EXCEL PROGRAM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What grades will the EXCEL program serve?
The EXCEL program will provide services to students in grades 1-8.
How does a student qualify for the EXCEL program?
Students in 1st-3rd grade with needs for more advanced work will be identified through informal, classroom-based measures. Students in 4th-8th grade will be identified using a formal combination of objective and subjective measures. These include, but are not limited to:
CogAT-7 testing (verbal and quantitative/nonverbal), NWEA-MAP data, MCA III data ,Classroom Performance, Teacher Referral, Parent Survey, Student (Self) Survey
When will students in grades four through eight be identified?
The CogAT screener test will be administered to all students at the end of third grade. A certain percentage will take the full CogAT test. These test results in conjunction with other assessment data, achievement, and teacher/parent referrals will drive the identification process. Please see the identification process outline for more information.
How many students will be included in the EXCEL program?
There is not a limit to the number of students per grade level who may participate in the program. However, according to the National Association for Gifted Children, 5-7% of school-aged children need services beyond those provided in the general education classroom. We will be using a leveled services model which means that students will receive the level of service that they need to be appropriately challenged in a subject area. For example, a student may need more intense EXCEL services in mathematics than in reading. A different student may be challenged by grade level curriculum but show interest in enrichment activites. The EXCEL program is designed to be flexible enough to meet the individual needs of students.
What is the difference between services for students in 1st-3rd grade and those in 4th-8th grade?
There is no formal identification process until the end of 3rd grade. We acknowledge the need for heightened challenge and experiences before then however so have put a talent development program in place for primary grades.
For 1st-3rd graders, EXCEL services are indirect. The EXCEL resource teachers supports highly able learners by assisting teachers as they differentiate their units of instruction. This may involve finding advanced content for students to use, creating and supervising tasks at varying levels of difficulty or complexity, and helping with time-intensive units that allow students to choose different products to show their knowledge and understanding. Whole-group lessons that provide creative, intellectual enrichment to students in all classrooms may also take place. During this time, homeroom teachers will have the opportunity to observe their students from a different vantage point which will further develop their knowledge about their students By using an indirect service model for our youngest students, we are more fully and effectively supporting several objectives written into our program design. The first is that we will identify students who exhibit unique abilities or potential significantly beyond that of their peers of similar age, experience, or environment. The second is that the general education curriculum will be extended to engage and challenge these highly able learners. These goals are echoed in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Program Standards (2010).
We believe 4th-8th graders who have a formally identified need for Level 4 EXCEL services require a learning experience different from that of their classmates. Therefore, we have established a setting for the exchange of ideas with other gifted students. There is a formal EXCEL class in place for a number of students every day. This occurs during the intervention periods. The purpose of this time is to provide daily opportunity for critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and independent learning. Goals include growth of personal and academic self-discipline, pursuit of unique investigations, development of problem solving techniques, development of realistic and healthy concepts of self and others, and willingness to assume leadership and responsibility. By participating in this class, students will be able to be challenged in a learning environment in which they are encouraged to go beyond the known and obvious, where process is emphasized over factual learning, and scholarly exploration is expected and facilitated. More information on curricular goals can be found on the EXCEL website.
If included in the EXCEL program, how often will my child meet with the EXCEL teacher?
That will depend on the level of service. (Please see the separate document for more detail.) Many EXCEL services will be offered in the general education classroom. The EXCEL resource teacher actively collaborates with teachers to create extension and enrichment opportunities for students. This may look different at different points of the year. At all grade levels, EXCEL programming may be a combination of any of the following: send-out services, varied grouping strategies, acceleration, differentiation of curriculum and instruction, and enrichment and talent development opportunities. This is a wonderful improvement on the traditional gifted and talented services, which typically only involved send-out services. EXCEL no longer revolves only around the EXCEL teacher because devoting time to “indirect” services (like planning content and bringing in programs for teachers to use with gifted children) allows more students to be reached. It is a shift worth making because it’s best for kids.
That being said, some students will participate in a needs-based classroom experience (commonly known as pull-out classes). This begins in 4th grade. Formally identified students will meet with the EXCEL teacher every day to participate in activities designed to address their verbal, nonverbal, quantitative, and affective needs.
How can I learn more about the EXCEL program?
Annual Parent Open House
Parent-Teacher Conferences - Fall and Winter
Contact Coordinator - Holly Biorn