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Changes concern parents



Published: Sat, January 20, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.



The changes eliminate separate classes for the gifted and talented students.

By AMANDA GARRETT

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The city school district has made changes to its gifted and talented program that it says will better serve pupils.

Some parents believe, however, that the new program is hurting -- not helping -- their children academically.

Previously the district had identified gifted pupils using a state model. This model identified gifted pupils as those who do well on test scores, said Kathy Shook, district executive director of teaching and learning.

Also, there were separate classes for gifted and talented pupils.

Warren expanded the number of pupils who qualify for the gifted students program at the beginning of the 2006-07 school year, Shook said.

"Teachers are now able to identify students who are advanced or who do well in a particular subject," she said.

Gifted pupils are also now taught in the same classes as other pupils -- but they receive special instruction from teachers, Shook said.

"We have teachers who are trained specifically to deal with gifted students," she said.

Dropped title

The district also dropped the "pre-baccalaureate" title from its gifted program in the middle schools, because the courses did not actually lead all pupils into inter-baccalaureate course work, Shook said.

The inter-baccalaureate program at Warren G. Harding High School is still in place, Shook said.

The changes will benefit Warren's pupils, Shook said.

"We want to expand and improve our programs for gifted students," she said. "We're committed to finding better ways to serve our students."

Robert and Joy Angelo, who have four children in the Warren City Schools, said their son, who is in seventh grade at East Middle School, is not advancing academically under the changes.

Their son had previously been in the pre-inter-baccalaureate program, and they were disappointed when the changes were made this year.

"Bob and I were so hopeful when our city passed the bond issue in the fall of 2001," Joy wrote in a letter the couple gave to the board of education. "We would have new modern buildings to match our progressive approach to education. Now we watch as our new schools are built with the newest technology, our education is going backwards."

Robert also spoke at the Jan. 8 school board meeting asking district officials for better communication with parents on the program.

Shook said the district was working to better inform parents about the changes, and she urged all concerned parents to contact the principal of their child's school for information.

Part of district's attempt

The overhaul of the gifted students program is part of the district's efforts to ensure that every child in the district is being taught the same thing, Shook said. The gifted and talented pupils, though, might perform at an accelerated pace.

The district has already mapped out its curriculum for kindergarten through eighth grade in four subjects: language arts, math, science and social studies.

Shook and her colleagues are working on maps for the gifted and talented students program, which they plan to have in place before the start of the 2007-08 school year.

Shook said the district is also working on establishing its own arts program, for pupils who are gifted in those areas.

The maps better align the curriculum with federal and state standards, which will enable pupils to better perform on the standardized tests from the Ohio Department of Education, Shook said.

Anyone wishing to view the maps or learn more about the gifted and talented students program can visit the school district's Web site at www.warrenschools.k12.oh.us and go to the teaching and learning link.

agarrett@vindy.com




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