In January, 2020, the State of New Jersey Passed a new law (CHAPTER 338) governing Gifted and Talented Education.
An Act concerning gifted and talented students and supplementing chapter 35 Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
C.18A:35-34 Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act.”
C.18A:35-35 Definitions relative to gifted and talented students.
As used in this act:
"Gifted and talented student" means a student who possesses or demonstrates a high level of ability in one or more content areas when compared to his chronological peers in the school district and who requires modifications of his educational program if he is to achieve in accordance with his capabilities.
"Instructional adaptation" means an adjustment or modification to instruction enabling a student who is gifted and talented to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in one or more content areas at the instructional level of the student, not just the student’s grade level.
C.18A:35-36 Instructional adaptations, educational services for gifted and talented students.
a. A board of education shall ensure that appropriate instructional adaptations and educational services are provided to gifted and talented students in kindergarten through grade 12 to enable them to participate in, benefit from, and demonstrate knowledge and application of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards at the instructional level of the student.
A board of education shall:
(1) ensure that appropriate instructional adaptations are designed for students who are gifted and talented;
(2) make provisions for an ongoing kindergarten through grade 12 identification process for gifted and talented students that includes multiple measures in order to identify student strengths in intellectual ability, creativity, or a specific academic area. School districts shall ensure equal access to a continuum of gifted and talented education services. The identification process shall include consideration of all students, including those who are English language learners and those with Individualized Education Plans or 504 plans;
(3) develop and document appropriate curricular and instructional modifications used for gifted and talented students indicating content, process, products, and learning environment, and including, but not limited to, additional education activities such as academic competitions, guest speakers, and lessons with a specialist;
(4) take into consideration the Gifted Programming Standards, Position Statements, and White Papers of the National Association for Gifted Children in identifying and serving gifted and talented students;
(5) provide the time and resources to develop, review, and enhance instructional tools with modifications for helping gifted and talented students acquire and demonstrate mastery of the required knowledge and skills specified by the standards at the instructional level of the student; and
(6) actively assist and support professional development for teachers, educational services staff, and school leaders in the area of gifted and talented instruction.
C.18A:35-37 Coordinator for gifted and talented services.
a. The Commissioner of Education shall appoint a coordinator for gifted and talented services. The coordinator shall have teaching experience and specialized knowledge in gifted and talented education. The coordinator shall be responsible for providing support by identifying and sharing research and resources to school districts as they develop, implement, and review their local gifted and talented services. The coordinator shall be responsible for reviewing the information about gifted and talented services provided by each school district to support implementation of the provisions of this act.
Each school district shall file with the coordinator a report by October 1, 2020 and thereafter on a schedule that coincides with the school district’s New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum review pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-11). The report shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) the gifted and talented continuum of services, policies, and procedures implemented in the school district;
(2) the total number of students receiving gifted and talented services in each grade level kindergarten through grade 12 disaggregated by race, gender, special education designation, and English language learner designation;
(3) the professional development opportunities provided for teachers, educational services staff, and school leaders about gifted and talented students, their needs, and educational development; and
(4) the number of staff employed by the school district whose job responsibilities include identification of and providing services to gifted and talented students.
C.18A:35-38 Complaint for noncompliance.
a. An individual who believes that a school district has not complied with the provisions of this act may file a complaint with the board of education. The right to file a complaint shall be set forth in the board’s policy on gifted and talented education. The policy shall be linked to the homepage of the board’s Internet website. The board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter.
The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the board’s written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.
C.18A:35-39 Information available on website.
A school district shall make detailed information available on its website regarding the policies and procedures used to identify students as gifted and talented and the continuum of services offered to gifted and talented students. The information shall include the criteria used for consideration for eligibility for the gifted and talented services, including the multiple measures used in the identification process to match a student’s needs with services, and any applicable timelines in the identification process.
This act shall take effect in the 2020-2021 school year.
The regulations define gifted and talented students as:
Those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local district and who require modification of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities.
All public schools must have a board-approved gifted and talented program.
Students are to be compared with their peers in the local school district.
District boards of education shall make provisions for an ongoing K-12 identification process for gifted and talented students that includes multiple measures, including but not limited to, achievement test scores, grades, student performance or products, intelligence testing, parent, student and/or teacher recommendation, and other appropriate measures.
The regulations do not establish state-level criteria for giftedness (such as an IQ score or grade point average). Specific tests are not required to be used to identify gifted and talented students.
Local school districts should ensure that the identification methodology used is developmentally appropriate, non-discriminatory, and related to the programs and services offered (e.g., use math achievement to identify students for a math program).
N.J.A.C. 6A: 8-3.1(a)5 ii requires local district boards of education to provide appropriate K-12 educational services for gifted and talented students. Therefore, the identification process and appropriate educational challenges must begin in kindergarten.
The rules require district boards of education to develop appropriate curricular and instructional modifications for gifted students. Programs must address appropriate content, process, products, and learning environment.
District boards of education shall take into consideration thePreK-Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards of the National Association for Gifted Children(NAGC) in developing programs for gifted and talented students. The NAGC standards establish requisite and exemplary gifted program standards and can be accessed at NAGC Standard.
Each curriculum framework developed by the department provides general as well as content-specific information on gifted education (e.g., terminology, examples of appropriate practices). The frameworks can be accessed at https://www.nj.gov/education/frameworks/
Local school districts will continue to be monitored as part of the regular school district evaluation process. Board-approved policies and procedures must be made available.