August 24, 2008

GATE Program Will Take the Road Less Traveled


By Patti Peterson

The Virginian-Pilot

Chesapeake's Gifted and Talented Education is getting an overhaul after the Chesapeake School Board voted in May to close the district's Laboratory for the Academically Gifted located in the Indian River Middle School annex building.

This school year, Chesapeake will begin phasing out the need to bus students across town one day per week for higher level instruction.

Fifth-graders will be the last to travel, while fourth-graders remain at their home schools for daily enrichment.

Beginning in the 2009-2010 academic year, all students identified as gifted will receive the appropriate curriculum at their zoned school.

The change will effect approximately 450 students.

"It gives the students an opportunity to be in a rigorous academic environment on a daily basis as opposed to one day per week," said Anita James, the director of elementary curriculum instruction.

Teachers will also benefit from the change, James added. With a greater need for an endorsement in gifted education, more instructors are taking the necessary courses. Teachers are required to take four classes to help them identify gifted students, learn models and strategies for teaching and managing advanced children as well as a course on gifted curriculum.

"They're not just the straight 'A' students," James said. "They might be the most rambunctious. A bit more creative or inquisitive."

Additional training will allow more teachers to identify such students and offer a higher level of instruction.

Some fourth-grade teachers began working on endorsements this summer and James said many fifth-grade instructors will begin the program this fall.

Several teachers from the GATE Lab have also been reassigned to fit the division's needs.

The method of instruction will vary from school to school. Principals will determine what "works best for their communities," James said, depending on the population of gifted children.

Some will be grouped together all day, while others might be regrouped outside their base class to receive additional instruction.

Patti Peterson, 222-5213,

[email protected]

Originally published by BY PATTI PETERSON.

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