Keep a designated Gifted and Talented Program for Carmel's High Ability Students.

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Carmel Clay Schools has announced its intent to implement two fundamental changes to the elementary schools starting in the fall of 2018.  These changes are the adoption of the Total School Cluster Grouping model and the abandonment of the Challenge Program which serves high ability learners.  Under this new classroom structure, high ability children will no longer be educated in a classroom devoted to and designed around meeting the needs of gifted children, but will be integrated into general education classrooms that must also meet the needs of average and low-average students. 

The importance of situating gifted children in dedicated classrooms among their intellectual peers and recognizing gifted children as having different academic needs from their at-grade-level peers has been documented.  According to the Indiana Association for the Gifted, gifted students require a separate curriculum that is accelerated, that fosters interdisciplinary connections, that requires critical thinking and that taps into the students’ abilities of in depth analysis.  IAG also discourages classroom models that require the gifted students to spend too much time self-teaching or learning from technology rather than from an instructor, models that provide gifted students with extra enrichment activities which never tie into a greater curriculum whole, models that give gifted students coursework designed for normal learners at a higher grade level, and models in which gifted students as used as junior teachers for their grade-level peers.  The Total School Cluster Grouping model, in which gifted students are taught in classrooms in which teachers must also focus on the needs of average and low-average students cannot provide the type of specialized environment that allows high ability students to reach their potential.

Additionally, many families have chosen to live in Carmel specifically for the schools’ Challenge Program.  No longer offering a Gifted and Talented program sends a negative message to incoming parents, and reflects poorly on the school district as a whole. 

High ability students should be taught in a classroom in the company of their intellectual peers by a teacher trained in gifted and talented education using a curriculum designed to meet their educational needs.  This model is best suited for them to meet their academic, social and emotional potential and is recommended by most specialists in the field.  The students could then be clustered within their Gifted and Talented classroom.  The elimination of the Challenge Program and the simultaneous implementation of the Total School Cluster Grouping model least serves those gifted and talented children most in need of a unique program in order to reach their exceptional academic potential.

Carmel Clay Schools should continue to have a Gifted and Talented educational program at the elementary level designed specifically for high ability gifted and talented children.