School Advocacy for Gifted Children

On Tuesday, June 11th, we will hold a free seminar about school challenges, school woes, #giftedproblems in school. Gifted Parenting Education Series in partnership with Chicago Gifted Community Center.

Our state has no Gifted IEP. That is, no gifted individualized education program. In our state, we can’t put any accommodation for a child in the plan if the accommodation has to do with above average performance. That doesn’t mean that you do not have room to work with your child’s team at school. If your child has an IEP for any reason, that actually can sometimes hinder advocacy as the focus tends to be on the child’s weaknesses, not their strengths. Again, there is room to work with the school.

Tomorrow we will be holding our first parent education series, and we will cover the roles of everyone on a child’s school team in helping the child meet gifted needs and strategies for successfully getting your child the support they need for their education, in a public or private school, as well as supporting them in a homeschool environment. We will be posting resources here following the presentation based on the questions in the forum.

If your child goes to a public school, and you are interested in acceleration, you need to be prepared to work at the district level if your child’s district does not have the acceleration policy in place to support your child. We will also be discussing this component.

Obviously, if your school has a gifted coordinator, besides your school teacher, this is a great place to start. We will have a gifted coordinator at our panel tomorrow. A school or private psychologist can also help by measuring the academic needs of the child and help support the social and emotional needs of a child.

What is the most important thing in learning how to advocate for your child in a school setting? It is to assume the best about your child’s educational team. It is to assume that the team wants to help. Sometimes, it is important to first understand the school’s financial and skill challenges and to work with the team within those constraints. It is also a very good time to pick a “slow” time of the year for your effort. The first 2 weeks of school is a busy time, for example. Getting it done in the last 2 weeks of summer may be better in some, but not other schools. the second 2 weeks of school is a great time, and by October, the teachers are most likely to listen to you as they feel like they know your child. Now is an excellent time to get a few meetings in to create support for your gifted child for next year.

Gifted 102: Gifted school challenges

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM - Novel Coworking, 405 West Superior Street in Chicago

Judy Wahl, Dr. Jessica Douglass, Irene Gottlieb

Judy Wahl, Dr. Jessica Douglass, Irene Gottlieb

Free Elementary Math Circle - PM time slot launch!

On May 30th, we held our first free evening math circle. 14 students signed up since we announced the time 2 weeks ago. 20 are currently signed up with a wait list for the next 10, and we are seeing if we expand capacity to 30. Please keep signing up! We are hearing that you want a math camp - we are working on it - use the same form to show interest, and to let us know if you want the circle to continue in the summer months. The next free circle is on Thursday June 20, at 6:45 PM. Will you be there?

Our long-term goal for curriculum are thematic, leveled units, inclusive of a piece of math history, a related piece of cultural contribution, a puzzle, game, and of course, circle math activities, as well as resources to continue the exploration at home. Check out some of our math action photos. A shout out to Altitude Trampoline for hosting and making it an amazing time for all.

Some highlights :

  • Normally, kids in early elementary school don’t get to experience interactions with mathematicians at this level. It can be very inspiring to have this experience, and to learn about collaboration in math in a non-worksheet based environment.

  • Another thing that we are excited about is that we had 50% girls enrolled in the program. Most programs in STEM and mathematics don’t see that and we are proud and hope to keep it up. Maybe, this means the tide is turning and society will stop sending girls messages that they are not as capable in mathematics. Each year, we will work to highlight a diverse group of mathematicians that made important contributions to the field, to make sure that children see that anyone can become an expert in the field of mathematics and that it knows no barrier, whether it be gender, cultural or religious identity, and so on.

It was, of course, a little hectic and we will be definitely learning from and have already made changes for the following session. We will always strive improve.

Timeline - CPS Accelerated Placement Act

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 Ideas | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links | PG | 2e | Underserved | State of IL | Action Right Now

This is a living timeline of Gifted Education in the state of Illinois with a specific focus on recent events and the City of Chicago. Feel free to share additional bits to add, if any key points are missing.

  • In the US, some forms of gifted programming started in the 1920s.

  • 1980s - Golden Years for Gifted Education in Chicago - “Currently more than 92% of the student population of Chicago Public Schools is non-White, and 95% are on free or reduced lunch. Students in Chicago Public Schools are identified as gifted through the use of multiple approaches, including ability, achievement, and recommendations from parents and teachers. Threshold cutoffs are determined based on performance citywide each year on the relevant measures employed. Use of both traditional and nontraditional measures are used to assess students for selection, including nonverbal assessments and off-level achievement testing. Students scoring above the 80th percentile nationally in both reading and math achievement are considered for most full-time programs in the city. Approximately 5% of these students are served in 155 gifted programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. (Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, 2010 via Davidson Institute, linked.)

  • 1989, Illinois Association for Gifted Children, IAGC, is founded.

  • 1990s, Belin Blank and NAGC start working on Acceleration Policy.

  • 2001, No Child Left Behind, NCLB (now replaced by ESSA, see our other news article) gets passed by Bush administration.

  • 2003, Governor Blagoyevich eliminated all $19 million of gifted state funding in IL to fund NCLB which had a direct and adverse effect on our state gifted organization, IAGC. CPS Gifted Programming starts to erode.

  • June 8, 2005, Article 14 - Gifted and Talented Children is passed in Illinois. The act also created the GAC, a 7 member, uncompensated, State Superintendent of Education-Appointed Gifted Advisory Council.

  • 2009, NAGC passes Acceleration Policy. States, districts, schools, around the country start adopting Acceleration policy more formally.

Recent Events:

  • August 25, 2017, Illinois Accelerated Placement Act Bill is passed, with a year grace period for districts to prepare to implement the Act for the 2018 school year. Many districts got ready, using the IAGC-provided model Acceleration Policy. Perhaps, this will slowly make things better again in Chicago, like it has in districts other than 299.

  • July 1, 2018, the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act (click here for the complete text of the law) went into effect. Reminder guidance was issued to districts to remind them that by law they need policy in place for 2018-2019 academic year for early K, 1, and single/whole grade skips.

  • August 22, 2018. Chicago Public Schools, CPS chose to defer the adoption of the Accelerated Placement Act by 1 year, and the deferral decision can be read here.

  • Fall 2018, CPS application process for the 2019-20 year remains unchanged.

  • April 4, 2019 IL House votes for an elected CPS school board. Bill as to still pass senate.

  • April 8, 2019, ISBE releases draft rules clarifying Accelerated Placement Act.

  • April 22, 2019, CPS sends round 1 placement offers to next year’s applicants.

  • May 22, 2019, Mayor Lightfoot dismisses the 7-member appointed CPS school board.

Future Events! You too can be a part of the FUTURE!

  • May 16, 2019, June 2019 - State ESSA listening tour. You can still make a difference.

  • June 11, 2019, Free Gifted Parenting Seminar about school advocacy, inclusive of current changes in the state.

