Gifted and Talented Enrichment
In keeping with our district mission statement, Princeton Public Schools is dedicated to developing all students’ abilities through appropriate educational experiences, recognizing that some students have the capacity for extraordinary learning or outstanding talent. Princeton Public Schools believes that students can demonstrate and develop exceptional abilities in a wide variety of areas valued by our culture. The District also recognizes that all students have capacity for extraordinary learning ability and/or outstanding talent. “Gifted and Talented” is defined by the current New Jersey Administrative Code and the U.S. Department of Education (1993) as follows:
Students who are gifted and talented as those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability in one or more content areas when compared to their chronological peers in the local district and who require modification of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities.
Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”
– US Department of Education, 1993
The District recognizes that students come from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, and the mission of the gifted and talented program, based on research and curriculum development by leading experts in the field of gifted education, including Dr. Joseph Renzulli, is to provide opportunities for students to explore their intellectual, creative, and artistic gifts and talents within the classroom and with beyond-the-classroom experiences. It is essential to provide diverse, appropriate, and ongoing learning experiences and environments that incorporate the academic, psychological, and social needs of students. It is our responsibility to provide students with educational alternatives that teach, challenge, and expand their knowledge, while simultaneously stressing the development of independent and self-directed learners who continuously generate questions, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and ideas.
Gifted and Talented Enrichment Program Philosophy and Rationale
Princeton Public Schools identifies giftedness in accordance with “Three Rings of Gifted Behavior”, theorized by Joseph’s Renzulli and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Three Rings of Giftedness:
- High Ability - high level of accomplishment compared to age or grade-level peers
- Creativity - high level of accomplishment
- Task Commitment - high intrinsic motivation
Gifted behavior occurs when there is an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits: above-average general and/or specific abilities, high levels of task commitment (motivation), and high levels of creativity. Talented children are those who possess (or are capable of developing) this composite of traits and apply them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. As noted in the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, gifted behaviors can be found "in certain people, at certain times, and under certain circumstances." - Renzulli, J. S. (1978)
Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) recognizes multiple ways to “be smart”. Through a multiple intelligence lens, a student may show or have the potential to exceptionality in many areas including, but not limited to, reading, writing, math, music, art, science, and even service to others.
The Princeton Public School enrichment program strives to provide a rich array of learning experiences that provide opportunities for students to explore leadership, creativity, performance, problem solving, and other beyond-academic gifts. Experiences that promote growth in 21st Century Learning Skills, including critical thinking, creative problem solving, creativity, communication, collaboration, and global competencies are offered within and beyond the classroom. A tiered system of programming allows us to offer a variety of levels of enrichment:
Enrichment within the Regular Classroom
Enrichment Within and Beyond the Regular Classroom
Advancement Beyond the Grade Level
FOCUS Enrichment Program Q&A
Q: What are the goals of enrichment programming at Princeton Public Schools?
A: The goals of the FOCUS Enrichment Program are:
- To provide opportunities for all students to discover and explore new areas of interest
- To provide all students with experiences and strategies that promote increased creativity and better problem solving
- To identify students demonstrating exceptional ability in one or more areas and to provide them with a range of enriching experiences both within and beyond the classroom
- To provide those students demonstrating exceptional ability with periodic opportunities to learn with like-minded peers
- To provide students demonstrating exceptional ability with social and emotional affirmation and support
Q: I thought there already was a FOCUS period at our elementary school. What’s changed?
A: Yes, we did and still do have a daily 30-minute FOCUS period in each elementary grade level’s schedule, with the exception of the DLI classes at Community Park School.* The FOCUS period provides various learning opportunities for children depending on their needs, strengths, and interests. This period also allows for supplemental instruction for students needing academic intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and ESL. During the FOCUS period students may have a scheduled instrumental music lesson, attend social and life skills groups, or pursue topics of interest that extend and enrich their academic learning. This differentiation provides students with the opportunity, time, and resources to gain knowledge, understand concepts, and apply skills in areas of academic choice.
The FOCUS period is also a perfect opportunity to provide enrichment and extension in areas of interest to the student. Since some students leave the classroom for services, no new core-curricular instruction occurs during that time. For whatever number of days the student is in their home classroom (1-5), he/she can participate in activities and projects that extend and enrich their learning throughout the year.
*Community Park School is balancing the DLI program schedule with the enrichment program components. Immersion in the Spanish language is a noteworthy extension and enhancement of the core curriculum for students enrolled in a DLI class.
Q: What academic interventions and support services are provided during the FOCUS period?
A: Students may receive AIS instruction, ESL, Wilson Language Lessons, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social and life skills training, and counseling during the FOCUS period to the degree the schedule and number of eligible students will allow. It may be necessary for some students to receive these services outside of the FOCUS period.
Q: What are the essential elements of enrichment and extension projects during FOCUS?
A: FOCUS Enrichment project work helps students develop 21st century skills by engaging them in critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication on topics of their choosing. Students engage in an extended process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers that lead to thinking about what and how they are learning. Students are held accountable for how they work and how they use their time by demonstrating their learning through products or presentations.
Students self-select to participate in individual and/or group projects based on interest and commitment. The classroom teacher and/or the enrichment teacher will help guide and monitor student exploration of chosen topics, facilitating their learning with resources and teaching of needed skills.
Q: How are students identified for this program?
A: The processes by which students are identified to receive gifted & talented enrichment services in PPS are fluid and flexible, allowing students to enter and exit any individual service as needed throughout the year.
According to the New Jersey Administrative Code:
The N.J.A.C. requires that students be compared to their chronological peers in the local school district. The New Jersey Department of Education has not established state-level criteria for identifying students who are gifted, such as mandated tests or assessments, grade point averages, or IQ scores. Local school districts must use multiple measures to identify students.
Q: How will students be identified for participation in the FOCUS Enrichment Program?
A: All students will have the opportunity to participate in one or more components of the program. To help direct students to the best opportunities for them, parent, teacher, and student identification of interests and abilities will be considered. Princeton Public Schools ensures that the identification methodology is developmentally appropriate, nondiscriminatory, and related to the programs and services offered.
A student’s enrichment “profile” will consist of:
- The parent inventory
- The teacher inventory of student learning, beyond their academic profile
- The student Multiple Intelligences inventory
- Student performance data, as appropriate to the enrichment opportunity
- Teacher observations of student learning
- Non-Verbal Aptitude Test Score (to be administered in the spring)
It is important to remember that none of the above is a gate-keeper to program opportunities. The inventories, specifically, are to gain a full understanding of each student’s abilities and interests, seen or unseen. All students, including those participating in Accelerated Intervention Services (AIS), have a 504 Plan, or have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) are eligible to work within the FOCUS program.
Dr. Robert Ginsberg
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction