Alpine School District is looking to create two magnet classrooms for the gifted in north county schools.
The classrooms would focus on a first-of-their-kind "very accelerated program" and participants would have to qualify based on a strict test score benchmark. One of the classrooms will likely be at Aspen Elementary in Orem.
"The other will be in the north end of the district, and we are still debating schools," said district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley, speaking to district elected officials in a recent meeting.
There is an existing program for gifted and talented students, but no so-called "magnet" classrooms, and enrollment in the existing program has some flexibility. Admittance now is based on the number of students in a top test score range, and students with slightly lower scores may be admitted depending on how many students get higher scores. But the new program will be harder to get into; only students who get above a certain score will be admitted. Parents may opt out.
For the first time, "there will be a hard line," said Bromley. "This program requires us to be really thoughtful when implementing it." The district expects the magnet classrooms to open next year for students in grades three through six. "We would have to test in the second grade. That is the proposal."
A hard line helps maintain the integrity of the program, said boardmember JoDee Sundberg.
"If you give special treatment to one student" by allowing them into the gifted program because their test score was close, "then you have to give special treatment to the whole school," she said.
Officials emphasized that the program is just a proposal.
"There are a lot of things about this program that haven't been worked out yet," said Bromley. "We are in the very beginning stages at this time. The details about how students will be placed, as well as the locations of the magnet schools are still in the discussion stages."
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