  • June 24, 2019, 10 AM: Agenda for the June board meeting will be published. 10:30 AM are speaker registrations to get 2 minutes to speak in front of board. If you think that other parents or teachers of gifted or talented kids will go and speak on your behalf and you don’t have to, or your voice won’t make a difference, guess again. The gifted are only 2% of the population. If they don’t turn out in droves then the city won’t hear them. Take the time off work; get a sitter; do your part - else no one will. You will get exactly 2 minutes. If you have any feelings about your child’s needs that could be addressed best by acceleration, this is your once-in-your-child’s-school-lifetime-chance. Clearly, this doesn't apply to all gifted and talented students.

  • June 26, 2019, CPS Board meeting. Lightfoot-appointed Board will probably be sworn in and they will probably vote the Accelerated Placement Act of which they could be ignorant.

  • June-August 2019, students eligible for early K by CPS definition, if the board passes the act, may get letters to apply for early K. Allowed programs are not known at this time. Currently proposed is an allowance for children with Sept-Oct birthdays to be eligible for early K if they test in the 98%.

  • July 16, 2019, If you haven’t ever had a chance to speak to folks that understand gifted, this live expert panel will give you a chance to mingle with both gifted families and experts in mental health and education about gifted challenges in general, and with anxiety and perfectionism in particular.

  • September 2019, ESSA feedback will be due on final draft implementation.

  • Winter 2019-2020, single subject or single grade skip application process for 2020-2021 year for students in some CPS 3-6 grades who have taken NWEA MAP 3 times and are in the 95% with straight As for 2 years in core subjects required for their skip, and qualify on several other assessments. Child must test 2 years ahead to be eligible for 1, 1-time skip as testing will happen mid-year.

In light of recent events, we can only hope that one day, there will be phase II of CPS implementation of Accelerated Placement Act, with more features. The details, such as the appeals process, will eventually be fleshed out, but no timeline is currently available. In the meantime, this city risks a lot. Our gifted public programming is but a shadow of what it used to be, while most the nearby suburbs have a much more robust and equitable policy. Those who can, will move out of the city if they need acceleration. Our SEES programs will no longer be the strongest (because they were one of the very few left in the state until now) viable option when kids can get double and triple accelerated in strong, un-overcrowded suburban schools.

So, what options do we, Chicago parents, have but to wait it out, except that our children are not getting younger. Perhaps, you can’t afford to wait or move. So, what are you going to do? Will you lend your voice to advocate for the gifted? We are not just a gifted school. We are a community for gifted families in Chicago. Reach out to us or to one of the other gifted organizations in the state to help advocate and forge a better tomorrow. Only the gifted will help advocate for the gifted.

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 Ideas | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links | PG | 2e | Underserved | State of IL | Action Right Now

This content is brought to you by MAGE. Click Contact to be put on our distribution list.

JUNE 26 - ACTION Right Now on CPS Accelerated Placement Act

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 Ideas | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links | PG | 2e | Underserved | State of IL | Action Right Now

The Accelerated Placement Act proposed Policy is supposed to be voted on by the CPS Board on June 26th at 10:30 AM. No one has a copy of the draft which will go before the board. What’s a big deal is that this is going to be a completely new board! The board will be likely sworn in on that very day and may have never heard of the policy before. There is no telling in advance about how much the board knows about gifted children or academically talented children, equity, and other issues around the Accelerated Placement Act.

We will be holding a free seminar about gifted advocacy in schools in general, Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 6:30 PM in River North. CPS Accelerated Placement Act is definitely an item that we will cover. Please feel free to join us to discuss these new developments.

The new CPS Board may be sworn in on Wednesday, June 26th unless a special meeting is called. The agenda for that board meeting will be posted on Monday, June 24th at 10 AM. Advanced registration for speakers opens at 10:30 AM Monday, June 24th. Because this is a new board, expect that the speaker slots will “sell out” in seconds. The sign up and agenda will be here. The top improvement ideas (biggest overall impact, most in line with state law) over the draft that we saw in the CPS forums, some of which may be in the draft policy that will go before the board are here. The biggest thing is that no matter how small the policy impact and scope, as CPS is considering this a Phase I, is that it has to pass. If the people who drafted the policy put too much in, CPS Board may view the policy as too over-reaching, may view it as something that will take up too many resources, and not even pass it. Passing something is better than waiting another year for any accommodation. So, if you go that day to speak, try and get a hold of the policy draft ahead of time, to know what you are advocating for, and then just ask them to vote yes. That is, unless they added something that would be a big step back after the forums. CPS Board needs to hear from the gifted community, and it is in everyone’s interest that there is some policy instead of nothing at all. Drop us a note if you will be involved.

And if a future CPS Board member or even the Mayor is reading, let’s sit down with our State Gifted Organization, IAGC, and talk about ways to strengthen gifted education in this city. It does not cost extra and it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 Ideas | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links | PG | 2e | Underserved | State of IL | Action Right Now

This content is brought to you by MAGE. Click Contact to be put on our distribution list.

State and CPS changes that impact gifted.

For families with gifted children in Chicago and in the state overall, it’s been a busy few weeks of change and it’s not about to let up. At the state level, ESSA Law is getting changed, and the Accelerated Placement draft rules are out. In Chicago, the CPS board is changing, and CPS sent out the second round of decisions on selective school placement.

Chicago:

Earlier in the week, Mayor Lightfoot dismissed the current, Emanuel-appointed school-board, and will appoint new members. Eventually, if the the State Senate passes the law to create an elected board in Chicago, and after an election, there will be yet another set of board members. Since each new board will be reviewing the budget, which will be put under the microscope with the new administration, the gifted should be weary. Gifted funding is usually the first to go if there are budgetary cuts. The changes this week and in Springfield may mean that there will be 2 turned over boards looking at budgets in a short period of time. We are waiting to find out who the new board members will be, and if they have any experience with gifted ed. When we learn the answer, we will probably share it. The board dismissal has been well covered by Chalkbeat, and you can read their article here.

CPS also sent out the second round of decisions on selective school placement last week. Appeals are due this week as well for CPS decisions.

State:

A lesser-known set of changes is happening in Springfield. They concern the Accelerated Placement Act and the ESSA policy.

A few weeks ago, ISBE released a long-awaited rules final draft document to clarify the Accelerated Placement Act. We believe that this is something that CPS had said they were needing before creating their own policy. You may read the rules here. One of the biggest pieces in the new rules is the clarification of what additional training is required for teachers assigned to teach accelerated children to receive state funding. At the CPS forums in April, one of the biggest problems for gifted Ed in the city is the teacher shortage for both gifted ed and advanced curriculum.

On May 20th, ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) held a listening tour in Chicago, @CPS HQ, regarding changes to the Illinois ESSA plan. What’s ESSA? It stands for Every Student Succeeds Act, that replaces NCLB - No Child Left Behind. Click here for more info about ESSA.

May 20th, 2019 State ESSA Listening Tour in Chicago, at CPS HQ.

May 20th, 2019 State ESSA Listening Tour in Chicago, at CPS HQ.

We came to the Chicago ISBE tour to advocate for gifted students in Chicago and in Illinois. There were a lot of teachers and activists from neighboring suburbs, there were several interest groups, and we are pleased to say that there was a good showing of IAGC members and others to speak for the needs of the gifted. The gifted education voice needs to continue to be heard on the rest of the ISBE ESSA tour.

