Gifted Program

The Union County School District serves students in a gifted program entitled LINK, “Lively Innovated Network of Kids”.  LINK serves intellectually gifted students in grades 2-6 at each school.

LINK is a “pull-out” program in grades two through six, every effort is made to structure the schedule so that a child does not miss an academic subject more than once a week. Students are expected to show mastery of missed work, but should not be required to make up all work missed due to gifted class scheduling. Gifted students are grouped together for a minimum of five hours per week to participate in enrichment activities designed to meet their specific needs.

Gifted program teachers strive to be aware of the affective (socio-emotional), career, and social needs of gifted students and make every effort to counsel with students or to refer them and parents to a trained counselor. Group activities to address these concerns in a safe environment are an important part of our curriculum. Collaboration between the regular education teacher and the gifted class teacher address the special needs of students who may be underachieving in the regular classroom.

The referral and evaluation process has been developed in accordance with the Mississippi Department of Education Gifted Program Guidelines. A teacher, parent, administrator, or student may make a referral. Referrals can be made to the Office of Special Services at (662) 534.1957.

Joanna Ozbirn
Gifted Coordinator


(662)  534-1957

L.I.N.K. anagram graphic
Useful Website Links
Contact Us

Myrtle - Lisa Byers- lbyers@union.k12.ms.us

Ingomar - Alison Rhea-arhea@union.k12.ms.us

West Union - Caroline Truemper-ctruemper@union.k12.ms.us

East Union - Edith Wilhite- wilhitee@union.k12.ms.us

Gifted Appeal Process

If a student does not qualify for LINK after an initial referral, he/she may be referred again. Each referral shall follow the same procedure that includes an intelligence screener, checklists, and individual IQ test. Anyone (teacher, parent, self, peer, etc.) with reason to believe a student is intellectually gifted may refer students for placement in this program. Contact a teacher, the Gifted Contact Person, or counselor to begin the referral process. Only one individual intelligence test may be used for identification within a six-month period.

Appeal requests may be made at the County Office to:

Joanna Ozbirn


Gifted Coordinator


(662) 534-1957

 
Gifted Program Policies

STUDENT IDENTIFICATION PROCESSES
The student identification process is separated into six stages, which include referral, LSC review of referral data, parental permission for testing, assessment, assessment report, and the LSC eligibility determination stage.
The identification process consists of a combination of subjective and objective measures to determine eligibility for the gifted program and includes an equitable opportunity for the inclusion of students who are culturally diverse, underachieving, disabled under Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) guidelines, physically handicapped, or ADD/ADHD, as well as students who exhibit classroom behavior such as extreme shyness, short attention spans, disruptiveness, continual questioning, and anxiety. Throughout the identification process, district personnel are careful to select measures that target the student’s strengths.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protect all data collected as part of the identification process. Access to this information is restricted to those personnel working directly with the identification process, working directly in the gifted education program, or that have a documented need to access. Parents will be informed of the information/data collected and may gain access to their children’s records by written request to the school’s gifted education personnel at any time. Upon completion of the identification process, results of the Assessment Team Report will be explained to the parents, and a copy of the assessment report provided.

PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS
All data collected as part of the identification process are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Parents must be notified of their rights under FERPA. It is the obligation of the local district to ensure that parents understand these rights. All information/data collected as part of the identification process shall be placed in an individual eligibility file for each student. These files and the information contained therein shall not be placed in the student’s cumulative record folder. The files shall be maintained in a separate locked storage facility/file cabinet, and access to the information shall be restricted to those personnel working directly with the identification process, working directly in the gifted education program, or that have a documented need to know.
Once the referral process begins, parents must be informed of the information/data that is collected. Parents shall have access to these records. Each district shall have a policy that establishes the process that parents shall adhere to when requesting to access these files. Parents shall be made aware of their rights to an explanation of the results of the Assessment Team Report.

LOCAL SURVEY COMMITTEE (LSC)
Each district shall establish an LSC for the GEP. The LSC shall be involved in determining a student’s eligibility for an intellectually gifted program. The LSC shall include, but is not limited to, gifted education teachers and administrators. It may include regular education teachers, school psychologists or psychometrists, and parents. It should include a special education teacher when a student is being considered for an eligibility under the twice-exceptional criteria. The LSC may be a building level committee which is responsible for students enrolled at that school, a district level committee which is responsible for students enrolled in the entire district, or a combination of the two.

IDENTIFICATION OF INTELLECTUALLY GIFTED STUDENTS

NOTE: Throughout the identification process, district personnel shall be careful to select measures that target the student’s strengths.

STAGE 1: REFERRAL
There are two types of gifted referral processes:
Type One - Mass Screening Referral Process addresses those students who are mass screened for gifted eligibility.
Type Two - Individual Referral Process addresses those students who are individually referred for gifted eligibility.

