At the end of the school year, I had a meeting with the acceleration committee at Caitlin's school to discuss whether or not she's a good candidate for moving into 4th grade next year. If you recall from my previous post, Caitlin was undergoing a garden variety of testing and talking with the school psychologist to evaluate her readiness.
After weeks of testing and observation, everyone gathered to share their thoughts and a decision was agreed upon. While Caitlin's test scores put her consistently in the 99 percentile for both her age and grade and she showed intellectual maturity, it was decided that she is still very much a 7, almost 8 year old girl who enjoys activities appropriate to her age and has the social maturity of an 8 year old. It was mentioned that 3rd grade is a big developmental year for students, both academically & socially as they cross the threshold into the intermediate elementary grades and the expectations that come with it. The G&T coordinator also noticed that Caitlin enjoys being "top dog" or "teacher's helper" in her current class and if she was to accelerate, she would not be the top student in the class but rather one of the high-average kids. Caitlin thrives on being a leader and a helper and we didn't want to deprive her of that.
However, it was duly noted that she does need more advanced lesson plans and grouping with like-minded peers in order to continue to meet her needs academically and to keep her challenged. So, Caitlin has been accepted into the Gifted & Talented program through the school district and will receive services starting in the fall. These services will continue as long as she wants or needs them without her having to re-qualify every year. The services will include a pull-out once a week with the G&T teacher where she will work on special projects with other 3rd-5th grade advanced students. She will also receive curriculum assistance in the classroom meaning that her teacher will work with the G&T teacher to "enhance" lesson plans to meet her advanced learning level. Caitlin will also be clustered in a group within the classroom of other G&T students who will be working on more challenging lessons with her. All of these services will be summed up in an ALP (Advanced Learning Plan) which will be followed by her teachers and the gifted and talented coordinator. A new ALP will be drafted every year with new goals, techniques, recommendations and procedures for implementation.
Caitlin was a bit disappointed at first, not to be moving to the 4th grade but once I explained the reasoning and that next year would be so much better than this year (in terms of the boredom), she was on board. I think she likes the idea that she'll still be with her peers but also able to do work that challenges her. I think it's a win-win combination!
I have to say, I have been so pleasantly surprised with her school and their coordination with the acceleration request. It is so comforting to know that so many people were determined to find the best fit for Caitlin, always keeping her best interests at heart. I was really unsure about the schools here when we moved, but my expectations have been far exceeded, for both girls.