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Gainesville schools look to expand methods of gifted instruction
Second-grader Miriam Martinez, 7, colors Monday before creating a story based on her drawing during a Quest class at the Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School in Gainesville. Ten percent of students in Gainesville schools receive gifted instruction. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Ten percent of students in Gainesville schools receive gifted instruction.

But being gifted isn't limited to one hour a day, one day a week. The school system wants to address gifted students all day, every day, even in their regular classroom, said Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards for the school system.

"(At tonight's board meeting), we're going to be looking at our enrollment in the gifted program and the various models being used in different schools," Bell said.

Gifted students receive different methods of service. The most common, especially in elementary schools, is the resource method, where students are pulled out of the regular classroom for a set amount of time a week to be in a gifted classroom.

Gifted students, according to the Georgia Department of Education, are defined as those who demonstrate high intellectual or creative ability, motivation and excellence in academics. These students need special instruction to continue to achieve at levels relative to their abilities.

"One difference is it's interdisciplinary. It might be focused on a student's interests whereas in a regular classroom it's centered on content that must be mastered at each grade level," Bell said. "An example would be a student who's interested in Greece and mythology. That wouldn't typically be taught in fifth grade, but a gifted student would be able to explore that."

There are more teachers this year who have the gifted endorsement. Bell said whether or not teachers had a gifted endorsement was a factor with some of the hires made in the city schools this year.

Last year, 24 Gainesville teachers had the gifted endorsement. This year the district has 48 such teachers, and the numbers continue to climb. There are 20 teachers enrolled now to have the endorsement for next school year, specifically on the middle and high school levels.

"An eventual goal would be to continue to have as many teachers endorsed as possible so students would have options of receiving that service in the classroom and having the resource service," Bell said.

Georgia schools are required by law to provide gifted services. The requirement plus amount of endorsements means Georgia is considered a leader in gifted education, Bell said.


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