H-W GAT Advisory Committee meets to evaluate program


Howard County - The Howard-Winneshiek Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee met recently to evaluate and discuss the school’s Gifted and Talented (GAT) Program.
The meeting dates were Nov. 9 and Dec. 13. The next meeting will be during Parent Teacher Conferences, Thursday, Feb. 15.
Todd Knobloch, GAT facilitator, led the presentation, which included a synopsis of the GAT program, a review of the evaluation tool sections on program goals and performance measures, and discussion on what is done well and what could be improved.
Committee purpose
Knobloch said, “The purpose of the advisory committee is to get input from parents, different teaching levels to help us guide and develop the program to the best it can be, and how we can serve our students the best. Any program that deals with education the state always comes in with a series of guidelines. Our program needs an advisory committee; I need the input, too.  
He said How-Winn identifies students for the GAT program at the first grade level.
“We do that by looking at what their assessments are, and we look at the pre-K and kindergarten five or six times during the year and do special projects, like showing them 3D printing. We do the Zoom bots where they create little robots. There’s nothing better than a first or second grader coming into junior high science fair projects. The GAT students will get seven or eight different materials, and get a STEM challenge. Then they have a lesson.”
Knobloch said the school looks at students’ math testing and Iowa Assessment test.
“They need to have at least 30 percent of all of testing they take on at least two different tests. We have two indicators to show that they qualify.
“Every year we need to renew this plan and make changes,” he said.
Screening Data
Screening data is collected annually for students using a variety of testing and observation sources to determine eligibility for the Gifted and Talented program.
• Kindergarten: Individual enrichment as determined through academic testing, screening tools, and teacher observations and this will be provided at the beginning of the second semester.
• First-eighth grade: In the spring, after all MAP testing and Iowa Assessments are completed for the year, the GAT coordinator will put objective and subjective scores into the weighted H-W GAT Identification Matrix to identify students for small group pull-out for the following academic year. When the matrix is compiled, the students must score at least 40 percent to be considered. The students must also score at least one-third of the objective assessment points from at least two testing sources.
• High School: Freshmen will have their scores from the fall/spring MAP tests and Iowa Assessment scores from their eighth grade year entered into the Howard-Winneshiek GAT Identification Matrix. Students must have a 40 percent or better score to qualify for the program. The students must also score at least one-third of the objective assessment points from at least two testing sources.
Program Evaluation
HWCSD will evaluate and revise the gifted and talented program during the 2017-18 school year to provide students with programming that meets their individual learning and academic need. The process will be completed in four phases:
Year 1: Data gathering from student, teacher and parent surveys, advisory committee, and parents’ suggestions from conferences.
Year 2: Advisory committee takes the data and develops revisions to plan and presents to the school board for approval
Year 3: Implement the revised plan
Ongoing: Adjustments will be made as needed determined by student and staffing needs.
Definition of Gifted Learners
According to H-W Gifted and Talented program literature, ‘gifted’ refers to students ‘who perform or show potential for performing at an exceptional level in one or more areas of expression. These individuals exhibit high performance capabilities in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, possess an unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields.’
‘We are excited’
Director of Special Education Terese Jurgensen is excited about the GAT program and the exchange of ideas moving forward:
“At Howard-Winneshiek, we believe all kids can learn at high levels. Our gifted and talented learners are some of the kids who could be at risk, because things come pretty easily to them and they might get bored. What we are doing is making sure all of our kids learn at high levels, and challenging them through our Gifted and Talented program.”
She continued, “Over the last two years, Mr. Knobloch, our lead teacher for K-12, does a lot of exciting and wonderful things with the kids. We looked at how No Child Left Behind went away, and now it’s the Every Student Succeeds Act. We wanted to look at all our programming and services. We started rewriting the entire GAT program. Rhonda Vobr did a huge part of that before she retired, so I’d like to give her credit where credit is due. We completed that process last year, and all of that is on our website.”
As for the advisory committee, Jurgensen said, “Part of our GAT program required by the state of Iowa is that you have an active committee that supports the program. We meet with a group of parents, administrators and community members.”
Jurgensen said Howard-Winneshiek purchased a new GAT program they are using for K-8.
“We are doing a lot of passion projects and gifted projects,” she said. “I thought it was important to have a central theme that kids can use. We also do a lot at the high school level.”
As the advisory committee meets, Jurgensen said, “We’re going to study the program and reassess and find out what we can do better. It’s a cycle of continued improvement, which is something I think Howard-Winneshiek does well. We are always learning, growing, and want to become better, and (help create) the most employable kids on the planet. We are excited about it.”
The Howard-Winneshiek Community School District is dedicated to all of its students and families. We are excited to offer a quality GAT program. If you would like to be included and add your voice to the GAT program, we welcome you.
For more information or if you would like to be included, please reach out to Terese Jurgensen at (547) 563-2300; ext 207 or by email tjurgensen@howard-winn.k12.ia.us .

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

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214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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