• Highlands School District

    GATE - Gifted and Talented Education 


    The Highlands School District is dedicated to providing opportunities which promote the growth of skills and knowledge necessary for identified gifted students to achieve their potential and to fulfill their future roles in our ever-changing global society.  Highlands recognizes the unique abilities, talents, interests and needs of intellectually gifted students which require special educational modifications.

    The gifted program is a sincere commitment to the gifted student, yet the responsibility for educating a gifted student is inherent to all educators, the students parents and the student.

    To provide for the interests, abilities and goals of Highlands gifted students, we offer a variety of classroom modifications in curriculum content, instructional methods, student assignments, evaluation criteria and learning environments that are essential components to differentiated learning.  In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in workshops, seminars, contests and competitions based on their individual needs.

    The curricular framework for meeting the wide range of gifted needs and abilities include these essentials:

    Critical thinking skills

    Logical thinking skills

    Creative thinking skills

    Communication skills

    Decision making skills

    Problem solving skills

    Organization and management skills

    Research and independent study skills

    Specific content and career exploration

    Affective skills

    Leadership skills

    The Highlands School District is in compliance with all state and federal special education laws based on Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania School Code. Parents may obtain detailed information of parent and/or student rights, review their child's record or review the Highlands Special Education Plan by contacting Student Services at 724-226-2400, ext. 5650.

    Elementary Gifted Program
    Elementary Program Teacher - Mrs. Rebecca Mentecky
    The elementary gifted program identifies a students needs, and then provides opportunities to develop and enhance individual strengths and interests.  Specially designed instruction encourages motivation to learn while providing for those needs.  Students meet weekly in a pull-out setting where higher-level thinking skills activities, enrichment experiences, hands-on projects, research, independent studies, field trips, academic events and competitions take place. In addition, the elementary gifted students needs are addressed in the regular classroom through curriculum modifications that are designed to be developmentally appropriate and meet the students pace and rates of acquisition and retention.  This is coordinated with classroom teachers and the input and support materials provided by the gifted teacher as determined by the students Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP).  

    Middle School Gifted Program

    Middle School Program Teacher - Mrs. Rebecca Mentecky
    The Middle School gifted program is designed to encompass the intellectual and social needs of the gifted student as well as the unique characteristics of being gifted. The gifted students are encouraged to become independent learners who begin to have a voice and responsibility in the development and fulfillment of their Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP).  Through pull-out programs options and small group settings, gifted students experience special interest seminars and academic events that challenge their individual interests and strengths.  These opportunities build upon the skills introduced in the elementary gifted program.  The middle school gifted program develops a sense of positive self image through the support of interaction with intellectual peers.  In the regular education classroom, the gifted students will experience differentiated instruction that is tailored to meet their educational needs.

    High School Gifted Program

    High School Program Teacher - Mr. Ryan Wilpula
    The High School gifted program continues to encourage the gifted students to challenge themselves and to become self-motivated learners.  Each gifted student actively participates in the selection of his/her goals and objectives for the Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP).  Each students identified needs determine the level of intervention.  Through monthly meetings, a GATE period and pull-out sessions, the students are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities to sharpen various skills including communication and leadership. In addition, each students individual skills and talents are fostered through the many academic program options offered in a variety of environments in and outside of the school setting.  These options may range from honors and advanced placement classes to special interest seminars, academic competitions, career studies, apprenticeships and independent projects.  In the regular education classroom, the gifted students will experience differentiated instruction that is tailored to meet their educational needs.

    Gifted Program Evaluation Process

    The screening of students for the mentally gifted program begins with a review of the students achievement and ability tests, grades, learning characteristics, interests and experiences. Teachers, parents, or students in some cases, may initiate this screening process by contacting the students classroom teacher at the elementary level or the teacher of the gifted or guidance counselor at the middle school and high school levels.

    Students who meet these multiple criteria are referred to the school psychologists office for further assessment. A certified school psychologist administers an individual intelligence examination. The school psychologist then evaluates all assessment data provided by the school to determine whether the student meets the multiple referral criteria established by the school district. The school psychologist then summarizes this information in a Gifted Written Report (GWR) which identifies the students strengths and needs. The GWR concludes whether the student is eligible for the gifted program and whether the student requires specialized instruction.

    If the GWR concludes that the student is indeed eligible for gifted education services, then a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) team is convened and a conference is held. Once the students GIEP has been developed, the GIEP conference occurs annually. In order to develop an appropriate GIEP for the gifted student, the GIEP team which consists of the parent, the student (if parent chooses), a district administrator, at least one of the childs regular education teachers and/or the gifted teacher/coordinator, review the students file and any other documents that attest to the students abilities, strengths, and needs.

    Those in attendance at the meeting may provide additional information about the student such as extracurricular activity participation, special talents or interests, and/or college/career plans, if applicable. From all of this information, goals and objectives for the student's GIEP are discussed and developed. Upon conclusion of the GIEP conference, the parent will be asked to sign a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).