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Board of Education Workshop Meeting on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 will take place virtually beginning at 8 pm. 
All Public Comments may be made via Zoom webinar, or submitted prior to the opening of the public portion.  

Teaneck Academically Gifted Program (TAG)

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What defines a student as gifted or talented?

White table near bookshelf

Exceptionally able students are those with outstanding intellectual or academic abilities, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local district. They may display unique creativity, productive thinking, and leadership traits or may exhibit exceptional talent in the visual and performing arts. Academically talented students are those who have demonstrated and/or have proclivities to exceptional performance; accelerated comprehension and assimilation of context; exceptional capability for the abstract, creative and divergent thinking in academic or out-of-school activities and who require a differentiated educational program beyond that normally provided by the school district. 

New Jersey Student Learning Standards Gifted & Talented Requirements

Gifted and Talented students are defined as those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local district and who require modification of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities.

Academic Characteristics of Gifted Learners

  • Rapid Learners
  • Highly Curious
  • Advanced Readers and Writers
  • Many Interests
  • Abstract & Complex Thinkers

Social & Emotional Characteristics of Gifted Learners

  • Asynchronous Development
  • Over-Excitabilities
  • Expectations of Idealism/Justice
  • Multipotentiality

A Bright Child …

  • Knows the answers
  • Shows interest in topics
  • Has good ideas
  • Works hard
  • Top group
  • Learns with ease
  • 6-8 repetitions for mastery
  • Understands ideas
  • Absorbs information
  • Copies accurately
  • Enjoys school
  • Technician
  • Alert
  • Good memorizer

A Gifted Learner …

  • Asks the questions
  • Is highly curious
  • Has divergent, sometimes wild ideas
  • May not have to work hard to test well
  • Consistently performs beyond their peer group
  • Already knows
  • 1-2 repetitions for mastery
  • Constructs abstractions
  • Manipulates information
  • Creates a new design
  • Enjoys learning
  • Inventor
  • Keenly observant
  • Strategic thinker

What is expected of a gifted/talented student?

Students who participate in services designed for gifted and talented learners will demonstrate skills in self-directed learning, abstract and complex thinking, as well as a continuous process of research and communication. These learning outcomes will be evidenced by the development of innovative products and performances that reflect an advanced degree of individuality and creativity in relation to students of similar age, experience and/or environment.

What are the gifted & talented services in the Teaneck Public Schools?

Crayons beside child coloring
The educational program offered to gifted and talented students encourages and challenges them in the specific areas of their abilities, but does not replace the basic instructional program of the various grades of this district. The curricula offered guides instruction to ensure that every pupil masters the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Instruction shall be designed to engage all pupils and will be modified based on pupil performance. The curriculum will include: interdisciplinary connections and the integration of 21st century skills.

Continuum of Services
The program offered to gifted and talented students may include, but is not limited to:
  • pull-out programs
  • classroom differentiated instruction
  • acceleration
  • flexible pacing
  • compacted curricula

For the 2021-2022 School Year

Elementary School
  • Kindergarten through Second Grade: Instructional adaptations are listed in the district's curricula; students are exposed to enrichment opportunities in their classrooms as they work through the various content areas and units of study in small groups of students; this is provided for one 40-minute period per every 6 -day cycle by the elementary gifted and talented teacher.
    • 1st & 2nd Grade Program began on September 28th, 2021
    • Kindergarten Program will tentatively begin February 2022
  • Third & Fourth Grade: Students may be selected, based on data and the need for academic experiences in Math and/or Literacy beyond those already provided in the classroom.   Both the mathematics and literacy advanced learning opportunities occur for one 40-minute period per 6 day cycle with the schools gifted and talented teacher.
    • 3rd & 4th Grade Program began on November 19th, 2021.  The possibility of new students entering at the start of the 3rd quarter (February 2022) and/or 4th quarter (April 2022).

