School district’s AIG program to target broader population

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/21/19

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools is expanding the plan for its Academically and Intellectually Gifted program to reached what district officials term as “under-represented …

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School district’s AIG program to target broader population

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PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools is expanding the plan for its Academically and Intellectually Gifted program to reached what district officials term as “under-represented populations.”

Administrators presented the 2019-2021 District AIG Plan to the Chatham County Board of Education June 10, with one of the major changes being a focus on broadening the pool of students who might be able to take advantage of the services.

“We want to have a true representation of what the gifted student may be,” said Melvin Diggs, CCS’ executive director of exceptional children and academically/intellectually gifted programs. “There are exceptional talents that a lot of students have, so we want to capture that.”

These student populations include minorities, English language learners, students in poverty of homelessness or those deemed “twice-exceptional,” meaning they would qualify for both EC and AIG services. Amanda Hartness, the district’s assistant superintendent for academic services and instructional support, said the county has seen an “uptick” in “twice-exceptional” students in recent years and added that it’s imperative that schools focus on how to serve those on both ends of the academic success spectrum.

The plan specifically states that the new goals of the referral process are to “open the pool of referred students as broadly as possible” and “attend to under-represented populations in our district.” It also calls for using “any available data illuminating student potential and/or achievement” as part of the determination process. Another focus of the plan is to take into consideration “acute or chronic circumstances” in a child’s life that may affect the evaluation process, like migrant or homeless status, certain illnesses and “separations from parental support such as illness or death or poverty.”

AIG/Advanced Learning Needs Determination Teams will operate at both the school and, new in this plan, county level and evaluate students for the program. The new plan states that all data — such as testing scores, student work and teacher evaluations — is compiled and reviewed by first the school-level team and then passed to the county level. The district team is made up of “the supervising Executive Director, the Lead Teacher, a principal, classroom teacher(s), AIG/Advanced Learning specialists, and other district personnel as available.”

A new part of the plan specifically states that “the absence of a singular criteria does not prevent identification of a student.”

Hartness told the school board that the plan is due to the State Board of Education by July 1 and was “quite the extensive plan.” A lot of changes, she said, came from shifts in state-level standards for the program.

“The work starts really early and involves a lot of people in a lot of different steps,” she said.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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