ISBE gave everyone present a chance to vote electronically on policy during the meeting. Showing up to the next forum or submitting feedback means that your voice will be heard. If you missed the 4 tour stops so far, you still have a chance to contribute:

  • Live: May 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Rock Island ROE, 3430 Avenue of the Cities, Moline

  • Via email: essa@isbe.net

  • Via a survey: https://www.isbe.net/essafeedback (page also has mailing address)

No time to read the big federal law and state policy? No problem! IAGC (Illinois Association for Gifted Children), our state gifted organization, already analyzed the policy to determine the biggest gains can be made around several big ideas. These talking points can be found here.

If you want to look at IL ESSA for yourself, the draft policy page is here. Some highlights from the tour are below. The images below were created by the State of Illinois and were copied during a public forum.

Timeline of next steps: You have time to make comment to make meaningful change to the policy now, before August using the information provided here. Then, in September, after the final draft is submitted, you will have one more chance to provide feedback. So, mark your calendar to check back in with the state in the middle of September of this year. The state is doing a phenomenal job making sure everyone’s voice is heard, it’s up to you to take a minute and make a contribution if you have one, participating in our democracy.

Timeline of next steps: You have time to make comment to make meaningful change to the policy now, before August using the information provided here. Then, in September, after the final draft is submitted, you will have one more chance to provide feedback. So, mark your calendar to check back in with the state in the middle of September of this year. The state is doing a phenomenal job making sure everyone’s voice is heard, it’s up to you to take a minute and make a contribution if you have one, participating in our democracy.

One of the items that was discussed at the listening forum were the school differentiation levels. These are the current levels. At least 2 categories are required.

One of the items that was discussed at the listening forum were the school differentiation levels. These are the current levels. At least 2 categories are required.

Some folks at the forum felt that no school should be called Lowest Performing, recommending only 2 levels of differentiation, something like meets and does not meet standards. What do you think about that?

Some folks at the forum felt that no school should be called Lowest Performing, recommending only 2 levels of differentiation, something like meets and does not meet standards. What do you think about that?

There was conversation about the impact duration of the services that newly arrived students receive vs. the measured impact timeframe; There was also good discussion around offering testing options in native languages to test the actual subject level knowledge vs. ESL. For gifted students that are non-native speakers, it is much harder to be identified as gifted and to receive differentiation. The testing in native language may help identification.

There was conversation about the impact duration of the services that newly arrived students receive vs. the measured impact timeframe; There was also good discussion around offering testing options in native languages to test the actual subject level knowledge vs. ESL. For gifted students that are non-native speakers, it is much harder to be identified as gifted and to receive differentiation. The testing in native language may help identification.

These are the current weights of academic indicators in IL for K-8 and 9-12 schools. Overall, IAGC recommends 75% Academic to 25% Student Success indicator ratios, if you wish to contribute to the ESSA survey or submit public commend as per the IAGC recommendation.

These are the current weights of academic indicators in IL for K-8 and 9-12 schools. Overall, IAGC recommends 75% Academic to 25% Student Success indicator ratios, if you wish to contribute to the ESSA survey or submit public commend as per the IAGC recommendation.

Free Gifted Parent Education Series

Midwest Academy for Gifted Education is excited to bring you a free Gifted Parenting Education Series in partnership with Chicago Gifted Community Center.

The format of each event in the series is a 30-minute expert panel presentation on the topic, followed by a 15 minute question period for the panelists and a 30 minute mingle. The idea is to bring together a parent of gifted child, a mental health professional, and a gifted educator, for different perspectives and ideas around solutions. Detailed descriptions and speaker bios are here.

There are 2 workshops in the series below. They are hosted at Novel Coworking 405 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA (map).

Gifted 102: Gifted school challenges

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Judy Wahl, Dr. Jessica Douglass, Irene Gottlieb

Judy Wahl, Dr. Jessica Douglass, Irene Gottlieb

Gifted 202: Anxiety and perfectionism

Tuesday, July 16, 2019, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Leslie Contos LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, Deborah Lee, Irene Gottlieb

Leslie Contos LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, Deborah Lee, Irene Gottlieb

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DuPage tonight, Chicago on Monday - ISBE listening tour on Monday - via IAGC

The below is a re-share of IAGC news. We did not create this content. It was created on May 16th by IAGC.

ISBE is holding a listening tour regarding changes to the Illinois ESSA plan. See the meeting schedule below. We urge IAGC members to attend a meeting and voice support for keeping the proposed weighting of the Academic Indicator  (75%) and Student Success Indicator (25%)  for evaluating schools. 

We encourage members to inquire:

  1. How schools will be held accountable for a year's growth for every child. 

  2. How state assessments will be structured to truly measure gifted student growth (above level).

  3. Why the implementation of the Student Success Indicator is being delayed, and particularly, for items in the Student Success Indicator that are currently not weighted (e.g. Fine Arts indicator), what are the plans to include it in the future. 

The 2019 Support and Accountability Listening Tour will include the following stops:

  • May 16, 5-7 p.m. – DuPage County ROE, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton  

  • May 20, 5-7 p.m. – Chicago, City of Chicago School District 299, 42 W. Madison St., Chicago

  • May 22, 5-7 p.m. – Springfield District 186, 1900 W. Monroe St., Springfield 

  • May 23, 5-7 p.m. – Carbondale Community High School, 1301 E. Walnut, Carbondale 

  • May 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Rock Island ROE, 3430 Avenue of the Cities, Moline



MAGE announces 3 new Professional Advisory Council members

Midwest Academy for Gifted Education is thrilled to announce that 3 more Professional Advisory Council members were welcomed by our Governing Board in the month of May.

A year ago, when we wrote our business plan for Midwest Academy, we had a goal of founding a Professional Advisory Council in 2019, and growing it to 3 members. We over-delivered on this goal a year early, in 2018. We are pleased to add 3 additional members to the council, bringing its membership to 10 education, science, technology, mathematics, design, law, and health professionals. The council provides guidance to help us create policy based on best practices, solve new challenges, develop continuous improvement and innovate our curriculum, and other aspects of creating a top school for the gifted in Chicago. The link to our entrire Advisory Council Page is here.

Neil Margolis, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO is a Developmental and Rehabilitation Optometrist practicing in the Chicago metro area. He has specialized his practice over the the last 28 years towards the evaluation and treatment of patients with binocular, oculomotor, visual/vestibular integration and visual field defects, as well as visual processing difficulties. Dr. Margolis is a recipient of the Advancement of Sciences Award for his contribution to the science of neuro-optometric rehabilitation and is one of the contributing authors on a collaborative textbook on multidisciplinary care of the patient following brain injury, which has become the standard reference for student doctors and clinicians. Dr. Margolis is passionate about helping his patients achieve their goals, and studying functional neurology. He says, “In my clinical practice, I personally have evaluated many gifted students who have relatively poor visual spacial skills, or tracking skills, but are sophisticated at using contextual cues or other strategies to mask their weakness. This ultimately leads to inefficiency, underachievement, avoidance, and frustration. These students’ grades are typically too high to qualify for educational support or even appropriate accommodations in the public schools. Priate schools often do not have teachers sufficiently specialized in recognizing this profile, or who are able to address this need. A private school with the specific mandate of providing an optimum, customizable education for their gifted students is needed. This will not only allow each student to achieve their maximum potential academically, but to also feel more confident and happy emotionally.”