Middle School
  • Fifth and sixth grade learners who are identified at the end of fourth grade receive small group instruction using the Junior Great Books curricula for English/ Language Arts. This program emphasizes an evidence-based analysis of literature through reading, writing and speaking.  Students meet twice every six days for 55 minute class periods. Students identified in the area of mathematics receive daily instruction in the district's Accelerated Math Classes or AMS utilizing an accelerated curricula.
  • Seventh and eighth grade students or any student who has earned an A or B grade in Language Arts or Social Studies in the prior academic year has the option to take elective courses offered in the district's TAG program. The elective courses emphasize project based learning, and offer opportunities for students to hone research, writing and presentation skills.

High School
  • The Technology-Enriched Academy for Mathematics and Science at Teaneck High School, is a special Honors and Advanced Placement program for motivated students interested in pursuing an integrated study of mathematics, science, computer science, and engineering. The T.E.A.M.S. program provides students in the program with an opportunity to study challenging mathematics, science, and computer science curricula with an emphasis on problem-based learning in a personal and supportive environment. Heavy emphasis is placed on the use of graphing calculators, computers, programming languages and other technologies in the course of study.
  • HONORS COURSES: These courses are designed for educationally advanced students. They demand a high degree of motivation and past achievement. These courses, when taken in the appropriate sequence, are preparatory for the Advanced Placement courses. Students electing a course described as honors will have the course designation indicated on their transcripts. See the Teaneck High School Course Guide to determine the impact of honors courses on your GPA and class rank.
  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES: Advanced Placement courses are approved by the Educational Testing Service (a division of the College Board) to allow students the opportunity to complete college-level studies during secondary school. AP course offerings are for the most educationally advanced students and should be taken only with the recommendation of their current classroom teacher. Students choosing these courses should be achieving grades of at least an A- or B+ in the Honors sequence.

How are students identified for TAG?

Woman flipping book page
Selection of Pupils: Elementary and Middle School Program

Universal Screening for the invitation of Pupils into the Elementary and Middle School Programs (3-8th Grade) includes but is not limited to the following measures:
  • Ability
    • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
  • Achievement
    • Superior score on norm referenced achievement test in domain using local norms - ex. NJ Start Strong
    • Superior score on norm referenced test for aptitude in domain using local norms - STAR
  • Qualitative / Descriptive indicators in the domain being served
    • Portfolios, work samples, projects
    • Problem solving activities demonstrating reasoning
    • Teacher and/or Parent referrals
    • Creativity Rating Scales
    • Kingore Observation Inventory (KOI)
  • Other appropriate measures
Each measure is valued and indexed accordingly so the identification methodology will be developmentally appropriate, non-discriminatory, and related to the programs and services offered by the district.

In alignment with the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act:
  • The identification procedures will be reviewed annually.
  • Our process will ensure that each pupil identified as gifted or talented will be assessed annually
    for the continuing appropriateness of his or her enriched program.
  • This process will include a review of assessments in the pupil's file, including relevant test
    results; and a review of the pupil's work in the preceding school year.

Selection of Pupils: Teaneck High School

Selecting high school students for honors, advanced, or T.E.A.M.S program participation includes but is not limited to the following:

  • HONORS COURSES: Students desiring to successfully remain in this sequence should be earning grades of B or better.
  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES: Students choosing these courses should be achieving grades of at least an A- or B+ in the Honors sequence.
  • Technology-Enriched Academy for Mathematics and Science: Students desiring to be part of this program should complete
    • T.E.A.M.S. written application
    • Letter of recommendation from each of their current mathematics and science teachers
    • Seventh grade NJSLA-M score
    • Current mathematics and science grades are also considered
    • An interview with a T.E.A.M.S representative

Parent / Guardian Referral Packet

Deadline: Friday, December 10th

Parents / Guardians of 3rd & 4th grade students that feel their child may qualify for extended educational services through the Teaneck Academically Gifted Program because their child is performing well above grade level or demonstrating exceptional strengths or talents are encouraged to complete and submit the following Parent / Guardian Referral.  Before filling the form, please familiarize yourself with the above information in reference to What defines a student as gifted or talented?

