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Gifted & Talented Program

Karen Derouen

The Lafayette Parish Gifted Program offers services to over 1200 students in grades K-12 who have been identified as having special learning needs due to exceptionally high academic skills.  To qualify for services in this field of special education, students are referred for testing in reading and math achievement as well as intellectual ability.  Referrals can be made by either teachers or parents who have evidence of the child’s high abilities.
Once a child has been identified by a testing team consisting of a psychologist, a social worker and en educational diagnostician, parents meet with the gifted program staff to discuss the individual child’s needs and how they might be best met through a variety of program options.  At this meeting, called an I.E.P. conference, an Individual Educational Plan is designed.  Services are implemented by teachers each of whom holds a Master’s degree in gifted education.

Many families choose for the child to remain in their neighborhood schools through grade eight. In this scenario, students can receive services from a gifted enrichment teacher from two to five hours per week. Lessons in these classes supplement the program in the regular classroom with instruction in higher level thinking skills. Activities requiring critical and creative thinking might take the form of creative writing, drama, art, computer literacy, research, leadership, logic, problem solving, literature analysis, and cultural exposure. Students in primary grades are taught at their home schools by itinerant gifted teachers. Students in grades 4-8 may attend an enrichment center at Plantation, Paul Breaux, or Alleman one full day per week. 

Other students’ needs are best met by an accelerated academic program in the content areas.  Primary acceleration is limited to reading and math courses where students work  with materials which are advanced for their grade level.  They are part of a regular classroom for all other subjects.  This option is available at Woodvale, Plantation and Myrtle Place, depending on the family’s residential school zone.  Additional requirements in report card grades and achievement tests must be met for placement in this option.

The accelerated program takes on a magnet school structure in grades 6-8. Paul Breaux is the site where students who qualify can take accelerated courses in language, math, science, social studies, computers and art in the gifted program. Students may transfer to Paul Breaux from any school zone in the parish for these services. High school level materials are used by teachers trained in gifted education strategies. Electives are also taken through the regular curriculum integrating gifted students into the rest of the student body.

Lafayette High School continues the magnet school concept for grades 9-12. Students no longer have the option of the enrichment-only program at this level. Courses are offered in the core courses of math, science, social studies and English using college prep materials with an emphasis on incorporating higher level thinking skills into the academic curriculum.