To effectively review and address those concerns, the District contracted with the University of Virginia to conduct a program review, which was led by Dr. Tonya Moon, a gifted education professor and principal investigator for the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.
Upon conclusion of the review, the following recommendations were made:
Initial meetings began with the members reviewing and understanding Dr. Moon's
program evaluation, reading additional research, and listening to scholarly presentations by nationally recognized faculty knowledgeable in these subjects and implementation.
These presentations were provided at no cost to the District
The task force also conducted meetings with internal groups, including the District's
Professional Development Committee, Math Committee, and Literacy Committee.
The task force also reviewed Board meeting notes and decisions.
Administrative calls were also placed to Dr. Moon
regarding action plan development.
With the plan approved and the first year of implementation underway (2013-14), Dr. Moon
returned to the District
in February 2014 to complete a progress check of the action plan, per her
Gifted education professor Dr. Reva Friedman of the University of Kansas was on hand to support Dr. Moon and also share her impressions.
commended the improvements that had been made and the "substantial changes" that had been initiated, and also acknowledged areas needing further improvement, including professional development, assessment, and communication.
The complete report from both evaluations and related documents are available on the District website (www.d181.org > Learning > Learning for All > Program Evaluation).
The work of Dr. Moon
and the task force ultimately highlighted the need for stronger core instruction in the general education classroom.
January 2012 report notes, "While not explicitly stated, an assumption undergirding the D181
gifted programs is that the programs and their services are necessary because the general education program services are insufficient for the educational needs of the gifted students in the district.
further notes, "In a district that has as many high performing students as documented on the ISATs and other achievement measures, it is clear that the overall level of challenge in the district must be addressed for all learners.