Readington Township Schools K-3 Enrichment Program

FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
 
1.      What is the Enrichment Program?

·         The Enrichment Program is designed to provide challenging, thought provoking activities for all students at Three Bridges School. The program works on many levels, including school wide activities available to all, enrichment projects and challenge packets for those who like a challenge, and pull out enrichment and GT classes for students who meet the district criteria.

·         Schoolwide Enrichment activities include Sunshine Math, Globetrotters, Kids Pages, Competitions, and the Science Fair. More information about these activities can be found on the Schoolwide Enrichment page.

·         Enrichment projects and Challenge math packets are available on request for students who require an additional challenge within the classroom. These projects and challenge math packets are designed for students who can work independently, are good problem solvers, and love the thrill of a challenge. Normally these are provided at the request of the classroom teacher, however students can speak to me directly if they feel that they need an additional challenge.

·         Students who meet the district criteria for inclusion in the Enrichment Program are pulled out for enrichment classes. The kindergarten and first grade program allows qualifying children to be pulled once or twice a week for language arts and/or math enrichment classes. The 2nd and 3rd grade program allows qualifying children to be pulled three times a week for in-depth studies of thematic units. There is also a once a week math enrichment class for qualifying 2nd and 3rd grade students, this is entirely separate from the 2nd and 3rd grade GT program.
 

2.      What is the difference between the Enrichment program in Kindergarten and 1st grade, and the program in 2nd and 3rd grade?

·         This is an area that seems to cause a great deal of confusion. The program in kindergarten and first grade is an enrichment program, a program that is designed to enrich students who demonstrate advanced reading and/or math abilities for their age. This program addresses the needs of children who are early bloomers, but it does not necessarily mean that they are 'gifted'. Children may qualify for just one subject or may qualify for both. Students are re-evaluated and groups are adjusted in the middle of the year to ensure that we are still addressing the needs of the top performers in the grade level.

·         The 2nd and 3rd grade program is still referred to as 'Enrichment', but it is a very different type of program, it is a true Gifted and Talented program. In order to qualify for this program, students must demonstrate not only advanced reading and math abilities for their age, but also must score within a certain range on a nationally recognized assessment that is designed to show giftedness in young children. A truly gifted child is not only academically advanced but is also very advanced in their critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, reasoning skills, in addition to being very inquisitive and motivated when presented with a challenge. These are children who need supplemental education beyond the regular classroom to ensure that they continue to grow academically. In many states, gifted education comes under the banner of special education and such students require an IEP to ensure that their needs are met. While New Jersey does not classify gifted children in that way, there are state mandates that must be met regarding the identification and education of gifted children.
 

3.      How does my child qualify for the Enrichment Program?

·         Kindergarten and 1st Grade Enrichment

For language arts enrichment, students need to demonstrate that they are reading, comprehending, and writing at a very advanced level for their grade. Students are evaluated based on their classroom reading level and writing scores, in addition to their performance on an enrichment language arts assessment.

For math enrichment, students need to demonstrate mastery of a high percentage of the math curriculum that will be taught in next half of the school year.

·         2nd and 3rd Grade Enrichment (G&T)

In order to qualify for this program, students must demonstrate not only advanced reading and math abilities for their age, but also must score within a certain range on a nationally recognized assessment designed to show giftedness in young children. This assessment is in three parts and covers math, science, language arts, social studies, and reasoning. The assessment results indicate the likelihood that the child is gifted, ranging from highly likely gifted to highly unlikely gifted. The assessment is used nationally and has proven to be a very reliable indicator.

·         2nd and 3rd Grade Math Enrichment

For math enrichment, students need to demonstrate mastery of a high percentage of the math curriculum that will be taught in next half of the school year.

 

4.      What can I do to get my child in?

·         This is probably the question I am asked the most, and the simple answer is that there is nothing you can do to get your child into the program. A gifted child is gifted naturally. While we can do things to help a child make the most of their natural abilities, there is no way to teach a child how to  be gifted. Children who read early or are exposed to advanced math concepts may qualify for enrichment for a short time, however being an early bloomer does not necessarily mean that a child is gifted. Consequently, many of these children do not qualify for the program in 2nd or 3rd grade when it becomes a true GT program. 
 

5.      Once my child is in the program, are they guaranteed to be in it for the rest of the year?

·         The answer to this question really depends on the grade level.

·         The kindergarten program is very flexible. The range of abilities in a kindergarten classroom is huge, and different students have their 'light bulb' moment in reading at different times in the year. Consequently, we are very flexible in our groupings for enrichment to ensure that we are including all of those students who require additional services.

·         In first grade, students are admitted into the program for the first half of the year, and then we reevaluate in January. The results of the midyear assessment determines who is in the program for the second half of the year. The initial assessment evaluates skills covered in the classroom in the first half of the year. Students who qualify for this portion of the program have proven that they are secure on these skills and so can afford to miss teaching time in the regular classroom. We reevaluate midyear in order to assess skills from the second half of the year. We are very conscientious about ensuring that we are addressing the needs of the most academically advanced students while ensuring that we are not causing a child to have gaps in their knowledge by pulling them from teaching time in their regular classroom. 

·         In second and third grade, students are in a formal GT program. Children have proven their abilities to be so advanced in all subject areas that they may remain in the program for the year.

·         The second and third grade math enrichment runs much like the first grade program where we reevaluate midyear.
 

6.      When does the enrichment program start?

·         Generally, the program for kindergarten does not begin until November. We do this to ensure that our youngest students have had time to adapt to being in school. We need to be sure that they feel secure and happy in their new environment before we start to pull them out for small group work with students from other rooms.

·         Generally, the other grades begin pull out classes by the 2nd week of school. The reason that there is a slight delay in beginning the program is that all students who are new to the district must be evaluated to ensure that no gifted child misses out on services. The data gathering and evaluations are time consuming and the number of new children requiring evaluation varies from year to year.
 

7.      My child didn't qualify for the Enrichment Program and I don't understand why, what can I do?

·         All decisions are based on criteria which are used across the district. If you are confused by the decision that was made, please call me. I will happily explain the criteria to you, in addition to discussing the results of your child's testing. I will share information on specific skills indicated by the assessments to be strengths for your child and skills that are still being refined. While I happily share scores, rubrics, and individual skills, I am not able to share the actual tests.
 

8.      My child didn't qualify for the Enrichment Program but I think they need more of a challenge, what can I do?

·       First, talk to your child's classroom teacher directly about what your child is learning in class, how they are performing, are there specific areas where he/she seems to excel, and does he/she regularly finish work ahead of the other students. While it is important to listen to our children's concerns about school, the teacher can provide a lot of additional insight into the needs of your child in the classroom.

·       Teachers in our district are very well trained in differentiating instruction. This means that while all children are learning the same skill, groups of students will have different assignments based on that skill, depending on their ability level. A very simplistic example would be in math when learning how to add double digit numbers, some students may be working on adding number combinations such as 14 + 12, while others are doing more challenging examples such as 34 + 67, while still other may be doing more complex examples such as 175 + 286. Ask your child's teacher about differentiated instruction in her classroom, you may well find that your child is receiving challenge work but in a subtle way.
 

9.      I still have questions, what can I do now?

·         Please contact me directly either by email jmcgibbon@reading.k12.nj.us or call me at 908 782 2141 ext 5208. I am more than happy to try and answer any additional questions you may have.