Program Overview

  • Self-contained Academically Talented Program: (Lafayette Mills School)

    • This class is composed of the top 3% of the district's students. 
    • There is one district class chosen in May of Grade 2. 
    • Students in the three self-contained classes are selected based on their class performance and multiple district-based benchmark assessments.
    • Selected students who meet ALL elements of the outlined criteria, display exceptional intellectual capacity in both language arts, writing, and mathematics achievement. *All students are reviewed for the program. 
    • These students demonstrate the potential to further excel in these and other academic areas by applying their educational experiences to real-life situations and by solving problem-based learning scenarios. 
    • Parents of students who qualify for the Accelerated Academically Talented self-contained classes will be notified around May 6th (tentative).
    • Students have to meet ALL criteria in both areas. The scores listed are the minimal scores needed to qualify. 
    • There will be an optional orientation in May. Details will be provided with the acceptance letter. 
    • Students may be added to the Grade 4 and 5 class, if there are open spots. 

    CLICK HERE for Criteria in grades 3-5

    CLICK HERE for Programs in grades K-2

    *Updated in May- Subject to change

    *Parent recommendation is not currently a part of the selection process.  

    It is encouraged that you discuss your child's academic performance with his/her teacher during conferences.


    All students are screened for placement at the end of grade two and are placed in accordance with their academic abilities.  Each year, all students’ academic progress is reviewed, allowing for our continuous reassessment of each learner’s needs and successes. Students are recommended for continuation in or exit from the Academically Talented program, and new placements occur as appropriate. In the MERS community, we focus on personalized learning to meet the needs of all students. 



    Students are identified by the following criteria:

    • Behavioral Characteristics Survey from Teacher Observations
    • District Benchmark testing: DRA levels, Writing samples, LinkIt scores, Mathematics Benchmark scores, Continental Math League, InView, etc.
    • NJSLA scores will be reviewed but not used for placement                                                          

    Throughout the school year, teachers observe students in their classroom based on the following:

    Grade 1 – 2

    The pupil

    • is self motivated
    • displays task commitment.
    • has an unusually good vocabulary.
    • has ideas which are often very original in one or more areas.
    • is alert, keenly observant; responds quickly.
    • has an unusually good memory.
    • has a long attention span.
    • recognizes, on his/her own, most, if not all words in grade appropriate books.
    • uses longer sentences orally and/or in written form.
    • reasons things out, thinks clearly, recognizes relationships, comprehends meanings.
    • is curious about many activities and places outside immediate environment and/or experiences.
    • is a leader in several kinds of activities; is able to influence others to work toward desirable goals.
    • seeks out new tasks and activities.
    • interprets stories or pictures in his/her own words

    Grades 3 – 5

    The pupil…

    • is self motivated
    • is task committed (not easily distracted from the problem under consideration).
    • has the ability to apply, compare, create and judge in varied learning activities.
    • exhibits intellectual curiosity.
    • accepts challenges and exert the effort to solve them.
    • demonstrates originality.
    • is stimulated by non-traditional activities and assignments.
    • has a high capacity for listening to directions and responding to them.
    • has a range and intensity of interests.
    • learns by “figuring things out” more than by imitation and repetition.
    • completes assignments quickly and accurately and use free time to pursue additional purposeful activities.
    • carries through on prolonged projects.
    • evidence of a strong sense of responsibility.
    • has a positive attitude to learning and a genuine desire to succeed.
    • demonstrates pride in his/her work or achievement.
    • has the ability to organize.
    • conceptualizes and applies his/her learning to other situations.
    • exhibits non-disruptive behavior.
    • possesses a large storehouse of information beyond his/her age.

    Once entrance into the program has been approved, continued placement will be dependent on the above factors.

    Exit Policy:  Student performance is continuously monitored and assessed. While the hope is that the identification process is accurate, and all students identified will be successful, we realize that participation in the Academically Talented program does not prove appropriate for every student.  Therefore, an exit policy has been established.

    Three types of students fall into the exit/phase out process:

    • First, the student cannot adjust to the academic requirements of the course.
    • Second, the student, who by his/her very actions (or lack of action), does not contribute significantly to the class or who, through inappropriate behavior, is creating an environment where many students are suffering at the expense of one child. 
    • Third, the student who lacks task commitment.

    Should a student begin to demonstrate any such difficulties, the teacher, parents, and administration will collaborate to make a decision in the best interested of the individual child.

    Summer/School Year Placements – Students who enroll in our district during the summer and fall and have participated in bonafide self-contained academically talented/gifted programs in their previous district, will be considered for placement in a self-contained classroom. Parents/guardians must provide evidence of placement. A letter of recommendation from the program teacher, principal, and the most recent standardized test score is required. Incoming students must meet the entrance criteria for our program. Placement is not automatic. No placements will be made after January 1st for that school year. 

    Homework Policy- Participation in the Academically Talented program does not necessitate an inordinate amount of homework. As per district policy, daily homework assignments should be reasonable, in terms of time, in recognition of the need for children to have free time to develop their own creative inclinations. The suggested guidelines include approximately 10 minutes per grade level, per day. The quality and nature of assignments will differ from the regular classroom. With proper time management of long-term assignments, the workload should not be excessive. Parents should consider their child’s homework to be of the highest priority.