North Allegheny’s Gifted Education Program reflects and extends our mission statement to appropriately challenge and prepare our advanced learners to live productively in our changing society.  While providing enrichment and a broad spectrum of educational opportunities, the gifted education program encourages the individual learner to develop personal responsibility, task commitment, self-discipline, independent learning skills, respectful conduct, and social/emotional balance.   The development of critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills and creativity is shared collaboratively among the gifted learner, the parents, and the North Allegheny educational community.


    The definition of giftedness comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Special Education Rules and Regulations under Chapter 16 and states that a student who is mentally gifted demonstrates outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.  This term includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria, as set forth in Chapter 16 and in Department Guidelines, indicate gifted ability.  Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone.  Deficits in memory or processing speed, as indicated by intellectual ability subtests, cannot be the sole basis upon which a student is determined to be ineligible for gifted special education.  A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability. Determination of mentally gifted must include a full assessment by a certified school psychologist.

    The North Allegheny School District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of gifted education, individualized to meet the student needs.  At no cost to the parents, these services comply with state regulations and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress.


    To identify students who may be eligible for gifted education, various screening activities are conducted annually. This systematic screening process fulfills the District’s obligation to conduct child find activities for students who may need services or instruction not ordinarily provided in the general education curriculum.  The review considers information about academic and cognitive abilities. Universal screening occurs in second and fourth grade. Screening may occur for students in alternate grades via parent or team referral.


    A.   District Referral/Child Find:  Universal screening is conducted in the second and fourth grades in the North Allegheny School District. The screening process involves a phased procedure. In Phase One, the school-based team reviews existing academic data, while Phase Two focuses on additional information related to student ability and above-level academic performance. If the data reviewed in both phases indicates a need for further evaluation, the district will initiate a referral for a Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (GMDE). The specific data available for each grade level varies, but typically includes information such as academic performance and ability assessments, including the following:



    Child Find Benchmark

    Ability Screening

    125 or higher

    Edmentum Exact Path

    90th percentile (Fall) or 95th percentile (Spring) or higher on one of the following subtests:

    • Reading 
    • Mathematics

    Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)

    84th percentile within the Advanced score range in either reading or math

    AIMSweb Reading OR AIMSweb Math Composites

    97th percentile or higher

    Keystone Exams 

    97th percentile score on at least one exam

    Math Grade Acceleration

    80% or higher on End-of-Year tests

    Above-level Academic Achievement


    Curriculum Based Assessments

    95% or higher on curricular assessment measures in reading or math

    Secondary Grades

    GPA; 98% or higher in three out of five core classes (grades from AP level courses will be weighted)

    B.   Parent Referral:  When parents suspect their child is gifted, they may request in writing an evaluation at any time, with a limit of one request per school year.  As per 22 PA. Code § 16.22 (c), if a parent makes the request for an evaluation verbally, the school district must inform them to put their request in writing.  When the District receives the written request, the parents will receive a Permission to Evaluate form within 10 calendar days of the written request.  The District must receive a parent’s signature on the form in order to continue with the evaluation process.  Parents will also be asked to provide information that will be included in the evaluation.


    When the District’s screening process indicates that a student has potential consistent with the definition of mentally gifted or a performance level that exceeds that of other students in the regular classroom or a parent(s) suspects their child is gifted and requests an evaluation in writing, the District will initiate a Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) as specified in Title 22 Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 16 to be conducted by the Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Team (GMDT).  The GMDE must be sufficient in scope and depth to investigate information relevant to the student’s suspected giftedness, including academic functioning, learning strengths, and educational needs.   


    The Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Team (GMDT) includes a certified school psychologist, the principal or District representative, the classroom teacher(s), a school counselor, and the parent(s)/guardian(s).  The GMDT conducts a comprehensive evaluation that is sufficient in scope to investigate information relevant to the student’s suspected giftedness, including academic functioning, learning strengths, rates of acquisition and retention, intervening factors that may mask giftedness, and educational needs.  If at any time, the parent(s) decides to rescind permission to evaluate, the evaluation process will be stopped as long as the parent’s request is in writing. 

    “The GMDT has the responsibility of contributing information to the GMDE that:

    • Assures that comprehensive data has been collected on the student to indicate academic instructional levels, thinking skills and other learning skill levels, rate of acquisition/retention for mastery of new content/skills, academic interests/strengths, and, as appropriate, developmental levels (young students) and career goals.

    • Provides clarifying information about the ability of children who score below IQ 130 (within the standard of measurement for the test) and have strong indications of gifted performance.

    • Determines if additional assessment, such as out-of-level academic testing, is needed.  When normed and validated individualized standardized testing is used, a clear explanation of subtest results should be part of the Gifted Written Report.  Such explanation may include:

    • Mastery level

    • Functional/instructional level and frustration level

    • Grade level equivalencies

    • District performance criteria for competency

      • Mastery and excellence of output

      • Comprehensive developmental levels in subtests

      • Implications in the learning process of the student

    • Recommends whether a student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction.

    • Recommends appropriate integrated programming for a student if there is more than one area of exceptionality.

    • Provides information about the student's adaptive and social behavior if this is appropriate.

