Talented and Gifted FAQ

The staff members of the Sioux City Community School District remain committed to providing you with a thorough understanding of the quality services provided to Talented and Gifted (TAG) students.

On this page, you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the TAG program. You can submit additional questions using: Let’s Talk.

What is a Personalized Education Plan (PEP)?

The PEP is a document intended to communicate with families about how their child’s needs are being met. The PEP includes assessment data, area(s) of giftedness, strengths, areas for improvement, goals, and services needed.

How will teachers be chosen to teach in classrooms with Talented and Gifted clusters?

All teachers within the Sioux City Community School District are highly qualified to teach the subjects and grade levels to their assignments.

What training has been provided for teachers?

  • Each October, the TAG specialists attend the ITAG conference in Des Moines.
  • Dina Brulles, the co-author of The Cluster Grouping Handbook, presents to administrators, teachers, and parents. Her presentations included an overview of cluster grouping, strategies associated with cluster grouping, and achievement results.
  • Karen Brown, an associate of Dina Brulles, presents to teachers strategies to use to meet the needs of gifted learners in a cluster grouped classroom.
  • All teachers are provided with on-going professional development through their work with the TAG specialist assigned to the building.
  • TAG specialists are in classrooms helping teachers with strategies, modeling, co-teaching when appropriate, and working with professional learning communities.

Why is cluster grouping considered a best practice?

According to the National Association for Gifted Children, cluster grouping can contribute to overall achievement gains. For example, gifted third-graders who participated in a cluster grouping study were shown to have more significant gains in testing than their non-clustered peers. In addition, the study found that clustering provided these students with more direct contact with ability-level peers and the chance to explore content more deeply. Because the cluster grouping model encouraged teachers to naturally implement differentiation strategies, the researchers found that the cluster grouping strategy actually benefited other students in the classrooms that included clustering as well.

Ultimately, cluster grouping allows a student to have instruction designed to meet his/her needs in multiple content areas throughout the entire day. Additionally:

  • Students always have a group of intellectual peers in their content courses.
  • Teachers intentionally plan to meet the learning need of TAG students with the support of a TAG specialist.

How are students chosen for and placed into appropriate clusters?

At the elementary level, TAG specialists work with principals and teachers as class lists are developed to establish appropriate clusters of students with similar needs. This collaborative work will allow talented and gifted specialists to work with teachers to differentiate instruction for the gifted learners in the classrooms.

At the middle school level, student data determines schedules to ensure that gifted students are intentionally grouped with other gifted students in core classes, and during enrichment time, so that they can continue to have in-depth discussions and learning. This grouping practice also allows for the TAG specialist to work with the core content area teachers to differentiate instruction in their classrooms to meet the needs of the gifted learners throughout the school day. Previously, we focused on differentiating instruction during one class period of the day, or two periods if the student was involved in accelerated math.

How does a teacher differentiate his/her lessons?

A teacher can differentiate a lesson in many ways. For example, a teacher can change the level of questions provided to students to meet the respective student’s level of challenge. Some students may need to work on basic recall questions, so their questions need to be more basic. Other students may be able to synthesize or analyze information presented, so the questions asked of them may be of a higher order.

As another of many examples, teachers can also provide students with choice in the method that they present their knowledge of a subject. Teachers can pre-assess students to determine what level of knowledge they already have before presenting a lesson. For students who already know specific material, we plan extension activities, so students are able to explore content at a deeper level.

The talented and gifted specialists will support teachers as they differentiate appropriately for the gifted learners in the classrooms.

View an example of a differentiated lesson plan (PDF)

Will students always work in the same cluster groups?

From the pilots that we used in the Sioux City Schools, data indicated that flexible grouping (allowing students to work in different cluster groups) also showed increased engagement and positive achievement. Flexible grouping is similar to cluster grouping in that we group students with similar needs together for instruction; however, these groups may change by a specific lesson or unit depending on formative assessment results. Therefore, as appropriate, teachers will use flexible grouping as a strategy with our students.