Dallas parents give feedback on special education

Dallas School District No. 2

DALLAS — In Dallas School District there are 84 students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) Program.

Steve Martinelli, the district’s curriculum director, thinks that number may be low, especially in the elementary grades (K-5), where only five students have been identified as talented and gifted.

Martinelli and a group of teachers representing each school have begun planning how to better find and serve students who meet the program’s qualifications.

“My plan moving forward on this is to do a little bit more in-depth of an audit of our TAG services,” Martinelli said during a recent presentation to the Dallas School Board.

Martinelli said the reason for the discrepancy between the number of students at the elementary level (5) and middle school (23) and high school (56) is because it’s easier to recognize older TAG students.

“I think we are under identifying at the elementary level,” he said.

Teachers and parents can refer students for TAG evaluation. Or high marks — higher than 97th percentile — on standardized tests can trigger a closer look. In elementary school, Martinelli said test scores are often used.

The work group will be looking at other ways to identify students.

Also, the committee is looking at ways to better serve those who qualify for the program. Martinelli said students are placed on an individual plan tailored to their skills. TAG students can fit into three categories: intellectually gifted and academically talented in math or language arts. They can qualify in more than one area.

Individual plans at the elementary level are based on “content,” or providing material at the student’s level, and “rate,” the speed at which they learn. Martinelli said those can be adjusted to match a student’s level.

In middle school, accelerated classes are offered and at the high school, advanced placement, honors diploma options, and dual-credit classes are available.

Martinelli said the planned audit will evaluate those options while looking at resources and what other school districts offer.

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