Program Overview

  • CLICK HERE for Self-contained Criteria in grades 3-5 *Updated 5/2020

    CLICK HERE for Programs, Timeline, and Criteria in grades K-5  *Updated 9/2020 & 1/2021

    CLICK HERE for Programs and Criteria in grades 6-8 *Updated 5/2020 

    CLICK HERE for Enrichment Programs offered during our Summer School

    CLICK HERE for G&T websites and Student Enrichment websites

    CLICK HERE for Teacher and Supervisor contact information 

    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 the first week of May from Grade 2.
    • This class stays together for grades 3, 4, and 5. 
    • Students in the three self-contained classes are selected based on their class performance and multiple district-based benchmark assessments. Criteria is listed below. 
    • Selected students who meet ALL elements of the outlined criteria, display exceptional intellectual capacity in both language arts, writing, and mathematics achievement.
    • Teachers complete a Behavioral Characteristics Survey. These scales are designed to obtain teacher estimates of a student’s characteristics in the areas of learning, motivation, creativity, leadership and communication.   
    • All students are reviewed for the program every year in May, pending enrollment. 
    • 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 by the second week of May. 
    • Students have to meet the 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. 

    Program Placement: 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. 

    Selection Procedures: 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, Dibels,  etc.
    • Grade 3: InView scores 
    • NJSLA scores                                                         

    G&T options in grades K-8: *May differ this year due to the virtual/Hybrid environment. 

    Teachers will offer various types of programs and options throughout the year, pending data and growth in all subject areas. 

    • Differentiation of instruction and personalized learning. 
    • Provide opportunities for students to work together on projects in order to challenge themselves.
    • Genius Hour or Passion Projects (WIN)- Students explore something they want to learn about. 
    • Schedule Modifications- Students may attend a higher grade content class, pending data. 
    • WIN: What I Need- Students will participate in activities and G&T contests such as: CML Mathematics, ELA, Current Events, Computer Science, as available. 
    • NJAGC Contests: Students can participate in the Art, Writing, and/or Video contest focusing on a specific theme each year. 

    Gifted & Talented Characteristics: 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 -8

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


    Self-contained AT 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.

    Self-contained AT 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. 

    Self-contained AT 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.

     
    MERS District Appeal Policy- Parents, guardians, and/or students may appeal any final decision regarding selection or removal from the gifted program.  Appeals shall first be sent to Ms. Lindsay Singer, Supervisor of Gifted and Talented, at lindsaysinger@mersnj.us within 15 working days of receiving notification of the selection decision or the removal decision.  Ms. Singer will respond to the appeal no later than 15 working days after receipt of the appeal letter.  Please note, there may be a request for additional testing, data collection and/or an interview with the student, current teacher, and/or parents.

    In accordance with Policy 2464 (pending BOE approval), an individual who believes that the district has not complied with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:35-34 et seq. may file a complaint with the Board of Education. The Board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter. The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the Board’s written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.