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MailTribune.com
  • Medford to review 'talented and gifted' program

    District's study will look at performance and survey parents
  • The Medford School District plans to review the "talented and gifted" program to find out how well it's serving intellectually gifted students, officials said Tuesday.
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  • The Medford School District plans to review the "talented and gifted" program to find out how well it's serving intellectually gifted students, officials said Tuesday.
    Prompted by concerns raised by a school board member about inconsistency in providing the program, the review will involve surveying parents and studying the performance of intellectually gifted students based on their level, said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long.
    "I don't necessarily like the label 'talented and gifted,' " said School Board Member Jeff Thomas. "My concern is (that) for students who are higher achievers there is no districtwide policy or structure to serve this population. There might be (a system) at one campus but not at another."
    The review came out of a meeting Tuesday when school board members and district administrators discussed how the district identifies and serves talented and gifted students. About 4.7 percent of the district's 12,000 pupils are identified as talented and gifted, defined as scoring in the 97th percentile on a national standardized test of mental ability, reading and/or math.
    Currently, talent and gifted students remain in a general classroom rather than participating in a pullout program with special activities. Teachers are expected to differentiate instruction for all ability levels, often grouping those with similar abilities to work together at their respective level, said Julie York, district student services supervisor.
    "The identification process works as advertised, but the service part doesn't," said Ted Willhite, a Hoover elementary parent. "Teachers make a superhuman effort, but I don't think the way the program is designed that it can be successful. The in-class part is the defeating part."
    Under state law, talented and gifted students are entitled to special services to ensure their academic experience is challenging enough for them.
    Willhite said providing challenging instruction and schoolwork is important to students' success.
    "You can kill a kid with boredom," he said.
    Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.
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