Maryland legislators have recently made changes to COMAR (Code of Maryland Regulations) 13A.04.07, the regulation that governs how school systems across the state are to approach gifted and talented education.
One of the major changes to COMAR is how it moves away from the wording in the regulation of “shall consider” to “will”. This ties in nicely with the Maryland ESSA plan which has designated GT students as an accountability group. This set of students will now begin receiving closer scrutiny than they have in the past — having stronger regulations in place will likely improve processes around who is identified, how they are identified, what areas they are identified in, and when they are identified for GT programs and services.
Some of the other biggest takeaways regarding identification of GT students in the revised regulation?
- Schools and districts will have to equitably identify a significant number of students, as early as possible, along with additional identification in grades 3-5 and grades 6-9 for participation in GT programs and services. At least 10% of students in each local school system will have to be identified for GT programs and services no later than grade 3.
- Schools will have to screen every child for GT identification purposes (universal screening) using multiple indicators of potentially potential, ability, and achievement from an annually reviewed Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) approved list of assessments and checklists:
- Professional learning for teachers, administrators, and other school personnel must be provided regarding identification of gifted and talented students.
- MSDE must approve each school system’s identification process.
Potential positive impacts of these changes include:
- Earlier identification of gifted and talented students.
- Better identification of typically underrepresented students in GT programs, including Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, non-native English speakers, and students from low socioeconomic situations.
- Better objectivity in identification processes.
- Better understanding among school personnel about appropriate identification processes and procedures.
- A degree of standardization across Maryland regarding identification of GT students.
For comparison purposes, below you will find the COMAR section related to identification (.02) with all the new revisions in bold italics. Anything in brackets was something in the old version that no longer appears in the new version:
.02 Identification of Gifted and Talented Students.
A. Each local school system shall establish [a] an equitable process for identifying gifted and talented students as they are defined in Education Article, §8-201, Annotated Code of Maryland.
B. The identification pool for gifted and talented students shall encompass all students. (text unchanged)
C. The identification process shall use universal screening and multiple indicators of potential, [aptitude] ability, and achievement from an annually reviewed Maryland State Department of Education approved list of assessments and checklists.
D. [The identification process shall be used to identify students for participation in the programs and services described in Regulation .03 of this chapter.] A universal screening process shall be used to identify a significant number of students in every school and at least 10 percent in each local school system, as early as possible, but no later than Grade 3. Additional identification shall occur at the 3—5 and 6—9 grade bands for participation in the programs and services described in Regulation .03 of this chapter.
[E. Each school system shall review the effectiveness of its identification process.]
[F.] E. Each school system shall [consider implementing an identification process that]:
(1) [Documents] Document early evidence of advanced learning behaviors, PreK—2;
(2) [Includes procedures] Develop equitable policies for identification and a process for appeals that are clearly stated in writing, made public, and consistently implemented systemwide; [and]
(3) Review the effectiveness of its identification process; and
[(3)] (4) [Provides] Provide ongoing professional [development] learning for [school staff] teachers, administrators, and other personnel in the identification procedures, characteristics, academic, and social-emotional needs of gifted and talented students.
F. The Department shall:
(1) Review and approve each school system’s identification process to ensure compliance with this regulation; and
(2) Provide a Maryland’s Model of Gifted and Talented Education: Maryland Gifted and Talented Student Identification Requirements document that includes available State-mandated achievement assessments for gifted and talented screening for adoption by school systems without an approved identification process.
For further reading, click here to read the 2019-2020 “Maryland Model of Gifted and Talented Education: Gifted and Talented Definitions and Implementation Guidelines” and a summary of COMAR 13A.04.07.