We believe that gifted and talented students must have appropriate challenges through enrichment, acceleration, and other differentiated educational experiences. Students are assisted in developing their gifts and talents through inclusive identification, continuous and systematic programming, and socio-emotional guidance and counseling. In partnership with parents and our community, we will help each student to develop his or her unique potential.
Jody Ackley • EXCEL Program Support
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What is EXCEL?
EXCEL is the title for the MPSD gifted and talented program. By law, school districts are required to provide appropriately challenging programming for all students who “give evidence of high performance capability in intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, or specific academic areas and need services or activities not ordinarily provided in a regular school program in order to fully develop such capabilities.”
The EXCEL staff works to identify students who have strengths in math, reading, writing, language, science, social studies, music, and art and place them on an EXCEL list. This list is distributed so that all teachers are aware of students’ strengths and can watch for times when curriculum needs to be modified, or differentiated, in order to provide an appropriate challenge. This challenge is most often provided by the regular classroom teachers at the elementary level, by the classroom teacher in “cluster-grouped” classes or by individualized differentiation at the junior high level, and by class choice at the senior high level.
How are students identified for the EXCEL list?
The MPSD uses multiple criteria to add students to the talent pool:
- Out-of-district gifted and talent identification
- Standardized test scores
- Nominations by district personnel
- Nominations by parents
- Self-nominations by secondary-level students
A strength that is identified via any one of the indicators is included on the EXCEL list. Although few students are formally added to the EXCEL list before the end of second grade, primary-level teachers are always on the watch for students who need more challenge than the grade-level material provides.
What does it mean if my child is on the EXCEL list?
If a child is on the EXCEL list, his/her areas of strength are communicated to the classroom teachers each fall. With this information, teachers can watch for occasions when the content or pace of the grade-level curriculum may not be providing enough challenge.
When classroom data affirms that suspicion, teachers provide differentiated lessons, activities, or assignments in place of the regular grade-level material. These differentiated experiences are documented and passed along from teacher to teacher over the years.
At times, EXCEL students may be excessively out of sync with the grade level curriculum. When this occurs students are offered additional opportunities for challenge: extracurricular activities, online classes, independent studies, or acceleration. In this way, students can develop the true self-esteem and self-confidence that only comes from taking on challenges that seem just a bit beyond their reach.