Gifted elementary school students have a new option for class in Ahwatukee Foothills starting this fall: a self-contained gifted program.

Ahwatukee's Kyrene Monte Vista will be one of two Kyrene School District campuses to offer a self-contained gifted class this fall, though the offering could expand in future years if there's enough demand, said Gina Taylor, Kyrene's assistant superintendent for instructional services.

Most Kyrene schools use a "replacement" method for gifted education. Students who have been identified as gifted in math or language arts would be pulled out of their regular classrooms for advanced instruction in just those areas, Taylor said.

The self-contained class, on the other hand, keeps students in the accelerated classroom all day, every day. So that advanced curriculum will expand to areas like science and social studies - pretty much everything except classes like art, PE and music, Taylor said.

"It's an accelerated curriculum, so students would be working above their grade level," Taylor said.

Kyrene will start by offering two third-grade gifted classes, but could expand to more classrooms in the future if there's enough demand, Taylor said. As long as interest stays, those students would remain in self contained gifted classrooms through their remaining elementary years.

The Monte Vista class had 20 students enrolled as of Thursday for this year, and another class at Chandler's Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School has 25. Third-grade classes across Kyrene usually range from 24 to 27 students, so that would also be the target for the gifted classrooms.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dixie Prosser's son, AJ Prosser, will be one of those students in Monte Vista's gifted classroom. AJ started to complain of boredom in his regular classroom at Kyrene de la Estrella in second grade, which prompted the family to look at gifted programs at a variety of schools, Dixie Prosser said.

The problem wasn't the content, but that gifted children learn more quickly than some of their classmates, Prosser said. AJ ended up getting antsy and had to work at not goofing off in class, frequently covering finished schoolwork in doodles to keep himself occupied.

"Learning something, and then reviewing it and then doing homework on it, they get bored," Prosser said. "I'm hoping with the self-contained program they can just move at a faster clip."

Prosser originally signed up AJ for Kyrene de la Sierra's gifted program, but decided to switch when they heard about the new class at Monte Vista. Prosser talked to others and read online comments from parents with students in similar programs at other schools and liked the idea of the whole class moving quickly.

"As a parent, I'm pleasantly surprised that they started it. And I have high hopes for it," Prosser said. "I hope it's a good fit for us."

To be considered for gifted programs, students must be identified as gifted through a cognitive abilities test. They must score at the 97th percentile in verbal or quantitative areas, or in the 97th percentile in areas related to spatial reasoning and at least the 85th percentile in the verbal or quantitative areas.

The test is given at a variety of points throughout the year, with individual students signing up at a parent's or teacher's recommendation. A test for elementary grades isn't planned for the final weeks of the summer, so potential students would need to have already taken the test to be eligible for this year's self-contained gifted classroom.



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