By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Gifted and talented students may not be highly successful or advanced students. They might display some of the Port Angeles School District’s list of possible characteristics listed here:
■ Rapid learner who understands advanced topics easily.
■ May not be motivated by grades.
■ Persists in completing tasks.
■ Sees the problem quickly; takes the initiative.
■ Can cope with more than one idea at a time.
■ Intellectual and physical restlessness; once encouraged, is seldom a passive learner.
■ Quick mastery and recall of information; seems to need no revision and impatient with repetition.
■ Learns to read early and retains material; can recall in detail.
■ Sees greater significance in a story or film and continues the story.
■ May ask unusual or awkward questions.
■ Mental speed is faster than writing ability so is often reluctant to write at length.
■ Sets very high personal standards and is a perfectionist.
■ Is success-oriented and hesitates to try something where failure is a possibility.
■ Can have a negative self-concept and suffer from poor social acceptance by age peers.
■ Often prefers company of older students and adults.
■ Shows unusual interest in adult problems such as current affairs, evolution, justice or the universe.
■ Carries responsibility well.
■ Can express himself/herself well.
■ Daydreams often.
Peninsula Daily News
Beginning in September, the district will start a program to serve highly capable students in all grades, also known as “gifted and talented.”
District officials have no idea yet how many students the program will need to serve.
“The first step of the plan requires the district to identify highly capable students who may qualify for services,” said Superintendent Jane Pryne.
Nominations due soon
Parents are being asked to nominate students who fit the profile of a gifted and talented student by next Friday, March 21.
District officials will test students at their neighborhood schools between March 24 and April 18.
Nomination forms are available at school offices and must be returned by parents or guardians to their student's local school by March 21 to be considered as gifted or highly capable.
Parents and guardians of home-schooled students interested in the program can pick up nomination forms at the district offices at 216 E. Fourth St. or phone the district at 360-457-8575.
The district will not accept late nominations.
Parents or guardians will be notified after testing whether the nominated student qualifies and will be given the option to decide whether the student will participate in the district's gifted and talented education services.
A new state law considers programs for K-12 highly capable students part of basic education.
Districts are mandated to offer programs to all students who qualify.
The state defines highly capable students as “students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments.”
Students may excel in either one primary area of academic or artistic talent, or multiple talents.
While the Port Angeles district serves highly capable middle school students with a seminar program and high school students have access to honors, Advance Placement and Running Start college courses, the district has no current offerings for elementary school students.
District staff members are working to develop a program consistent with the new state law, and its final form is not complete, said Tina Smith-O'Hara, spokeswoman for the district.
The program is expected to be student-ready by the time students start the 2014-15 school year in September.
Highly capable students may not be obvious at first glance, and some parents may be surprised when they are notified that their child may qualify, Smith-O'Hara said.
Straight-A honor-type students are not necessarily gifted and talented but achieve their grades and educational levels by hard work and dedication, she said.
Gifted students may excel in potential but be struggling in their current courses.
According to a University of Connecticut study, 19 percents to 25 percent of identified gifted students never complete high school.
The study found that gifted and talented students may struggle in average classes due to boredom with slower or repetitive coursework, may avoid displaying their intelligence to gain social acceptance or have difficult home lives that interfere with their academic progress.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.