Neil Margolis, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO is a Developmental and Rehabilitation Optometrist practicing in the Chicago metro area. He has specialized his practice over the the last 28 years towards the evaluation and treatment of patients with binocular, oculomotor, visual/vestibular integration and visual field defects, as well as visual processing difficulties. Dr. Margolis is a recipient of the Advancement of Sciences Award for his contribution to the science of neuro-optometric rehabilitation and is one of the contributing authors on a collaborative textbook on multidisciplinary care of the patient following brain injury, which has become the standard reference for student doctors and clinicians. Dr. Margolis is passionate about helping his patients achieve their goals, and studying functional neurology. He says, “In my clinical practice, I personally have evaluated many gifted students who have relatively poor visual spacial skills, or tracking skills, but are sophisticated at using contextual cues or other strategies to mask their weakness. This ultimately leads to inefficiency, underachievement, avoidance, and frustration. These students’ grades are typically too high to qualify for educational support or even appropriate accommodations in the public schools. Priate schools often do not have teachers sufficiently specialized in recognizing this profile, or who are able to address this need. A private school with the specific mandate of providing an optimum, customizable education for their gifted students is needed. This will not only allow each student to achieve their maximum potential academically, but to also feel more confident and happy emotionally.”

Gabe Lerner works in technology. Gabe has been programming since 8 years of age, was the youngest grandmaster at the time of achieving that status in Illinois, and likes chess and rock climbing. He believes that gifted education is needed in this city and it would be important to have a school in the city that exceeds high expectations of other top cities and international standards. He is a 1st generation immigrant from Moldova who values his international roots and identity, and lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and cat.

Gabe Lerner works in technology. Gabe has been programming since 8 years of age, was the youngest grandmaster at the time of achieving that status in Illinois, and likes chess and rock climbing. He believes that gifted education is needed in this city and it would be important to have a school in the city that exceeds high expectations of other top cities and international standards. He is a 1st generation immigrant from Moldova who values his international roots and identity, and lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and cat.

Dr. Laura LaSalle is an Assistant Professor and Program Leader, Differentiated Instruction in the College of Graduate and Innovative Programs. She joins Concordia University after thirty years of service to public education in Illinois. In the past, Dr. LaSalle was a special education teacher as well as an elementary and middle school principal and served in the capacity of RTI, Gifted and Second Language Learner Director. She’s been awarded with the Apple Distinguished School Award, Board Award for Excellence, IASCD Leadership Award, and national recognition for U.S. Healthy Schools. Her research interests include culturally responsive teaching, parent involvement, instructional coaching and mentoring, educational leadership and differentiated instruction.  Outside of the classroom Dr. LaSalle also presents workshops on the importance of parent engagement for student success. She continues to be an ISBE approved trainer for Gifted Education.

Dr. Laura LaSalle is an Assistant Professor and Program Leader, Differentiated Instruction in the College of Graduate and Innovative Programs. She joins Concordia University after thirty years of service to public education in Illinois. In the past, Dr. LaSalle was a special education teacher as well as an elementary and middle school principal and served in the capacity of RTI, Gifted and Second Language Learner Director. She’s been awarded with the Apple Distinguished School Award, Board Award for Excellence, IASCD Leadership Award, and national recognition for U.S. Healthy Schools. Her research interests include culturally responsive teaching, parent involvement, instructional coaching and mentoring, educational leadership and differentiated instruction.

Outside of the classroom Dr. LaSalle also presents workshops on the importance of parent engagement for student success. She continues to be an ISBE approved trainer for Gifted Education.

CPS Accelerated Placement Act - Part 4 - Overview

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 Ideas | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links | PG | 2e | Underserved |

CPS held 2 parent feedback sessions for the Accelerated Placement Act on April 23 and 25. After presenting about 30 slides including a law overview, nearby district policy, current policy and updated policy, CPS collected feedback. CPS said that there will be pieces they are considering incorporating from the feedback forums that will make it into the final policy. The following is our overview summary of the impact of the policy changes as they were presented in the slides. Use links above to dive deeper if you wish.

  • 2019-2020: The only policy impact for the year as of the first feedback forum is for early Kindergarten entry. This will serve between 20-40 students district-wide as a best guess. To be eligible for early entry:

    • a child would have to turn 5 between September 2 and October 31 of 2019.

    • score 98% on an IQ test administered by CPS for a small fee that can be waived for low income households.

    • parents would have to choose to apply for early K during the specific enrollment period this summer, it’s not an automatic process.

  • 2020-2021: CPS shared that they estimate about 200 students would be eligible for single subject and whole grade skip.

  • This represents CPS phase 1 implementation and there were no hints to what may be in phase 2. Click here to read the top 7 ideas to expand policy to be more equitable and accommodate more children.

  • During the second forum, CPS shared verbally that the draft policy was available online to the general public and that feedback from the two forums will make it into the final draft. It is the current understanding that there will not be additional opportunity to provide feedback on the revised draft.

    Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links

    During the second forum, CPS shared verbally that the draft policy was available online to the general public, but we can’t find it so it’s based on notes taken during meeting. Please contact us if you find any error so that we can make a correction. Also, see disclaimer at top of page.

    This content is brought to you by MAGE. Click Contact to be put on our distribution list.

Top 7 Policy Improvement Ideas - CPS Accelerated Placement Act

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links

The CPS proposed implementation could be modified in 7 easy ways suggested below to to serve more children more equitably. Use Links in the navigation at the top of this article to learn more. The purpose of the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act is to provide acceleration to the children that need it, in order to allow more gifted students to be taught to their potential.

  1. Allow applications for a subject acceleration or grade skipping for grades 3-6 starting this June for the 2019 academic school year, during the same period as the kindergarten early admission evaluation timeframe.

  1. Include selective enrollment programs, SEES and SEHS, in the initial implementation of the policy. The law requires the all students be allowed to access the accelerated placement evaluation process, regardless of whether or not they have been identified as gifted or admitted to any special program.

  2. Allow acceleration if the child demonstrated that he or she would benefit from the accelerated placement based on a fair evaluation of multiple data points. There should be multiple pathways for demonstrating readiness for accelerated placement. The point of the law is not to require that a student hit minimum thresholds on all of the criteria considered.

  3. Increase the grades for whom the skipping is allowed from 3-6 to 1-12.

  4. Do not limit the number of years that can be skipped. Propose an additional set of criteria to skip additional grades.

  5. Increase the number of months for early K to at least match 1st grade entry, for children turning 5 by December 31. Keep the checks to make sure the child is ready to go early, but remove the requirement that the child is gifted to attend K early.

  6. Create an accountability process as part of the policy to show how CPS is evaluating equity and sharing outcomes of the evaluation with the public.

Related Links (pls be patient while we update links): | Overview | Top 7 | Part 1-Legislative Overview/Deferral | Part 2 - Forums | Part 3 - Draft Policy | Part 4-Overall Impression | Early K | Early 1 | Whole Grade Skip | Single Subject Grade Skip | Equity | More Thoughts and Questions | Timeline | Media links

Disclaimer: The above are all an opinion based on individual understanding of the information presented at a public forum. During the second forum, CPS shared verbally that the draft policy was available online to the general public, but we can’t find it so it’s based on notes taken during meeting. Please contact us if you find any error so that we can make a correction.

