the Needs of TAG Children in
Portland Public Schools
A District TAG Advisory Committee (DTAC) Position Paper
Written by: Steering Committee members Marilyn Johnson, chair, Jeffrey
Werstler, Vice Chair, Alys Allwardt, Margaret DeLacy, Michael Reid, and Sheila
The District Tag Advisory Committee is sponsored by the Portland Public
School District. It is composed of parents of TAG children throughout the
district. Its purpose is to advocate for Talented and Gifted (TAG) students,
advise the district concerning policies and programs for TAG children, and to
support and inform parents about TAG issues. All parents, teachers, and
administrators are welcome to attend meetings. The following is a position paper
prepared by DTAC. It addresses many of the issues which are of concern to TAG
parents. It is an attempt to put into writing a position on many of the concerns
which are repeatedly raised by parents at DTAC meetings.
GIFTED STUDENT PLANS
RATE AND LEVEL PROGRAMS
TIMELY DELIVERY OF SERVICES
DATA COLLECTION AND EVALUATION
TIME WITH INTELLECTUAL PEERS
SELF-CONTAINED ACCELERATED PROGRAM
PARENTS' AND STUDENTS' RESPONSIBILITIES
Links for Portland TAG parents
GOAL : To identify all potential TAG students, to assess the appropriate
level of instructional services for these children, and to maintain on-going
assessment data facilitating a continuous delivery of appropriate services
throughout the students' time in the Portland Public Schools.
- 1) written notification of parents' right to nominate their child for
- 2)responsibility of teaching staff to nominate potential TAG students,
with subsequent parental consent.
- 1) written parental notification prior to testing, specifying the date
and nature of individual tests to be administered. The law (OAR 581-21-030)
already specifies that parents be informed in their native language and that
permission be obtained for individual intelligence testing.
- 2) parental option to be present during the individual testing of
kindergarten and first graders. Pros and cons should be discussed with the
parents who feel this option is appropriate for their child.
- 3) tailoring identification processes for specific groups.
K - 2 :preliminary identification of TAG children utilizing the
Frasier (or like) model combined with intellectual ability tests.
Availability of academic testing for early readers.
3 - 8 : preliminary identification of TAG children utilizing the
Frasier (or like) model combined with academic achievement tests.
Availability of intellectual ability tests for potential TAG children to
identify gifted underachievers, learning disabled, poor communicators,
and ESL TAG children.
9 - 12 : development of a uniform method for identifying new TAG
students at the high school level. transfer students : establishment of
a process for identifying potential TAG students within one month of
transfer into PPS
- 4) acceptance of scores at or above the 97th percentile for PALT or
nationally-normed IQ or achievement tests as sufficient to identify a
student for TAG services. Parent evaluation could provide the second piece
of documentation required by law.
- 5) uninterrupted TAG services once a student has been identified unless
and until contradictory information is obtained.
- 6) notification of parental right to request additional testing and to
appeal decision denying TAG status.
- 1) use of a single test score or teacher report as the basis for
disqualification from TAG.
- 2) delay of services in subsequent years while efforts are directed at
identification or reidentification of additional TAG students.
- 3) delaying teacher nominations under the assumption that PALT scores
will identify more children in the spring.
- 1) availability of academic achievement tests for TAG 1st and 2nd
graders to assess appropriate level of instruction.
- 2) regular "out-of-level" achievement tests to determine level of
appropriate instruction, e.g., the secondary School Admission Test (SSAT)
and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for grades 5 through 9.
- 3) development of a formal, quarterly record-keeping system for
out-of-grade level progress, particularly through accelerated curriculum, to
facilitate continued progress in subsequent years.
- 4) formal reevaluation of methods for assessing TAG students in
individual disciplines, such as social studies and science.
- 1) use of current statewide math and writing assessments for individual
placement and planning individual gifted student programs. (These assessment
tools have been designed for group evaluation and have not been validated
for individual assessment, particularly for the "outliers" represented by
- 2) time-consuming assessment of previously identified students before
initiation of services in subsequent years.
REPORTING OF TEST RESULTS :
- 1) classroom teachers and parents receive written results of individual
tests, with relevant interpretive information, within 10 school days.
