High Ability Identification

Middlebury Community Schools uses a multifaceted identification process to identify students who match the definition of a high ability student in grades K-12 in the Middlebury Community Schools.

Identification Process:

A formal process is used to identify students with high abilities. All students in Grades K-8 participate in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing provided by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Scores from the winter administration are used to include students with high achievement levels in the identification process.  In addition, all students in Grade K, 2, and 5 are administered the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAt) screener test to identify those with high academic potential.  Students are placed in the identification pool by classroom teachers using classroom assessment data and observation, and parents also have the ability to include students (Grades 2-8) into the identification process.  In kindergarten, second and fifth grades all students take the CogAT screener and all students take NWEA Map testing and therefore all students are considered for high ability through our process.

The elementary identification process generally is a two-step process.

First Step: All kindergarten and second students are screened with the CogAT Screening Assessment (Cognitive Abilities Tests—this is a test of reasoning, problem-solving and thinking in the verbal, quantitative and the nonverbal areas).  Kindergarten and second grade students at the 88% or above are placed in the identification pool.  Kindergarten and first grade teachers also complete a Kingore Observation Inventory for a six week observation time.  Teachers are given open-ended activities to use with their students during the observation period.  Students may be added to the identification pool based on teacher input from the observation.  Kindergarten teachers and first grade teachers may also nominate students for further assessment.  Second and third grade teachers and parents may also request further screening for a child. Students in grades 2-8 scoring above the 80% may also be included in the identification pool.

Second Step: Students included for further screening take the complete CogAT.  The NWEA Measures of Academic Progress from the winter testing session are used as the measure of student achievement. Teachers complete a rating scale of the student’s academic characteristics in general and also language arts and mathematics.  Best practices indicate that at least three measures are needed of high performance or the potential to perform at a high level when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment.

All of the information is consolidated for a selection committee of teachers to look through. Student profiles are developed and given to the placement committee with only student identification number not names.  Middlebury Community Schools does not place students based on a percentage of students who need to be placed.  The student profiles are looked at for educational needs based on potential and achievement.  Middlebury Community Schools is a high achieving school district and we have students who are high achieving who may not be high ability.  The school personnel serving on the placement committee are staff members who have licensure in high ability, have high ability coursework or experience in working with high ability students.

Students may either achieve at a high level or have the ability to achieve at a high level for high ability services to be recommended.  Generally, a student scoring at the 96% or above on both the CogAT verbal and the math (quantitative) areas of CogAT indicates high ability – general intellectual.

A student may be designated as high ability – language arts if the student relates to the following criteria:

  1. Shows the potential to perform at an outstanding level in language arts- — 96% or above on the verbal part of CogAT
  2. Performed at or above the 98% on the Primary Measures of Academic Progress in kindergarten or first grade.  Performed at or above the 96% on the Measures of Academic Progress in grades 2-8.
  3. Demonstrates performance or shows the potential to perform at an outstanding level within the population of students with the same experience or environment in the grade level through the teacher rating of language arts academic behaviors

A student may be designated as high ability – math if the student relates to the following criteria:

  1. Shows the potential to perform at an outstanding level in mathematics — 96% or above on composite of the math sections of CogAT
  2. Performed at or above the 98% on the Primary Measures of Academic Progress in kindergarten or first grade.  Performed at or above the 96% on the Measures of Academic Progress in grades 2-8.
  3. Demonstrates performance or shows the potential to perform at an outstanding level within the population of students with the same experience or environment in the grade level through the teacher rating of language arts academic behaviors

Why do you continue to evaluate students in first, second and third grades for high ability services?

It is difficult to assess young children and there are times when placement is not clearly defined.  This allows the district to remain inclusive and responsive to student needs.  Cognitive growth is not always consistent and therefore, placement is not always necessarily permanent.  Instructional decisions are ongoing.  Placement decisions may be modified in accordance with changes in students’ learning profiles as they progress through both elementary and middle school.

Students with scores close to the threshold for high ability identification are rated on the Scales for Identifying Gifted Students (SIGS).

Students can be identified as high ability in the areas of math, English language arts, or general intellectual (both).  Each spring families of students identified with high achievement and/or ability are notified by the district’s high ability placement team regarding placement recommendations.

Should a family disagree with the decision made by the committee, there is an appeal process.


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