Fillmore Elementary School's Second Grade teacher Kathy Deaton has a lot on her plate. Not only does she teach second grade at Fillmore but she is also in charge of the High Ability program planning for the school corporation.
"In July 2007 the state mandated that all corporations must address high ability programming for grades Kindergarten through twelfth," explained Deaton to the board during their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening.
Deaton had been the program director for high ability in the elementary schools but was given the added responsibility of the junior and senior high schools after the state mandate.
"I know the school board has looked at hiring maybe at least a part-time teacher but so far they haven't voted to do so. With money being so tight in the budget, I don't know if that will happen or not," she said.
Students must be identified as excelling in language arts and math specifically. Once a child is tested and reported to the state, as "high ability" they will be tracked by their student identification number for their entire school career.
Deaton has a three-four year plan to expand the program into the junior and senior high schools.
"These are big changes to try to manage but we have to do it to keep the money from the grant program. Smaller corporations were hit hard by the change," added Deaton.
Part of the plan includes developing resources, curriculum and in-service programs for classroom teachers.
According to Deaton one of the most difficult processes is to identify students with High Ability. They have been using one process defined by Bertie Kingore called the Kingore Observation Inventory (KOI).
"Some people like to say that all children are gifted. Actually, all children are a gift but only some children exhibit gifted potential when learning," says Kingore.
Using the KOI provides a springboard for opportunities. It empowers teachers to with a common language and format to identify high ability potential.
Deaton added that high ability students area not necessarily those who are honor roll time after time.
"They need to show potential to learn a grade or two above their class level. Right now we have 24 names for Kindergarten through sixth grade. Now we are working on identifying junior and senior high students as well as adding more elementary to the program," said Deaton.
Some of the programs available include in-class work as well as after school, Saturday and summer programs.
"We started on program last year called Camp Intervention. It includes our Inventers Hall of Fame and other plans. So far, it hasn't caught on in a big way yet. There is a small cost associated with it for the parents to pay. We're going to try it again this year and see how it goes," added Deaton.
Involvement of parents and the school board is critical in the development, monitoring and implementation of the KOI recourse.
"The challenge to the general education teacher is to identify possible highly able students while keeping a close eye on others who may be surfacing," said Kingore.
For Deaton, spending time in her second grade class and managing the planning of the high ability program are a challenge.
"It's hard for me to be out of the classroom a lot. It's hard for the kids. Coordinating the program was manageable when it was just elementary schools but it's much tougher now," related Deaton.
"But, we are making progress and expect to identify more students for the program and develop more plans," she added.
The South Putnam Community School Board regularly meets on the 3rd Monday of the month at Central Elementary.