- 2) parents receive Spring PALT scores no later than 10 school days
before the last day of school. Included will be the percentile rankings for
each grade level and an indication of the grade level at which the child's
scores represent the 80th percentile.
GOAL : To ensure that the planning process results in instruction that
meets students' rate and level needs.
- 1) a separate GSP (or section) for each subject in which a student is
- 2) GSP's that include specific assessment information concerning the
student's current level of achievement and rate of learning, including the
grade level that is needed for appropriate instruction.
- 3) GSP's that contain services that are specifically linked to the
assessment information, and can be shown to be designed to provide each
student with the rate and level of instruction that is needed.
- 4) GSP's that describe in specific terms, including materials,
curricula, and class placement, the services to be offered to the student.
- 5) GSP's that describe services that are specifically tailored to the
individual student and are different from those provided to other students
performing at grade level.
- 6) GSP's that specify the work that will not be required of a student in
order to release time for more advanced work.
- 7) GSP's that contain provisions for quarterly written evaluation, and
specify what activities, achievements, and student products will be included
in the evaluation. This quarterly evaluation would most efficiently be
incorporated into the quarterly report card.
- 8) modification of a GSP if quarterly evaluation shows the plan to be
- 9) GSP's and quarterly evaluations that can be used by teachers in
subsequent years for providing smooth articulation and avoiding repetition
of work already completed or curriculum already mastered.
- 1) vague, generic, or "boilerplate" GSP's, that are written for TAG
students as a group, do not address individual needs, or do not
- 2) GSP's that describe teaching strategies or use adjectives such as
"challenging," "open-ended," "cooperative" or even "advanced" in place of
providing specific information about curricula, materials, and grade level.
- 3) GSP's that include activities, such as field trips, that the entire
class participates in, rather than activities that meet individual needs.
- 4) GSP's that are not signed, do not satisfy the students or parents,
are not carried out, or do not provide a mechanism for certifying that they
have been fulfilled.
GOAL : To provide each TAG child with appropriate instruction at their
assessed level and differentiated rate of learning.
- 1) instructional acceleration to the grade level for which a student's
test score would represent the 80th percentile of achievement.
- 2) flexible ability grouping.
- 3) curriculum compacting.
- 4) substitution of appropriate work and homework for work that does not
meet rate and level needs.
- 5) establishing district-wide benchmark standards for various subjects:
- a) to place students at the appropriate level
- b)to evaluate the rate of a student's progress
- 6) teacher interaction/facilitation for independent or self-directed
work/projects, particularly in elementary and middle school. We recommend
one hour facilitation for every 3-4 hours of independent work.
- 7) programs which facilitate group acceleration, such as honors,
advanced, and AP classes.
- 1) use of extracurricular programs to meet rate and level needs.
- 2) assignments that add to, instead of replacing, standard
- 3) assigning independent work that uses more than one third of the
- 4) use of enrichment classes in lieu of rate and level instruction.
GOAL : To ensure that TAG children receive services in a timely fashion.
- 1) development of an appropriate gifted student plan (GSP) for each TAG
student prior to the fall parent-teacher conference.
- 2) a verification process to ensure the existence of signed GSPs for all
TAG students 1 week after fall parent-teacher conferences. Administrative
support for resolution of those cases with missing or unsigned GSP's.
- 3) initiation of appropriate rate and level instruction within 30 days
- 4) written quarterly evaluations of student progress relative to their
gifted student plans. These should be sent home with report cards.
- 5) timely reporting of all testing scores to parents. PALT scores should
be received by parents no less than 10 days prior to the last day of school.
GOAL : To determine compliance with the state TAG mandate, satisfaction
with provided services, and to fine tune services.
- 1) continued collection of information by teachers.
- 2) separately surveying teachers, parents, and students to
locatesuccesses to be duplicated and to locate and correct problem areas.
- 3) follow-up studies of district policies and programs, such as early
entry, to determine which programs have been successful and which students
- 4) yearly regional meetings of principals, TAG coordinators, and parents
to review TAG program implementation.
