Polk County Public Schools has more than 5,800 students identified as “gifted learners.”
These students possess above average intellectual development and are capable of demonstrating high performance in the areas of leadership, creativity, motivation and academic learning.
Polk County’s Gifted Education Program provides opportunities to enhance the learning experience of gifted students. The program helps these students develop their intellectual potential and address their special needs.
Goals of Gifted Education
The Gifted Education Program serves students with a special curriculum and resources that include:
• Academic acceleration
• Academic enrichment
• Gifted consultation
In order to meet these goals, students may receive specific instruction in the following skills:
• Critical thinking
• Creative thinking
• Problem-based learning
• Socioemotional awareness
Who are the Gifted?
Gifted children are indeed exceptional in their thinking and learning behaviors. They are unique as a group, and even more so as individuals.
Florida defines gifted students as those who have superior intellectual development and are capable of high performance in the areas of leadership, creativity, motivation and academic learning.
Presently, Polk County’s Gifted Education Program focuses on identifying and serving students who demonstrate superior intellect, show a majority of the characteristics of being gifted and present a need for the program.
What is Gifted Education?
The Gifted Education Program in Polk County Public Schools is a state-mandated program for grades K-12. The school program options extend and enhance the regular education curriculum. There are state guidelines that describe how a student qualifies for the gifted program.
Instructional Delivery Models
In Polk County Public Schools, the instructional delivery models include academic enrichment, and academic subject and consultation services. Differentiated instruction is used to meet the needs of gifted learners while also taking into consideration children’s interest areas, learning styles and ability levels. Upon entering the gifted program, students are expected to be present for the gifted instruction provided.
Polk County Public Schools’ consultative model is aimed at giving students the educational experience that best suits their needs. For example, students may elect to take advanced and/or AP courses. Dual enrollment, collegiate high schools and virtual school are also available at the high school level. Teachers of the gifted and members of the grade-level team also work together to meet students’ academic and affective needs.
Resource Model: Grades K-5
Teachers endorsed in gifted education provide services to elementary students as often as determined by the school’s administration. In collaboration with the school team, thematic units of study or academic subjects are studied. The thematic units are interdisciplinary and are based on the science, social studies, mathematics and language arts subject areas. Emphasis is also placed on fine arts, vocational awareness and technology. When students are assigned to the gifted program, they are responsible to the teacher of gifted for classwork and/or home extension activities; on regular classroom days, they are responsible to the regular education teacher for classwork and/or home extension activities. The gifted class is designed to meet the special needs of the gifted student and is not “in addition to” the regular education program. Regular education teachers and teachers of gifted plan and coordinate to meet the learner’s needs as indicated in the student’s educational plan. Parents are encouraged to contact either the classroom teacher or the teacher of gifted if they perceive a problem with student progress or expectations.
Resource Model: Grades 6-8
Students may receive direct instruction in various content areas from a teacher endorsed in gifted education. Middle school teachers differentiate the curriculum to meet the needs of gifted learners and document program differentiation in their lesson plans. Students may also receive gifted services in inclusion. In that scenario, students remain with regular education students and the teacher of gifted consults with the student’s academic team to facilitate progress toward the student’s educational plan goals. Best practices suggest that when students receive inclusion services, students also receive lab- or seminar-based instruction to address their unique interests and needs.
FAQs for Parents
What should parents or school teams do if they believe a child may qualify for the gifted program?
There are three basic steps to be followed in identifying students for gifted services.
- Referral: Referrals for the Gifted Education Program may be made by parents, guardians, school personnel or community agencies. To make a referral, contact Polk County’s Exceptional Student Education Department at 863-535-6485.
- Evaluation: Evaluation may include a formal intellectual evaluation conducted by certified school licensed psychologist.
- Placement: Placement in the Gifted Program will be contingent upon the staffing committee’s recommendation and the parent’s or guardians’ permission for placement.
What will our child’s gifted services be like?
The Gifted Education classes are designed around research, best practices, Sunshine State Standards and students’ academic and affective needs. Gifted Education classes focus on each child’s strengths, interests, abilities and other special needs. An education plan (EP) for each student is written upon initial placement into the program. Polk County’s Gifted Education Program provides a continuum of services including:
- The regular school program supplemented by Gifted Education consultancy services.
- The regular school program supplemented by special Gifted Education courses or classes.
- The regular school program supplemented by a school-based Gifted Education resource room.
- A program combining academic subjects, academic enrichment and the regular school program at school, or combinations of these services in some situations.
What are some ways to support Gifted Education?
Polk County’s Gifted Education Program aims to address the special needs of gifted learners and help them reach their fullest potential.
Gifted Education is not a privilege; it is the child’s right to receive the most appropriate education for his/her needs. The program is part of the student’s total educational program, not an add-on program.
Parents of gifted learners or community members interested in gifted learning can contact Polk County’s Exceptional Student Education Department at 863-535-6485 for more information or learn ways to support the Gifted Education Program. They can also contact advocacy groups, such as the Florida Association for the Gifted (http://www.flagifted.org/) or National Association For Gifted Children (http://www.nagc.org/).
What happens if we have a child receiving gifted services and we move to Polk County?
New students previously enrolled in another Florida county or who are coming from out of state are eligible for placement as soon as their participation can be confirmed through a request for records. Documentation of eligibility may be made via a phone call to the prior school (notation can be placed in student’s files) or through records received. For a student who received gifted services from another state, the same procedure will apply. Once documentation is noted, the student can be served in our gifted programs and does not go through the referral and evaluation process.
Resources for Gifted Education
- National Association For Gifted Children: nagc.org
- Supporting Emotional Needs of The Gifted: sengifted.org
- Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page:www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm
- Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development: gifted.uconn.edu
- The Association for Gifted Education: cectag.com
- Duke Tip: tip.duke.edu