relationships and synthesize new understandings from this new knowledge.
^ Students working at their appropriate “level of learning” would be challenged at their highest ability to take in, process and respond to information. Instruction would take them to an appropriate depth and complexity of understanding about a topic or subject for each student.
^ Best practices suggest that TAG students be grouped together for a least part of the day. There are many options for grouping students: some may be grouped with other high ability students in specific subjects, some may be clustered together in a classroom, and some may be grouped together in an accelerated school.
^ TAG services center primarily within each student’s classroom. These classrooms are mixed-ability classrooms, where the teacher differentiates instruction according to classroom assessments. Teachers use these assessments to see if there is a need for differentiated curriculum, more individualized instruction and/or opportunities for independent study. If so, they develop strategies to meet instructional rate and level in the regular classroom.
^ TAG services center primarily within each student’s classroom. Students are either randomly placed in classrooms or they are placed in classrooms for math and/or reading according to ability, determined by pre-assessment. In classrooms where students are randomly assigned, one should see instruction differentiated for each student’s level and rate of learning. In classrooms of like-ability students, one would see instruction at a higher rate and level.
^ As in the Elementary and Middle grades, TAG services occur primarily in the student's classroom. The enrollment in most high school classes is by mixed-ability, and instruction should be differentiated to meet the student's rate and level of learning. High Schools also offered a variety of advanced courses. These include AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate), Dual Credit (High School and College Credit using the college text and syllabus) and Honors level courses. Some high school students take online courses, independent study or correspondence courses; or co-enroll in high school and college at the same time to meet their academic and intellectual needs.
^ This term is used in 2 ways when referring to TAG students.
1. Acceleration is a term used to describe when a student is placed in a grade level above his or her chronological grade/age. Examples include single-subject acceleration, where a student may be in a 3rd grade class but goes to math with 5th grade students to best meet his/her instructional level; or whole-grade acceleration, when a student goes through an evaluation process that determines that he is a good candidate for skipping an entire grade.
2. Sometimes teachers and parents also refer to accelerated curriculum. The focus here is providing advanced curriculum but keeping the child with same-aged peers.
^ We call groups “ability groups” when they are formed based on pre-assessment of a particular skill or content knowledge. Ability groups are designed to acknowledge each student’s current assets and to focus on helping students acquire similar skills or content knowledge. These groups should remain flexible and should change frequently based on multiple assessments.
^ Differentiating instruction means creating multiple ways for students of different abilities, interests or learning needs to experience appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present concepts as a part of the daily learning process. Materials, lessons, and/or instruction can be differentiated based on student interest, student readiness, the content of the material, the process used to access the material, or the product the student creates as a part of their interaction with the lesson or material.
A conversation with your child’s teacher is always the best place to start. The teacher will indicate the types of pre-assessments used to determine your child’s rate and level of learning, and how the teacher uses this information to help provide the appropriate instruction in the classroom.
^ Again, start with a conversation with the teacher. He or she may not be aware that your child feels bored or unchallenged. If you still have concerns after meeting with the teacher and offering observations about your child, make an appointment with the school’s TAG coordinator or administrator. We want parents and teachers to be in communication with each other, but keep in mind that TAG TOSAs are available to help moderate discussions and find workable solutions with teachers and parents if other options haven’t worked.
^ Different schools meet students’ needs in different manners. (See answer to question 11 above.) Some schools cluster group or flexibly group students for instruction, either within the classroom or within a grade level(s).
In addition, each school now has a TAG building plan, which communicates to parents exactly how each school provides services for their TAG population. Ask your principal for a copy of the plan.
^ The district provides a method for Early Entry into Kindergarten, Early Entry into First Grade, and Grade Acceleration. There is more information about all of these programs on our web page at tag.pps.k12.or.us
^ Different schools provide a different emphasis, which may also change over time depending on the present staff, administration, and student need. It’s best to find out all you can about the school, tour the school, and then make your decision.
-^ An alternative program for students who score at the 99% or above on one or more nationally normed academic or cognitive test. Other supporting evidence is also used in the decision-making process; including but not limited to the parent, teacher, and student recommendation. Students are generally working 2-3 years above grade level. The grades 1-8 program is presently located at Sabin Elementary School; the high school program is located at Grant HS. All testing is conducted at no charge, either through the TAG Office or through ACCESS. Students may enter the program from the tri-county area, with first consideration given to Portland Public School students. accessalt.pps.k12.or.us
-Winterhaven: Math, Science and Technology focus, grades K-8. Students are from throughout the Portland area. There are a high number (in 2007-08, 46% TAG-identified) of identified gifted students, as well as strong parent participation. Located at the former Brooklyn Elementary School, near the Ross Island Bridge. winterhavenschool.org
-Odyssey: Social Studies focus, integrated learning, grades K-8. Students are from throughout the Portland area. High number of identified gifted students. Located at Hayhurst Elementary, a K-5 school. hayhurst.pps.k12.or.us
-Neighborhood schools: Visit your neighborhood school, ask for a tour, and talk to the school secretary, the principal, teachers and students. Get a feel for the community. Ask questions regarding parent participation, how the day is structured, how students test on statewide and district wide assessments, if students are grouped flexibly by content, and/or how they are clustered in classrooms. www.oregonlive.com (The Oregonian newspaper) provides state data regarding each school building’s test scores and satisfaction ratings.