- 5) retention of district test and evaluation department and continued
administration of PALT and other standardized tests.
GOAL : To maintain the option of early entry, where appropriate, for the
families of gifted children.
- 1) communication of available programs to the families of young gifted
- 2) retaining the existing screening and counseling process before
- 3) waiver of screening fees for families whose children qualify for free
or reduced lunch.
- 4) retaining the existing district testing of potential early entry
- 5) relaxing the criteria for early entry, especially with respect to
physical maturity and motor skills.
- 6) counseling families after testing regarding the benefits and
disadvantages of early entry.
- 7) allowing family's wishes to strongly influence the final decision for
early entry, provided that the child meets the criteria for TAG
- 8) regular follow-up counseling for children accepted for early entry
GOAL : To establish a mechanism for providing appropriate rate and level
education for exceptionally gifted children (about 1 child in a thousand.)
- 1) recognition that:
- a.) there is a larger variability in intellectual capability at the
upper limits of testing.
- b.) 'exceptionally gifted' children have abilities so great that
their instructional needs and rate and level of learning are distinct
from those of other TAG identified children.
- 2) establishing a policy for the identification of 'exceptionally
gifted' children. Possible indicators are : IQ of 150 or greater tested
mental age that is 1.5 times the mean scores on a nationally standardized
test representing the 99.6 percentile demonstrated ability to perform at
five or more grade levels beyond age-appropriate grade level material in one
or more subject areas exceptional performance in several areas assessed
using a multivariant model such as the Frasier model, and obvious
distinction from classmates
- 3) grouping exceptionally gifted children for at least 1/3 of their
school day to facilitate learning and diminish sense of isolation. As these
children are quite rare, this may mean grouping into only one or two schools
in the district. (Note: skipping 1 or 2 grades will not group the
exceptionally gifted child with intellectual peers and should not be used as
the sole modification to their academic program.)
- 4) providing a specialist, possibly a tutor, to meet the academic and
high level thinking needs of exceptionally gifted children. Teachers are not
generally certified to prepare curriculum 5 or more grade levels beyond the
- 5) regular counseling (yearly assessment with follow-up if indicated)
for exceptionally gifted to address issues, such as sense of profound
- the practice of skipping a single grade as a comprehensive solution for
exceptionally gifted children; further modifications will be necessary.
GOAL : To provide alternative educational opportunities for TAG children
who are isolated due to low numbers of TAG children at their local school.
- 1) offering regional grouping by administrative transfer of TAG children
whose local school provides fewer than 5 intellectual peers. (Note: 2 first
graders gifted in math, 1 third grader gifted in science, 1 fourth grader
gifted in language arts, and 1 fifth grader gifted in math do not constitute
5 intellectual peers.)
- 2) informing parents of the option for administrative transfer for the
purpose of regional grouping of TAG children. Providing information to the
parents regarding the potential benefits of placing their child in a
classroom with opportunity for interaction with intellectual peers.
- 3) development of a written comprehensive plan to meet the needs of
geographically isolated TAG children at a regional site. This plan needs to
be communicated to all parents of geographically isolated children in the
spring prior to offering them transfers to the site.
- 4) development of an alternative plan to meet the academic and social
needs of geographically isolated TAG children whose parents decline
administrative transfer to regional TAG sites.
- 5) regular counseling (yearly assessment with follow-up if indicated)
for geographically isolated TAG children who chose to remain at their local
GOAL : To adapt TAG programs and policies in ways which ensure that the
TAG child's social and emotional needs are met appropriately.
- 1) education of principals, TAG coordinators, child development
specialists, teachers, and parents about the social/emotional needs of TAG
children, (e.g., the warning signs of disengagement or social isolation.)
These efforts should include meetings to inform and support parents.
- 2) recognition that academic frustration may lead to inappropriate
behavior, withdrawal, or depression.
- 3) maintaining reasonable work expectations for TAG children, e.g.,
differentiated classroom work should not be excessive or force children to
choose appropriate instruction over age appropriate social, creative, or
- 4) recognition of the diversity of TAG children with respect to race,
ethnicity, gender, maturity, creativity, physical ability, coping skills,
and learning style, to name a few. Many are "doubly-identified," with
physical or learning disabilities.
