Morey’s Highly Gifted / Talented Magnet Program

Highly Gifted Services at Morey Middle School

 

Morey Middle School houses the magnet program for the highly gifted at the middle school level for the Denver Public Schools (DPS) school district. The magnet program designation ensures that qualified students have transportation to the instruction they need as magnet eligible (ME)* or highly gifted and talented (HGT)* individuals. DPS offers magnet programs for the district because studies show that teachers in a traditional classroom have the ability to differentiate for students whose abilities range from average to gifted. Classrooms for the highly gifted are required as the range of these students abilities can exceed the range of neurotypical students’ abilities.

 

In the Denver Public Schools, “gifted and talented children” means those students whose demonstrated abilities, talents and/or potential for accomplishment are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs. These students perform, or show the potential of performing, at remarkably high levels in intellectual, specific academic or creative areas when compared with others of their age and experience. Gifted and talented children are present in all student groups, regardless of gender, disability, English language proficiency, economic status, ethnic or cultural background.

 

Identification of Highly Gifted and Talented Students in DPS

 

Students in the DPS are tested three times for high cognitive abilities during the K-8 school years. These tests are called universal assessments. The NNAT assessment is used to collect this data. It is a timed, multiple choice measure of abstract and visual-spatial reasoning skills. It is considered to be unbiased in terms of both culture and gender. The assessment involves evaluating the sequential pattern of geometric designs and selecting the appropriate next design to complete the pattern. These tests support DPS’s quest to  improve the diversity of students in gifted services. NNAT testing occurs in the fall of the kindergarten, second and sixth grade years.

 

Students, parents, and teachers can nominate themselves or others via a form on the DPS GT Department website for testing or with support from the GT specialist in their current school. This nomination can led to testing which is offered in the fall and in the spring of each year that a universal assessment is not available to a child. The CogAT assessment is provided to students who pass the nomination screening for students interested in attending a magnet program free of charge if currently enrolled in the DPS. The CogAt tool qualifies students based on their scores in quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and visual special abilities.The three areas are considered individually so students may qualify in one area or multiple areas from this assessment. To learn more the DPS’s GT department website address is at the following link: gt.dpsk12.org.

 

Eligibility for gifted services requires a score in the 95% or above. Eligibility for highly gifted or magnet services requires a 98 to 99% score or above. The eligibility process offers multiple opportunities and pathways for student identification in the following areas:

 

  • general or specific intellectual ability
  • specific academic aptitude (reading, writing math, science, social studies, and world language)
  • specific talent aptitude (visual or performing arts, musical, dance or psychomotor abilities, creative or productive thinking and/or leadership abilities).


The body of evidence must also contain a combination of the following: portfolios of work, rubrics, performance, observations, checklists and/or interviews. All information will be reviewed and evaluated by a highly qualified district team to determine the educational needs of the student and the most suitable level of gifted support. Depending on level of need, your child may or may not qualify for gifted services.


Morey’s HGT Program Structure

 

At Morey, the ME and HGT students are grouped into intellectual peer cohorts during core subject instruction rather than staying in traditional cohorts. The homogeneous grouping in core classes allows gifted students to challenge one another through debate, critique, and higher-level questioning. In addition, setting aside time for specialized instruction provides the highly gifted students the academic challenge and social/emotional supports needed to ensure their growth as a multifaceted person. In more precise terms, during six of the ten periods of the school day, HGT students are provided targeted instruction that meets their unique needs. All students at Morey are in mixed program groups during electives, advisory, lunch and recess, and all other activities. This heterogeneous grouping allows students at various instructional levels to work together, build community, and focus on personal responsibility.


Best Practices in Morey’s HGT Program

 

During core subject classes; language arts, math, science, and social studies, ME and HGT students are in cohorts with their intellectual peers. This allows for additional depth of content study, faster curricular pacing and mastery, and personal interactions necessary for student development. Extensions such as additional and challenge focus areas in SUMMIT, individual projects and higher level questioning are provided. Acceleration in math is offered based on a combination of a district-level math assessment with standardized math test scores. Math courses are determined each year and provided to students based on this data.

 

Teachers are trained to have a strong understanding of how to identify, challenge, and support gifted students’ academic and social/emotional needs. Therefore, in addition to significant amounts of time with their peers, students have access to other social/emotional supports. Each child has a mentor in their advisory or SUCCESS Seminar. This is the child’s point person for the three middle school years. This teacher provides personal attention to the student’s individual academic and social/emotional accomplishments as well as guidance to improve the student’s deficits. This ongoing progress monitoring allows students to reflect on their goals, skills and needs with a caring professional.

 

Morey’s support staff consists of full-time personnel, e.g. counselor, GT specialist, and social worker who specialize in improving students’ executive functioning, mental health, academic motivation, and social skill building. Part-time staff, e.g. psychologist, speech therapist, and an additional counselor facilitate additional support. Students receive services based on their !EP, 504, student request, or teacher recommendation. Mindfulness and Understanding Giftedness workshops are integrated into subject area classes to further aid student self-awareness and well-being. Academic activities such as Destination Imagination, Mathletics, Chess Club, and Spelling Bee are available to interested students.


Advanced (Individualized) Learning Plans
Per Colorado House Bill 1244-07, identified gifted students in grades K-8 will have an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) developed. The ALP will provide documentation of gifted education services in the student’s area(s) of strengths, the student’s yearly growth, and the manner in which the child’s social and emotional needs will be addressed. It will serve as a roadmap for teachers and students that ensure advanced instruction and learning opportunities in the student’s area(s) of strength. The ALP is a document that can be revised anytime during the school year. The development of an ALP serves as a foundation for a partnership between the gifted student, the classroom teacher, the parent/guardian, and the gifted education teacher at the school. Bertie Fiz the Coordinator for Highly/Gifted and Talented is available to discuss these plans with students, families and teachers.

 

Passion Projects
A passion project is an in-depth exploration of an individual passion or interest. Sixth through eighth grade students are asked to see the complexity of their interests through an interdisciplinary lens. Students are provided with a timeline to support time management. As well, the students are given time and lessons in their SUCCESS Seminar classes to facilitate the research process and outline presentation expectations. They are expected to brainstorm for a variety of ideas(creative thinking), critique their ideas for the best topic, then outline their process of inquiry. Students will delve into multiple sources to create a presentation with a visual component that demonstrates their depth of study and ability to explain it to others. Completion of the passion project also helps the student to meet the ALP goals. During their presentation of learning, students will have the opportunity to share their work with peers, educators, and community members.

Website Portfolios
Portfolios are one type of performance assessment in which students highlight their work in progress and illustrate improvement over time. This is a systematic way for students to manage and compile a body of self-selected evidence supporting growth. The portfolio is the student’s responsibility. Submissions support the ALP and each piece of evidence may come from content area work, contests, performances, and clubs. It may include out-of-school efforts as certain abilities and interests may be limited in school settings. The student completes an evaluation of the work as it relates to a specific goal and indicates next steps ensuring continued personal or academic growth. This body of evidence supports the GT specialist’s decision-making to determine of the student’s goals are met or not met.

 

For further information about Morey’s Highly Gifted Program, please contact Bertie Fiz at 720-424-0706 or at Bertie_Fiz@dpsk12.org.

 

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Glossary

Magnet Eligible: a student designation that means the child has shown at least one indicator of high cognitive ability

 

Highly Gifted:a child that is not only magnet eligible but also has at least two indicators of high academic achievement based on nationally normed tests or instruments