Frequently Asked Questions

This is a partial list of frequently asked questions and answers provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

 

Glossary of Acronyms

 

AP Advanced Placement
CBA Curriculum Based Assessment
CER Comprehensive Evaluation Report (pre-2001 Chapter 14)
FERPA Family Education Rights and Privacy Act
GIEP Gifted Individualized Education Program
GMDE Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation
GMDT Gifted Multidisciplinary Team
GWR Gifted Written Report
IDEA Individual with Disabilities Education Act
IEP Individualized Education Program
IQ Intelligence Quotient
LD Learning Disabled
MDE Multidisciplinary Evaluation
PDE

Pennsylvania Department of Education

 

General FAQs

 

Where should complaints be sent regarding Chapter 16?

The Bureau of Curriculum and Academic Services will provide assistance with Chapter 16 complaints as it does with Chapter 4 complaints. Call 717-787-8913.

 

May affiliate groups and/or attorneys file requests for assistance with the Pennsylvania Department of Education on behalf of parents, many parents are reluctant to file requests for assistance for fear of repercussions on their children by the school district and teachers?

Yes, affiliate groups and/or attorneys can file requests for assistance with Pennsylvania Department of Education. However, requests for assistance in regard to the GIEP of a specific child must name that child.

 

Criteria for Gifted

 

May a person with an IQ lower than 130 be admitted to gifted programs?

Yes. Section 16.21 indicates that a person with an IQ lower than 130 may be admitted to the gifted program when other educational criteria in the student’s profile strongly indicate gifted ability. IQ may not be the sole criteria for identifying a student as a gifted student.

 

May school districts set criteria such as high-test ceilings or IQ’s of 140+ or design a matrix that is more restrictive than the requirements of Chapter 16 to determine whether a student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction?

No. Each school district must establish procedures for determining whether a student is mentally gifted through a screening and evaluation process that meets the requirements of Chapter 16. Chapter 16 defines the term mentally gifted as “including a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher and when multiple criteria indicate gifted ability.” A person with an IQ lower than 130 may be gifted when other educational criteria in the child’s profile strongly indicate gifted ability. The matrix used the the school district may not be more restrictive than the requirement of the Chapter 16 regulations.

 

What are the multiple criteria that indicate a student may be mentally gifted?

The multiple criteria indicating a student may be mentally gifted include:

  • A year or more above grade achievement level in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests.
  • An observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills.
  • Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio, or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment.
  • Early and measured use of high level thinking skills (Guilford/Bloom’s Taxonomy), academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise.
  • Documented, observed, validated or assessed evidence that intervening factors such as English as a second language, learning disability, physical impairment, emotional disability, gender or race bias, or social/cultural deprivation are masking gifted abilities.

 

In the “multiple criteria” section 16.21 (e), what is meant by “subject results shall yield academic instruction levels in all academic subject areas”?

Subject results means sub-tests of achievement tests should provide results that can be used to determine placement in academic instruction in all academic subject areas.

 

In the “multiple criteria” section 16.21 (e), how do you measure or show “an observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability”?

Rate of acquisition is the rapidity or speed at which the student is able to acquire, understand, and demonstrate competency or mastery of new learning. Rate of acquisition and rate of retention of new materials/skills can be defined as how many repetitions the student needs before the student masters new information/skills and can use the information/skills appropriately any time thereafter. This data can be obtained by simple procedures such as Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA), direct observation, and reporting from parents, teachers or supervisors. The Gifted Guidelines includes a copy of the Chuska Scale for Rate of Acquisition and Chuska Scale for Rate of Retention for use by Pennsylvania school districts.

 

In the “multiple criteria” section 16.21 (e), how is “demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolios or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment” evaluated and reported?

Evaluations by a professional staff or an expert in the particular academic area would be used to report “demonstrated achievement, performance, or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolios, or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment”. The following examples could be a way to document achievement:

  • Student A is a member of the high school debate team and has qualified for the state finals in grades 9, 10, & 11.
  • Student B loves to write poetry and has a folder of many unpublished works.

 

In the “multiple criteria” section 16.21 (e) what does measured use mean in “early and measured use of high level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise.”

Early and measured use of high level thinking skills could include checklists, inventories, and anecdotal notes. It could also include documentation of developmental milestones that are reached earlier than average students reach the milestone. For example:

Language Development Months for Average Months for Gifted
Says First Word 7.9 5.5
Babbles with Intonation 12 8.4
Vocabulary of 4-6 Words 15 10.5
Names an Object 17.8 12.5
Vocabulary of 20 Words 21 14.7
Uses simple sentences 24 16.8
The above details were taken from Harrison (1995) pp 24 & 33, with Harrison attributing her information to Hall, EG & Skinner, N (1980) Somewhere to turn: strategies for parents of the gifted and talented children. New York: Teachers College Press.

Using a “checkpoints for progress” chart, you could show that a student has mastered skills beyond that child’s age level. These types of charts often accompany grade level texts.

  • The average kindergarten student uses symbols and letters to represent words.
  • The average third grade student uses a variety of sentence structures.
  • The average sixth grade student writes effectively using standard grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling in a final draft.

