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Horizons Program
Rationale
Philosophy
Enrichment Model
Experiences Offered
Differentiated Curriculum
Identifying Students


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Horizons Program
A Design for Gifted and Talented Education
Using a Schoolwide Enrichment Model

Revised May 2009
Dr. Debra Dunn, Superintendent of Schools
Anita Bernhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment


Criteria and Process for Identifying Students Enrichment Activities

Type I
All York students have opportunities to participate in all Type I Enrichment opportunities. These activities allow the team of educators at each school to identify students with exceptional talents and abilities and plan for appropriate differentiation of instruction. The Horizon Program Specialist serves as the coordinator for Type I Enrichment options. In collaboration with the school Specialists and the classroom teachers, whole-class, grade level or schoolwide enrichment activities are designed and implemented. All grades levels have a minimum of one Immersion Day enrichment experience per year to support and extend the York Public Schools' curricula.

Type II
All York students are also eligible to participate in cluster groups for Type II Enrichment activities. Participation is based upon student interest and commitment to the tasks designed for the sessions. They communicate their interest and commitment by completing a "Light bulb" form and participating in an interview with the Horizons Specialist. The Horizons Program Specialist, in conjunction with classroom teachers and Specialists, determines students' needs and interests and designs activities for small groups based on these assessments. Activities may be one-time, short-term projects or they may be extended opportunities for enrichment. Cluster groupings bring students with common interests together and may include cross-grade level clusters of students. Type II Enrichment Cluster Group topics are publicized in the monthly school newsletter distributed to all York students and staff.
Students are eligible for consideration to participate in a Challenge Academic Cluster if they score in the top 5th percentile on a standardized achievement test measure, have a strong teacher recommendation, parent nomination, or student nomination, exhibit high classroom achievement or produce samples of outstanding work in a given area. There is an annual review of student participation and annual surveys of both students and parents to monitor program effectiveness.

A student may exit from a Cluster Grouping option before the natural termination of the activity for several reasons:
  • Student chooses not to participate
  • Student's parents or guardians request exit
  • Low performance by student
  • Student is disruptive or threatens others
  • Student exhibits signs of social or emotional stress related to placement
  • Student's attendance is not regular
The student, the Horizons Program Specialist and the parent or guardian will determine when a student's participation will be terminated. If mutual agreement cannot be reached, the Horizons Program Team will be convened to review and resolve the issue. Termination of participation in one Type II Enrichment option will not preclude the application for participation in another Cluster Grouping in the future.

Type III
The target population of students served by Type III Enrichment activities is approximately 1 to 2 percent of the student population. No formal identification processes for Type III eligibility will be conducted until Grade 3. However, if the classroom teacher, in consultation with the Horizons Specialist, the building administrator, guidance counselor and parents, determines that a younger child is exceptionally advanced in a specific area and has needs that cannot be adequately met in the regular classroom, Type III enrichment opportunities may be afforded to the student following a referral and assessment process. Individual learning plans are developed for all identified students. These plans are maintained by the Horizons Program Specialist and summary of identified student achievements are reviewed annually by the Curriculum Coordinator and the Superintendent of Schools. Incoming students are screened as part of their school entry process, and identified students' eligibility is reviewed at grades 3, 5 and 9.

Beginning in Grade 3, the criteria for student eligibility for Type III enrichment activities consists of the analysis of eligibility based on at least three measures, including at least one objective measure and one subjective measure.
At Grades 3-8 eligibility for participation in Type III activities is determined by analysis of the following measures:

Student completion of an application including:
  • A statement of self-nomination
  • A student questionnaire on interests and goals
  • Any artifacts relating to the student's interests and needs 
Achievement Assessment
  • Local percentile scores in the top 2-3% on the most recently administered standardized achievement test measure
  • Review of MEA scores
  • Review of Comprehensive Local Assessment System Data
Teacher Nomination
Classroom teachers or specialists may complete a nomination form stating their rationale for including a student in Type III Enrichment optionsScales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students (Renzulli et al., 1997)
Completed by classroom teachers or specialists who are aware of students exceptionally talented or advanced in a particular area.

Parent Nomination
Parents are requested to complete a survey indicating their impressions of their child's strengths and talents. Parents may also submit a letter of nomination including the reasons why they wish to have their child considered for Type III enrichment options.If a student meets the criteria established in any one of the screening methods, that student will be considered for participation by the Horizons' Team. The responsibilities of this team are outlined in 104.08 B and include: 1) review of the information collected on children who have met the screening criteria; 2) collection of additional information when appropriate; 3) selection of children for placement in the gifted and talented program based upon an in-depth assessment of the collected information; 4) oversight of the annual review of the selection process; and 5) assuring that the selection process is equitable.

A Horizons Program Team, consisting of the Horizons Program Specialist, the building administrator, the guidance counselor and teacher representatives will review the applications annually and determine student eligibility using a rubric system. At the 5-8 grade levels, the homeroom teachers, guidance counselors and administrators will review NWEA, MEA and CLAS assessment data and other assessment data in consultation with the district's Horizons Specialist. Teacher observation and referral will also be used to determine the eligible students. At the 9-12 grade levels Advisors, grade level teams and guidance personnel will review MEA, objective standardized test measures and CLAS assessment data in consultation with school administrators to develop specific, personal learning plans for identified students. Transfer students who have been identified as exceptionally high achieving in a sending school district may be considered for participation in Type III activities based upon the student completion of the application portfolio and a review of previously administered ability and achievement test results. Parents will receive formal notification of their student's participation in all Type III activities. The Superintendent will receive yearly communication identifying students participating in Type III Horizons Program activities, K-12. If a parent wishes to appeal the selection process for a Type III option, the parent may contact the Horizons' Program Specialist and request a meeting with the Horizons' Program Team.

