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Middle School Gifted and Talented Program

The middle school Gifted and Talented (G/T) Education Program promotes student engagement through enrichment, rigorous coursework, and opportunities to solve real-world problems and to conduct original research. The middle school G/T curriculum is developed by Howard County educators and is aligned with state and national standards.

View additional information on: Curriculum Overview | Curriculum Extensions | Research Class | G/T Placement Process | Accelerated Mathematics Program | Enrichment Opportunities

Gifted and Talented Curriculum Overview

An accelerated and enriched program is provided for identified students who may participate in one or more G/T classes. These classes replace the general education classes in each subject area and are taught on a daily basis by designated G/T content area teachers.

All Howard County public middle schools offer G/T classes in the following academic areas: English, mathematics, science and social studies. The G/T Resource Teacher works with the G/T content area teachers through an interdisciplinary planning team to assist with the implementation of a differentiated curriculum for advanced-level learners.

Staff Focus, Tracy Spillman, Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher, Lime Kiln Middle School

Tracy Spillman uses her energy and creativity to connect student’s passions to engaging and effective learning experiences. Read more about how she approaches G/T education →

Curriculum By Subject

G/T curriculum objectives in G/T English, Science and Social Studies are embedded within the curriculum for that grade level.

Curriculum Extensions

G/T Curriculum Extensions extend the curriculum of the G/T content area classes to provide additional rigor and challenge and to engage students in advanced-level thinking, questioning, and research. These offerings may be taught in collaboration with G/T content area class teachers or by the G/T Resource Teacher alone. G/T Curriculum Extension Units vary by school, with offerings such as Writers Guild, History Day, and Shakespeare Troupe/Festival.

Program Overviews

Writers Guild

The G/T Writers Guild is an extension of the seventh grade writing program offered in all county middle schools for selected students who participate in G/T English. It provides talented writers with the opportunity to produce authentic writing based on their individual interests and to have a clear understanding of the elements that constitute compelling writing. Participating students meet at least twice monthly and are expected to submit their writing for publication consideration.

The G/T Education Program publishes a countywide literary and art magazine, Our Voice, annually to provide additional publication opportunities for students.

History Day

National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for secondary school students. The History Day Extension is offered in most Howard County middle schools.

Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews, and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

Shakespeare Troupe

The Shakespeare Troupe provides an opportunity for students to interpret Shakespeare’s works through a collaborative creative production. Students experience Shakespearean drama through a performance-based and language-centered approach as they develop a unique dramatic interpretation. Scripts may be shortened versions of a single Shakespearean play or a compilation of scenes from one or more of his works following a chosen theme. As students compile the script and develop their own dramatic interpretation, they strengthen their critical thinking, leadership, organization, and presentation skills.

Research Class

G/T Research is designed for sixth grade students who participate in G/T English and G/T Mathematics, based upon the recommendation of the G/T Placement Committee. Participating students receive instruction in advanced-level skills that they apply in their G/T classes. The research class provides a curricular framework for students to become producers of new knowledge as they apply research skills modeled in the curriculum to an original investigation in a self-selected area of study.

Students will learn how to conduct both primary and secondary research in an effort to address a particular topic and research question. As part of the secondary research process, students will learn how to select and define a topic, locate source material, record notes, and assemble a conclusion paper. While working through the primary research process, students will learn how to state a research question, state a hypothesis, determine the appropriate research design, collect data, analyze data, write a conclusion, and present their findings. See the G/T Research Class Essential Curriculum (PDF) for further details.

Placement Process

Students are recommended for placement in G/T content area classes based upon multiple criteria. Students whose scores fall within the designated ranges on at least three of four standardized measures will be recommended for placement in G/T classes:

  • 90th** percentile or higher on the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
  • 90th percentile or higher on the Fall Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • 90th percentile or higher on the Winter Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • Level 4 on MCAP

The following scores are applied to each of the G/T classes:

  • Gifted and Talented Math
    • CogAT Quantitative-Nonverbal Composite, MAP-Math, and MCAP-Math scores
  • Gifted and Talented English
    • CogAT Verbal, MAP-Reading, MCAP-Reading scores
  • Gifted and Talented Social Studies
    • CogAT Verbal-Nonverbal Composite, MAP-Reading, MCAP-Reading scores
  • Gifted and Talented Science
    • CogAT Verbal-Quantitative-Nonverbal Composite, MAP-Reading and MAP-Math, MCAP-Reading and MCAP-Math scores

**All CogAT Percentiles and Composite scores are Grade Percentile Rank (GPR).

In addition to those students whose scores fall within the designated ranges, students also may be recommended to participate in G/T content classes by the school’s G/T Placement Committee. This committee reviews multiple data points related to a student’s performance, including additional assessment scores, student work samples, and report card grades. The committee may recommend placement at the end of elementary school or in subsequent middle school years.

If a family disagrees with the recommendation of the G/T Placement Committee, the family has the option to submit the Course Placement Review form in HCPSS Connect, which would enroll the student in the requested class. Please contact your current school’s G/T Resource teacher with any questions.

Accelerated Mathematics Program

The Accelerated G/T Mathematics Program allows students to progress through the sequence of mathematics courses at an accelerated rate. The program is designed for students who show outstanding ability and a high level of performance in mathematics.

The program consists of two course sequences.

First Sequence

In the first sequence, students will enroll in the Algebra I G/T course at their respective middle schools in 6th grade and the Geometry G/T course in 7th grade. In 8th grade, they will enroll in Algebra II and attend one two-hour class session each week afterschool or in the evening and use their in-school math period to complete the required weekly assignments.

