St. Louis City Schools
From http://STLCitySchools.org

Gifted Education in St. Louis

Understanding the SLPS "Gifted & Talented" Program.

What does "gifted" mean?

This is a highly subjective and oft-discussed question. According to the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (MODESE), gifted children are "those who exhibit precocious development of mental capacity and learning potential as determined by competent professional evaluation to the extent that continued education growth and stimulation could best be served by an academic environment beyond that offered through a standard grade level curriculum."

Practically speaking, a child is labeled as "gifted" in the eyes of SLPS if he/she scores at or above the 95th percentile on both an intelligence test and an academic test.

Start by taking a look at the SLPS Gifted & Talented Handbook and reading about the Selection Criteria for SLPS Gifted Magnet Schools.

While differing school-to-school and teacher-to-teacher, SLPS follows a modified grade level curriculum of gifted education where gifted students participate in coursework rated for one grade level above their same-age peers. When considering the gifted track for your child, it's important to consider whether this approach is a good fit. Learn more about "Acceleration" versus "Enrichment" here and here.

What are the benefits of being labeled "gifted"?

The label opens the door to some additional options, including access to "gifted pull-out" (where gifted students are pulled out of their classrooms to spend a portion of their time being instructed with other gifted students) or eligibility to attend a SLPS magnet school whose enrollment is limited to gifted students.

There are currently three "Self-Contained" programs – SLPS magnet schools strictly for children labeled as "gifted":

A growing number of other schools in the district, while not strictly for gifted children, offer services ranging from once-a-week pull-out to dedicated, full-time classrooms for gifted students. For more information, contact the schools directly.

How does the gifted testing process work?

The process of getting your child gifted tested through SLPS can be an arduous one, but if you suspect your child may fall in to the gifted category and benefit from gifted education, it's worth pursuing.

In order to receive testing, your child must be at least three years, five months of age.

There is no charge for testing.

SLPS no longer accepts gifted testing results from independent testers. Therefore, all children interested in participating in the SLPS gifted program must be tested by SLPS. In some cases, children who transfer into the district from other gifted programs or who have been tested through other school systems in Missouri may be admitted without additional testing, but this is at the discretion of SLPS.

If you're applying to a SLPS magnet school designated for gifted students, start by submitting your application. The application approval process can take anywhere from a day to over a week and involves verification that your child is eligible for admission to a St. Louis City magnet school, based on location of residence and demographics. Each year, there is a specific date in the fall when the district begins accepting applications for magnet schools. It is in your best interest to submit your application as early as possible.

In addition to submitting your magnet school application, you must submit a few supplemental forms in order to get your child tested. These forms should be submitted within one week of submitting your application:

  1. Permission to Test: This form notifies the gifted office that you would like your child to be tested and grants permission for them to do so.
  2. Teacher Evaluation Form: If your child currently attends a daycare center, pre-school, or other facility, you will need to have your child's teacher complete this brief checklist. If your child does not presently attend any sort of daycare or education center, it is not necessary to compete this form.
  3. Parent Evaluation Form: You will need to complete this short checklist about your child and his/her abilities and behaviors.
Download these Forms

You may submit these forms as part of the online magnet application, via email or postal mail – see the handbook for details. It would be wise to call and verify that they have been received after submission.

Once your application has been verified for eligibility and supplemental forms have been received, the gifted testing office should contact you to schedule testing. If you do not hear from them within a few days, you may also contact the office at (314) 345-4548 to request a testing date. Testing is scheduled in priority order of when applications and supplemental forms are received.

The period between when the district begins accepting applications and the first-round lottery is fairly short and does not provide adequate time to test all children applying for the gifted program. As a result, some families may find their child accepted into a gifted school for which the child has not yet qualified through testing. If the child does not end up qualifying, the seat will be forfeited. However, if your child is able to receive testing prior to the first-round lottery, if he or she does not qualify for a gifted program, you may go down the hall (in the same building where testing takes place) and immediately change the schools listed on your application. In that way, your child will be considered for schools for which he/she is actually eligible in the first-round lottery.

After the first round placement lottery has taken place, the gifted office places priority on testing children who received placement in a gifted school spot, but have not yet received gifted testing. This is so that they may determine if these children will, in fact, remain in these spots or if they will need to forfeit their spots to other children on the wait list who qualify through testing for admission to the programs. Only after these children have been tested will they begin scheduling testing for students on the wait lists for gifted programs.

What's the test like, and can I prepare my child?

Testing takes place at the Saint Louis Public School Central Office Building, located at 801 North 11th Street. The main entrance is located on the side of the building facing 11th Street and parking is available in the parking garage directly next to the building on the same side of the street. There are spots reserved for parent visitors on the right side of the far left parking lane. If those are not available, cars should be parked on the top level. Bring your parking ticket with you, as the gifted office will validate parking.

While it's not really possible to prepare your child for the testing itself, it can be helpful to let your child know what to expect. Very young children don't need to know much beyond the fact that they will be going to a place where they will play with special toys and games and answer questions. They will also need to know that you (the parent) will not be able to go into the room with them, but that you will wait for them in another room nearby. If you are able to maintain a calm and nonchalant attitude about the whole experience, your child will be more likely to feel relaxed and positive about the experience as well.

Testing typically takes at least 30 minutes and could run much longer depending on the age and skill level of the child. Please plan accordingly and bring something to do while you are waiting.

The results will be emailed to you 3-5 business days after the assessment – the results are no longer provided immediately after the test.

If my child tests as 'Gifted' will he/she automatically be granted a spot in our school of choice?

No. Qualifying for placement in a gifted program through testing does not guarantee your child a space in one of the SLPS gifted classrooms or programs. You must also be awarded a space in one of these programs through the lottery system. If you do not receive placement in a gifted program, you may re-apply the following year. Once your child has qualified through testing once, there is no need to re-test.

What if my child doesn't test as 'Gifted'?

If your child does not meet the criteria after testing, you (and your child) should not feel bad! By the definition laid out by SLPS, very, very few students will qualify. Your goal should be for your child to be placed into the best school environment for his/her level and style of learning, rather than to be in a classroom where he/she might always be struggling to keep up with the class.

If your child was tested and did not qualify, but you believe that he/she would benefit from gifted education and is likely to qualify with repeat testing, you may apply to have your child re-tested through SLPS once every 365 days up to three times.

Good Luck!

If there's anything we can do to help, or additional information that you think would benefit others, email us at hello@stlcityschools.org.