In spring 2017, the Texas Curriculum Management Audit Center found that Klein ISD’s gifted and talented program needed improvements in two areas: quality of services provided to GT students and low numbers of students in the program.

These findings led the district to take action to target deficiencies in the program’s design and the process for identification, according to KISD Instructional Officer Kathleen Plott.

“We are very excited about the work that has been done,” Plott said at the Aug. 13 KISD Board of Trustees meeting.

To increase the number of students in the program, KISD modified the identification process from strictly parent-student referrals to an online process that allows parents and teachers to refer students, as well as implemented a universal screening on all second graders.

After applying the digital process, the number of referrals for the fall of 2018 jumped to 2,400, compared to the average yearly referrals of 1,700 from prior to 2016, she said. It also shortened the identification process from one school year to one semester.

“We streamlined the referral process to a digital, online submission instead of having parents do in-person talks,” Plott said. “This widened the pool of talent.”

Consequently, the percentage of identified gifted students increased from an average of 3 percent prior to 2016 to 5 percent in 2018.

In the August audit, auditors also observed no differentiation in instructional content and product in 39 of 45, or 86.7 percent, of classrooms with GT students.

To better meet GT learners needs, KISD launched several pilot programs, including the AP Exam College Board Pilot Program and the Official SAT Practice Ambassador Program. They also pushed for more involvement from GT students at Klein’s GT Research Expo by inviting all GT students, not just grades 4-7, as in previous years, she said.

Improvements to the GT program are ongoing, with projects like designing a process for lesson reviews, generating a community event calendar and providing alternative assessments slated for the 2018-19 school year.