Bexley Gifted Education History
Bexley’s history with gifted services includes multiple program reviews, including studies lead by the district that enlisted both internal and external reviewers, as well as a review conducted by a parent support group.
Summary of Recommendations (1995-2014)
- 1995-1997 – district study
- 2002-2004 – district study
- 2007-2008 – parent support group study
- 2012-2014 – district study
All reviews expressed similar recommendations, summarized here:
• Maintain services offered outside classroom (pull-out) for gifted students based on needs.
- Expand support to all gifted students; consider collaborative efforts in the academic content areas between classroom teachers and gifted intervention specialists
- Offer professional development to teachers, regarding the unique and varied needs of gifted learners (e.g., high cognitive ability, academic talents, visual and performing arts ability, creative thinking ability, twice-exceptional learners).
- Extend support to gifted students in grades K-3.
Most Recent Study (2012-2014)
Bexley’s most recent study recommended that the district form an advisory committee to consider (1) alignment to national programming standards and (2) Bexley’s historically large numbers of students with identifications in academic talents as well as cognitive ability.
In general, the study said that the district has served its students well. A new indicator on the district report card (showing the percentage of students served, as well the percentage of students with identifications), however, requires a new focus on compliance with state law requiring students counted as “served” to have Written Education Plans (WEP).
This study also recommended that Bexley engage a process for referrals and identifications in the arts and creative thinking, as well as develop an ongoing plan for providing teachers with professional development. This process is being developed in school year 2015-2016 and will be in place by fall 2016.
The study also lauded Bexley’s historical support for gifted and advanced learners, as evidenced by its rigorous curricula offerings developed to meet the needs and interests of the district’s students (e.g., large numbers of honors and Advanced Placement courses).
The district has taken steps to be more purposeful about supporting students identified as gifted by developing WEPs across elementary and secondary schools. The WEPs represent components required in Ohio law and are not meant to be indicative of details that would be in an Individual Education Plan (IEP), which is liable to Federal law. With more simplified form and content, the WEPs represent teachers’ acknowledgement of students’ identifications. The identifications in turn may require unique approaches to challenge students in learning by extending academic content and providing support for their social-emotional needs.
Activities in School Year 2015 - 2016
The district's elementary Gifted Education specialist positions were increased to full-time in August 2015. Some of the new GIS responsibilities included developing curriculum extensions for small groups of students, adding on to activities in the general education classrooms. All Bexley middle and high school students with gifted identifications now have Written Education Plans (WEPs) that have been shared with their parents/guardians.
The district increased professional development opportunities by hosting Ashland University courses in gifted education for teachers who were seeking to add a permanent addition to their licensure. In mid-year, Bexley had a total of 32 teachers with gifted licenses (compared with four previously): eleven Cassingham teachers, four at Montrose, two at Maryland, two at BMS and nine at BHS.
Bexley's model at the elementary level continued to be a pullout English Language arts course, with a gifted intervention specialist (GIS) as teacher of record.
The district's Gifted Advisory Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators and parents representing each elementary school, met regularly, led by the district's Gifted Consultant, Dr. Marnie Morrison, and Executive Director of School Programs, Dr. Laura Lipsett.
The committee considered districts similar to Bexley, reviewed Ohio’s operating guidelines and national programming standards, and considered direction for ongoing support for teachers through professional development. Dr. Lipsett presented final recommendations to the Board of Education in February 2016.
New developments influenced the committee’s thinking: (1) revised Ohio operating standards revealed by the Ohio Department of Education were not expected to be finalized until spring 2016; (2) Cassingham’s International Baccalaureate (IB) organization reviewers expressed concern about Bexley’s current gifted education model ; and (3) Exploration of a reconfiguration of BMS as a school for grades 6-8 was underway through the year, with a final decision expected by May.
The new developments require the district to reconsider any kind of recommendation for the future.