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CPS Accelerated Placement Act Part 3

CPS unveiled their new policy regarding Accelerated Placement yesterday at the first of 2 Parent Forums, followed by a Q and A and feedback/recommendation session from the audience. CPS stressed that they are going slowly to see how things go, before adding more acceleration components. Even though many may wish for more from CPS, this is a monumental change in the right direction and it is in everyone’s best interest to insure that at least this change passes the board this summer. If you have anything to say about this policy, the best time is NOW. Thursday is the second forum, and this may be it before the board meets to vote on the proposed policy in June.  Two events you need to know about:

CPS Parent Forum: 6PM, Thursday 4/25/2019, Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N. Orchard St.

CGCC Parent Discussion following Forum: 8PM,Thursday 4/25/2019, Gemini, 2075 N. Lincoln Ave., 

MAGE Admissions Coffee: 9AM Saturday 4/27/2019 - another chance to discuss impact of policy on public and non-public gifted education in the city.

Our understanding of the policy summary is below and touches 3 areas:

Early K/1 admissions: 

·       New early K admission for qualified children starting this year for children who turn 5 between September 2 and October 31 of the incoming academic year to start K early if the parents want to. Notifications in June to start process.

·       Children must have completed a year of preschool first (public or private)

·       No change to the current 1st grade admission policy.

·       Testing is a 2-system approach: needs to test in the top 2% IQ and 91% Academics to qualify, in addition to other factors. Student therefore has to be gifted + academically performing.

·       Testing administered by CPS psychologists.

·       Parent developmental survey part of assessment.

·       No early entry to Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES).

·       Testing is $25 or the fee is waived for qualified low-income families.  

Whole Grade Acceleration

  • No acceleration this 2019-2020 school year. Applications for 2020 acceleration open in January 2020.

  • Acceleration limited to a 1-year skip. Applicable to neighborhood and magnet programs.

  • Only available for grades 3-6. No acceleration after 6.

  • No grade acceleration in Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES)

  • Illinois readiness assessment attainment of “exceeds”, Iowa Acceleration Scale used for determining acceleration, presumably with several components such as an IQ test, in addition to other factors: GPA 4.0 in the 4 core subjects for 2 consecutive years (need clarity around transfers), 3 consecutive NWEA MAP tests of 95% or above. 

  • Have to be at least 2 years ahead on math AND reading in order to qualify for 1-year skip.

  • Can reverse skip at the end of 1 quarter.

  • Out of district/homeschooled students first have to be enrolled for a year at grade level that they are coming from before acceleration can take place. 

  • A vague clause says that if a school already does any sort of acceleration/grouping, they don’t have to also skip students. This needs to be quantified: if a school does a math accelerated grouping once every 2 weeks for 1 hour, does that mean that no student in that school could be grade skipped?

  • $250 fee.

Single Subject Acceleration

·       Acceleration limited to a 1-year skip. Applicable to neighborhood and magnet programs. 

·       Only available for grades 3-7. No single subject acceleration after 7.

·       No grade acceleration in Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES)

·       Illinois readiness assessment attainment of “exceeds”, Iowa Acceleration Scale used for determining acceleration, presumably with several components such as an IQ test, in addition to other factors: GPA 4.0 in either math or reading for 2 consecutive years (need clarity around transfers), 3 consecutive NWEA MAP tests of 95% or above. 

·       Have to be at least 1 year ahead on math OR reading in order to qualify for a skip in that subject.

·       Not applicable to Social Studies, Science, only math and reading.

·       Can reverse skip at the end of 1 quarter.

·       Out of district/homeschooled students first have to be enrolled for a year at grade level that they are coming from before acceleration can take place. 

·       No acceleration this 2019-2020 school year. Applications for 2020 acceleration open in January 2020.

·       $35 application fee.

The district presented a deck approximately 30 slides long, that explained the law, the current policy and the policy change, the workflow and timeline for the process, and research about some other districts in the state and their practices to meet the act. It is important to keep in mind that gifted ED hasn’t had a facelift in Chicago in ages. While this policy is probably not perfect, it’s still a gain and a win for some of the Chicago’s gifted and talented. It won’t help everyone or impact everyone. Not every gifted child even needs a skip. But it has the potential to help a lot of people and to create a second path to acceleration beyond the SEES program.

For background info about the act and its history with CPS, see our previous news coverage of this - Part 1 - CPS deferral and Part 2 - Forums.  Contact us to be put on our mailing list to not miss our opinions about this policy - Part 4 and other news.

Disclaimer: The above are all an opinion based on individual understanding of the information presented at a public forum from notes taken during the forum. Please contact us if you find any error so that we can make a correction.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) SEES and SEEHS - Selective Enrollment vs. Gifted - Wave 1 edition

To all the families anxiously expecting their SEES offers today, good luck in “wave 1.”

But what exactly is SEES and what exactly will it do for my child, you might ask? Why do so many people try to get into SEES? How are SEES different from the other schools? Are SEES a gifted education? Does every gifted child even need a selective enrollment program? We will focus on the basics in this entry and we will add more info in future entries, because much is possibly about to change. Please see our previous news entry about important news and key dates this week for CPS gifted families.

First, the basics:

Chicago Public Schools SEES (selective enrollment elementary and middle school programs, grades K-8, including classical: teaches 1 year ahead, RGC - regional gifted center: teaches 1-2 years ahead, and AC - academic center high-school environment starting earlier with grades 7-8 schools) and SEHS (selective enrollment high schools) Selective Enrollment programming is designed to instruct at levels 1-2 years ahead of the rest of CPS as measured by the outcome of city- and state-level testing. To achieve those number outcomes, many SEES (and frankly, non SEES) schools will stop regular instruction to teach and practice to the test.

Next, how does the process work?

The selective enrollment process starts with the application. Parents need to apply for SEES and SEHS by the fall deadline. Parents of children not meeting age criteria need to either fill a form for early entry if they are within a date cut off, or are disqualified if not and are not allowed to test. Parents select target schools in order of priority, receive a test date, take their child to the test, and then wait for offers. Wave 1 offers for the 2019 Academic School Year come out today, April 22, by midnight! If a family didn’t get an offer, but a child did receive a high score, traditionally top 2% for classical programs, over 130 for the RGC, they have a good shot at getting some offer at some SEES school eventually, sometimes by October of the academic school year. This gets a lot more complicated for the academic centers and high schools. Where you live counts - there is a tier system that some love, some hate, and some try to game - to try to make the system more fair. Usually, wave 2 happens about 2 weeks after wave 1.

Each wave comes with a deadline by which to accept or reject an offer, and clear instructions of what to do. After an offer is given, there are about 2 weeks to tour the school and fill out acceptance paperwork. You should get an email from the offered school with tour dates soon after your offer. We will be posting soon about what to look for on a tour). If you reject an offer, you may get a different offer in wave 2. The tricky bit is, you might not get another, or a better one.

