Gifted Program at Ladue Schools

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Some disclaimer: not district official doc. I believe each kid is unique, special and gifted in her / his own way. And for many parents / guardians they do sincerely believe their kids are the smartest. Years ago I think when my older daughter was probably 3 or 4 years old, at the preschool a few parents talked about the competitiveness of getting into gifted programs at public school (I was not the parent to initiated this topic :-). And one parent said that’s one reason they are sending their kids to private school. Although now I think about it, their kids were very smart and they can get into the gifted programs in many public schools.

Anyway, the official web page for gifted program is here. There is also a contact info at the bottom of the web page for the curriculum department.

Quick overview

The gifted program runs from grade 1 to grade 8. It’s called Idea Lab between grade 1 and 5; Apogee between grade 6 and 8. The main identification period is at the end of kindergarten, and at the end of grade 2. There are also exceptions, for example, there are opportunities, both for transfer (in) students, and occasionally at recommendation of classroom teacher (as he / she sees fit for the kid). Some may ask why they stopped at middle school: one explanation I heard is in high school they have the AP (which personally I think it’s different, but AP itself is a topic I don’t want to get into today). Note the program is not accelerated math or turbo charged STEM. The teacher has a lot of topics, but usually it covers topics such as science, creativity (think Lego etc) and some presentation. They usually meets twice a week in regular school time: which may or may not impact other regular subjects. Please check with the classroom teacher for the missing content and make sure the kid make up the work as need.

The work: I recall when Serenity our older daughter was at 2nd grade, she made a very nice hard cover book on a topic she was interested. I was impressed with the quality of the work: it seems Serenity carries this “attention to details / carry it through” to other subjects such as music. Serenity also benefited quite a bit from the presentation training, as she is an introvert and she usually gets nervous in front of people. I saw her progressing over the years. || This probably is applicable to everyone, and every job. Over the years I have seen myself improve on this front, and in one instance, we (a fellow mom to be precise) helped a shy student to speak up at the Creative Convention. Back to topic below.

Tests

There are two stages of test. One has to pass the first stage before entering the 2nd stage: which is an IQ test, it requires parents / guardians’ approval, as well as the kid has to be at least 6 year old. The first stage tests are described as below. I quote some content from the letter I received via email from the gifted program coordinator, for my younger daughter. I believe there is no proprietary information here: may be helpful to share it on district proper web page? I did take out the actual percentile or score threshold etc. See below in Italics:

“…During the initial steps of the process, we first evaluate two categories of learning and review students academic performance. Students need to pass at least two of the three screeners to move onto the phase (2) of testing.

  1. Problem-solving measures critical, abstract, and perceptual reasoning skills.
  2. Creativity examines fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality in creative thinking.
  3. The third screener that we review from the Ladue Schools is the Academic Performance Assessment (FastBridge)…”

Please note those scores or numbers are not absolute. The teachers and staff do have some flexibility interpreting the scores. We did not do anything special prep other than the daily math and reading work which the kid does at school or home (depends on the grade). My old daughter passed the tests at the kindergarten year, and my younger daughter at 2nd grade. Note the tests are usually done at the second semester. I recall there is usually an authorization form for parents to fill out at the beginning of school year as well.

For the second stage there is this IQ test, again note another form the parents need to fill. They emphasize there is nothing to prep for this IQ test. And we did not do anything 🙂 And it seems they rely on a specialist outside from district to perform the evaluation. I honestly don’t recall how my old daughter did (it was 6 years ago), but my younger daughter did the eval recently, and I felt the lady who does the eval has great patience with her. Both my girls scored similarly. Their scores are above 130. I think they maybe smarter than me 🙂

Experience

Note each school has one gifted teacher. My older daughter has gone through 4 teachers now (she had two teachers at elementary due to teacher change). Parent has option to do a parent / teacher conference, which is helped by Zoom for middle school nowadays. One thing I do remember is the Creative Convention, which is organized by the Gifted Resource Council. They do Equation competition too, also organized by GRC. I vaguely recall 2nd grader and up participate the Creative Convention; 3rd grader and up participate the Equation Competition. For the latter I am pretty certain it’s not limited to the gifted program kids. The team is usually organized by each school though.

Other Resources

The gifted program at Ladue Schools are usually not that easy to get into, because the program is limited (again only one teacher at each school; I think there are more in middle school) in terms of size. But for the parents, it’s not the end of the world if the kids did not get in, or did not get in at the kindergarten year testing. Remember it’s not Harvard admission either: both in terms of difficulty and its impact. Every kid is unique and as parents / guardians our main responsibility to provide an environment (along with the teachers) to help them learn / grow in their own ways, and hopefully to their full potential. In our case as you can see our younger daughter did not get in during her kindergarten year (her spring break was the time we got covid shutdown). We were obviously disappointed, but not disheartened. My wife was a bit anxious on her math and she made sure Sophia our daughter do some extra work when possible.

Gifted Resourced Council (GRC)

Also, there are many other resources such as GRC’s learning labs and summer academies (summer camps), and they are open to all the kids and parents. (Update 09-29-2022) Please note the fall 2022 learning labs, and parenting classes here. It looks all are in person now (no more Zooms).

There are other interesting STEM programs such as Maryville Science and Robotics program and Project MEGSSS for math enthusiasts as well. Again both are open to all the interested kids / families. They have some scholarship opportunities too. Last but not least there are tons of good materials on the Internet including YouTube nowadays. The internet definitely democratized the STEM learning.

Other Resources for Families

MO DESE

2022 Best schools with gifted and talented programs in the St. Louis Area (Niche) (While I believe Clayton school and some other public schools are great, I don’t think they top Ladue. I know I know 🙂

giftedsupportnetwork

Cuts in gifted education hurt kids’ potential (STLToday, AISHA SULTAN, Jul 5, 2011)

SLPS Magnet Schools: this is a voluntary reciprocal program between STL City and County (not all county school district participate though)

St Louis Regions Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students (South – Lindbergh; North – Pattonville)

FB Private Group (Parents of Gifted & High Ability Children): they will ask a few questions before you can join. It has a range of questions and discussions. || Btw, I came across this advice from the FB group: “As the mom of an older gifted child (10 years old in the 99.99 percentile), I want to HIGHLY recommend getting your kids into sports while they are little. A majority of gifted kids have asynchronous development that you begin to really notice throughout elementary school. This means they are VERY advanced learners, observers, emotional beings.. but usually a year or two behind socially and physically which can seriously affect self esteem and physical health. Starting and keeping them on sports teams early can really really help this. Best of luck 🍀