In Hilliard, we pride ourselves on providing a personalized learning experience for every student. In 2015, we determined that an audit of our gifted services and policies was in order. A Gifted Task Force was convened in the fall of 2015 that was composed of parents of gifted students, classroom and gifted teachers, administrators from all levels, the school board, and other school staff. The task force’s purpose was to gather fiscally responsible best-practice findings for gifted education delivery models.
The district has already begun implementing a number of the task force recommendations such as: improved identification of gifted students, leadership for gifted services, and providing high quality professional development for staff. The main priority to come out of the task force is the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model. About half of our elementary buildings piloted cluster grouping this year, and it has proven very positive for students and teachers. We are excited to implement this gifted education service model district wide in 2017-2018 for students in grades 2-5. This will allow us to provide full-time services for gifted students without the interruption of out-of-class programs. We will also be able to provide gifted services for students who are identified as gifted in superior cognitive ability, as well as students who are gifted in math and/or reading. In the past, only students with superior cognitive gifted identifications were served through our program.
In April, gifted cluster teachers, gifted intervention specialists, and principals participated in professional development with Dr. Dina Brulles, one of the researchers behind this model and a nationally renowned expert in gifted education. The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model allows for heterogeneous classes with a narrowed student achievement range. You may be asking yourself, how does this help students? The narrowed classroom range allows for the facilitation of more effective teaching. With a narrowed achievement range, teachers can be much more deliberate and prescriptive in their instruction, differentiation for students, and personalization for individual learning styles. Additionally, this model ensures that all classes have academic leadership by placing achieving and higher achieving students in all classes. Gifted cluster classroom teachers will participate in extensive professional development on meeting the needs of gifted students, and they will have ongoing support from our gifted intervention specialists through collaborative planning and co-teaching.
For more information about the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, please see the presentations shared by Hilliard’s gifted services team.
We are confident that by improving and expanding our elementary gifted services through the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, and through ongoing efforts to increase gifted services available at other grade levels, we are on the right path to ensure Hilliard students are Ready for Tomorrow.