What do you mean, wave 2? Let’s say there are only 2 schools A and B, each with 1 seat, and only 2 students, A and B interested in the seats. Let’s say, parent B wants A but received B, parent A vise versa. If both reject their first offer and are the only applicants in the pool, then they are to receive the opposite offer next if there is a seat in both/only available schools. If you include the multitude of variables in the number of students, their scores and preferences, the picture is infinitely more complex. But, you stand a shot to receive an offer all the way through early fall. Some families test only to see if their children would get in, and have no plans to take an offer. They are just trying to get an idea of where their child falls as compared to others. There will be offers rejected at every school. Even if no school that a parent wanted gives them an offer, at the end, CPS may give some families of high scoring students a chance to enroll at some other random gifted program that’s under-enrolled, usually in a newer SEES or in an area that is not geographically convenient for as many.

Can a school principal help you get your child into their SEES school? Absolutely not. There are laws and regulations against that and the test results are on central control. Another basic fact is that there is no sibling preference in SEES programs, like there is in Options.

This week will seal the fate of many of the 8,000 of the City’s gifted children. Check our our previous entry for information and for what to do to be a part of what’s happening.

CPS, Accelerated Placement Act, and a call to action - Part 2

This article is brought to you by MAGE - non-profit, private gifted option in City of Chicago.

Families of gifted students in the Chicago Public School District, and those in nearby areas should be aware of the just announced CPS-run Engagement Forum regarding the Accelerated Placement Act in less than 2 weeks time. Here are some key events around that time:

  • CPS sends out their first round of offer letters for the 2019-20 year for selective enrollment and options programs electronically to the CPS application portal on Monday, April 22, 2019.

  • CPS Forum Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:00PM - 7:30PM Colman Office, 4655 S. Dearborn Street.

  • CGCC Post-Forum Gifted Parent Meet-up 8:00PM - 9:00PM 2206 S Indiana Ave.

  • CPS Forum Thursday, April 25, 2019 6:00PM - 7:30 PM Lincoln Park High School, 2001 North Orchard Street.

  • IAGC Policy Meeting, Saturday, May 4, 2019, 10:00AM-12:00PM IMSA

The only information about these forums publicly available currently is here. In 2017, a new law was passed in the State of Illinois that set the framework for the support needed for some gifted students. The law is called the Accelerated Placement Act and you can view the actual full text of the law here. The law was passed with a 1 year grace period, to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The state issued a guidance - a reminder - to districts to remind them of this new law, albeit, an unfunded mandate. Many districts jumped into action, creating policy to comply with the new law. CPS is the largest district in IL and the 3rd largest in the country. Their reaction to the law is a big deal. What did they do?

For context, some key bits of the law from the above link:

“For purposes of this Article, "accelerated placement" means the placement of a child in an educational setting with curriculum that is usually reserved for children who are older or in higher grades than the child. "Accelerated placement" under this Article or other school district-adopted policies shall include, but need not be limited to, the following types of acceleration: early entrance to kindergarten or first grade, accelerating a child in a single subject, and grade acceleration.” (Illinois General Assembly Public Act 100-0421)

The rest of the act goes through important detail around notification of program availability, identification, and wording that could potentially be interpreted as the foundation for a Gifted IEP in the state.

Chicago Public Schools, CPS, in a meeting on August 22, 2018, chose to defer the adoption of this act, and the deferral decision can be read here. Only 3 people came to speak for the immediate adoption of the Accelerated Placement Act in CPS in that August 22nd meeting, which was well covered by Chalkbeat, and you can read about it here. After 3/4 of a year with news from CPS, these new forums are finally scheduled. They come at an auspicious time - CPS Selective Enrollment School results come out for Kindergarten through eighth grade on the 22nd of April, the day before the meeting. Therefore, it is unclear if there will be change, what year the change will take effect, and how it will impact the decisions made for the coming year. It is important to show CPS that you care about gifted education in the city, and that you show up. Unless people step up and show up, CPS might not think this is an important policy to create, continue to defer the adoption of this act. You can read our coverage of the Accelerated Placement Act Part 1 here.

What can you do beyond just these forums? You can go to learn more at CGCC and IAGC, our two local gifted organizations, that periodically have policy-related events. You can even join the IAGC Policy Committee that works with Illinois Board of Education to create new policy for the gifted. That committee’s next quarterly meeting is Saturday, May 4th at IMSA, at 10AM, so mark your calendar.

Not in Chicago? Your district is watching the largest district in the state and the 3rd largest in the country to see what they will do. If you care about gifted education, you should come and participate in those forums because your voice has power to improve gifted education in Chicago and everywhere that will use it as a case example.

Stay tuned for part 3 in a few weeks. We hope that update brings good news for the city’s gifted.

About Midwest Academy for Gifted Education (MAGE): We are a not for profit, private gifted school focused on building community for gifted families in Chicago. If we don’t speak up for the City’s gifted, who will? Our next Admissions Coffee is on April 27th at 9AM and is a chance to connect to other gifted families in the city.

Read Part 1 of our coverage - CPS deferral of meeting the Act.

Read Part 3 of our coverage — CPS unveils new policy supporting the ACT.

Check back for Part 4 - analysis of the policy, coming soon. Contact us to be on our news distribution list. Disclaimer: the above is opinion. Please contact us if you find any errors.

The Truth about Chicago Math

There is something your school administrator might not want you to know. If your child received at least 230 RIT on the NWEA MAP test in mathematics, your child may be ready for pre-algebra, or even more.

According to the NWEA, the creators of the test, here is the guidance given to schools for course placement for students taking the 6+ (grades 6+) MAP:

“A student score at or above the following scores on a 6+ mathematics tests suggests student readiness for:

  • 230: Introduction to Algebra

  • 235: Algebra

  • 245: Geometry”

Here is a table showing an interpretation of the Assessment Data showing the number of Chicago Public Schools where the average classroom at the listed grade level has reached each of these benchmarks.

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What does this mean for students that are still taking the NWEA for grades 2-5? NWEA has guidelines that say that students who score over 230 on the 2-5 NWEA MAP test could be moved to the 6+ NWEA:

"Based on these observations, our recommendation is that students who score at the 90th percentile (231) or higher on the 2 – 5 mathematics test in the fall of fifth grade be transitioned into more advanced sixth grade (or higher) instruction”.

Most city schools, including the Selective Enrollment SEES ones, such as Regional Gifted (RGC) or Classical Elementary Schools don’t not have a policy to accelerate a student from MAP 2-5 to 6+. When a student moves to 6+, their score might drop a few points. If they are over 245 on the 2-5 MAP, they will probably still be over 230 RIT points on the 6+. It doesn’t mean that they should be immediately placed in pre-algebra, merely that someone should notice and that they could be evaluated. If not you, the parent, then who?

By the Spring 8th grade MAP, only about ½ of CPS students are ready for pre-algebra per the NWEA benchmark. The top 2nd grade classrooms in CPS outperform the bottom 8th grade on this test. However, the top CPS classrooms that pull the most gifted kids are only teaching 1-2 years ahead. The top students in 2nd+ grade will have less access to prealgebra+ than the 8th graders who didn’t meet 231 benchmark points before their 9th grade the following year.

