Over 5,800 Gifted Students in Polk County
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.