A kindergarten student who is able to spell common words correctly, make appropriate and varied word choices, and/or understands common capitalization and end punctuation would be demonstrating achievements that are a result of early and measured use of high level thinking skills.

A child who could speak before age one or read before kindergarten would be other examples.

 

Gifted Written Report (GWR)

 

On a GWR where do we put psychological evaluation results?

The psychological evaluation may be put into the “Ability and Achievement Scores” section of the Gifted Written Report.

 

Was it intentional that the GWR does not list assessment of cognitive functioning in Section I under Summary of Findings? The GWR currently begins with assessment of academicfunctioning.

Yes. The GWR includes Ability and Achievement Test Scores under Findings & Assessment of Academic Functioning. This allows for the knowledge level of gifted students to be sufficiently addressed to meet the requirements of Chapter 16.

 

Why are signatures not required on the GWR?

The Chapter 16 regulations do not require signatures on the GWR. The GWR is a compilation of information from the Gifted Multidisciplinary Team (GMDT). The GWR contains information provided by the school district, by the parent, and/or anyone with information concerning the student’s educational needs and strengths. This information is used by the GIEP team to determine if a child is gifted and needs specially designed instruction. Parents and other GMDT members can still express disagreement/agreement at the GIEP team meeting. By regulation the proper place for formal parent agreement/disagreement with what is being proposed by the school district is the Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)issued to the parent by the school district.

 

On a GWR can individual results from a group test such as one that is given yearly by a school district be used to report “achievement test scores”?

Yes, provided that the achievement test was a nationally normed and validated test. Group achievement test scores should be only one piece of achievement information. Individualized achievement or ability tests, book or unit tests,end of the year tests, curriculum based assessments or other testing may be needed to identify the instructional or academic functioning level of the gifted student.

 

Is classroom observation is required for the GWR?

No. Classroom observation is not required for the GWR.

 

On a GWR can N/A be used if there are no “intervening factors” that seem to be interfering with a student’s gifted potential?

It is preferable to write a statement such as “the evaluation does not indicate intervening factors”.

 

After a GWR is completed, if the recommendation is to NOT offer a gifted program, must that still be followed by a GIEP team meeting andthe presentation of a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)?

Yes. The GWR is the accumulation of information regarding the student. A GIEP team meeting must be held to consider the information in the GWR andto make a decision regarding eligibility for gifted education and programming. Following a GIEP team decision, a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)must be given.

 

May districts reformat the GWR and GIEP since they are not considered “forms”?

Yes, all of the information on the state promulgated formats must be included, but additional items may be added.

 

Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP)

 

What is meant by “appropriate objective criteria” under GIEP development (section 16.32(e)(5))?

Objective Criteria would set the level, standard, grade, performance, the percent of mastery or completion expected.

 

Please define under section 16.41(b)(2) what “benefit meaningfully” specifically means.

Benefit meaningfully means accomplishment of or significant progress toward the GIEP annual goals. A gifted student would have meaningful benefit when their rate of learning results in a rate of achievement. For example: A student is determined to need an acceleration rate that is 1 1/2 times faster than the average, that is the student would be expected to learn 1 1/2 years of newmaterial in one school year. Meaningful benefit for that student would be achieving 1 1/2 years academic growth for one year spent in school.

 

Is the level of intervention of gifted support services in comparison to regular education placement eliminated on the GIEP?

Yes. The level of intervention is not required on the GIEP.

 

May the 10-day waiting period for GIEP be waived?

Yes. The purpose of the 10 day period is to provide parents the opportunity to reflect on the process. If the parents wish to move forward before the end of the 10 day period, the school district may honor the parents’ request.

 

May the parent waive the 5-calendar days wait for services to begin after a GIEP meeting?

Yes. The Chapter 16 regulations providethe 5 calendar days wait so that parents have an opportunity to change their minds after thinking about the provisions of the GIEP. School districts may honorthe parents’ request to move forward, but the parent may again have a change ofmind during the remaining days in the 5 calendar days.

 

Since the GIEP does not need signatures there is no way to indicate who actually attended the meeting.

The regulations do not require a signature on the GIEP; however,the GIEP document has a place to list the names and positions of the GIEP team participants.

 

How do parents indicate approval or disapproval of the GIEP?

The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) should be provided to the parentswith an annual GIEP or anytime a significant change is made to the GIEP. A NORA provides the parents with formal opportunity to agree or disagree with the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of gifted education as written in the GIEP.

 

How do we measure achievement if the goals are not measurable?

Achievementmay bemeasured through the short-term learning outcomes. The short-term learning outcomes are written as steps to reach the annual goal and are measurable.

 

There is no place on the GIEP to indicate whether the student is eligible for gifted services or does not qualify for gifted service.

The GIEP team makes the decision whether a student is gifted or not gifted and requires specially designed instruction. The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)documents the decision of the GIEP team.A student who is not gifted does not receive a GIEP.

 

Could the GIEP team conclude that a child is gifted but does not need specially designed instruction?

In unusual circumstances the GIEP team may conclude that the student is gifted but the educational needs are met outside the school district’s instructional setting.

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