Mass Screening Referral Process
This process requires all Mississippi districts to screen all students in at least one grade level each year. Districts should use a normed group measure of intelligence in the Mass Screening Referral Process. This process should assist in identifying students in underrepresented populations. Students who obtain a full-scale score at or above the 90th percentile on the normed group measure of intelligence shall move forward in the referral process. Students who scored at or above the 85th percentile but lower than the 90th percentile on the normed group measure of intelligence shall be subjected to an Emerging Potential for Gifted Referral Checklist. If these students meet the criteria on the checklist, they shall move forward in the referral process. ?The next step in the process will consist of the collection of substantiated student data obtained through the use of other objective and subjective measures. District personnel shall make decisions as to which measures will be used during this step of the Mass Screening Referral Process. A student shall satisfy two of the following additional criteria before moving forward to the LSC Review of Referral Data Stage:
1.            a score at or above the superior range on a normed published characteristics of giftedness checklist,
2.            a score at or above the superior range on a normed published measure of creativity, 

3.            a score at or above the superior range on a normed published measure of leadership, 

4.            a score at or above the 91st percentile on total language, total math, total reading, total science, total social studies, or the composite on a normed achievement test, 

5.            a score at or above the 91st percentile on a normed measure of cognitive ability, 

6.            a score at or above the 91st percentile on an existing measure of individual intelligence that has been administered within the past twelve months, and/or 

7.            other measures that are documented in the research on identification of intellectually gifted students. 


Individual Referral Process
This process involves students who are individually referred for gifted eligibility. A student may be referred by a parent, teacher, counselor, administrator, peer, self, or anyone else having reason to believe that the student might be intellectually gifted. The person initiating the referral shall sign the referral form and date it. Once the student is referred, the district personnel shall collect the data required to satisfy the referral criteria. Once a referral form has been initiated, signed, and dated, only the LSC or parents can stop the identification process. Students participating in the Individual Referral Process shall satisfy three of the following criteria before moving forward to the LSC Review of Referral Data Stage:
1.             a score at or above the 90th percentile on a group measure of intelligence that has been administered within the past twelve months,
2.             a score at or above the superior range on a normed published characteristics of giftedness checklist, 

3.             a score at or above the superior range on a normed published measure of creativity,
4.             a score at or above the superior range on a normed published measure of leadership,
5.             a score at or above the 91st percentile on total language, total math, total reading, total science, total social studies, or the composite on a normed achievement test
6.             a score at or above the 91st percentile on a normed measure of cognitive ability,
7.             a score at or above the 91st percentile on an existing measure of individual intelligence that has been administered within the past twelve months, and/or 

8.             other measures that are documented in the research on identification of intellectually gifted students. 


Documentation of measures shall be maintained in a written document approved by the local school board indicating that the district is using the state minimal scale/percentile score criteria on all referral measures. This document shall be distributed to district administrators, school counselors, and teachers and shall be available to parents at each school site.

NOTE: Any student who does not meet the minimum acceptable criteria (score in the 90th percentile) on the normed group measure of intelligence during the Mass Screening Referral Process and does not qualify for the Emerging Potential for Gifted criteria, can be referred for the Individual Referral for Screening Process by anyone. The individually referred student shall not be excluded from the referral process by their performance on the normed group measure of intelligence.

STAGE 2: LSC REVIEW OF REFERRAL DATA
Once the referral data have been collected, the LSC shall review all data and make one of the following recommendations:
1. the student has satisfied minimal criteria on at least three measures and should move forward to the assessment stage, or 

2. the student has not satisfied minimal criteria on at least three measures, however, the LSC feels strongly that additional data should be collected and the student reconsidered at that time, or 

3. the student has not satisfied minimal criteria on at least three measures and the identification process should stop. 

Provisions for Emerging Potential for Gifted Populations
At this point the LSC shall make the decision as to the possibility that the student could be eligible for consideration as a candidate for an emerging potential for gifted assessment. If it is believed that the student might have emerging gifted potential, then the Emerging Potential for Intellectually Gifted Assessment Checklist should be completed for possible use during the assessment process. The Emerging Potential for Gifted category makes provisions for certain factors that exist that may put the student at a disadvantage when inappropriate instruments are used during the assessment process.

STAGE 3: PARENTAL PERMISSION FOR TESTING
At this time, district personnel shall obtain written parental permission for testing.

