A new program is underway at The Varnett Public School that allows qualifying students to advance a grade or extend their learning in reading and math.
The Accelerated Bridge Program is designed to meet and address the intellectual, creative or artistic ability of gifted students. Launched last month, students qualified by reaching certain measurement levels in school testing. The program also required parents to agree to the advancement of their child.
One student, Kevi’lyn Richmond, who moved from kindergarten to first grade this year is doing well so far.
“She has adjusted well,” said Ms. Melissa Rivera, Kev’lyn’s new teacher at the Southwest Campus. It’s like she’s been here since day one.” Sixty-nine students are in the program: 24 each at Southwest and East campuses and 21 at Northeast.
It is estimated that about 6 percent to 7 percent of students are academically exceptional. Most often, these students are taught in the general education classroom. When these children are placed in a general classroom, these academically exceptional students are left unchallenged, according to the National Association of Gifted Children, an education advocacy organization.
In light of the need, the Accelerated Bridge Program was established. It is an attractive offering for The Varnett Public School in that it gives flexibility to the district, parents and students.
Dr. Margaret Stroud, the district’s superintendent, said Varnett has programs for English as a second language, special education and struggling students so it only makes sense to add one for gifted students.
“The ABP program is designed to meet the needs of students who perform above grade level,” Dr. Stroud said. “We wanted to give these students an opportunity to move to a level that is comfortable for them, yet challenging.”