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Gifted Education and COVID-19 Guidance
Resources for Educators
Information regarding grants and waivers
On May 13, 2020 the State Board of Education granted statewide waivers for some of the procedural requirements for gifted education as well as a waiver related to the expenditure of Universal Screening Grant funds. Here is a link to the news release. Watch for additional guidance to be posted to the gifted education website in the coming weeks.
General Guidance/ Considerations for Gifted Education Leaders for Fall 2020
Based on all that we know as of today, we are providing guidance on some of the more common questions that have arisen as a result of the in person learning suspension announcement by Governor Polis relating to the spread of the COVID-19 virus this spring and considerations as we look to preparing for the start of the school year in August. This is a rapidly evolving situation and if needed, we will provide revised guidance/considerations in the coming days or weeks. It is highly likely, as this is new territory for all of us, for questions or situations to arise that we have not thought of or experienced previously. As always, should you have a question or concern, feel free to reach out. We will be continuing to develop guidance as needed to support your work.
Using the ECEA statute and rules as our guide, we are providing these responses to frequently asked questions.
Is an AU required to continue to provide educational services to gifted students during this suspension of in person learning caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
Since ECEA requires schools to offer gifted education services for the same number of days school is in session, if the school continues to provide educational services (i.e. distance learning, etc.) to the general student population during the outbreak, school districts should provide gifted students with access to services. These services may look different than what was in place prior to the suspension of in person learning.
What should we do if a school cannot provide services in accordance with a student’s advanced learning plan (ALP) because of the suspension of in person learning?
ALPs are considered living documents so ALP goals and programming options may have adjustments made throughout the year as needed. The student’s ALP team may meet to determine which services can be provided to best meet the student’s needs during this time. The ALP team may meet by alternate means, including phone and internet platforms, to amend ALP goals or document programming changes as a result of an in person learning suspension. For specific guidance on the development of new ALPs in the Fall, more information will be provided in the coming weeks.
Would an identification team be required to meet regarding gifted identification? Would an AU be required to conduct an evaluation of a student for formal identification while in person learning is suspended?
Based on what we know today, the identification team should make every effort to continue to communicate with parents and students going through the identification process during the suspension of in person learning. According to rule/statute, districts have 30 days after referral to determine whether to continue with formal identification for the student or place the student in the talent pool designation. As of May 13, 2020, the state board of education has granted a statewide waiver of this timeline for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Districts should still strive to meet this timeline if they have enough data to make the determination to proceed to formal identification or place the student in the talent pool designation. If the identification team does not have the data needed to make this determination, as a result of the waiver they may take additional time to gather information necessary to make an informed decision.
If the district determines that they can continue with formal identification, they should consider the need for additional evaluations or if they already have a sufficient body of evidence. Evaluations that do not require in person meetings, observations, or assessments may be conducted while in person learning is suspended. Evaluations that require in person contact need to be delayed until in person learning resumes or until such time as state/local health department guidance allows such interactions. For students where testing is delayed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, please document the reason in their identification record. You may simply note “assessment delayed-COVID 19”. Once operations return to normal, make every effort to prioritize completing the identification process for students impacted during this time.
As a result of the suspension of in person learning in the Spring and potential impacts in the Fall, many of the pieces of evidence typically used to build the required body of evidence may not exist. Therefore, it might take longer to complete the identification process. Districts are encouraged to communicate regularly with families as to the status of the identification process. ECEA rules do not have a timeline in which formal identification must be complete.
How does the suspension of in person learning impact the Early Access (EA) process?
Determinations of eligibility for early access students must be made within 60 calendar days of the AU receiving the child’s portfolio. As of May 13, 2020, the state board of education has granted a statewide waiver of this timeline for the 2019-2020 school year. We are currently advising that evaluations that do not require in person meetings, observations, or assessments may be conducted while schools are providing remote learning. Evaluations that require in person contact would need to be delayed until in person learning resumes or current guidance of the state/local health department allows such interactions. Communication of next steps and process adjustments should be made proactively with families of applicants. If needed as a result of extended AU closure, determinations can be made up until the beginning of next school year or September 1, 2020 as is standard practice for applications received after April 1st.
We planned our universal screening for this spring. What should we do? Will we lose the grant funds?
The Governor has suspended in-person learning through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Districts should consider scheduling an assessment window for students who missed a screening in the Spring during the 2020-2021 school year. CDE will not be asking for the return of USQP grant funds. On May 13, 2020, the state board of education has granted a statewide waiver of the requirement the USQP grant funds be expended within this fiscal year for the 2019-2020 grant only. Carry over funds must be used in a manner consistent with the intended purpose. If the funds are not expended during the 2019-2020 school year and are rolled over into the 2020-2021 school year, they must still be used for universal gifted assessments. The funds may not be rolled into the overall district general fund but must remain for gifted education purposes. A reporting method for the use of these funds will be shared with AU gifted directors in the Fall. Districts may choose to screen a different grade level or use an alternate assessment if they do not have access to assessments for the grade level of students who missed universal screening in the Spring.
As a result of the suspension of in person learning, we were not able to use all of our gifted education funds for this year. What should we do?
Gifted Education (3150) grant funds may be carried over into the 2020-2021 school year. All carryover is required to follow the approved application. Gifted education funds (3150) issued to districts for the 2019-2020 fiscal year that are carried over must be spent in the 2020-2021 fiscal year for gifted education.