Here is a table that shows a score of 230 or higher by grade at the year end. These students, at a class average, achieved the NWEA benchmark for promotion to 6+MAP, and may be eligible for pre-algebra+. This does not take into account the individual students who are scoring high but are in schools where the class average is lower than 230. In a couple of Chicago City schools, there is prealgebra - geometry by 8th grade, but they are the minority.  

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CPS chose to be not compliant with the 2017 State Law, Accelerated Placement Act. The Act says that public school students, regardless of placement in a gifted program, should get what they need in terms of acceleration. It is now a legal right for a child to get acceleration when they are ready. Area private schools just have to strive to do slightly better than the average public schools in order to gain tuition-paid admissions, much higher than ours, in many cases.

How does the lack of instruction at a student’s academic level and speed impact the child’s long term trajectory in terms of achievement, self esteem, grit if they are not learning new material or are not regularly challenged?

There is no ceiling to learning at MAGE, and we have small class sizes to make sure that each child is actively and individually nurtured at their level and speed. We are rigorous in terms of content, yet laid back in terms of stress to the child: no grades, no homework. Come to our admissions coffee this Sunday, March 24th, at 10:30 AM to learn more. Future events are on our calendar.

Changes coming to Gifted Ed from State, City Elections, Appointments.

In the last week, there have been sweeping education-related changes in Chicago. While no one can fully predict the outcome of these changes, here’s what’s been happening:

Illinois Department of Education (ISBE):

  • There are 9 board members that govern ISBE. They are appointed by the governor.  On Monday, February 25, Governor Pritzker replaced 8 of the 9 board members

  • Pritzker kept Susan Morrison on the board. This might be good news for the gifted, as she was a part of the administration that passed the Accelerated Placement Act, and has previously served as a director of gifted education. 

  • The other good piece of news is that a new appointee, Cynthia Latimer is an ex special ed teacher. Hopefully this background means that she understand gifted and twice exceptional children. 

  • The state also now has a new Superintendent. It is unknown to us how she feels about gifted education. If you have experience with her in the area of gifted ed, please drop us a note!

  • Another dramatic change that could impact students that attend area private schools, including gifted, is Pritzker’s move to phase out the just recently created tax incentives for assistance to qualified low income families. Ironically, in Iowa, a state with much better gifted ed in the public sector, the opposite is on the legislative table - public funds to be given for private school and homeschool tuition.

  • In our state, gifted ed is an unfunded mandate. Terms such as 2e are not even defined in our state legislation. There are no exclusively gifted IEPs or 504s in the CPS district. Even if a child has other developmental or learning differences, none of the accommodations in their plan can be related to above-classroom average acceleration. It will be interesting to see how this new board perceives the underserved gifted population in the State of Illinois. It is too early to make predictions about any improvements to the state’s gifted plight.

  • If you are interested in learning more about gifted policy and advocacy at the state level, or to help make improvements, then you may be interested that our state’s gifted organization, IAGC, has a working committee for this. This committee gets credit for the passage of the Accelerated Placement Act. The implementation of this act was deferred by CPS. Anyone can get involved right now with the IAGC policy committee. The instructions to get involved are at the bottom of this page.  Their next meeting is on 4/13/2019: 

City of Chicago

In the mayoral run-off, there are two candidates, Toni Preckwinkle (1 year experience as a teacher) and Lori Lightfoot

  • Both candidates support a fully elected board. Would a fully elected board support more equitable gifted education? In a city where there is a huge achievement gap and many other challenges that are much greater than gifted equity, it is doubtful that there would be swift change for the gifted.

  • Both candidates support no more new charter school openings. In a way, this limits the opportunities available to engaged parents that are not happy at their neighborhood schools. The result will be that they will have to become active in their neighborhoods instead. 

With all those changes in the air, what will happen to the future of Charters and SEES programs, and Gifted Ed in the City of Chicago? Here are some things to consider:

  • First of all, are SEES and Charters even better than regular public schools? Or is it that parental engagement and innate academic performance of their attendees allow them to teach in mostly the same way but with better results?

  • What is the biggest predictor of academic success for an average student in those schools? 

  • The scariest question of all is would CPS eye closing SEES to pay for the revitalization of neighborhood programs, as the Accelerated Placement Act calls for changes for students in all schools anyway.

We will explore these questions and more in future installments.

Talent Search Testing

The 2019 winter Talent Search season is upon us here in Chicago. We wanted to share some brief information about talent searches with you.

What are Talent Searches?

Talent searches allow above grade precision achievement testing to determine what a student already learned and to plan their learning path for the future, including making decisions around coursework to support future college options.

When does my student actually need a Talent Search Test?

Your student needs the Talent Search when they need to become eligible for selective enrollment programs that require it, or when it is necessary for proper school planning and placement. If a student is in the top 5% on standardized school testing, they may be a candidate for a Talent Search.

When Is my student ready to take a Talent Search Test?

The answer varies by student. Many talent searches are lengthy, for example, a full length PSAT or ACT. Some are 4 hours long. Some children, regardless of age, will struggle with the demand of concentrating so long, and may become frustrated. Please take stamina into consideration when making your test selection.

The answer also varies by ability. It is fairly safe to generalize that when the tools used for grade level testing are no longer accurate because the child has knowledge above grade or is maxing the test out. Some HG-PG students will max the NWEA MAP tests for their grade. There is guidance on in the test documentation about when to transition the student to the next level of testing, but it has bands, K-2, 2-5, and 6+. A student maxes the 2-5 NWEA per their documentation when they reach 245 in mathematics, as an example. If they have had exposure to above-grade knowledge or instruction, they may need to move to the 6+ version. However, many schools will not allow a mid-year switch or have hard rules about grade-test associations. This is partially to preserve class-level average scores.

While the NWEA MAP Norms allow you to roughly triangulate your child’s approximate instructional grade need, the result doesn’t give specific recommendations like, “your child now needs pre-algebra”. The talent search test results will say that very specifically, though the output they provide varies. Schools, in our experience, listen to the college board testing a lot more than their own NWEA here in Chicago, and are much more likely to act on the numbers than they are to believe outside standard academic testing by a psychologist. If a child is showing above grade by NWEA Norms, or prematurely maxed their band, it may be time for talent search. The PSAT becomes available in 3rd grade through Talent Searches like Northwestern CTD. The SCAT, which has several bands and administers a test 1-2 years ahead of grade level, can be available starting with 2nd grade students through the Talent Search at Johns Hopkins. Belin Blank has developed the BESTS Talent Search for students in the 95% or higher, in grades 4-9.

After the test:

  • Many Talent Searches come with various levels of recognition for completion and achievement, which look good on CVs for elite programs, another reason many top students take them.

  • If your student scores high, for example in the top 90% on a talent search or another standardized test, they may be eligible for Talent Search programming such as College of DuPage talent search programs.

The nuances for the extra-young:

A younger homeschooler who is grade accelerated to the appropriate entry grade may be able to take the test, though this varies by program. But, they may be penalized for being young, in terms of treatment for honors.

How do I support my student for the actual test?