When reviewing the list of characteristics, keep in mind that true Gifted Students exhibit the learning, motivation, creativity, and leadership characteristics Mostly and / or Virtually All of the Time.

Referred students will be reviewed towards the end of January and identified students will be invited to participate starting Quarter 3 (February 2022).

Please keep in mind that a referral serves as a means to initiate a more detailed examination of data available for that child and DOES NOT guarantee qualification into the program.  This referral is one of multiple measures the district uses to identify students who may be in need of advanced programming.  If you do not nominate your child, they may still be identified through other screening metrics.

TAG Educators

Silhouette of child sitting behind tree during sunset
Hawthorne Elementary School (K-4)
Ms. Amber Halpern
201-833-5508 x. 6408

Lowell Elementary School (K-4)
Ms. Aretha Blake-Arroyo
201-833-5508 x. 6702

Whittier Elementary School (K-4)
Ms. Nina Lionetti
201-833-5508 x. 6418

Benjamin Franklin Middle School (5-8)
Ms. Jessie Gorant
201-833-5508 x. 6615

Thomas Jefferson Middle School (5-8)
Mr. Matt McMillan
201-833-5508 x. 6422

Supervisor of Humanities & Gifted Education
Mr. Ashley M. Sularz

Additional Gifted and Talented Resources

NJ Student Learning Standards - Gifted & Talented
This portion of the NJDOE website provides an overview of gifted and talented programming in the state of New Jersey in relation to the student learning standards.

NJ Association for Gifted Children
The NJAGC promotes programs, networks, and legislative actions to meet the needs of gifted learners statewide.

National Association for Gifted Children
NAGC is an organization of parents, educators, other professionals and community leaders to address the unique needs of children and youth.

The Association for the Gifted
Organized in 1958 by The Council for Exceptional Children, helps professionals and parents work with gifted children.

Council for Exceptional Children
The largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted.

Davidson Institute
Extensive resources for highly gifted students (and their parents). You can access articles by selecting "Browse by Topic" or "Search GT-Cybersource" from the "Resources" header in the pulldown top bar menu bar.

Duke University TIP Program
The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to work with students, their families, and educators to identify, recognize, challenge, engage & help student reach their highest potential.

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
A resource guide for the education of gifted children with links to many gifted education resources available on the Internet.

National Research Center on Gifted and Talented
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, investigates, develops, and disseminates new methods for identifying and teaching gifted students.

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted
Focuses primarily on the adults (parents, educators, etc.) in the lives of gifted children. SENG provides information on identification, guidance, and effective ways to live and work with gifted individuals.

Parent / Guardian Complaint Process

According to the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act (N.J.S.A. 18A:34-39)

Teaneck Public Schools must be in compliance with New Jersey's "Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act"

If a parent or legal guardian has a concern about the Teaneck Academically Gifted Program selection process, programming, curriculum or noncompliance, the following steps should be followed:
  1. Contact teacher to share concerns
  2. Discuss concerns with the building principal
  3. Contact the Supervisor of Gifted Education and submit their specific concern via the following FORM for review.
  4. Complaint reviewed within 20 days and findings sent to parent or legal guardian.
  5. If dissatisfied with findings, parent/guardian may request a meeting with the Superintendent of Schools.
  6. If issue unresolved, file a complaint with Board of Education.
  7. If dissatisfied with Superintendent's / Board of Education's findings, contact the Bergen County School Superintendent, Bergen County Office of Education, One Bergen County Plaza, 3rd Floor, Room 350, Hackensack, NJ 07601.  A complaint submitted to the executive county superintendent may only allege noncompliance that has occurred within one year prior to the date that the complaint is submitted.
  8. Finally, if the matter is still disputed, parent or legal guardian can 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.18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.