Neshaminy School District
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Elementary School Academic Enrichment Q&A
This page will provide information about changes to the Academic Enrichment program in the district elementary schools during the 2015-2016 school year and beyond, plus pertinent links to reports, documents and other information.
1. Do teachers need to be specially certified to teach AE?
A: No, there are no specific certifications required for Academic Enrichment programs for classroom teachers.
2. Does the Pennsylvania Department of Education mandate the manner in which AE programming is delivered in our schools?
A: No, school districts are free to run their AE programs in the way they think appropriate as long as they serve their students in accordance with their needs and strength in the GIEP (Gifted Individualized Education Plan).
3. Will there be dedicated AE classes?
A: Yes, students will be going to the library to work on projects determined by the classroom teacher in collaboration with librarians. The librarians will facilitate those projects using the media and technology available to them.
4. What specific training will teachers and librarians receive to prepare them for this role?
A: They are receiving training in differentiated instruction and characteristics of the gifted during professional development workshops. This training will continue during the 2015-2016 school year.
5. What is Power Hour?
A: Power Hour is a specific time (normally right around an hour, but might vary slightly by grade) built into the daily schedule for students to engage in Academic Enrichment activities. This offers students the consistency of daily progress in AE projects, assignments and activities and increased opportunity to work with their peers on a regular basis. AE students will spend many Power Hours working in the library, but might also work in their classrooms or other areas depending on their projects.
6: What do non-AE students do during Power Hour?
A: Power Hour is for all students, providing them with time for instructional support that fits their individual needs, including remediation, accelerated instruction as well as Academic Enrichment.
7. How often will AE services be provided?
A: Daily. This is an increase from the previous AE program ,which provided one hour of AE activities twice a week (for most grades).
8. How does this change further support AE students?
A: This is a more collaborative approach, involving classroom teachers, librarians and teachers of specials. Project-based activities are extensions of the core subjects and specials, which lends itself to an interdisciplinary team approach.
9: Why were librarians given this support assignment?
A; This teaching assignment is a natural fit for our Elementary librarians since they are most directly involved with information and communication technologies and resources for students at all grade and developmental levels in the building. Our libraries are media centers, and gifted students thrive when having the more cutting edge resources and software readily available to them. Having librarians as teachers of gifted students is commonly a part of the gifted support services model throughout Pennsylvania.
10: Are librarians qualified to teach gifted students?
A: Librarians are well-trained and certified to instruct students. Their education includes a bachelors degree, multiple certifications and the majority hold an advanced degree library and information science. According to the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education,
"Developing a specially designed instruction for gifted students is the responsibility of both the gifted support staff and regular education teachers." Our librarians routinely work with students in all grades on research, information literacy and communication technology and follow the core curriculum standards for literacy. These skills make librarians ideally suited to guide and support enrichment activities.
11: How will the recommendations in the Program Quality Report (link at the top of the page) be implemented moving forward?
A: In the District Response to the PQR, it is stated that a committee made up of educators and parents will be convened to develop a plan to address the recommendations for implementation for the 2016-2017 school year (and beyond).
12: Will anything change with the GIEP process?
A: No, each child will receive the services as specified in their fall 2015 GIEP.
13: Will specials such as music and fine arts be impacted by Power Hour?
A: Students will continue to attend specials as they have in past years.
14: What was the purpose of the Program Quality Review (link above), and what do the results mean?
A: The PQR for AE was requested by the district from Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 to review the overall program and provide recommendations for improvement. The goal was to obtain an independent view of our program. A panel of educators and parents will convene during the 2015-2016 school year to use these results and suggestions to formulate an improvement plan to be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year and beyond.
15: What happened to the existing elementary school AE teachers?
A: One retired at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, and the two other elementary AE teachers were re-assigned to teach middle school level gifted students and a world language course.
16: Will the AE program for my fifth-grade student in middle school be structured the same as the K-4 elementary program?
A: No, the delivery model for middle schools, which is not changing this year and includes a dedicated AE teacher, will also include the incoming fifth-graders.
Please contact your school principal for questions regarding individual students. If you have a general question you would like to see answered on this page, please email Dr. Gloria Hancock, Assistant to the Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.