-AP Courses: Advanced Placement courses are rigorous classes offered at the high school level. All AP teachers are required to submit a course syllabus to CollegeBoard and must meet particular curriculum requirements as a part of the class. For the 2007-08 school year, Portland Public High Schools offered 26 out of the 37 available AP courses. Madison and Wilson each offered 12 AP approved courses. Grant and Franklin offered 11 AP approved courses. AP Courses were also available at SEIS (9), ACT (5), Pauling Academy (4), POWER (3) and Benson (1). There are many reasons that students enroll in AP or IB courses: possible college credit, improve writing and problem solving skills, develop college study skills, demonstrate maturity and readiness for college, study subjects in greater detail and depth. www.apcentral.collegeboard.com
-IB Programs: International Baccalaureate offers all the same incentives as AP, except that it has several unique opportunities: some of the students’ exams are scored abroad and there is an opportunity to be awarded an internationally-recognized Full Diploma based on a minimum number of IB courses, an extended essay, and community service. Presently only two PPS schools offer IB, Cleveland and Lincoln. Students that live within the boundaries of these schools are automatically able to participate in IB. Students from outside the attendance area must apply to Cleveland or Lincoln IB through School Choice (lottery). www.ibo.org
-Dual Credit Courses: Dual Credit courses are typically courses offered at the high school that are aligned to already existing college courses. The teacher uses the syllabus and text from the college class, and a student earns both high school and college credit upon successful completion of a dual credit course. Benson, Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Madison, Wilson, SEIS, POWER, BizTech, and Jefferson all have dual credit courses with PCC or PSU.
-College courses for advanced students:
^ Generally, TAG identification does not play a part in the lottery. But there are factors that may play into preference in the lottery. For instance, if your neighborhood school offers no, or few, AP courses, this may be a factor in the student’s lottery preference. The primary factors influencing admission in the lottery are giving some students a “bump” in admission if they are from NCLB schools and/or if they have a sibling at the school they are applying for in the lottery. The Enrollment & Transfer Center can help you with the number of openings at each school.
This is a great question, and one that can best be asked of the school principal and classroom teacher. Some schools offer a vast array of opportunities for parents to be involved – from teaching groups of students one afternoon per week, to supervising the library. One way that parents do become involved is to coordinate after-school competitions, such as: Lego Robotics, National Geography Bee, National Spelling Bee, Oregon Writing Festival, Chess Club, Math or Science clubs. Working parents can always ask the classroom teacher, if he/she needs help in running off materials, or completing some tasks at home. Other ways to be involved as a parent of a TAG child, are to give the teacher input for the Gifted Student Plan, or course scheduling; to be an advocate for your child; and to attend building and district TAG parent meetings. You may also want to attend local, state and national meetings regarding gifted children. You may even ask to help the building TAG coordinator or principal to bring speakers or other resources into your school. Another way to be involved is through the building Site Council and/or the Local School Advisory Committee.
There are two primary ways for parents to be involved – through the TAG Parent Advisory Council (TAGAC) and through attendance at district evening parent meetings. (See our website and/or your school’s TAG bulletin board for information regarding dates and speakers for the district TAG meetings.) TAGAC meets every other month, during the lunch hour. This council has parents representing each high school cluster. Council members serve three-year terms, and we welcome all parents from PPS schools and the general community. Parents work with Roxanne Coleman, district TAG Teacher-on-Special Assignment (TOSA) to schedule agendas and speakers. The council acts on behalf of the parents they represent to bring best practice to the forefront of the Office of Teaching and Learning. Through this advocacy, and constant questioning, the council advocates for positive changes in the services offered their children. Contact Roxanne at 503-916-3358 if you are interested in attending meetings or participating in the TAGAC.
You might also get involved by joining parent groups such as The Student, Family, and School Support Committee (503-916-3170) or the Office of Communications and Community Engagement (503-916-2000 ext. 4824). Don’t forget that you might also attend School Board meetings. Call 503-916-3741 for meeting dates.
The TAG Coordinator or designee at your school has a list of parent TAG resources. A TAG Guide has also been provided in each school’s library so that parents can easily access TAG information.
Another way to learn more is from organizations such as:
^ In 1997, several parents filed a class action complaint with the Oregon Dept. of Education (ODE) regarding services for gifted students in Portland Public Schools (PPS). PPS was released from this complaint in 2004. In 2005, these same parents filed a complaint against the State for releasing PPS. In 2007, ODE returned to PPS to investigate services for gifted students. In 2008, ODE issued a final finding and asked that PPS do the following:
The Oregon Mandate was broadly written regarding (e.g.) identification, and programs and services. The lawsuits around the state, have attempted to bring rules and regulations regarding those areas of the Mandate that are not well defined.
A Fall Parent TAG Meeting is announced at schools in September. This is a great way to meet each other.
Another opportunity is the Johns Hopkins CTY Family Academic Camps cty.jhu.edu. Several of those camps are in Portland and Seattle. On a space available basis, families may register for the activity without having the student test into the program.
Other opportunities are offered through OMSI, Portland Audubon Society, Hands On Portland, Oregon Zoo, Free Geek, and Saturday Academy. Hands On Portland is a great way to experience a short- or long-term volunteer opportunity. These and more opportunities are on the TAG web page.
The TAG administrator also compiles a list serv of TAG parents who would like to receive information regarding TAG in our District, the State, and the Nation. Email email@example.com to be added to the district TAG listserv.
^ There are many ways for families to learn more. For a complete list, go to the TAG web site. Some of the ways to learn more are:
TAG FAQs February 8, 2008