Advanced Academic Services Waco Independent School District

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Advanced Academic Services

Waco Independent School District

Gifted/Talented Services

Advanced Placement

International Baccalaureate

A Handbook for Parents, Community Members, and Campus Personnel

May 2012

Waco Independent School District

5101 Franklin Avenue

P.O. Box 27

Waco, TX 76


Dr. Bonny Cain

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction

Ms. Jennifer Womack

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Support Services

Ms. Sheryl Davis

Director, Elementary

Dr. Terri Patterson

Director, Secondary

Mr. Jerry Gibson


Advanced Academic Services and International Baccalaureate Programmes

Dr. Cecelia Boswell, Connee Duran,

Cheryl Urbanovsky, Connie Smith. Gilberta Hall

Table of Contents



Mission Statement

Academic/Performance Goals


Program Design

Identification Procedures

Transfer/Exit/Furlough/Appeals Policies


Data Integrity

Advanced Placement



Entrance/Exit Policies


International Baccalaureate

Primary Years Programme

ATLAS Academy


Mission Statement

Curriculum Framework

Application Procedure



G/T Brochure (English/Spanish)

Parent Letter (English/Spanish)

Nomination Form (English/Spanish)

Parent Permission to Test Form (English/Spanish)

Parent Permission to Participate Form (English/Spanish)

Identification Profiles (K-2 and 3-12)

Furlough/Exit Forms (English/Spanish)

K-12 Concepts

Frequently Asked Questions

Advanced Placement

Entrance/Exit Contract

ATLAS Academy


Academic Contract

Advanced Academic Services





Waco ISD believes that students identified as gifted/talented show passion toward their learning, solve problems in unique ways, and require support from professionals who are sensitive to their individual learning needs.

We believe that services for this population must focus on their learning strengths in order to foster their ability to work successfully alone, with other gifted/talented students, and with all students.


Gifted/Talented students come from all races, socio-economic strata, geographic locales and environments. They exhibit unique needs and have unusual abilities and talents which merit recognition and nurturing.

Mission Statement

Waco ISD offers an advanced and challenging curriculum through an array of differentiated learning experiences that provide greater depth and complexity than found in the district’s core curriculum. The differentiated curriculum moves at a pace of learning that is appropriate for the gifts and talents of the students.

Academic/Performance Goals

  1. Successfully complete grade level including courses differentiated for G/T students

  2. Complete Distinguished Achievement Program for high school graduates

  3. Successfully complete advanced courses and opportunities that align with the students’ abilities and interests

Program Design

Elementary (K)

Gifted/Talented services in Kindergarten begin after identification is complete, March 1. Identified students will receive differentiated instruction with their homeroom teachers who will have completed a minimum of 30 hours of Professional Development in Gifted Education. The students will be able to move at their learning pace through the district curriculum that has been differentiated by adding depth and complexity.

Elementary (Grades 1-5)

At each grade level, students will be clustered together in one classroom with a teacher who has completed the required 30 hours of Professional Development in Gifted Education. If the number of identified gifted students in a grade level exceeds the state requirement for classroom size, students will be clustered with high achieving students in two classrooms. All other teachers with gifted/talented students in their classroom will have completed the required professional development in Gifted Education. All teachers must obtain an additional 6 hours of Professional Development in Gifted Education each year. The curriculum will be differentiated through pacing and content, to which has been added depth and complexity.

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Gifted/Talented students in grades 6-8 have the option of applying for ATLAS Academy or remaining on their home campus. Those who elect to remain on their home campus will be provided differentiation in any or all core classes with a teacher who has completed the required professional development. In Gifted Education G/T Students will be clustered within the Pre AP core classes.

Each G/T class will follow a Pre Advanced Placement curriculum. The Pre Advanced Placement curriculum will be differentiated using Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills as a foundation. Concepts will be studied more deeply and the pace will be accelerated in comparison to general education classes. Interdisciplinary connections will be made to facilitate understanding of complexities within and among concepts.

ATLAS Academy (See ATLAS Academy)

High School (Grades (9-12)

In grades 9-12 teachers with the required G/T Professional Development will provide services to G/T students through differentiated Pre Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement courses. These courses offer challenging learning experiences and maintain national standards set by the College Board. When possible, G/T students will be clustered within the Pre AP/AP classes. Students who meet specific criteria set by each college or university on an AP exam may receive credit for specific college courses. Students may also enroll in above level or concurrent enrollment in AP courses. WISD offers AP courses in all core areas as well as several elective areas. Additional opportunities for advancement include dual credit courses, credit by exam, and early graduation.



Waco Independent School District has board approved identification procedures and processes for students K-12 who require the services of the Gifted/Talented (G/T)Program. These procedures meet state requirements (§29.121 & TAC 89.1) and have been designed to ensure the identification of any student who demonstrates educational need for the services of the program under the established guidelines.

Texas Administrative Code §89.1: Student Assessment.

