Elementary Advanced/Gifted and Talented Services
FCPS, like all school systems in Maryland, follows the Code of Maryland Regulation (COMAR) for Gifted and Talented Education (COMAR for GTE; 13A.04.07). Gifted and talented students are an accountability group in Maryland’s public schools, Districts are required to identify gifted and talented students at every elementary school.
Every elementary school is tasked with providing appropriate services to students with demonstrated advanced or gifted and talented need(s). FCPS Elementary Advanced Academics services span Grades PreK-5 and are philosophically and procedurally-aligned with the Frederick County Board of Education’s equity policy. Services are inclusive of culturally, linguistically, economically, and ethnically diverse students, as well as English learners and students with individualized education/504 plans. In order to achieve educational equity in FCPS, specialized learning is provided through a variety of services that are designed to close achievement and excellence gaps.
Gifted and Talented
The Annotated Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) outlines a definition of “gifted and talented” that underpins each school system’s’ gifted and talented services. This regulation defines a “gifted and talented student” to mean an elementary or secondary student who is identified by professionally qualified individuals as:
- Having outstanding talent and performing, or showing the potential for performing, at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with other students of a similar age, experience, or environment;
- Exhibiting high performance capability in intellectual, creative, or artistic areas;
- Possessing an unusual leadership capacity, or;
- Excelling in specific academic fields.
All schools in Maryland are required by COMAR to identify and provide gifted and talented services. Identification of gifted and talented students includes multiple measures of ability, performance, and potential. Every school system must conduct universal screening, which initiates the gifted and talented identification process. FCPS screens all of its students in Grade 2 during a defined testing window that is set every year. Like most of the other school systems in Maryland, FCPS administers the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) as its screener. Students are not retested each year as a CogAT score is valid for three years.
Students with an IEP or 504 Plan may also be identified as gifted and talented, based on the identification criteria. Ability and achievement scores gained from formalized testing may be used during the gifted and talented identification process. These students are “twice-exceptional” students and receive services that address their needs. Similarly, English Learners may be identified as gifted and talented based on the identification criteria along with their ACCESS for ELs testing results and other data.
Primary Talent Development
Early talent development is provided to all students in Grades PreK-2. It provides students with thinking and learning opportunities that are not directly provided through the general education curriculum. Documentation of these services is also mandated through COMAR for GTE.
Elementary Highly Able Learner (HAL) Cluster Grouping
FCPS provides services to identified gifted and talented students at every elementary school, using the cluster grouping model. Cluster grouping is a research-informed model for gifted and talented service delivery. Gifted “cluster groups” are grouped within the general education classroom. Cluster grouping ensures that advanced and gifted and talented students have “idea mates.” Advanced and gifted and talented students are better able to cope with the process of grappling with more challenging material while clustered with a peer group that shares similar academic, social and emotional needs.
HAL cluster students consistently engage with new and challenging material that aligns to their strengths, Cluster group participation is based on a student’s specific area(s) of talent. In other words, a student may be advanced or gifted in one academic area and not in another, which is typical of these “outliers.” If other students--those not formally-identified as gifted and talented--have demonstrated academic need(s), then they may also receive access to advanced-level resources. The purpose of Advanced Academics services is to address students’ specialized academic needs, rather than promote the “gifted and talented” designation.