Once identified for Type III Enrichment activities, a student will be eligible to participate in the Type III option for the duration of the school year. A student may exit the program during the school year for several reasons:
  • Student chooses not to participate
  • Student's parents or guardians request exit
  • Low performance by student
  • Student is disruptive or threatens others
  • Student exhibits signs of social or emotional stress related to placement
  • Student's attendance is not regular
  • Completion of the requirements in the learning plan
If these or other concerns arise, the student, the classroom teacher, the Horizons Program Specialist, the parents or guardians and the guidance counselor will meet to discuss amending or exiting from the Type III Enrichment option for the student. The decision to exit from a Level III activity will be made upon mutual agreement among the student, the Horizons Program Specialist, the parents or guardians, the classroom teachers and the guidance counselor. If consensus cannot be reached, the Horizons Program Team will convene to review and resolve the issue. Exiting the Type III Enrichment option will not preclude the student from consideration for inclusion in subsequent years' Type III Enrichment options.

Communication and the Horizons Program
Information about the Horizons Enrichment program is published in the parent and teacher handbooks of each school. Information about policies and procedures is disseminated in school publications and in frequent meetings for staff, parents, community members and teachers. York 's Academic Achievement Policy (NEPN/NSBA Code IK), and the policy on Instructional Goals and Learning Objectives ((NEPN/NSBA Code IA) guide the Horizons Program practices and procedures. These policies are adopted by the York School Committee, and are reviewed and revised on a five year cycle. The Horizons Program is also reviewed and revised on a 5 year cycle as outlined in York's Educational Strategic Plan. A program evaluation was conducted in 2003, post-budget cuts, and again in 2008. The next full program review is slated for 2013. Yearly reports from the Horizons Specialist and school principals include data on individual students served and the types of experiences provided for identified G/T students. Students complete surveys on the perceived effectiveness of Horizons' programming and these are reviewed yearly at building and Central Office levels to determine future programming needs.

Parent information presentations on the Horizons Program are included in information sessions scheduled at each school at the beginning of every school year. Articles in local newspapers have reported policies and practices of the Horizons program at grade K-4. Expanded communication about the 5-12 program will increase as the York School Department seeks public support for expanded programming as part of the district Recovery Plan.

The Horizons Program is publicized through newsletters and includes reports on the Type I, II and III Enrichment activities that students have benefited from during the past trimester. Students and parents are notified of selection for participation in a Type II Enrichment Cluster Grouping or a Type III Enrichment option in a letter mailed to the student's primary residence. An information session for students participating in Type III options and their parents is held each fall, following notification of student selection.

The Horizons Program Specialist, in collaboration with the classroom teacher or the Specialist working with the student's identified strength, writes plans for Individualized Study for each student participating in a Type III Enrichment option. Students who participate in Type II Cluster Grouping Enrichment options or Type III Enrichment options receive written Individualized Narrative reports at the end of each trimester.

Each grade level team submits monthly lists of activities that are planned in their classrooms and grade levels to support Type I Enrichment. The Horizons Program Specialist meets monthly with each grade level team to schedule opportunities for co-teaching and to serve as a resource for classroom teachers in the area of differentiation.

The Horizon Program Specialist works with the York Public Schools' Volunteer Coordinator to assign community mentors, who may be parents, community members, school personnel or students, with strengths and talents that compliment the strengths and talents of students eligible for Type III Enrichment options. Mentors assist in the assessment of students with whom they work on Type III Enrichment options.

Enrichment activities of all types will be evaluated by the Horizons Program Team members, with input solicited from students. The results of these program assessments will be used to identify effective enrichment activities and modify or revaluate the use of activities that are determined to be less effective in meeting student needs. The yearly review process includes examination of student portfolios, assessment data, and student surveys to measure programming effectiveness.

Professional development for staff is an important component of the Horizons Program. The Horizons Specialist and faculty attend state and regional conferences and workshops. York's Horizons Specialist is a member of MEGAT and has presented with the schools' Curriculum Coordinator at state and regional conferences. Teachers are selected to attend the UCONN Confratute on gifted education each summer and report back to full faculty in their schools. Graduate level or CEU coursework through the University of Southern Maine is offered on-site in Differentiation and Skillful Teacher twice yearly in York. Goal setting through the York Supervision and Evaluation model includes reflection on instructional practices and administrators work with teachers to expand their skills in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of gifted and talented students.

469 U.S. Route 1 York, Maine | Phone: 207-363-3403 | Fax: 207-363-5602 | Contact Us 

Vision
As the tides of the ocean and the strength of the mountain shape our community, the York Schools' commitment to educational excellence and individual achievement shapes the future of each student. 
Mission
The mission of York Schools is to educate, inspire and challenge all learners to be ethical citizens who will make a difference in a changing and complex world.