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Do you have a brainiac in your family? 

Many school districts, struggling with grim economics and dwindling resources, find it difficult to provide challenges for academically talented kids.  
If you have a child who falls in the Talented and Gifted category, you will find the following links helpful whether your child is homeschooled or still in the public education system.



IQ - Looking for something new for your academically talented student that is mentally challenging and a lot of fun?  Join us at Imagination Quest!  Students are given 2-3 instant challenges to solve in a limited amount of time.  Edible prizes are awarded for the most creative results.  It's so much fun that we've considered charging for admission to watch!  You'll be amazed at the interesting ways our children solve their problems.  Email for more information.


The following comment is from a homeschooling mom who used to help with the TAG program for the Clatskanie School District...

"Clatskanie Elementary School currently has a program called REACH (or at least they did in the 2000-2001 school year.)  They identify children based on their assessment test scores. 

My son was in the REACH program when he was in public school.  If I remember correctly, there were three or four others in his grade also in the REACH program, which I was told was a higher number than they normally have in a single grade level.  The "program" pretty much consisted of the children getting a little extra math challenge.  I helped in the class once a week and for about 20 minutes I took the group out in the hall to work on math problems that involved using critical thinking skills.  I recall once or twice being told of some other "above and beyond" activity they did but I certainly wouldn't say that there was a "program".   

The teachers at CES do an outstanding job, given the circumstances in which they find themselves.  They all do the best they can with the resources they are given.

The Oregonian did a very good article on this whole TAG issue several years ago. 

The bottom line is the state has put requirements on the school districts but has not provided funding (sounds familiar, doesn't it?)  Thousands of dollars are spend on the special education program, but zero is spent educating the top students in the state.  In my opinion, the state is wasting a precious resource.  They also haven't seemed to catch on to the fact that people who work for the technology industries they are trying to attract to the state value education and don't want to bring their families to a state where their children can't get a good education."

TAG program notes from a conversation with the ODE in January of 2006

How strict is the ODE about districts identifying and providing programs for their TAG students?

It is mandated by state law (as you've seen).  Districts must now report their TAG membership as part of the Spring data collection on an individual student basis.  It will be easy to find the districts that are not following the law.  TAG will also be a category for reporting on the next school and district report card.  (Your local patrons will be able to see how TAG-identified students are doing on the state assessments.)  Also, TAG identification and services are part of the Division 22 assurances a district superintendent signs each year showing that the district is meeting state standards for operation.  Schools that are found to be out of compliance with state standards can, ultimately, lose their state funding. 
Do districts provide information to you about services they provide to these students?
The law does not require that districts submit their TAG plans to ODE unless they are applying for a TAG grant, which means that I can only require them to provide me a copy if there is a complaint or lawsuit.  But the law says that districts must have this plan. 
What happens to districts who don't provide opportunities for TAG students?
They might be sued by parents and students.  They might be found out of compliance with the Division 22 standards which could result in loss of state money.  Many districts provide their TAG services by differentiating instruction in the regular classroom. 
We are all operating with limited resources.  But you probably noticed that the TAG laws and rules do not mention "money" when they require compliance.  The mandate is simple:  1) Districts and schools will identify TAG students, and 2) TAG students will be educated at their rate and level of learning.  Since this is not something included on the Report Card, services for these students, or lack of services for these students, will become much more obvious.  Since it is now possible to link the identification data to the state assessment data, it will also provide parents with a better view of whether their TAG students are showing growth in their learning.  I suspect that parents will be looking for increasing RIT scores for these high-end learners. 
For more information about TAG, contact:
Andrea Morgan, Education Specialist
Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation (OEII)
Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203
(503) 378-3600 x2289


TAG program notes from a conversation with Lara Rehkonen, TAG Coordinator for the Department of Education on 6/28/02.

Lara works 32% of her time on TAG, 68% of her time is spent on Special Education.

School districts are required to identify TAG students in grades K-12.  They decide how they will identify these students.  But usually, it's by IQ tests or students who score in the 97th percentile on state tests.  Occasionally a student is identified as having "potential" by a teacher.  

School districts must assess the student's abilities, adjust their level of instruction and move students quickly through their program so that they are challenged.  State law requires that they must be learning new material on a regular basis.  School districts are also required to have a meeting with teachers, parents and counselors to develop an individual education program.

TAG student programs must be evaluated on a regular basis.  TAG kids must be with students of like ability (putting them in a classroom with average students and handing them an advanced math book is not in compliance with the state law).  They must have interaction with other gifted students.

One thing that Lara said was that it is especially important for TAG students to be with other TAG students so that they have peers they can relate to.  Otherwise, they tend to be embarrassed by their difference and it makes them want to hide their intelligence.

If a student is not being challenged, these are the steps Lara suggested that you take to remedy the situation:
  • Ask the district to evaluate your child and design a TAG program and they must include you in the process.
  • If a program is already in place, talk with the teacher and find out how they are challenging your child compared to their average students.
  • The district is required to keep information on a special form on what they are doing for the TAG student.  Ask to see the one on your child.
  • If the parent still thinks the TAG program is not adequate for their child and the district is not following state law or their policy/administrative rules they should file a complaint with the district.
  • If no result, parents should file a complaint with Lara.  She will offer the district help and technical assistance in designing a TAG program appropriate for your child.
  • If still no results.  Parents should file a complaint with the state department of education stating what policies and/or administrative rules are not being followed.
  • If still no results.  Parents will have to decide if they wanted to pursue this in the courts.

Education is too important to be left solely to educators ~ Francis Keppel