Greetings from the Academically Talented Program
On behalf of the Manalapan-Englishtown staff, I extend my warmest greetings to all current and incoming Academically Talented students and their parents. Our program's innovative and successful history began in 1978, and it continues to evolve, dedicated to providing opportunities for enrichment, acceleration, and differentiation in learning. The goal of the program is for all children to feel challenged and supported in their education and to achieve to their fullest potential.
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.
The highest and most rigorously designed tier of the three models applied is the Accelerated Academically Talented Program, which services the top 5% of our district's students. Students in these three self-contained classes are selected based on their class performance, data from standardized testing and district-based benchmark assessments, and teacher recommendations. 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 second tier of the district's Academically Talented Program - the cluster 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. Under this cluster model, students across the district who would be entering grades two, three, four, and five are pre-identified based on a plethora of data-based criteria (i.e. information from standardized testing, 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 into these academic clusters 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 Academically Talented 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.
The third tier of the Academically Talented Program consists of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model that 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 these approximately ten-week long cycles based on progress throughout the year.
Currently, we are in the process of updating the criteria for our district's Academically Talented self-contained classes and for our cluster programs. Parents of students who qualify for the Accelerated Academically Talented self-contained classes will be notified by the end of the school year. Parents of students who meet the criteria for cluster placement will be notified prior to the beginning of the new school year. Please note that cluster eligibility is determined year to year and is not dependent upon a child's placement the previous year.
If you would like your child to be considered for the Accelerated Academically Talented classes, 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.
Thank you for sharing your children with us! Enjoy the rest of the school year!
--Jodi A. Pepchinski, Supervisor of Academically Talented Programs