Dist. 205 to Test All Third-Graders for Gifted Program

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Rockford Public School District is trying to break language barriers to give more students an opportunity to get into the gifted program.

The new test is called Naglieri and it's not a language-based test. The idea is to identify under-represented students that would qualify for the Renaissance Gifted Academy.

For the first time in District 205, all third grade students will be tested for the program during school. The test has simpler directions and it doesn't require much language in order to solve problems. It's supposed to help students who speak other languages. One Rockford parent who doesn't speak much English says it's a good idea, but she says the test should be required of all students.

"I think it's a really good program but I think it shouldn't only be for third-graders, that it should be for all (students) so they can see the opportunities there could be in life," said Cristina Calderon.

Currently all students in kindergarten through ninth grades can test for the gifted program but it's up to parents to take their kids to a Saturday testing session.

The director of the gifted program tells 23 News this new test is a pilot to inform more families. So if it works, it's always possible to expand it beyond third graders in the future.

Parents of third-graders must sign a release before their child can take the gifted test. Some school board members expressed concern about parents not returning the releases.

Gifted testing for non-third-graders will be held Washington Academy, 1421 West State St., on the following dates:

November 17, 2012, 8:30 a.m., grades 2-4
November 17, 2012, 1:00 p.m., grades 5-9
January 26, 2012, 8:30 a.m., grades K-1

Also at tonight's school board meeting, administrators said there is some overcrowding at Auburn High School and Kennedy Middle School. Two classes, 1 at Kennedy and 1 at Auburn, have more than the maximum number of students per class, which is 33. They each have 34 students. And 12 teachers are taking on more than the 150 students they're supposed to. The district says they should have the problem fixed by Monday once the new quarter starts. They say they will bring in another full-time employee.

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