School Board hears about gifted, talented program

SILOAM SPRINGS — The School District plans to expand its program for gifted and talented students next year, according to program coordinator Valerie King.

King gave a report about the district’s Discovery Program for gifted and talented students during the June 15 school board meeting.

The district has identified about 7 percent, or 302 students, as gifted and talented. The percentage aligns with the state average of 7 to 10 percent, King said.

Siloam Springs also provides additional services to another 10 percent of students.

The state requires students show they have strong or exceptional ability, creativity and motivation in order to be included in the program.

Siloam Springs schools recognize there’s another segment of the population that may not be identified as gifted, but are still very bright and need enrichment services, she said.

The district’s Discovery Program encourages academic achievement and provides accelerated courses in language arts, math, science, social studies and fine arts, she said.

Students are encourage to develop higher-order thinking skills, independent study skills and the ability to work in groups.

At the high school level, the program offers 14 Advanced Placement classes and serves 161 students.

Discovery students of all levels participate in academic competitions such as Quiz Bowl, Academic Competition for Excellence, the Stock Market Game and Science Olympiad.

New this year was a Kangaroo Math competition for the district’s youngest students in first and second grade, King said.

All first- and second-graders receive gifted and talented services, and the Discovery Program was also able to partner with Northside Elementary School to create a science, technology, engineering, art and math classroom, King said.

The program was so successful the district is planning to expand it next year, she said.

Another new program next year will be accelerated science classes for Discovery students in grades six through eight.

Because the classes will be rigorous, each classroom will have two teachers to help students, King said.

The accelerated science classes will lead into a Pre-Advanced Placement physical science class in eighth grade, she said.

Janelle Jessen may be reached by email at jjessen@nwadg. com .