Gifted Students

Giftedness is a category of exceptionality as defined by the ministry. Children must be identified through the IPRC process to register in a self-contained gifted class. DDSB offers classes to these identified students in grades 4 to 12.

The Durham District School Board provides two programming models for identified intellectually gifted students:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who are the gifted?
  2. How are gifted students identified?
  3. My child has been identified gifted in another Board. Can we enrol our child in the self-contained program?
  4. How do we go about testing if we are not yet part of the Durham Board?
  5. What are the advantages of a self-contained class?
  6. Should I let my child attend a gifted class?
  7. How will the program be different than the regular classroom program?
  8. How long can my child participate in a program for the gifted?
  9. Where are full-time classes for the gifted located?
  10. How will my child travel to school?
  11. How many children will be enrolled in a single class for the gifted?
  12. Are there split-grade classes?
  13. Does my child have to be assessed each year for the program?
  14. How can we find out about our child's ability level?
  15. Will my child maintain his/her giftedness?

1. Who are the gifted?
The Ministry of Education defines giftedness as “an unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated”.

Intellectually gifted students are those, who by virtue of outstanding abilities, are capable of high performance. Intellectually gifted children have many abilities that make them likely to succeed academically. Frequently, they can memorize rapidly and retain what they've learned; they read at an early age and with superior comprehension; they see relationships among ideas; and they often have an advanced vocabulary. These abilities, combined with superior facility in communication, enable them to master the basic school curriculum more quickly than other children. Many gifted children have an almost insatiable curiosity about a variety of subjects. Because of this inquisitiveness, they may welcome instruction on a variety of topics which are not usually included in the regular school program. The high levels of independence and motivation of these students suggest that they are capable of initiating and carrying out projects on their own, and that they should be given opportunities for independent study. Their ability to solve problems that demand complex thinking skills such as analysis (identifying relationships) and synthesis (forming new relationships) suggests that they be given assignments that involve identifying causes, establishing categories, and generating and testing hypotheses.

Gifted students represent about two percent of the school population. Consequently, only a small number of children will be asked to participate in all of the steps.


2. How are gifted students identified?
To identify the intellectually gifted The Durham District School Board has established a three-phase procedure.

PHASE I: Nomination (September)
Students may be nominated for assessment for possible giftedness by parents, educators or both. Since the Durham program formally begins in grade 4, the majority of students are screened and recommended for placement in the program by the end of the third grade. However, it is possible to enter the program during any subsequent year and educators are told to be on the lookout for suitable candidates at all grade levels.

The classroom teacher fills out the Renzulli-Hartman Scale for Rating Behavioural Characteristics of Superior Students for each nominated student. This assists us to gather information about the student's capabilities, interests, attitudes towards learning, motivation and creativity. Students earn up to three points at this stage.

PHASE II: Group Testing (October/November)
Students who are nominated are given the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (C.T.B.S.). This is a standardized test which measures basic skills in reading (such as comprehension and vocabulary) and in math (such as math concepts, estimation, problem solving and data interpretation). Students earn up to twelve points for the C.T.B.S. scores.

They are also given the Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test (C.C.A.T.). This test measures the ability to work with three types of symbols: words, numbers, and shapes. Students earn up to eighteen points for their C.C.A.T. scores.

The group tests are administered in five sessions by the Special Education Resource Teacher in the school.

Parents often ask how they can help their child to study for the group tests. No studying is required. Parents can help the most by making sure that the child is well rested and in attendance at the school on the days when the tests are being given.

Test results from Phase II are generally sent home in January.

To proceed to Phase III, a student must have earned a minimum of twenty-two points from Phases I and II.

Students may be retested on the C.T.B.S. and C.C.A.T. (Phase II) in subsequent grades on a limited basis. Speak to your Special Education Resource teacher to find out retest information.

PHASE III: Individual Intellectual Assessment (January - March)
Students who have acquired twenty-two points on Phases I and II are tested individually by a member of the Psychological Services Department of The Durham District School Board. The test used is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fourth Edition
(WISC - IV). This process usually takes about 1 - 1½ hours and parents receive a written report describing the results.

