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Chapter 2
Educational Service Delivery

This chapter reviews the educational service delivery system of Venus Independent School District (VISD) in the following sections:

  1. Student Performance
  2. Instructional Resources
  3. Gifted and Talented Education
  4. Compensatory Education
  5. Special Education
  6. Bilingual/English as a Second Language Education
  7. Career and Technology Education
  8. Library/Media Services
  9. Student Discipline and Alternative Education Programs
  10. Computer Technology


C. GIFTED AND TALENTED EDUCATION

Texas state law requires all school districts to identify and provide services for gifted and talented students. In 1990, the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted its Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, a guide for meeting the law’s requirements. In 1996, SBOE updated the to plan ensure accountability for state-mandated services for gifted and talented students.

VISD defines gifted and talented as students “who excel consistently or who show the potential to excel in any one or combination of the following: general intellectual ability, specific subject matter aptitude, creative and productive thinking ability, leadership ability, ability in the visual and performing arts and psychomotor ability.” The mission statement for the VISD’s Gifted and Talented (G/T) program states that it will, “provide a differentiated curriculum that supports and challenges each identified Gifted/Talented student to reach their maximum potential.”

With 5.1 percent of VISD students identified as G/T students, Exhibit 2-15 shows that VISD ranks the lowest among its peer districts. The district’s share of G/T expenditures per student is 0.6 percent, the highest percent of G/T expenditures per student among the peer districts.

Exhibit 2-15
Number and Percentage of Gifted/Talented Students and Teachers
VISD, Peer Districts and State
2002-03
  G/T Student Enrollment G/T Teachers   Expenditures for G/T
District Number Percent** Number* Percent** Total G/T Expenditures Amount Per Student Percent***
Dublin 92 7.0% 1.8 1.8% $45,864 $499 0.5%
Godley 92 6.7% 0 0.0% $2,550 $28 0.0%
Grandview 79 7.0% 0 0.0% $36,578 $463 0.4%
Rio Vista 100 11.2% 1 1.3% $9,951 $100 0.2%
Venus 96 5.1% 0 0.0% $68,213 $711 0.6%
State 332,551 7.8% 6,662.0 2.3% $348,603,099 $1,048 1.75%
Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
*Expressed in Full Time Equivalents.
**Percent refers to G/T students as percentage of all students, percentage G/T teachers as percentage of all teachers.
****Total budgeted expenditures dividedly by G/T budgeted expenditures.

VISD begins screening students for G/T services in kindergarten and offers G/T services in kindergarten through grade 12. Students can be nominated at any time. According to the coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs for VISD “prior to entering the process for the VISD G/T program, students in grades kindergarten through second grade participate in a talent pool. This pool was established to provide younger students with the gifted experiences in the classroom and to better prepare them for the qualification process. Teaching strategies focus on higher level thinking experience and prepare students to be independent problem solvers and to develop academic skills. Credit by exam is an option for K-2 students.” Successful completion of credit by exam allows students to skip a grade and enter the next grade level.

The district’s G/T program serves students in the top 5 to 8 percent of students enrolled in grades 3 through 12. Second grade students receive intellectual and academic assessments in the spring for placement in the G/T program in the third grade. Students in grades 3 through 12 are also given these assessments when nominated. In addition, students in grades 5 through 12 take intellectual, leadership and artistic ability assessments. The district tests students in grade 5 in the spring, so they start receiving the appropriate G/T services when they enter middle school in grade 6. G/T transfer students who present supporting documentation from the previous school district do not have to qualify again for the G/T program.

G/T students receive a variety of services. The district places all G/T students in regular classrooms rather than a pull-out program because all district teachers are trained to teach G/T classes. In addition to the trained classroom teacher, a G/T teacher also serves students at the primary school one day a week and spends four days a week at the elementary school. Middle school gifted students attend honors G/T courses in English, math, science, social studies and computer applications. G/T students in grade 7 take pre-algebra classes and eighth graders take Algebra I.

The VISD coordinator for Curriculum and Special Programs said that teachers modify honors curricula to challenge G/T students. High school students are served through Pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement (AP) classes in English, math, science and social studies. Information provided by the high school principal said that advanced students also are able to obtain dual high school/college credit courses in English, government and economics through the College Connections Program offered through Hill College. A distance learning computer lab funded by a technology grant through Region 11 gives students the opportunity to tie into the network to get access to these college classes. VISD pays the tuition and students pay for the required textbooks for these college courses.

FINDING

The district requires all VISD teachers to complete 30 hours of G/T training. TEA’s District Effectiveness and Compliance (DEC) visit during 2001-02 cited the lack of trained G/T teachers as a discrepancy and required a corrective action plan to remedy this situation. VISD has complied with all the training requirements according to documentation provided by the coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs. As reflected in teacher employment contracts, all district teachers meet this requirement.

In 2002-03, all classroom teachers in the district completed the state mandated 30 hours of G/T training. All VISD teachers hired in summer make a commitment to attend G/T training for one week in June at Region 11 or in July at the Ellis South Dallas Consortium through Region 10. Region 11 also offers additional G/T training dates during the school year for teachers hired after the summer training dates. VISD provides substitutes for teachers attending these G/T training sessions. The district also offers after school book study sessions to teachers who need to complete the G/T training.

Teachers who had previously met the state standard for training must attend six hours of advanced G/T training. VISD provides this G/T training at the beginning of the school year during staff development days. The secretary to the coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs provided the names of teachers, dates of training and hours of completed training. She also keeps monitors the advanced G/T training hours and teachers who require training updates.

COMMENDATION

VISD requires all teachers to complete 30 hours of state-mandated G/T training and provides numerous opportunities for teachers to achieve this goal.

FINDING

VISD uses a number of strategies to encourage students to take AP courses. During freshmen orientation, the district makes students and parents aware of the advantages of taking the high school’s AP courses. In addition, high school teachers and counselors encourage students to take AP courses and exams. They emphasize the low cost of the AP exams, the value of receiving college credit before of high school graduation and the district’s fee exemptions. The AP program provides college-level courses to high school students easing the transition to college. According to the College Board, the number of advanced courses that students complete is one of the best predictors of success in college.

Exhibit 2-16 shows that the number of VISD students completing AP courses increased 8.1 percentage points from 1999-2000 to 2000-01. The district has the highest percent of students completing advanced courses among its peer districts, which range from 13.3 percent to 18.9 percent in 2000-01. VISD is 13.8 percentage points above the state average of 19.3 percent and 15 percentage points above the region average of 18.1 percent.

Exhibit 2-16
Percentage of Students Completing Advanced Courses
VISD, Peer Districts, Region and State
1999-2000 and 2000-01
Districts 1999-2000 2000-01
Dublin 5.9% 13.4%
Godley 5.1% 13.3%
Grandview 29.5% 27.1%
Rio Vista 15.9% 18.9%
Venus 25.0% 33.1%
Region 11 18.0% 18.1%
State 20.1% 19.3%
Source: TEA, AEIS, 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

COMMENDATION

VISD has instituted successful programs that have resulted in students completing advanced placement courses at a higher rate than peer districts, the region and the state.