School districts shall develop written policies on student identification that are approved by the local board of trustees and disseminated to parents. The policies must:

  1. Include provisions for ongoing screening and selection of students who perform, or show potential for performing, at remarkably high levels of accomplishment in the areas defined in the Texas Education Code, §29.121;

  2. Include assessment measures collected from multiple sources according to each area defined in the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students;

  3. Include data and procedures designed to ensure that students from all populations in the district have access to the assessment process and, if identified as having significant educational need for advanced academics, services for the gifted/talented program;

  4. Provide for final qualification of students (through a blind process) to be made by a committee of at least three local district educators who have received training in the nature and needs of gifted students; and

  5. Include provisions regarding furloughs, reassessment, exiting of students from program services, transfer students, and appeals of district decisions regarding program placement.

District Identification Timeline:



Referral procedures published on district website and distributed to campus leaders and teachers


Referrals accepted from parents, teachers, community members


Screenings, assessments and reassessments conducted after written parental permission obtained


A.R.E. committee meets on grades 1-12 screenings


Referral for K students accepted


Screenings, assessments conducted


A.R.E. committee meets on kindergarten screenings


Written parental permission for services obtained for identified students in grades 1-12

Written parental permission for services obtained for identified students in K



New students entered in PEIMS

As soon as parent permission to participate is received

Services begin for identified kindergarten students

Prior to March 1

Referral procedures published on district website and distributed to campus leaders and teachers


Referrals accepted from parents, teachers, community members


Screenings, assessments and reassessments conducted after written parental permission obtained


A.R.E. committee meets on grades 1-12 screenings

A.R.E. committee meets on kindergarten screenings



Written parental permission for services obtained for identified students in grades 1-12

Written parental permission for services obtained for identified students in K



All forms except teacher checklist are available on Advanced Academics website that is maintained by Advanced Academics Instructional Specialists.


Anyone may nominate a student for program services at the period(s) of annual referrals listed on the timeline above. Referral forms are available in each campus office and/or on the district web site. Referral forms may be submitted to the campus office only during the time period of referral acceptance. Late referrals will be included in the next designated screening time period. The screening instruments will match the program's services.

Parents are informed of the identification policies through the district or campus handbook, and/or the district website, and/or by request for the written policy and procedures for Gifted/Talented program services. In addition, parent awareness sessions are held annually.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

  1. Advanced Academic Instructional Specialists (AAIS) deliver identification packets to the G/T liaison chosen by the campus principal on each campus and AAIS liaisons and personnel train office personnel in their use.

  2. The Advanced Academic Services (AAS) secretary gives folders to AAIS when all required forms are received and placed in the folders. The campus liaisons send completed forms to the AAS secretary.

  3. The AAS Secretary creates a screening folder for each nominated student.

  4. Upon receipt of parent permission to test, Instructional Specialists complete the screening and identification process.

  5. The AAIS and/or Executive Director of AAS reviews all screened students’ information.

  6. The Advanced Academics AAIS schedules A.R.E. committee meetings on each campus.

  7. Parents of students identified for services are sent a letter and form requesting permission for participation in G/T services.

  8. Upon receipt of permission for G/T services, students’ campuses are notified of placement in services.

  9. Parents of student who do not require services are notified of the determination of the A.R.E. committee and provided information for Appeal.


Referrals can originate from teachers, parents, community members, or students during the referral period. Students are nominated with a formal referral sheet that is given to the campus office. The AAS office gives forms to campus G/T liaisons who sends forms to AAS secretary. Written parent or guardian permission is required to screen/assess a student. If a parent does not want his/her child to be screened, this information will be documented.


A student profile is used to identify those students who perform, or show the potential for performing, at remarkably high levels of accomplishment relative to their age, peers, experience, or environment. The profile will reflect a preponderance of evidence used in the assessment. Evidence used will be a combination of scores on qualitative and quantitative instruments.

Determination of Need for Services

  1. The student profile identifies the student’s strengths and weaknesses. The percentiles and/or standard scores from the assessment instruments are plotted on the student profile. Each student's profile is individually evaluated by a blind (no name) process in the Advanced Academic Services’ office. A student clearly qualifies for Gifted/Talented services if the majority of the evidence on the profile falls within the High and/or Superior ranges on the profile.

  2. All profiles are taken to the campus Admit, Review, Exit (A.R.E.) committee for final determination of need for services. The decision is based on the committee's observation of the preponderance of the evidence on the student's profile.

The A.R.E. committee consists of at least three district educators. All committee members have professional development in nature and needs of gifted students. The Gifted/Talented Committee makes a professional judgment based on the recorded student profile data. As the committee evaluates the data on the students nominated, the committee has three options:

  • The preponderance of profile data indicates the student exhibits educational need and would benefit from the services offered in the Gifted/Talented.

  • There is insufficient evidence in the documentation at this time indicating the student's educational needs would best be met by the Gifted/Talented program. The preponderance of evidence indicates the student’s educational needs would best be served with the services of the regular curriculum.

  • Further information is requested for the committee to make a qualification decision.

