LEETONIA - Leetonia students could see boosts in gifted and character-building curriculum this fall.
The school board Tuesday approved a contract for services with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center for the 2014-2015 school year for a gifted coordinator ($15,770) and gifted teacher ($10,051).
But more importantly the board also approved a district policy for the identification of/and services for students who are gifted.
According to Kim Mayer, the school's gifted program coordinator from the ESC, gifted students had previously been identified by a combination of cognitive ability scores (IQ tests) and achievement test results.
However, only 35 percent of the students identified through test results were receiving gifted services due to the cognitive score criteria.
New state requirements in 2015 will monitor a school's ability to reach those identified as gifted on the test results, she said. So the district will no longer use the cognitive ability scores as source of identifying students eligible for gifted services - a move that should allow the district reach as closely to 100 percent of the eligible students as possible.
Additionally this fall those students identified as gifted will no longer be pulled from class for the services in grades five through eight.
Instead the students will remain in their classrooms and receive differentiated curriculum from their regular teacher, meaning the district can eliminate a gifted teacher position at the middle school. Students in grades two through four will still receive out-of-class instruction for two afternoons each week.
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Schools Superintendent Rob Mehno the administration decided on in-class instruction for middle school since the teachers were already using differentiated curriculum and because the students were routinely being pulled out of the core class for which they were identified as gifted.
Mayer said that Destination Imagination will still be available to eligible students after school.
The school board also discussed but did not act upon the reintroduction of character-building curriculum provided by MainStream Life Solutions out of East Liverpool. The district was one of the first in the county to institute the curriculum four years ago, but dropped it due to lack of funding.
MainStream creator Michael Ross told the board that through private donations the company will be able to offer the curriculum to the district for free for the entire year.
"We want to help restore...character, unchanging principles," Ross said, noting that Leetonia used the curriculum when the company started and now they wanted to repay that confidence. The curriculum costs $9,716 for 16 classroom sessions.
Ross said he is offering one session a week for a full year. The curriculum will address topics such as vision for the future, self image, proper communication, conflict resolution and thoughtful communication.