Second Sequence

In the second course sequence, a small number of students will attend one two-hour class session each week afterschool or in the evening beginning in 6th grade and use their in-school math period to complete the required weekly assignments. This program benefits students who are extremely advanced, independent learners. Students participating in this program thrive in a challenging environment with others of similar abilities and interests.

After participating in the program during their middle school years, the students will proceed with advanced mathematics courses available at their respective high schools.

Successful participants in this program are expected to have:

  • strong problem-solving and abstract reasoning skills
  • strong spatial and visualization skills
  • a high level of interest in mathematics
  • a high level of self-motivation and strong work ethic
  • organizational and independent learning skills
  • the ability to communicate mathematical ideas in writing

Students who meet the initial eligibility criteria based upon CogAT, MAP, and MCAP scores will automatically be considered for this countywide program. The initial consideration criteria include CogAT 98th-99th percentile QN, 98th-99th percentile Q, 98th-99th percentile MAP Math, and MCAP Math scale score of 810 or higher.

Enrichment Opportunities

Instructional Seminars

G/T Instructional Seminars are designed to extend student interests beyond general exploratory experiences. Students develop a broad range of advanced-level skills in preparation for in-depth study and creation of a product on a chosen interest.

G/T Resource Teachers provide advanced-level instruction and schedule these opportunities for interested students. Skill development might include written, oral, and visual communication skills, critical and creative thinking skills, research skills, technology skills, and skills in visual and performing arts.

Television Production, Middle School Book Club, and the Debate seminars are offered in each of the school system’s middle schools. Additional seminars are offered, such as journalism, environmental studies, robotics, creative problem solving, film production, and leadership, based upon the interests of the students at the school. Teachers, students, or parents may nominate students to participate in an instructional seminar, as they are open to all students based upon student interest.

Program Overviews

Television Production

As members of the television production team, students create a daily, live television broadcast utilizing highly-developed skills in journalism and technology.

Scriptwriters employ advanced journalism and research skills in the selection and development of newsworthy pieces. Anchors emulate professional public speakers as they develop skills in clarity, enunciation, poise, eye contact, and vocal expression. Crew members utilize technology, such as cameras, mixers, sound boards, and computers, to maximize the effectiveness of the broadcast for a student audience. Producers and directors demonstrate leadership skills in the management of the team and the assessment of its needs. To ensure the highest quality production, the television production team incorporates feedback gathered via primary research.

Middle School Book Club

The Middle School Book Club, organized and led by advanced-level readers, is an intellectual collaboration where passionate readers engage in meaningful discussions of a literary work, strengthen critical reading and leadership skills, hear insightful peer perspectives, and have fun.

The Middle School Book Club is actually composed of two related activities: 1) The school-based Middle School Book Club and 2) the countywide Middle School Book Club. The school-based Book Club is organized by the G/T Resource Teacher and is open to avid readers in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Each middle school reads the same literary selection each month. The G/T Resource Teacher arranges at least one meeting of the Book Club’s members each month to discuss the selection.

The countywide Book Club meetings take place once a month at Howard County Public Libraries. Two to three representatives from each school-based Middle School Book Club attend the meetings for high-level, in-depth discussions. Each month, one or two middle schools are responsible for leading the discussion of that month’s selection.


The Debate Instructional Seminar motivates a group of students to engage in meaningful, persuasive discourse about contemporary issues, thereby strengthening their leadership, critical thinking, and presentation skills. Students use research skills to develop logical arguments supported with evidence to be applied to debates following a prescribed format. Debate skills have many cross-curricular applications and extend many curricular objectives.

The Seminar prepares participating students for high school, and potentially collegiate, Debate Teams in later years.

Research Investigations

G/T Research Investigations offer the highest level of enrichment for students who demonstrate a sincere interest in a particular field and a willingness to pursue this interest at an advanced-level over an extended period of time. In their roles as investigators, individuals or small groups of students discover and document real-world problems, create original solutions, and seek to fill gaps in the knowledge within a field of study. Students apply their knowledge of advanced-level content in their pursuit of the investigative process. This process includes formulating a problem, using the research tools and methodologies of a professional, and presenting the results to an authentic audience.

The G/T Resource Teacher provides instruction on advanced-level skills, facilitates the gathering of resource materials, and provides opportunities for feedback from professionals. Investigations generally last throughout the school year. The amount of instructional time each week with the G/T Resource Teacher depends upon the complexity of the investigation and involves additional work outside the classroom.

Parents can expect regular progress reports throughout the investigation and a formal evaluation at the conclusion of the investigation. All research investigations are displayed for community viewing at the school enrichment fairs in the spring.

Middle School Expo

Each year, under the direction of the G/T Resource Teacher, middle school students in Howard County Public Schools engage in academic pursuits that allow them to explore their intellectual curiosity. Providing an arena to spotlight these pursuits, the annual Middle School Achievement Expo offers the opportunity for student ambassadors to participate in a professional conference where they can interact with other learners to be inspired to use their voices for change.

The conference begins with a keynote speaker, and then students attend morning sessions where they listen to their peers describe their academic learning in their various fields of study. In the afternoon, ambassadors attend sessions presented by adult professionals who share their research methodologies to inspire the students’ scholarship. The conference closes with the opportunity for students to synthesize their experience and complete a Declaration of Intention, stating how they will use their voices for change in the upcoming school year.

Resource Teachers

Please contact the middle school G/T Resource Teachers for more information.