Once the need for services process is complete, parents or guardians are notified of the A.R.E. Committee’s decision via U.S. Mail within ten school days. Sealed letters are sent to the campus principals who give them to the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher sends letters home with students. Parents of identified students complete and return permission to participate forms to the principal. The principal give these forms to the G/T liaison to send to the AAS secretary. The AAS secretary enters the name of the identified students into PEIMS. Parents of all screened students may request a conference to examine their child’s assessment results. Request should be made through the student’s home campus.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

All above are completed by Advanced Academic Services Department and A.R.E. campus committees.

NOTE: All folders (yellow) of students nominated and identified for services are maintained by the Advanced Academics Secretary in the Advanced Academic Services office.

Folders of students not identified for services and inactive folders are also maintained by the Advanced Academics Secretary in the Advanced Academic Services office.




All students who have participated in gifted and talented programs prior to coming to WISD may be considered for Gifted/Talented services. Once screening records are received from the student’s previous district, the records will be examined for correspondence to WISD’s criteria. If the transfer data is insufficient, WISD will assess the student to see if placement in services is in the student’s best interest. A decision will be made regarding qualification within 30 school days of the receipt of the student’s Gifted/Talented assessment results from the previous district.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

  1. Campus personnel notify Advanced Academics Secretary that a student has enrolled who has been identified in the previous district or another WISD campus.

  2. The Advanced Academics Secretary contacts the sending district/campus for information.

  3. The student is placed in services or is assessed with WISD procedures.


A furlough is a temporary "leave of absence" from Gifted/Talented services designed to meet the individual needs of an identified student. Anyone may request a furlough: parent, student, teacher, or administrator. Requests for a furlough will be given to the campus administrator and members of the Gifted/Talented committee for consideration. A student may be furloughed for a period of time deemed appropriate by the A.R.E. committee. At the end of the furlough, the student's progress shall be reassessed, and the student may re-enter the Gifted/Talented services, be removed from services, or be placed on another furlough. Furloughs are designed to be short-term and temporary and should never be used for an entire school year.

A furlough does not indicate a permanent exiting of G/T services. Furloughs could be utilized for a variety of extenuating circumstances. Any student may be granted a furlough from the program for various issues such as over-commitment, family concerns, serious illness, or any other circumstances which would inhibit or curtail the student's performance in the program. The furlough may also be used prior to a formal exit from the program for those students who are unable to maintain satisfactory performance within the learning opportunities of Gifted/Talented services. A furlough might also provide the student an opportunity to attain performance goals established by the Gifted/Talented committee. A furlough is arranged to meet the individual needs of the student.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

An AASIS or Executive Director of AAS meets with the campus A.R.E. committee to make determination.


WISD may reassess identified students at the end of the 5th and 7th grades to determine appropriate services when a student moves from the elementary level to the junior high/middle school level and form junior high level to high school level Formal reassessment is not necessary at other grade levels as long as the student's educational needs are being met within the services of the program. If there is any concern regarding the performance or placement of the student, the Gifted/Talented teacher or the district Gifted/Talented Coordinator will contact the parent and confer about available options. Options available are counseling, requesting a furlough, or exiting the student from services.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

All reassessments are conducted by the Advanced Academic Services Department Instructional Specialists.


Student needs for services shall be monitored. A student shall be exited from services at any time the A.R.E. committee determines it is in the student's best interest and a furlough has been ineffective. If a parent requests their child be removed from services, the A.R.E. committee shall grant the request. Once a student is exited from services, he/she must adhere to the identification procedures and exhibit educational need to be readmitted.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

A member of the Advanced Academics Services department meets with the campus A.R.E. committee to make determination.


Once the identification for services process is complete, parents or guardians are notified of the results via U.S. Mail or by letter sent home from the student’s campus within 10 school days of the committee’s decision. A parent or staff member may appeal an identification decision by writing an appeal letter to the A.R.E. committee after the committee has issued letters documenting its decisions. The appeal letter must be postmarked within 10 business days of receipt of the parent/guardian letter written indicating the committee’s initial decision. The A.R.E. committee will reconvene in order to consider the need for further assessment data or other information.

Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

  1. All appeals are sent to Advanced Academic Services Executive Director.

  2. The Advanced Academic Services Executive Director notifies the A.R.E. committee of the appeal.

  3. The A.R.E. committee determines needs for services and conveys findings to parent/guardian.

Professional Development

All teachers of gifted/talented students must verify 30 clock hours professional development on these topics:

  • Nature & Needs of the Gifted

  • Assessment for identification and Measurable Growth

  • Curriculum and Instruction

Upon completion of 30 hours, teachers must continue professional development with 6 hours annually.

Administrators and counselors must complete 6 hours in the Nature and Needs of the Gifted and Program Options for Gifted/Talented.
Advanced Academic Services Department Procedure

  • Advanced Academic Services Instructional Specialists verify teachers’ and administrators’ professional development hours.

  • Advanced Academic Services Instructional Specialists provide professional development sessions as needed.

  • Executive Director of Advanced Academic Services creates and schedules professional development opportunities.

Other Professional Development
All members of Advanced Academic Services Department will participate in departmental professional development prior to the beginning of the school year, at least once during the school year, and prior to the end of the school year. All department procedures and PEIMS procedures will be reviewed.

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