    The GWR should be compiled based on a complete evaluation and carry the recommendations of all individuals participating, whether or not the individuals are in concurrence. The determination of giftedness, i.e., eligibility under Chapter 16, resides with the GMDT, which includes the parents.” (Pennsylvania Department of Education Gifted Guidelines August 2010, pages 13-14)

    The evaluation process must take into consideration any Intervening Factors Masking Giftedness. “Documented, observed validated or assessed evidence that intervening factors such as English as a Second Language, learning disability, physical impairment, emotional disability, gender or race bias, or socio-cultural deprivation are masking gifted abilities.”  (22 PA. Code §16.21 (e) (5))


    The following data will be considered by the GMDT:

    1. Individual Assessment of Cognitive Abilities

    2. Individual Assessment of Academic Achievement 

    3. Curriculum-Based Assessments (CBA) in Reading and Mathematics

    4. Gifted Rating Scale

    5. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) Input

    6. Teacher(s) Input

    7. Other Educational Records

    The GMDE must include information from the parents or others who interact with the student on a regular basis, and may include information from the student if appropriate.”  (22 PA. Code § 16.22 (f))


    The Gifted Written Report (GWR) brings together the findings from the evaluation or reevaluation concerning the student’s educational needs (strengths).  “The report must make recommendations as to whether the student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction, indicate the basis of those recommendations, include recommendation for the student’s programming, and indicate the names and positions of the members of the GMDT.”  (22 PA. Code § 16.22(h)). 


    During the evaluation process, the Permission to Evaluate (PTE) form will be issued to provide parental consent to administer one or more of the following instruments: individual cognitive ability test, individual achievement test, curriculum-based assessments (CBA) in reading and mathematics and/or gifted rating scale.  Gifted rating scales are norm-referenced rating scales based on current theories of giftedness. A minimum of one teacher will complete the scale who has known the student for at least one month.  In addition, parent and teacher input will be obtained and an educational records review conducted.

    The term includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria as set forth in this chapter and in Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability and demonstrate a need for specially designed instruction. Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone. Deficits in memory or processing speed, as indicated by testing, cannot be the sole basis upon which a student is determined to be ineligible for gifted special education. The determination of mentally gifted must include an assessment by a certified school psychologist (22 Pa. Code §16.21(d)).  


    Intellectual ability score of 130 or higher on an individual cognitive ability test. A general ability index will also be considered to mitigate the effects of memory and processing speed. No one test or measure is sufficient to determine giftedness. A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicate gifted ability evidenced by meeting all areas of the multiple criteria below.


    A year or more above grade achievement level for the normal age group in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests able to accurately reflect gifted performance. Subject results shall yield academic instruction levels in all academic subject areas (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e) (1)).

    • Individual Achievement test with a score at the 97th national percentile rank or higher on the following tests to be considered under this criterion, as follows:

      •  Reading Comprehension, Math Problem-Solving, or Written Expression for students in grades 3-12.

      • Reading composite or Reading Comprehension or Math composite or Math Problem-Solving for students in grades K-2 .


    An observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability (22 Pa. Code§16.21(e) (2)).

    • Rates of acquisition and retention data are obtained by direct observation and reporting from teachers, special area teachers, and/or administrators and supervisors. Rate of Acquisition is defined as the rate at which a student acquires, understands, and demonstrates competency and/or mastery of new learning. Rate of Retention is defined as the rate at which a student retains concepts and skills necessary for subsequent learning. Areas observed/measured include English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science. 

    • A student must demonstrate a high or very high rate of acquisition and retention to be considered under this criterion.


    Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e) (3)).

    This is defined by measures of mastery of grade level achievement standards and proficiency with above-grade level standards. This may include work samples, summative assessments, end-of-year assessments, and formative assessments of which indicate needs beyond what can be offered through the continuum of services provided within the general education program.

    Measures of demonstrated achievement in reading or mathematics vary by grade level and include:  

    • Exact Path Reading or Math ≥ 90th (Fall/Winter) or ≥ 95th (Spring)

    • PSSA Reading or Math: Advanced range ≥ 90%ile using local data

    • Keystones: Advanced level in at least one of the subject areas

    • aimsWebPLUS (Reading Composite or Math Composite): mid-year administration ≥ 97%th

    • Study Island Reading or Math: 1 year above grade level proficiency 

    • Go Math rolling average of assessments (95% Average) OR Into Reading rolling average of assessments (95% Average)

    • GPA (final ≥ 98% in at least three of the core academic classes)

    • Classroom Performance and Functioning Data from Teachers


    Early and measured use of high level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise (22 Pa. Code §16.21(e) (4)).

    • A standardized, norm-referenced gifted rating scale that helps identify gifted and talented students will be completed by the student’s teacher(s). A score within the highly probable range in at least one area of skill development. The scale utilized complies with both the research literature and current definitions of giftedness, and measures early skill development, including intellectual ability, creativity, leadership, and academic interests and skills.


    Documented, observed, validated, or assessed evidence that intervening factors, such as English as a Second Language, disabilities defined in 34 CFR 300.8 (relating to a child with a disability), gender or race bias, or socio/cultural deprivation may mask gifted abilities.  The GMDE team is cautioned to examine the discrepancies between ability assessment results and academic achievement or demonstrated skills, and discrepancies among ability subtests.

    If a student does not meet the definition of mentally gifted or multiple criteria and does not demonstrate the need for specially designed instruction, the student will not be admitted to the gifted education program.


    Pennsylvania Department of Education Gifted Guidelines, August 2010

    The Pennsylvania School Code, Chapter 16, Special Education for Gifted Students

    Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education



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