Nomination and Identification Process
Gifted learning behaviors may emerge at any time during a student’s development. As such, student identification for QUEST is a continuous process through eighth grade. QUEST nomination meetings are scheduled during the second half of the school year for students in grades 3-8. However, nominations may occur for students who are new to the school district or demonstrate behaviors indicating readiness for QUEST consideration. The Nomination Team includes the School Principal, Curriculum Specialist, QUEST Program Director, School Psychologist (per State requirements), grade level team, QUEST Teacher, Classroom Teacher, and on occasion a Special Education teacher.
There are no cut-off scores for consideration for QUEST. Students nominated for QUEST consistently demonstrate three key components of gifted behavior - exceptional academic aptitude, creativity, and task commitment. These characteristics and the interaction between them are well-documented in research literature, notably in the work of Joseph Renzulli, Director of the National
Research Center on the Gifted and Talented at the University of Connecticut.
Gifted students generally approach problems in unconventional ways and come up with solutions and products that are outside of a normal framework. Due to their high level of thinking and intensity they may relate to the world uniquely.
A teacher’s decision to nominate for QUEST is multifaceted and informed by the following: advanced level SBAC scores in several areas, Grade 3 InView Cognitive Skills Index scores, consistently exceptional classroom performance, innovative approaches to learning in one or more subject areas, and task commitment. Teachers collaborate with their grade level team and QUEST teacher as they consider nominations for QUEST each year.
The Nomination Form, completed by the classroom teacher and coordinated by the QUEST teacher, informs the Nomination Team about the nominee’s academic performance and behavioral characteristics and includes the following:
1. InView Cognitive Abilities Test
This standardized, nationally-normed test given to all West Hartford third grade students, measures skills and abilities related to overall academic aptitude. A Cognitive Skills Index (CSI) is derived from five sub-tests that assess the following areas:
- Verbal reasoning- words
- Verbal reasoning – context
- Quantitative Reasoning
Students identified for QUEST often have a target CSI index score of 130 or greater. This score is one part of a student’s overall academic learning profile as the Nomination Team reviews multiple forms of evidence demonstrating exceptional academic ability.
2. Scales for Rating Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students
This series of scales is derived from research on characteristics of gifted and creative individuals (Renzulli et al). The scales, completed by the classroom teacher for students nominated for QUEST, include ratings ranging from “never” to “always” on the following:
- Learning Characteristics
- Creativity Characteristics
- Motivation Characteristics
- Leadership Characteristics
Students considered for QUEST show strength in each area (“frequently” or “always” ratings) but not necessarily in equal proportions.
3. SBAC Scores
SBAC gives a broad picture of students’ academic progress at an overall knowledge and skills level. There are no specific SBAC cut-off scores for a student to be considered for QUEST; however, students nominated for QUEST generally have high scores within the Advanced level on more than one subject area of the SBAC (ELA: reading, listening and speaking, writing, and research inquiry; Math: concepts and procedures, problem solving, and communicating reasoning).
4. Report Cards
Classroom teachers include the latest report card for review.
5. District and curriculum-based assessments
Performance on district assessments, such as AIMSweb Plus and Writing on Demand, and other writing samples are also reviewed, particularly in relation to the overall performance of school/district grade level peers.
6. Checklist completed by special area teachers (Art, Music, PE, World Language, Library-Media)
Special area teachers are asked to rate the nominated student’s demonstration of specific learning and behavior characteristics (e.g., ability to be exceptionally focused in area of interest). Teachers also identify any areas of exceptional talent in the visual arts, physical education, technology, language, and music.
7. Samples of the student’s classroom work as well as enrichment work based on collaboration between QUEST teacher and grade level teams
8. Curricular areas of strength to be considered for curriculum compacting as well as areas of interest
A Parent Informational Night is held in the beginning of February for all interested parents who would like to know more about QUEST and the identification process. School newsletters include announcements to parents with the meeting date, time, and location.
Students may be nominated for identification at the end of their third grade year. QUEST teachers, curriculum specialists, building principals where applicable, work collaboratively with third grade classroom teachers to support enrichment experiences during class time. Therefore, QUEST and classroom teachers have some knowledge of all third grade students and can identify a pool of potential QUEST candidates prior to the QUEST Nomination Meetings at each school. Through whole-class enrichment experiences, the classroom teacher and QUEST teacher are able to observe students working independently and in small groups using creativity, higher-level thinking, and problem-solving skills, all hallmarks of QUEST curriculum.
If parents wish to have their child considered for QUEST participation, parents may contact their classroom teacher, the principal at their child’s school, the QUEST teacher, or the Director of Gifted and Talented, Dr. Thompson. As with students nominated by their classroom teacher, the child’s classroom performance would be evaluated following the school-based nomination and identification process. Parent nomination does not guarantee acceptance into the gifted education program.
As students are holistically reviewed, one specific test or score does not qualify or disqualify a student from consideration for QUEST. After review of all of the above information, the Nomination Team decides whether the student will be formally identified or continue to be monitored for potential future identification and program participation. The classroom teacher will contact parents regarding student acceptance in the program. Parents receive a letter from the QUEST Program inviting the student’s participation in QUEST, and a parent orientation meeting is held in late September-early October.