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Hastings Public Schools
High Ability Learner Plan
District Philosophy
Hastings Board of Education Policy 605.03 states: “The District is committed to an educational program that recognizes, identifies, and serves the unique needs of high-ability learners. High-ability learners are those who have been identified as having high performance capability in such areas as intellectual, creative, or artistic capacity or in specific fields and who require accelerated or differentiated curriculum programs in order to develop those capabilities fully.”
Operational Definitions of the High Ability Learner
High Ability Learner means a student who gives evidence of high performance capability in such areas as intellectual, creative, artistic capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who requires services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to develop those capabilities fully. The primary focus of programming for the Hastings Public Schools is directed at specific academic and intellectual high ability.
Goals and Objectives
The Hastings Public Schools recognizes that High Ability Learners have exceptional needs. These students have a need for learning experiences that are consistent with their ability levels and learning characteristics. The district will make available to High Ability Students a variety of learning experiences. Present objectives are as follows:
  1. Implement procedures to increase two-way communications with staff and parents.
  2. Review and modify current identification model that includes multiple criteria for the High Ability Learner.
  3. Design classroom experiences that will nurture gifts and talents through appropriate opportunities to challenge potentially high ability learners.
  4. Develop differentiated instructional strategies that combine curriculum content, learning styles, and appropriate pacing.
  5. Design staff development plans to be an ongoing part of the program.
  6. Students will develop a positive self-concept through a caring environment where each student is valued as an individual.
  7. Allow students to learn and interact with other students of similar ability.
  8. Students will develop critical and creative thinking and problem solving skills.
  9. Help students understand and use their unique abilities through varied options.
  10. Students will develop the attitudes and skills needed for independent study and learning.
Identification Criteria & Procedures
The goal of the identification process is to identify students who truly need additional services. As such, a student will be identified as an High Ability Learner when they meet three or more of the following criteria:

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), 90th Percentile or higher in:
o   Language,
o   Reading, or
o   Math

CogAT, 90th Age Percentile Rank in:
o   Verbal,
o   Quantitative, or
o   Nonverbal

EXPLORE (9th grade) National Norm Composite of 17 or higher 
NeSA, Exceeds score for:
o   Reading,
o   Writing,
o   Math, or
o   Science
Parent Recommendation
Teacher Recommendation
A student will also be identified as an High Ability Learner if evidence is provided that s/he participated in another district.
Initial verification takes place at the end of a student’s 2nd grade year with the initiation of teacher recommendations, followed by MAP testing. All students are then eligible to qualify for HAL status after the completion of 3rd, 6th and 9th Grades or with evidence of being in a HAL Program from another district. Students continue to be considered High Ability Learners until the re-verification points at the conclusion of 3rd, 6th and 9th grade.
Appeal Process
Students who do not qualify based on the above criteria will have the opportunity to appeal the process.
The following is the procedure to be used in submitting an appeal for consideration for identification and eligibility as an High Ability Learner:
  1. Parents, teachers, or administrators need to request in writing a review of the student’s qualifications and eligibility as an High Ability Learner.
  2. The Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment will supply classroom teachers and parents with a Teacher/Parent Nomination Form. These forms will be submitted to the Review Committee along with test scores, grades, portfolios, and other pertinent data.
  3. The Review Committee, consisting of the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, the Director of Student Services, and two teacher representatives, will review the information collected for identification as HAL.
  4. Student eligibility will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and additional academic testing may be considered.
  5. Appeals to be considered must include any new additional information to support the claim process.
Within 30 days after the school year begins each year the district shall make available to teachers an initial list of Grades 3-12 students who meet the district criteria for High Ability Learners.

Parent Notification/Consent
Parents will receive notification of identification as an High Ability Learner (HAL) yearly within 30 school days of inclusion.
Additional Services
Elementary HAL Activities include but are not limited to the following: 
  • Future Problem Solving
  • Invention Convention
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Spelling Bee
  • Critical Thinking Club
  • Field Trips
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Other activities as appropriate by building
Middle School HAL activities include but are not limited to the following: 
  • Future Problem Solving
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Other activities as appropriate
  • Advanced programming for students to be in advanced placement math. Seventh graders that qualify begin Pre-Algebra and eighth graders take Algebra. This puts them in an accelerated math track. Others may be identified in sixth and seventh grade in the area of reading and be placed into an advanced reading course.
High School – Students of Higher Academic Standing
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Advanced Placement Courses in World Literature, European History, and Chemistry.
  • Honors Courses offered in grades 9-12 in the following areas:
o   English 9, 10, 11, World Literature and Communication Arts
o   Integrated Western Civilization/English 10 for Sophomores
o   Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science
o   Geometry (9th Grade), Algebra II, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus
  • Future Problem Solving
  • PLATO program for differentiation and extension
  • National Honor Society
  • Clubs directed at student’s individual interests
Evaluation and Program Planning
The District will complete yearly student and program evaluations. Evaluations of student progress will be measured by test scores, grades, independent projects, portfolios of student work, student assessment, and anecdotal records.
Program Evaluation and Planning will also include:
  • An annual parent meeting or letter will be sent in which parents are provided information on the HAL program.
  • The Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, building principals, and classroom teachers will evaluate and plan for services of students.
  • The program will be reviewed yearly to best meet the needs of the District’s High Ability Learners.
  • The District Program Plan is available upon request at the Administrative Offices. 
Staff Development
The District will provide Staff Development for ongoing opportunities for staff to understand the characteristics of the High Ability Learner. In order for teachers to be part of the program, they need in-service opportunities to become aware of the needs of the high ability learner.
Examples of opportunities include:
  • Future Problem Solving coaches training
  • Attendance at the NAG Conference (National Association for the Gifted)
  • Workshops for the High Ability Learner
  • Training in compacting, differentiation, and acceleration
  • District and building level staff development to address special needs regarding gifted.
The District’s staff development plan includes topics on meeting the needs of diverse learners. Goals at the building levels are set to provide the best services to students. Individual buildings may deal with issues related to the High Ability Learner as needed.
Management Plan and Proposed Budget
The High Ability Learner Program is under the direction of the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and the Director of Student Services. 
In grades 3-8 Hastings Public Schools HAL services will include, but not be limited to, in-class, consultative services, projects, multi-grade activities, and differentiation of instruction.
In grades 6-12 there are provisions for advanced placement, honors courses, and other related services. Future Problems Solving Coaches will be trained to service students who qualify for HAL programs.
The current High Ability Learner Budget includes salaries and benefits for coaches of Future Problem Solving Teams, pay for work in identifying students, staff development, materials, supplies, equipment, and other activities associated with the HAL Program that are recognized to meet the needs of the program and students. Additional funding would allow the District to expand its current staffing in gifted education.
Time Line of Services for all HAL Students:
Placement Verification
Director of Curriculum with teacher representatives
Parent Notification
Director of Curriculum
First Quarter
Placement Re-verification
Director of Curriculum
At the conclusion of
Grades 3, 6, and 9 in the Summer
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