High Ability Grades 3-5 (COMPASS)
Gifted education and high ability programming have historically been designed with the intent of supporting students who exhibit extraordinary performance capabilities in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area. Programs, such as Washington Township’s COMPASS, have provided enrichment and structures for accelerated learning to students who qualify. We have four distinct sites where our high ability programming takes place: Fox Hill, Clearwater, Allisonville, and Crooked Creek.
As a district that has been on a journey of advancing educational equity, we recognize that the identification process of high ability and locations of sites, yield to unequal representation of qualified students across race and class lines. To ensure equity within our process, district leaders and stakeholder groups have engaged in discussions about culturally responsive identification practices and how to remove the barriers that hinder access into high ability.
This year, rather than using the NWEA as an access and starting point to taking high ability assessments, we are going to administer the CogAt to all 2nd and 5th grade students first. The testing window is February 17-26, 2021.
Middle School Honors Courses
Equity is the concept of giving learners what is needed to help them reach their full potential, and it is activated through student voice. Student-centered learning positions scholars at the center of decisions that impact their educational experiences. Agency, where students exercise their voice and have choice, has been researched to bring greater levels of achievement, classroom engagement, and preparation (Toshalis & Nakkula, 2017). The creation of learning opportunities that elicit students’ voices and advocacy pertaining to their interests, passions, and skills, generate stronger engagement and a deeper commitment towards learning.
Placement into 6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) Honors courses and 7th grade Science and Social Studies Honors courses is based on a student application process and achievement and/or aptitude test results that may include grades, NWEA, CogAT, ILEARN, etc. The test scores of a student will not automatically yield to one’s acceptance in the program. We recognize that test scores are only one indicator of many components that shape the story of a learner. The 6th grade Honors Math qualifications will be based on CogAT and NWEA scores, not an application process. The MS Honors application process consists of a student application, a teacher recommendation, and instructional artifacts (e.g., writing samples, common assessments, projects, etc.) that may be included as documentation of the candidate’s identity as a learner.
The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) and the NWEA also serve as criteria for the evaluative process. Scores that exceed, meet, or are relatively close to the 95th percentile will be carefully critiqued with the student and teacher feedback from provided applications.
Student agency, the concept of having ownership of learning and educational experiences is important in Washington Township Schools. We want students to exhibit control within this process and share why Honors courses would be valuable for their pathway of success. Therefore, educators will encourage all students to initiate the WT Honors application process as followed:
- Students who are interested in Honors courses will complete the application (student portion) which focuses on their identity as a learner. The application could be dropped off at school or e-mailed to the school counselor.
- Students will notify a teacher of choice about their interest to apply and will ask from them to complete the teacher recommendation portion of the application. The teacher will submit their application to the school counselor.
- District-level instructional coaches, teachers, and administrators will collectively evaluate the student applications in efforts to conduct an unbiased approach.
North Central Courses
North Central offers students programs that challenge them to achieve their potential. More than one third of the students are enrolled in one or more Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Dual credit courses offered through the Advanced College Project (ACP) with Indiana University and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program (authorized in 1988) give hundreds of students the opportunity to earn advanced standing in college while they are still in high school.