In addition to the twenty-two points obtained in Phase I and II, a Full Scale I.Q. at or beyond the 98th percentile on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) is required for identification as Gifted.

In some cases, students who score slightly below the 98th percentile may have the WISC-IV readministered one additional time by local board personnel after a nine month waiting period. The Board's guidelines determine whether a child is eligible.

Summary: Points

Phase I

 

 

Renzulli-Hartman 0 - 3
Phase II

   
C.T.B.S.
(for each subtest students receive points
depending on percentile level achieved)
0 - 12

   
C.C.A.T.
(for each subtest students receive points
depending on percentile level achieved)
0 - 18
  Total points required in Phase I and II 22 out of a possible 33

Phase III

   
WISC - IV 98th percentile or higher

3. My child has been identified gifted in another Board. Can we enrol our child in the self-contained program?
Possibly. The criteria for identification differ from Board to Board. If any of the above assessment procedures have been done, the Durham District School Board would be willing to use the scores obtained. WISC-IV scores and written report must be submitted to the Chief Psychologist for evaluation and approval.

4. How do we go about testing if we are not yet part of the Durham Board?

There are three ways to go about testing:

  1. If your current school is willing to administer the CTBS and CCAT, we may loan the necessary materials and do the scoring.
  2. If you wish to hire someone to administer the tests, please have them contact the program facilitator for gifted at (905) 666-6357 to ensure that the correct tests are being used.
  3. If you would prefer to have the testing done by Durham personnel, your child must first be enrolled in one of our local schools. You would then request testing through the Special Education Resource teacher at the school.

5. What are the advantages of a self-contained class?
The self-contained program being offered in Durham has been carefully designed to meet the needs, characteristics, and interests of these students. The program is structured to maximize each child's ability to deal productively with the present and the future. Educational goals for these children differ mainly in their greater emphasis on creative, affective and cognitive development. Although these objectives are desirable for all students, they are essential for the gifted. The special educational provisions for these students attempt to serve the extraordinary learning abilities of gifted students by providing educational experiences that fulfil their diverse needs.

Self-contained classes for gifted students offer an educational setting in which your child can relate to his or her intellectual peer group. This is a major plus for these children. The absence of such an intellectual peer group may result in the child feeling different. In order to offer the maximum educational opportunity for your child, placement in such a full-time program is recommended.

6. Should I let my child attend a gifted class?
This question usually is based on concern that children will develop feelings of superiority, or they will be punished by others who are not in a special group. Membership in a well-designed classroom for the gifted can be beneficial in several ways:

  1. The content is likely to be more relevant to the child's interests and abilities than in a regular class;
  2. The child may learn that there are other children who have high or higher ability. Thus, the child may develop a wholesome respect for others and a sense of humility regarding self;
  3. The child is able to work with others who show understanding and respect;
  4. The child is likely to relate to others with similar interests and to develop new interests;
  5. The child will have a teacher who has some special interest in and preparation for teaching the gifted.

7. How will the program be different than the regular classroom program?
The gifted program will provide learning experiences that are qualitatively different from the basic program provided for all children. The kind of learning experience, the breadth and depth brought to it, and the pacing of the exceptional student must reflect the unique needs, interests, aspirations, and concerns of gifted learners. Furthermore, these educational experiences will be modified as the content and learning processes are acquired, mastered and applied.

8. How long can my child participate in a program for the gifted?
Students identified as intellectually gifted have the opportunity to remain in programs for the gifted for the remainder of their elementary schooling and into secondary school. The progress of students enrolled in programs for the gifted will be reviewed annually in accordance with policies and procedures which govern Special Education programs.

9. Where are full-time classes for the gifted located?
Since gifted students represent approximately 2% of the school population, it is not possible, nor practical, to offer full-time programs in each neighbourhood school. Full-time classes for the gifted are located in the following schools to serve the designated areas. From time to time, it may be necessary to relocate the program from one school to another based on a variety of factors.


