Collaborative Cluster Model
- What is the APS model for delivering gifted services?
APS uses the collaborative cluster model to meet the needs of gifted learners. In this model, students who are identified as gifted in a content area are grouped with at least 5 other students identified in this same area with a teacher who has earned at least 40 hours of training in gifted education and/or has an endorsement in gifted education. Each school has one resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) who supports this model. For more detailed information, please see the 2017-2022 Local Plan for the Gifted approved by the Superintendent and the School Board.
- Why did APS choose this model for delivering gifted services?
Previously, APS used the pull-out model for gifted services which means students who were identified as gifted would be taken out of the classroom for a 30-45 minute period each week for instruction with the resource teacher for the gifted. We know students who are identified as gifted need challenge all day, every day and not just for this small amount of time each week. Also, each school has a resource teacher for the gifted who services multiple grade levels: K-5 (elementary), 6-8 (middle), and high (9-12). The collaborative cluster model uses the resource teacher for the gifted as an instructional coach working with the cluster teacher for ongoing planning so that daily differentiated instruction is achieved.
- How does the cluster model work?
The cluster teacher is the primary deliverer of gifted service within this model. Each school has one RTG who supports cluster teachers on a weekly basis with modeling, planning, and at times co-teaching and delivering differentiated instruction.
- How will clustering happen if students were unable to go through the screening process in the spring?
Schools will use multiple data points to group learners so that they can receive targeted instruction.
- What countywide structures are in place to support consistency of implementation of this model?
Each school has a consistent Canvas Gifted Services template for administrators and staff with resources to support the collaboration between the RTG and the school staff. The template also offers multiple professional learning opportunities such as ways to extend content using curricular resources written for gifted learners and understanding the needs of diverse gifted students and how to advocate for students who show potential.
- How can I find out who is the resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) for my school?
Here is a link to the RTGs by school.
- What are the specific responsibilities of RTGs and Cluster Teachers in elementary school?
In a collaborative cluster model, each school’s RTG works collaboratively with each grade levels cluster teachers to provide comprehensive services to gifted learners. Please visit Expectations for RTGs and Cluster Teachers to see more specifics. In addition the K-5 RTG group contributes lessons using resources written for gifted learners for all teachers to use to extend standards and challenge and engage all learners. This Elementary Gifted Services Canvas course is linked to the Elementary Canvas Template in the Teacher Resources section for all teachers.
- What are the specific responsibilities of RTGs and Cluster and/or Intensified Teachers in middle school?
In a collaborative cluster model, each school’s RTG works collaboratively with each grade levels cluster and/or intensified teachers to provide comprehensive services to gifted learners. Please visit Expectations for RTGs and Cluster Intensified Middle School to see more specifics.
- What are the specific responsibilities of RTGs and Intensified/AP/IB Teachers in high school?
In a collaborative cluster model, each school’s RTG works collaboratively with intensified/AP/IB teachers to provide comprehensive services to gifted learners. Please visit Expectations for RTGs Intensified/AP/IB Teachers to see more specifics. In addition, HS RTGs manage the school based application process for the Summer Residential Governor’s School and participate in countywide events to support VPA auditions and the selection of students representing APS at the state level.
- What are the professional learning expectations for cluster/intensified/AP/IB teachers?
Cluster Teachers (as defined as anyone who has a gifted learner in their classroom), Intensified/AP/IB teachers are expected to have 40 professional learning points focusing on gifted education. Policy Implementation Procedure G-2.14 PIP-9 Teacher Qualifications – Education of Gifted Students
- Will the RTG be able to support teachers who do not have clusters?
This will depend on the number of clusters teachers the RTG works with on a weekly basis. The more clusters teachers at each grade level, the less time the RTG will have to support additional teachers. When available, RTGs attend collaborative learning team meetings to share and/or model critical and creative thinking strategies to challenge and engage all learners using the APS Critical and Creative Thinking Framework.
- What professional learning opportunities are in place for cluster teachers?
