G.C. asks from Garland, TX on June 10, 2012
Garland G/T Magnet School
My daughter just turned 4 years old is currently attending a Montessori school. Two older classmates who will be entering the 1st grade this fall were tested by Garland ISD and received scores >95 and >99%. They were put into a "lottery" and still didn't get chosen. So what happens now with these kids? Will they be bored in a regular classroom? And why is this occurring? Would it have been easier if they tried getting into the magnet schools if they entered as kindergartners? I don't what my child having this same fate.
Also, I noticed the 3 GT magnet schools in Garland are K-5. Are other kindergartners here also reading well or are they just starting phonics, etc. My daughter is reading at a 1st grade level by the way, and I really don't want her to be bored-to-death when she starts kindergarten. Anyone have kids currently in these GT schools?
So What Happened?™
Thank you so much for your detailed answers. Harmony Science Academy is something to think about. They mention on their website that GT students transferring from another school are placed in their GT classes. Anyone know if this is vise versa? Just wondering if this can be another way for her to get into GISD GT program if she started at Harmony instead. I like the whole science/math emphasis, but would like her to have the option of other extracurricular activities (Band, etc.) if this interests her in the later school years.
A.S. answers from Dallas on June 11, 2012
My daughter is attending Beaver MST. It is true that it is much easier to get into the program as a kindergartener because the number of slots available is wide open. For instance: In the GT program they have 2 classes (22 students each) at each of the 3 schools. Same with the 2 - MST schools and the Classical/Dual Program school. The GT is not a lottery. If you make the percentage and there is room you get in. But they have over 500 students test every year. The only way a child entering 1st grade is going to get in is if someone leaves the program. So while there may be 100 some odd slots available for K there may only be 6 slots for a 1st grader. It's rough.
I have had my daughter tested twice and she has fallen into the MST category which is a true lottery. Everyone that qualifies goes into a pot and a drawing is done. We have gotten the letter twice now but luckily someone dropped out before the program started and she got picked. There is a lot of competition for the slots in these schools.
On that same note though most of the GT/MST program doesn't truly start until the children enter 2nd grade. They use K-1st as a stepping stone to get every child on or about the same level because they are coming from all different environments and previous education.
At 1st grade they are re-evaluated (the whole school district) through standardized testing to see if they are eligible to stay in the program. This is the first standardized test they go through and it will designated whether they stay in the GT/MST program or not.
I have lots of information on this so feel free to message me with further questions.
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C.B. answers from Dallas on June 11, 2012
My son just completed his elementary education at Hillside Academy in Garland. The Garland academies feed into Austin Middle School, though they are tested at different times (think it's 3rd grade and 5th grade) before they can continue in the G/T program. The aptitude/IQ testing is what determines a child getting accepted. The do test their reading to see where they're at...not sure how that is figured in. I'd encourage you to have your daughter go through the testing. They encourage parents not to make a big deal of it...don't use the word "test" or "testing" and know there is no way to study for such a test. Hillside is a wonderful school...I hope your daughter can get in there. Liked the idea of checking into Harmony on Firewheel. If you have questions, I'm happy to answer them.
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K.B. answers from Dallas on June 11, 2012
Both of my sons went through the GT program in Garland. One will be a senior and one will be in 8th grade. It is an excellent program and I would recommend it to anyone. My understanding is that when they test, they accept the top 10% into the program. It is not a lottery. They may not have spots for all of the kids that qualify, so they would be put on a waiting list in order of their scores. I believe the principal has some leeway on the selection process. For instance, if they have 20 kids that test >95% and five more that test at 90%, they may choose not to accept the lower scoring kids and save the spots for higher scoring kids the next year. If your child tests in the top 5% for K, then they should be able to get a spot. Each of the three GT elementary schools only has one GT K, so that means there are 22 spots for each school. In 1st grade, they add a second GT class per school, which means there should be 44 total spots for 1st grade per school. I believe they add another GT class in 2nd grade for bilingual kids (but that may even be in 1st grade now.) So, it seems to me that your chance of getting in for 1st grade would be about the same as getting in for K. I am surprised that especially the >99% classmate did not get a spot for 1st grade.
Once a child has a spot in the program, then they are guaranteed a spot every year, unless their grades, test scores or behavior causes them to be exited from the program. So that does make it harder for kids that try to enter the program later, because the spots are likely to be filled already. In 5th grade, they have more spots open up, because the ratio of teacher to student is raised.
There is a second magnet program that is based on a lottery. There are two Math & Science Technology centers and one Classical center. They only have to score in the top 25% to qualify for those spots and then have to be selected in the lottery.
It sounds to me like the two older classmates should have qualified for the GT program, but may have been put on a waiting list for a spot to open up for them. They could have also entered the lottery for the other magnet schools and not gotten chosen. If they are on a waiting list, there is still a chance they may get a spot even after school starts in the Fall. Sadly, many people don't notify the school district of their plans and so they often have kids that just never show up and after the first week, they give those spots to the kids on the waiting list.
The school district is required to provide GT enrichment at all of the schools, not just the magnets. At the magnet schools it is a full day/everyday program, but at the other schools it may be only a pull-out class once a week. Not all GT kids choose to go to the academies. There are several other really good elementary schools in Garland ISD and I don't think a gifted kid would be bored in them. It really depends on the teacher and the school, as to how well they provide stimulation for gifted kids. And parental involvement is essential to be sure that your student's needs are being met. I think it is hard for K-2nd grade, because the kids are at so many different levels based on what parents have helped them with and what (if any) preschool they have had. Regardless of how smart a kid is, they are not all at the same level in K. My older son began reading at age 4, but my younger son, didn't start reading until K. From my experience, most of the GT kids are reading by the middle of K.
If you want your child to go to a GISD magnet, then I would definitely have them tested and enter in K. If your daughter just turned four, then she should be able to test this fall for K the following year. I do know many kids that were not in the GT program in K and came into it at another grade level, so spots must open up each year.
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M.C. answers from Dallas on June 11, 2012
What about the Harmony charter school on Firewheel Pkwy/Rowlett Rd? I don't live in Garland. I've passed that school when I go to Rowlett. And I recently got a brochure from them in the mail.
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