- 5) recognition that TAG children are not necessarily more capable of
taking charge of their own learning than other children of the same age.
- 6) recognition that mastery of a subject does not necessarily prepare a
child to teach peers.
- 7) encouraging TAG children to pursue their academic or creative
passions and share the results as a contributor to the class community.
- 8) flexible grouping patterns that will allow TAG children to "be
themselves" with intellectual peers, rather than "hiding their strengths" to
- 9) provision of individual or group counseling for children whose
giftedness creates social or emotional distress.
- 1) the notion that TAG children will survive "no matter what" because of
- 2) allowing TAG child to "float through" school, never needing to work
hard, accept constructive criticism, or develop work habits by meeting
- 3) parents, teachers, and test administrators "pushing" TAG children to
be the "best," or use of language which implies "better than" others.
- 4) use of the nomenclature "TAG" or "gifted" in front of students. This
language may serve to further isolate children, or imply "better." It is
sufficient to call children from their classroom for "math," "testing,"etc.
- 5) isolation of a TAG child by frequent independent work, individualized
instruction, or attitudes that tend to repeatedly differentiate the child in
the classroom community.
- 6) scheduling independent TAG work during socially important class
times, such as during P.E., the artists-in-residence program, etc
GOAL : To provide each TAG student sufficient time and appropriate
experiences working with intellectual peers.
- 1) clustering TAG children in classrooms at all levels.
- 2) giving TAG children at least 4 hours per week with intellectual peers
during the school day.
- 3) working to increase time with intellectual peers to 8 hours per week.
- 4) offering challenging, supervised activities to students who are
grouped for time with intellectual peers.
- 1) assigning fewer than three TAG children to a classroom.
- 2) local school policies that recommend or require a uniform
distribution of TAG students throughout all classrooms.
(issues not discussed by specific topic elsewhere)
GOAL : To make optimum learning experiences possible by establishing
excellent communication between and among teachers, parents, students,
principals, and administrators.
- 1) regular parent involvement including
- a) production and distribution of a handbook for TAG parents.
- b) making sure that all TAG children and their parents are aware of
the advanced programs which are already available.
- c) use of building meetings for parents of TAG children at least
twice a year.
- d) establishment by principals of building TAG committees, on which
parents are represented. Use of a specific process for electing parents
to the building TAG committee; they should not be informally chosen by a
TAG coordinator or principal.
- e) encouragement of all TAG parents to attend meetings which discuss
the evaluation of their own child, and to supply relevant information.
- f) TAG parent representation on all regional and district committees
involved in TAG planning.
- g) provision of timely information to parents about DTAC meetings.
- 2) communication of guidelines, for teaching TAG children, to all
principals and teachers. Such guidelines should include: teaching at rate
and level, ability grouping, need for time with peers, advanced assignments
in replacement for regular work, etc.
- 3) a clear and concise appeals and complaint process, including
- a) communication to all principals, TAG coordinators, teachers, and
parents regarding the chain of responsibility for TAG implementation and
the appeals process.
- b) timely and accurate recording of all complaints, appeals, and
their resolutions. This will aid in identifying trends.
GOAL : To provide checks and balances to ensure that appropriate TAG
services are consistently delivered throughout the district.
- 1) follow-through by principals to ascertain if services are being
delivered in a timely fashion, e.g., if GSP's are signed, if quarterly GSP
evaluations are completed, etc.
- 2) principal initiated formation of building TAG planning committees and
building TAG parent meetings.
- 3) follow-through from the region or district to ascertain if services
are being delivered in a timely fashion.
- 4) authority at the district level to establish TAG implementation
guidelines which will increase uniformity of services throughout the
district and improve transitions between grades and between schools.
- 5) authority at the district level to review local TAG plans and
programs. Subsequent authority to require appropriate changes.
- 6) the authority for district TAG personnel to initiate review of
specific TAG programs or cases.
- 7) a clearly defined "chain of command," with the district ultimately
responsible for appropriate services.
GOAL : Assuring that the benefit from TAG funds are maximized for TAG
- 1) using TAG funds to achieve appropriate rate and level instruction for
all TAG children.
