McKinney ISD Gifted and Talented Testing
The McKinney ISD offers a gifted and talented program called ALPHA (Advanced Learning Programs for High Achievers). The goals of the ALPHA program include opportunities to develop critical thinking, problem-solving strategies, positive self-concepts, and intellectual and creative abilities.
All kindergarten students are screened in December for the ALPHA program. All other students are screened based on referrals from parents, teachers, or students. Referrals are accepted anytime between the beginning of the school year and mid-April.
Gifted and Talented testing includes the CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal batteries and the ITBS and ITED (Iowa Test of Basic Skills and Iowa Tests of Educational Development). It may also include the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) and DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) tests.
The district has a selection committee that uses a Student Profile Matrix to guide its recommendations. The Matrix includes standardized test scores, classroom work, and observation information from the parents and teachers.
Students who score at or above the 97th percentile in multiple areas of the tests are considered for automatic placement in the ALPHA program. Students who score at or above the 97th percentile in one area or score just below the 97th percentile in several areas can still be considered if they have other strong indicators of advanced learning capability. Once a student is placed in the gifted and talented program, they stay in it until they graduate.
All students moving into the McKinney School District are considered for placement in the ALPHA program. If a student was in the Gifted and Talented program at their previous school, parents should provide documentation from the school.
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The ALPHA program begins in Kindergarten. Kindergarten, first, and second graders receive services outside the classroom for one hour each week. In addition, ALPHA teachers provide the classroom teacher with weekly differentiation strategies to use in the classroom. (Kindergarten services begin March 1st.)
Third through fifth graders receive services one day a week at Webb Elementary School. During this time, ALPHA teachers use a curriculum that focuses on critical and creative thinking strategies.
Sixth through eighth graders attend gifted and talented-specific classrooms for Language Arts and Reading courses. All other subjects have classes with differentiated learning and there are options to take advanced classes.
Ninth through twelfth graders have a few options. They can attend gifted and talented-specific classrooms for some subjects, take advanced courses, or take advanced placement courses. Advanced placement courses can be taken for college credit.
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