Gifted Services created a professional learning cycle to support school-based ongoing professional learning for teachers. It is flexible in nature and supports personalized learning for teachers. In collaboration with the RTG, the learning cycle can be implemented with one teacher, a small group and/or large group of committed professionals. In addition, there are multiple online webinars and self-paced sessions in which teachers can access at any time. These sessions are organized around the following major topics: Equity in the Screening and Identification for Gifted Services, Virtual Teaching and Learning for Gifted Learners, Social Emotional Development and Needs of Gifted Learners, Differentiation and Purposefully Planning for Gifted Learners, and Problem Based and Project Based Learning,
- Why is my child not being taught by the resource teacher for the gifted?
Our model for delivery gifted services is a collaborative cluster model as outlined in our 2017-2022 Local Plan for the Gifted. We know that gifted learners need a comprehensive approach to services throughout the instructional day and not just one or two lessons a week. Each school has one resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) to support all subject areas in multiple grade levels and they each manage the screening and identification process.
Virtual Learning Program
- How will gifted services be provided in the Virtual Learning Program?
Students who are identified as gifted and who chose the VLP for 2021-2022 will receive gifted services from their classroom teacher. There is not a RTG for the VLP. VLP teachers will have opportunities to join collaborative learning team grade level meetings for support in planning and differentiating their instruction.
- What happens with the screening process if I selected the Virtual Learning Program option for my child this year? Can they take the universal screener virtually?
At this time, the universal screener will only be given in person in your child’s school building. Parents may opt out of this assessment. In doing so, Per VDOE gifted regulations 8 VAC 20-40-40, students without an ability assessment will not go through the screening and identification process.
Screening and Identification
- If my child was in the full distance learning model during the 2020-2021 school year and did not want my child to take the universal screener in the school building in April 2021, when will my child have the opportunity to take this universal screener?
Students who opted out of the spring 2021 universal ability screener will have an opportunity to take this assessment in the fall. Your school will communicate the timing of this universal screener to all families.
- My child took the universal screener which was the CogAT Screener. Will my child be able to take the full battery CogAT in the fall?
Due to the many state mandated assessments given throughout the school year plus monetary restrictions, APS will only give the CogAT to students who did not take the CogAT Screener in Spring 2021 or has not taken
- Can I refer my child for gifted services if they are currently in a grade level where a universal screener is not given?
Per VDOE gifted regulations 8 VAC 20-40-40, students can be referred for gifted services in grades K-12. Families and/or staff members may initiate the screening process by submitting a referral form to the RTG or principal. After a referral is received, an ability assessment is scheduled and is a mandatory part of the screening process.
- Can the screening and identification process move forward without an ability assessment?
The VDOE outlines gifted regulations (8 VAC20-40-40) school systems must follow require an ability assessment as part of the screening and identification process.
- Where can I learn more about the screening and identification process?
This process is outlined in the Eligibility section on this webpage.
- How often can my child be screened for gifted services?
Students may be screened for gifted services once a year. Screening typically happens in the spring of each year with a referral deadline of April 1. (If this deadline falls during spring break, referrals will be accepted on the first day back from break.)
- How can I initiate the screening process for my child?
You may submit the referral form electronically to your school’s resource teacher for the gifted and/or your school’s principal. If your child went through the screening process last spring, they are eligible to go through the screening process again in the next year’s spring screening cycle.
- How will my child be challenged if they did not go through the screening/identification process and/or were found ineligible for gifted services?
Students do not have to be identified as gifted to have their academic and social emotional needs met. Every teacher in APS is charged with differentiation of instruction for all their learners. Teachers use ongoing assessments to plan lessons based on student readiness and interests. The RTG is a support in the building in terms of planning with teachers to meet the needs of advanced learners and to give all students opportunities for challenging and engaging lessons.
Families New to APS
- If my child was identified as gifted in another school district, what is the process for getting identified in APS?
Students who are new to APS and who have been previously identified for gifted services will be eligible for the same level of service as outlined by the previous school district. In this situation, it is not necessary to go through the screening process. Parents/Guardians are asked to share the previous record of gifted services and/or previous record of eligibility for gifted services with the school registrar and/or the resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) and/or the principal. Upon receiving this information, your child will then be clustered in their area of identification and begin receiving gifted services.