- 2) maintaining centralized expert TAG staff for the purposes of
communication, testing, teacher training, "trouble-shooting", evaluating
programs, overseeing TAG policy, and monitoring delivery of TAG services.
- [This section was misnumbered: #3 did not exist. Original numbering has
been retained to retain consistency with existing printed copies]
- 4) funding teaching assistants, tutors, off-campus or college classes,
and/or special education teachers when necessary to deliver rate and level
- 5) local schools accounting for both the usage of funds and the actual
use of the resource purchased with the funds.
- 6) seeking extra funding through grants, for example, to develop or
adapt curriculum for rate and level instruction, facilitate curriculum
compacting, review national resources, evaluate current rate and level
- 7) bringing nationally recognized TAG experts to the district for
teacher, administrator, and parent workshops, lectures, or symposiums.
- 1) using TAG funds for extracurricular activities or "enrichment"
- 2) using TAG funds to purchase items needed to enhance general school
GOAL : To provide each TAG child with a teacher prepared to make
appropriate adjustments to curriculum to address diverse rate and level needs.
- 1) TAG teacher training program and/or a process by which teachers
identify themselves as willing and able to teach/facilitate students needing
curriculum adjustments up to four grade levels beyond the class.
- 2) provision of at least one pathway through each elementary school
taught by TAG identified teachers.
- 3) development of a team approach by teachers of TAG students within
each school to ensure the smooth articulation of services from year to year,
and to facilitate the appropriate grouping of students.
- 1) equal numerical distribution of TAG children into all classes
- 2) placement of TAG children with teachers who do not want them and/or
resent their need for a differentiated curriculum.
- 3) placement of TAG children with teachers whose teaching style does not
facilitate flexible grouping.
GOAL : To continue to review the professional literature and retain the
option of a self-contained accelerated program to meet the rate and level needs
of students whose needs are not easily met in the neighborhood classroom.
- 1) a "magnet" school option to provide a program of full-time
appropriate instruction for students whose academic rate and level needs are
not easily met in the neighborhood classroom (see positions on Exceptionally
Gifted and Geographically Isolated.)
- 2) equal access for all TAG students in the PPS service area whose rate
and level needs are not easily met.
- 3) providing this program at a cost no greater than the per child cost
in a typical PPS classroom.
- 4) utilizing such a program as a demonstration project to develop
curricula or refine appropriate strategies for instruction of TAG students
throughout the district.
- 5) part time options for students who prefer to remain in their
neighborhood schools but have single subject acceleration needs that cannot
be met at the local school.
- 6) provision for the social and emotional development, as well as the
academic needs of these students.
- 7) review of the professional literature as a basis for determining the
appropriateness of a self-contained accelerated program.
It must be noted that not all parents and students are equipped to follow
through with some or all of the following. Because teachers, principals, and
administrators are trained professionals, the burden of delivering
appropriate services must be on them.
Parents should :
- 1) when advocating for their child, try to establish a positive,
cooperative approach with the teacher.
- 2) discuss their child's previous educational experiences, temperment,
and learning style with the teacher.
- 3) have frequent discussions with their child about what the child is
learning and which aspects of what they are learning excite them. When
appropriate, they should give feedback to the teachers.
- 4) review and approve GSPs. They should be certain that GSPs are written
to address the child's assessed level and rate of learning.
- 5) regularly view the child's portfolio.
- 6) attend building meetings for parents of TAG children.
- 7) follow the appropriate procedures for appeals and complaints.
- 8) understand and communicate that being "advanced" is not the same as
Students should :
- 1) discuss with their parents and teachers the things they are learning
and suggest ways to improve their educational experience.
- 2) complete contracted assignments in a timely manner.
- 3) behave responsibly.
- 4) behave respectfully toward other students and all staff members.
- 5) not abuse special responsibilities, e.g., release off campus for
- 6) understand that being "advanced" is not the same as being "better."
- 7) try to learn to work with both age and intellectual peers where
cooperation is appropriate.
- 8) accept counseling when appropriate.
Links for Portland TAG parents