The MERS Academically Talented Program:
A Three Tiered Approach to Gifted Education
As part of the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District's ongoing commitment to meet the needs of all learners, our Academically Talented program has evolved into an innovative three-tiered model that applies varied and diverse educational opportunities to accommodate a wide range of student abilities and needs that exist district-wide.
Tier 1: Accelerated Academically Talented Program: (Lafayette Mills School)
The highest and most rigorously designed tier of the three models, services the top 5% of our district's students.
Students in these three self-contained classes are selected based on their class performance and multuple district-based benchmark assessments.
Selected students who meet all elements of the outlined criteria, display exceptional intellectual capacity in both language arts and mathematics achievement; these students also demonstrate the potential to further excel in these and other academic areas by applying their educational experiences to real-life situations and by solving problem-based learning scenarios.
*The class is chosen in April of Grade 2. Students may be added to the Grade 4 and 5 class, if there are open spots.
Tier 2: Cluster Placement (Classroom): This model was implemented at all five elementary schools across the district in 2010 to service the academic needs of high-achieving students in grades two through five who were not yet eligible for or who did not meet all elements necessary for acceptance into the accelerated, self-contained classes.
Students across the district are pre-identified based on a plethora of data-based criteria (i.e. district benchmark assessments, and/or placement tests) to make the determinations of which students should be placed together in a mathematics cluster, language arts cluster, or dual-subject (mathematics and language arts) cluster.
The pre-identification of students for the start of school in September enhances the likelihood that the classroom teacher will be able to more accurately and more immediately differentiate instruction effectively and efficiently.
Teachers provide cluster students with in-class accelerated enrichment opportunities to extend their learning and build their critical thinking skills.
While our self-contained AT classrooms provide challenging enrichment for a limited number of students, cluster classrooms allow us to extend higher-level learning opportunities to a greater number of children.
*This is a flexible grouping that may change based on subject, content, and topic within the classroom throughout the curriculum.
Tier 3: Enrichment Program: This model benefits student learning by providing time once a week for students to come together with peers of similar ability or interest to engage in authentic, real-life learning experiences.
Students are selected for approximately ten week cycles based on current data in September and January.
*Cluster placement does not affect the Enrichment program.
Parent Notification: Parents of students who qualify for the Accelerated Academically Talented self-contained classes will be notified around May 1st.
Please note that cluster and enrichment eligibility is determined year to year and is not dependent upon a child's placement the previous year.
Parent recommendation is not currently a part of the selection process. It is encouraged that you discuss your child's academic performance with his/her teacher during conferneces.