Over the course of the past year, ACPS conducted an evaluation of the Talented and Gifted (TAG) services offered by ACPS. The results of that year-long external evaluation were presented to the School Board last week.
The evaluation provides a roadmap for continuous progress to ensure high achievement for all students and will form the basis of an action plan for the next three years. Where possible, the report’s recommendations will be implemented in time for the start of the school year in fall 2018.
Conducted by a team of highly-experienced TAG evaluators with more than 150 years of TAG experience between them, the evaluation process involved a wide variety of stakeholders including staff, parents and students. These groups provided valuable feedback that was incorporated into the final report.
Aspects of the current ACPS TAG program deemed effective by the consultants include the grade four and five pull-out programs, AP instruction, the option to receive college credit through dual enrollment (particularly for underrepresented groups who may be first generation college students), and the development of an acceleration policy (IKEB/IKEB-R) that allows students to advance a grade or grades in certain subject areas.
Through the evaluation, parents expressed praise for AP classes, considering them sufficient challenge and rigor for TAG learners, and the pullout program in grades four and five in language arts and math. Effective TAG programs were seen as an effective way to emphasize higher level thinking and provide advanced work opportunities.
The report found that ACPS still has room to improve its TAG program. The report’s recommendations include adding a K-3 coordinator and expanding the TAG program for K-3, adding a part-time high school TAG coordinator, and extending the Young Scholars program— which targets underrepresented groups – and selecting more advanced text materials for all grades. The report also suggests revamping the middle school TAG program to include opportunities for an accelerated English Language Arts program and social studies program beyond honors to increase the ability to provide differentiated curriculum or instruction, and an interdisciplinary option in the humanities and STEM areas. A three-year plan of action will be developed to convert recommendations into goals and outcomes for program design, development and implementation.
Other recommendations include a suggestion that parents of TAG students are offered parent education programs to help them better understand the TAG program.
Some TAG initiatives suggested in the report are already underway. ACPS is currently enhancing its TAG program with:
- A new School Board-approved acceleration policy that supports students’ ability to take advanced coursework that aligns with their intellectual and academic aptitudes
- Professional development to assist teachers in identifying the characteristics of TAG students and best practices for addressing learning needs
- A revised curriculum for TAG students, including a revised accelerated fourth-grade math curriculum, more rigorous sixth-grade English language arts text selections and new research-based curriculum.
ACPS will be holding two public Question and Answer sessions on the TAG evaluation report. All are welcome to attend.
- Friday, October 27 at 8:15 a.m. at James K. Polk Elementary School
- Monday, October 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the media center at George Washington Middle School
If you have further questions following the Question and Answer sessions regarding the report, please contact ACPS Talented and Gifted Coordinator Donna Brearley at firstname.lastname@example.org.