AREA
SCHOOL
GRADES
Oshawa Coronation P.S.
441 Adelaide Ave. E.
Oshawa, Ontario
(905) 725-2032
4 - 8
  O'Neill C.V.I.
301 Simcoe St. N.
Oshawa, Ontario
(905)728-7531
9 - 12
Whitby Jack Miner P.S.
144 Whitburn Street
Whitby, Ontario
(905) 668-3249
4 - 8
  Pringle Creek P.S.
80 Ribblesdale Drive
Whitby, Ontario
(905) 430-2488
(opening Sept. 2011)
4 - 8
  Sinclair S.S.
380 Taunton Rd. E.
Whitby, Ontario
(905) 666-5400
9 - 12
Ajax/Pickering Alexander Graham Bell P.S.
25 Harkins Drive
Ajax, Ontario
(905) 683-7368
4 - 8
  William Dunbar P.S.
1030 Glenanna Road
Pickering, Ontario
(905) 420-5745
4 - 8
  Pickering H.S.
180 Church St. N.
Ajax, Ontario
(905) 683-4760
9 - 12
Uxbridge/Scugog

R.H. Cornish P.S.
494 Queen Street
Port Perry, Ontario
(905) 985-4468

4 - 8
  Port Perry H.S.
160 Rosa Street
Port Perry, Ontario
(905) 985-7337
9 - 12

Gifted students will benefit from total involvement in the life of the school while receiving a classroom program that meets their particular exceptionalities.

10. How will my child travel to school?
Transportation is provided by The Durham District School Board to elementary students who live farther than 1.6 km away from the local host school.

11. How many children will be enrolled in a single class for the gifted?
The Ministry guidelines mandate a pupil/teacher ratio of 25 to 1. It is highly advantageous to restrict class size so that effective education for the gifted can occur.

12. Are there split-grade classes?
Sometimes. Just as in the regular program, numbers sometimes make it necessary to combine two grades in one classroom.

13. Does my child have to be assessed each year for the program?
No. The identification of gifted children is a complex process. Multiple screening measures were used to provide reliable and valid estimates of the abilities in question. We are satisfied that the best available measures were used in the identification of your child. Each year, however, the placement is reviewed and recommendations made for the following school year.

14. How can we find out about our child's ability level?
The results of the standardized tests used in screening the gifted students have been sent to you. In addition, the WISC-IV (Individual Intellectual Assessment) results may be discussed, at your convenience, with the testing psychometrist.

15. Will my child maintain his/her giftedness?
Giftedness is maintained and enhanced if the environment is rich with opportunities. Giftedness may diminish, and outward evidence of giftedness may disappear in an environment that does not meet the educational needs of the learner.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GIFTED CHILDREN

Listed below are several characteristics that may assist parents and educators identify intellectually gifted learners. The children who will benefit from this special program will display many of these characteristics to a much higher degree than the typical child.

Please read these characteristics carefully and decide whether they apply to your child. Where your child displays many of these characteristics to a high degree, consider nominating him/her for the screening procedure.

  1. Has an unusually advanced vocabulary for his/her age.
  2. Has quick mastery and recall of factual information.
  3. Has a large storehouse of information on a variety of topics (often beyond usual interests of youngsters this age).
  4. Wants to know how things work and asks deep and probing questions about what makes things and people “tick”.
  5. Reads a great deal on his or her own; understands what is read; prefers to read books beyond typical age level.
  6. Likes “grown up” things and often prefers the company of older children and adults.
  7. Displays a great deal of curiosity and asks lots of questions about anything and everything.
  8. Comes up with a large number of unique and unusual ways of solving problems; ideas are often “far out” or very creative.
  9. Becomes easily bored with routine tasks.
  10. Has a keen sense of humour.
  11. Carries responsibility well; can be counted on to do what he or she has promised and usually does it well.
  12. Sticks to a project once it is begun.
  13. Is a high risk taker; is not afraid to try new experiences; is adventurous.
  14. Is impulsive; often acts before he/she thinks.
  15. Is independent and self-sufficient in looking after himself/herself.
  16. Tends to dominate others if given a chance.
  17. Is a keen and alert observer; usually “sees more” or “gets more” out of a story or film than other children the same age.
  18. Is uninhibited in expressing opinions; is sometimes radical and spirited in disagreement.
  19. Adapts readily to new situations; is flexible in thought and action and does not seem disturbed when the normal routine is changed.
  20. Independent in thought or action; not afraid to be different.