Make sure they get some exercise the night before the test, are well hydrated and have a healthy meal, and then get an early, good night’s sleep. The next day, have a decent breakfast, ideally with some protein, if the test is long. Aim to arrive at the opening of the entrance window, so that traffic or parking don’t make you miss the start.

Pack the following:

  • Entry ticket, if one is required

  • 2 #2 pencils. Sharpen!

  • Water bottle

  • State ID or equivalent document (see your test’s requirements)

  • Appropriate calculator if allowed or needed for the test. Check batteries!

  • SNACKS!!!

Would you like even more information?

A great article about talent searches and why they are helpful is from Duke TIP. Duke TIP says, “for students who achieve very high scores on grade-level tests, accurately assessing what they already know is difficult. Scores on many grade-level tests do not measure how far students have mastered material beyond their grade level.” This summary is perfectly aligned with our school’s educational philosophy. Davidson Institute also has a well put together publication about university based talent searches, their benefits and necessity for gifted students.

Would you like to know what other locals do?

Come meet others with similar children and learn about how can MAGE can support your gifted student, regardless of their age, grade level, or achievement. You might want to stop by our next coffee. Check our calendar, or email us to RSVP for the upcoming February 10th coffee at 10:30 AM.

Good luck to everyone who is testing this weekend!

IAGC Conference

Today’s annual Parent Saturday of the IAGC conference was well-organized and well-attended. Midwest Academy for Gifted Education enjoyed meeting all the parents and businesses that came. Parents go to the IAGC conference, our state’s main gifted event with people who understand the local gifted conditions, because they want to learn how to better support their gifted children both emotionally and academically. They also sometimes go because they are feeling that their children are not being supported at all in the school. We heard quite a few of those tales today. We hear you and we are here to help.

MAGE booth @IAGC

MAGE booth @IAGC

We also met many new local professional members of the CGCC, the Chicago Gifted Community Center that have recently been added in the area. Area gifted parents should consider the benefits of being a member of the CGCC, to support the local gifted community as a whole, and to learn about resources out there. CGCC can also point you in the right direction, if you are not sure of the best resource to help with your unique challenges.

We list many useful things that can be of interest to gifted families on our Gifted Resource page, but we don’t aggregate them the same exact way as CGCC. CGCC and IAGC between them have the metro area and state resources, where we aggregate items the closest to or in Chicago city proper, that we are directly familiar with (not always all gifted, sometimes they are just gifted-friendly). So, please check out all three lists regularly and keep them in your bookmarks, as they all are constantly changing.

One organization that we wanted to highlight from the conference is Davidson Institute. Davidson exists to support children that are HG+, and they do much of this for free. They have a free school for HG+ in Utah, and they also launched an online high school (this bit is not free, but they do work with families to help make it affordable), two years ago, with middle school options available as well. Their young scholars program is stellar, free, and we would highly recommend it to all the gifted families that qualify. There is a wonderful and active local Davidson community, and that alone is a compelling reason to submit a free application. Generally, submitting all the required records by the first of the month will result in a decision by the start of the following month. So, what are you waiting for?

Did you miss the live IAGC conference? Is there a topic of interest that you wish to hear more about? Drop us a note by clicking on the button below! We are planning our free parent education panel discussions now, each with several different takes on the topic from teachers, parents and mental health professionals that work with gifted children and are our area’s top experts.

In addition, there is still one more free day in the Bright and Quirky Virtual Conference remaining. If there is a gifted topic for which you could use some help, especially if you have a 2e child, please click here for your free registration for the last live day Sunday day, or to buy a pass to watch the whole conference again later. Here’s the line up and schedule for the last day:

Day 7: PARENTING COMPLEX BRIGHT & QUIRKY KIDS

Sunday, February 3, 2019. Begins at 10 am ET/7 am PT

SESSION 1: Debbie Reber | Raising Your Differently Wired Child

SESSION 2: Kate Arms & Jen Merrill | How to Avoid Burnout When Raising a 2e Child

SESSION 3: Nicole Tetreault PhD | Helping Your Uniquely Bright Child Flourish

SESSION 4: Olivia Martinez Hauge MFTA, OTR | When Parents Feel Like They’re Not Doing Enough

SESSION 5: Dan Siegel MD | Deep Mechanisms of the 2e Brain: Prequel to the Talk in Day 1 of the Summit

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State Non Profit Approval

MAGE had incorporated as a 501.c.3 organization in March of 2018. However, there are several legal components before an organization can become a true not for profit and be eligible for government and corporate grants. We are pleased to announce that we had gained the state approval to be a 501.c.3 in December. Now, only the federal designation remains, and is expected by 2020.

Upcoming Gifted Events

We wanted to highlight 2 conferences for parents of gifted children that are happening in the next 3 weeks.

Feb 2: Parent Saturday at the IAGC Conference

Feb 2: Parent Saturday at the IAGC Conference

IAGC Parent Saturday

(IAGC is Illinois Association for Gifted Children)

February 2, 2019  
9:00 AM - 12:30 AM followed by a parent lunch through CGCC. 
 
Chicago Marriott Naperville, Naperville, IL

A great local annual event, the conference starts with a keynote by Dr. Michele Kane. Dr. Kane is one of the world’s top experts on gifted education and social emotional issues and is the head of our state's only gifted endorsement program for educators. After the keynote, the event continues with a presentation from Eric Calvert and Carolyn Welch, IAGC Advocacy Co-chairs, on all things gifted education policy in Illinois followed by many options for breakout sessions. If you are an educator, the preceding 2 days of the conference are just for you. 

We hope to see you there! Please stop by our table to say hi. The event is not suitable for children, and no childcare is provided. The registration is $60. 

The event is followed by a parent lunch put together by a separate gifted organization, CGCC, Chicago Gifted Community Center. The link  below is to register just for lunch and does not require the registration for the actual conference.

Can't make an in-person event, but want to attend a gifted topic conference? Do it remotely! This is a free 2e Online Summit that starts on Monday, January 28th and runs for 7 days. It is called Bright & Quirky Child Online Summit. You will be able to choose what interests you the most and will have 24 hrs to watch the presentations available each day of the conference on your own schedule. Great for those hours when your child is asleep. 

An example, a fabulous speaker, is Michelle Garcia Winner, an SLP that developed Social Thinking, a social skills curriculum that works well for many gifted children for whom communications are sometimes tricky.


Day 1: Understand your bright & quirky child
Day 2: Manage emotional intensity, meltdowns & behavior
Day 3: Navigate school and learning challenges
Day 4: Manage social challenges and build community
Day 5: Increase focus, motivation and executive function
Day 6: Calm stress, anxiety and perfectionism
Day 7: Parent complex bright & quirky kids

Interested in a Family-Friendly Gifted-Themed Event in the City of Chicago? We host at least one per month! Please subscribe to our newsletter or check our events calendar often to learn about more events. But don't forget, you are also a part of a local community that could help brainstorm ideas for your specific needs, such as finding intellectual peers for play, or resources on a topic around your child's interests.

Admissions Coffee

Please join us for one of our upcoming Admissions Coffee! Or, if you've been to one of these before, come just to socialize with other gifted families during that time.


Admissions Coffee
Sundays, January 20 and February 10
10:30AM-11:30AM or by appointment.

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