- If my child was not screened for gifted services in another school system, how can I begin the screening process in Arlington?
New to APS students may be screened in the fall for gifted services. To begin this process, please submit a referral form to the resource teacher for the gifted and/or principal. Please note: our screening process includes multiple data points to include behaviors and characteristics of diverse learners observed by the school. It is important to give school personnel time to get to know your child’s strengths and interests. For this reason, the Virginia Department of Education guidelines gives schools 90 school days to process a new referral.
- With the APS GOAL of having each school’s gifted population closely matching the diverse population of its community, what specifically is being done to lead this charge?
The Gifted Services Office and RTGs focus on talent development for all learners especially Young Scholars. With a talent development mindset, school teams are talent scouts rather than deficit detectives offering ongoing and frequent opportunities for all learners to engage in engaging, critical and creative thinking lessons while offering appropriate support.
- Can students who are English Language learners be identified as gifted?
Yes, in APS we are looking for potential ability in learners rather than focusing on different achievement levels.
- What are characteristics of English Learners who are gifted?
- Acquire the new language at a faster than typical rate,
- Demonstrate an ability to code switch or translate at an advanced level,
- Show aptitude for negotiating between cultures,
- Display inventive leadership and/or imaginative qualities,
- Read significantly beyond grade level in the heritage language,
- Effectively assume adult responsibilities at a young age,
- Exhibit notable street smarts and/or rapid integration into American culture, or
- Problem-solve in creative, nonconforming ways*All of these characteristics are part of our Gifted Behavior Commentary document as way to inclusively identify ELs for gifted services.
- What articles do you recommend to learn more about supporting my child? Effective Practices for Identifying and Serving English Learners in Gifted Education: A Systematic Review of the Literature
- Can students receive both gifted services and special education services?Yes, student can be identified as gifted and can have a IEP and/or a 504 plan. Both services are important and one should not be seen as more important than the other. In APS, we focus on the strengths each student has and put accommodations in place to support learning needs. There is also an emphasis on developing resiliency and advocacy.
- How does twice exceptionality look at home and at school?NAGC offers two perspectives: What the Teacher Might See and What the Parent Might See
- How can parents support twice exceptional learners at home and at school?A multi-pronged approach should focus on their intellectual, physical, and social/emotional environments. In both of these links suggestions are offered for at home and school support.
- What articles do you recommend to learn more about supporting my twice exceptional child? Beyond the Neuropsychological Evaluation: Finding the Right Professionals to Support Your 2e Child’s NeedsTwice Exceptionality: The Road Less Traveled
- What resources do you recommend for parents/guardians/caretakers?
National Association for the Gifted (NAGC) has excellent TIP Sheets. Here are two that offer parents, caregivers, and educators strategies for helping children manage during these extraordinary times:
NAGC also has a webpage sharing resources for parents and educators during COVID-19
You may also find this document helpful, NAGC Helping Your Gifted Child Succeed.
- What additional resources do you recommend to support parents/guardians/caretakers as learners needs change over time?
NAGC has TIP sheets on a variety of topics organized by the following categories: giftedness, giftedness in the classroom setting, advocacy, creativity, and social emotional learning. In additional NAGC
- Where can I find specific information on social emotional support?
NAGC compiled a variety of social emotional resources for parents and educators. These strategies range from talking with gifted children about COVID-19 as well as helping children navigate their emotions, behaviors, feelings, family interactions, and friendships through this challenging time. In addition, NAGC developed a position statement sharing ideas on how to nurture social-emotional development in gifted children.
In addition, families may enjoy the video parenting series done by the author of Thrive, Michele Borba.
- Where can I find ideas to challenge and engage my child at home?
Gifted Services shared a variety of online resources to tap your child’s interest at home during COVID which are still applicable now.
- Sometimes educators use terms that may not be as familiar to people who are not educators.
Please find this Glossary of Terms to support your understanding and continued parent involvement.