STAGE 4: ASSESSMENT
Once the LSC has determined that a student has satisfied minimal referral criteria in order to move forward to the assessment stage, district personnel shall review and compile all data available on the student. This data shall also be made available to a licensed examiner.
The assessment stage is the individual test of intelligence, which shall be administered by a licensed examiner. In no case will the examiner be related to the student being tested. The examiner shall review all available data on the student, whether or not it satisfies minimal identification criteria, and use that information to select the most appropriate test of intelligence. Standard operating procedures should be followed during the selection and administration of all assessments as reflected in the examiner’s manuals. The examiner shall provide a signed and dated report of the test administration to include testing conditions, scores on all subtests or subscales, and the strengths and weaknesses of the student. A student must score at or above the 91st percentile composite/full scale or the 91st percentile on approved subtests (as per publisher) in order to satisfy eligibility criteria.
District personnel shall make decisions as to whether the minimal acceptable criteria set in regulations will be used, or if a higher minimal acceptable criteria will be used. The assessment criteria and acceptable minimal scale/percentile scores to be used shall be documented in writing in the district’s Gifted Education Program Proposal submitted to and approved by the Office of Curriculum and Instruction at the MDE. If a district decides to raise its minimal acceptable scale/percentile score for gifted eligibility above the state minimum scale/percentile score, justification shall be provided to the MDE in writing. Included in the justification must be documentation that the district continuously addresses the Emerging Potential for Gifted guidelines as outlined in the regulations.

Emerging Potential for Gifted
Students who have satisfied criteria on the Emerging Potential for Gifted Checklist who did not satisfy minimal acceptable criteria on an individual test of intelligence, but, did score at least at the 84th percentile or has a scale score that falls within the range of the 91st percentile confidence interval of the state minimum scale/percentile score, may be administered one of the following additional measures to determine eligibility:
1.A test of cognitive abilities with a minimal score at the 91st percentile, 

2.A group intelligence measure with a minimal score at the 90th percentile, 

3.A district-developed matrix approved by the MDE. 

Identification criteria, as approved by the MDE on the local district’s Gifted Education Program Proposal, must be satisfied for a student to be ruled eligible by the LSC for the intellectually gifted education program.

Potentially Twice-Exceptional Students
Students who already have an eligibility ruling under IDEA and are being assessed for an intellectually gifted eligibility, and who did not satisfy all of the required minimal acceptable referral criteria but did meet at least one referral criterion shall have their results reviewed by the LSC and a licensed examiner. If the student scores at or above the 91st percentile on the individual test of intelligence (composite score or approved subtest score) or in the opinion of the reviewing committee, would benefit from participation in the intellectually gifted program, the student may be granted a provisional eligibility for the intellectually gifted program for a period of one year. At the end of that year, the student’s teacher of the gifted shall meet with the review committee to discuss the student’s performance in the program. If the student has demonstrated success in the program, the LSC shall change the eligibility status from provisional to regular eligibility. If the student has not been successful in the program, the provisional eligibility shall be revoked.

STAGE 5: ASSESSMENT REPORT
District personnel shall write an Assessment Report, which must contain the following components:
1.    Student’s name 

2.    Name of at least three measures from Stage 1: Referral that were used to determine the ?need to administer an individual test of intelligence, 

3.    Results of each measure 

4.    Name of individual who administered or completed each measure and the date administered or completed 

5.    Test behaviors for any individually administered test(s) 

6.    Interpretation of the results of each individually administered test(s) 

7.    Name of the person who administered the individual test of intelligence and date test was administered 

8.    Qualifications of the individual who administered the individual test of intelligence 

9.    Results of the individual test of intelligence to include scores on all subtests and identified strengths and weaknesses, 

10.Name of the person responsible for writing the Assessment Report, his/her signature, and position, and 

11.Date of the Assessment Report. 


STAGE 6: LSC ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION
Once the Assessment Report is finished, the LSC shall meet to review all data and determine if eligibility criteria have or have not been satisfied. The LSC shall rule that the student is or is not eligible for the intellectually gifted program.

Parental Notification
District personnel shall notify in writing the parents of each student tested for the intellectually gifted program about the assessment results. District personnel shall offer to explain any of the results about which the parents have questions. District personnel shall also notify parents in writing about their rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
 
Out-of-state gifted eligibilities
Each state has a unique set of eligibility criteria for placement in a gifted program. Hence, a student moving to Mississippi with a gifted eligibility from another state must satisfy Mississippi eligibility criteria before being considered for placement in the gifted program. The eligibility ruling from another state may be used to initiate the referral process in Mississippi. There is no temporary placement in the gifted program while the student goes through the eligibility process within the local district.

NOTE: Students who have a valid Mississippi gifted eligibility ruling do not have to be reevaluated. See the annual reassessment statement for information on continued placement in a gifted program. A Mississippi eligibility determination in any of the four areas shall be accepted by all school districts within state provided the district has a program in the particular area for which the student has eligibility.

HEARING PROCESS
Parents who are not in agreement with the school based committee decision to remove a student from the gifted program will present their concerns, orally or in writing to the principal of the school. The principal and parent will attempt to resolve the matter informally.
 
If the parents are not satisfied with the action taken by the principal, the parents shall, within five (5) school days after the meeting with the principal, put their concerns in writing and present them to the Union County gifted contact person. The gifted contact person will schedule a meeting of the gifted coordinator, gifted contact person, and either the superintendent or assistant superintendent, and any other relevant personnel within five (5) school days or a timeframe agreed upon by the parents. Parents will be extended an invitation to attend the meeting. The meeting attendees will render a written decision based on information shared during the meeting.