February 06, 2012

DCPS Announces Gifted and Talented Programs at Two Middle Schools in the 2012-2013 School Year 

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Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz | 202-535-1096

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Beginning in the fall, Kelly Miller Middle School and Hardy Middle School will pilot a gifted-and-talented school-wide enrichment program. This new program is the first of its kind at any DC Public School.

“DCPS is a serious school district that takes student achievement very seriously. We’ve demonstrated this commitment to student growth in our academic plan that began this school year. In the fall, we’re taking another important step forward by implementing this program at Kelly Miller and Hardy,” said Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “This program will empower teachers and parents and will encourage creativity, collaboration and rigor in the classroom.”

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), founded by Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis at the University of Connecticut in 1977 has been implemented in more than 2,500 schools across the country and internationally. 

DCPS will hire two designated gifted-and-talented teachers, one assigned to Kelly Miller and one assigned to Hardy, who will be responsible for running the SEM program at each school.

SEM stands out from magnet programs in other school districts in the area because there is no application necessary – it’s open to all students enrolled in the school. The program aims to identify “gifted behaviors” in students, such as above-average abilities, creativity and task commitment.

“We’re being deliberate and proactive to try and make our secondary options as robust as they can be. This program will keep students engaged, provide enrichment and enhancement, and will better prepare our students for high school,” said Carey Wright, Chief Academic Officer. “We have high expectations for all of our students, in every school in this district.”

DCPS made the final announcement to the schools about their pilot program last month. School leaders from Kelly Miller and Hardy attended a walkthrough of a SEM program at a Howard County, Md., school in late January. 

To prepare for the programs at their schools, the principals from Kelly Miller and Hardy, as well as the teachers who will run the program in the schools, will attend a weeklong training in Connecticut over the summer. 

The training, called Confratute, “is the longest running summer institute on enrichment-based differentiated teaching,” according to the website.

“It is our hope that we start off with two schools this year and expand into many more schools as the program proves to be a success,” said Henderson.

According to the SEM website, the program focuses on giving all students “the opportunities, resources, and encouragement necessary to achieve his or her maximum potential” instead of labeling some students as “gifted” or “non-gifted.” 

SEM aims to “label the services, not the student.” Examples of services are a special mini-courses in a particular subject area, or an enrichment group for all students interested in a specific topic, such as filmmaking, or history. The projects also could include assigned time with the talented-and-gifted teacher to work on a research project or special assignment.

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