ELP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Extended Learning Program (ELP)?
The Extended Learning Program (ELP) for gifted and talented students serves those students who are good at solving problems, learn quickly, and think and learn in more complex ways than most students. To be eligible for these extra services, a student must show a need for going beyond the regular classroom instruction. Students are required to score at or above the 95th percentile on a cognitive test of their thinking and reasoning skills, and at or above the 95th percentile on an achievement test (Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), Performance Evaluation of Alaska Schools (PEAKS) or Woodcock Johnson IV). They may also be given the Torrance Test Of Creative Abilities and must score at or above the 95th percentile on that.
How do I request testing?
If your child is in the 3rd grade, s/he will be screened for the Extended Learning Program sometime during the first quarter of the school year. The date is set each year by the district. If your child is at least in the 3rd grade, and you want your child to be tested regardless of the screening results, please let your child's classroom teacher or the Extended Learning Program teacher in your child's building know. If your child is home or privately schooled, then please contact the Extended Learning Program Teacher in the building your child would attend if s/he attended public school. Your child may also be referred to the program by his or her classroom teacher. In that event, no testing or placement will be done without your written consent.
Who does the testing?
If your child is in the 3rd grade and received an Ability Index of 121 on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, 2nd Edition (NNAT2), then you will receive a form to sign, giving the ELP teacher permission to continue testing using the Woodcock Johnson IV Achievement Test. If your child scored an Ability Index less than 121 on the NNAT2, you may still request testing by contacting your child's teacher or the ELP teacher in your child's building. If your child is in grades 4-8, you may request that the ELP teacher in your child's building test your child for the Extended Learning Program by contacting the ELP teacher or your child's classroom teacher.
When can my child be tested?
Students in grades 4 - 6 can be tested throughout the school year as needed. In grade 3 there are two testing weeks per school year. In grades 7 & 8 there is two week designated testing window in the 1st Semester plus one additional week in January if needed. The district sets these dates before your child starts school in the fall. The ELP teacher can only test after receiving permission from a parent or legal guardian for testing.
Are elementary and middle school students tested for the ELP?
In grades K - 2, students are not tested for the Extended Learning Program. In grades 1 and 2, your child may be invited to participate in a primary enrichment class during the second semester. If your child is selected to receive this service, you will be asked to sign a form stating that your child may be pulled from the regular education classroom for these services and that this does not mean formal placement into the Extended Learning Program.
In grade 3, the school district screens all students for the Extended Learning Program. This screening takes place during district specified weeks. The first screening is in the first quarter of the school year. For students who are not present during the first screening week, a second opportunity will occur for one week in the last quarter of the school year. The school will send out notification to parents prior to each testing week. Parents will receive the results of testing in the mail, or during parent teacher conferences if testing falls the week prior to conferences. The ELP teacher in your child's building is available to answer any questions you might have about the test.
In grades 4 - 6, students are tested throughout the school year as they are referred. Testing takes place soon after the parent signs a form giving the ELP teacher permission to test. You will be notified of the results as soon as possible after testing takes place.
If your child is home schooled through the FNSBSD B.E.S.T. program, evaluation for students in grade 3 is arranged by the ELP Program Facilitator. Evaluation for students in grades 4 - 8 is arranged by the ELP teacher at the student's transportation zone school. Grades 4-6 may be tested when referred. Grades 7-8 will take place during the testing week determined by the district.
Students who are enrolled in out of district home schools such as IDEA or Raven and students who are enrolled in private schools such as ICS or Monroe, are required to also be enrolled in the FNSBSD in order to receive testing or services for ELP.
Students enrolled in charter schools, including those in the FNSBSD, are not tested or served for ELP.
Are high school students tested for the ELP?
High school students are not tested for the Extended Learning Program.
Which tests are used to determine eligibility?
All students who are being considered for the Extended Learning Program need to have a measure of their cognitive ability and their school achievement. In third grade, the cognitive measure can come from the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT2) that is given to all third grade students in the district.
For students in higher grades, the Cognitive Abilities Test is used to determine the cognitive abilities of the student. This test can also be used in the third grade if the NNAT2 suggests that the student needs a cognitive measure that is more verbally oriented. For the school achievement portion of the testing, we use the most current MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores within the past year. If the scores are greater than a year old, or if another measure of achievement is warranted, then we administer the Woodcock Johnson IV Tests of Achievement.
Often when a student transfers to our district, the student does not have achievement testing that is current, or that matches what our district uses. In that case, we would administer the Woodcock Johnson IV to determine achievement levels. Some students are highly creative and may be given a Torrance Test of Creative Abilities. We can also accept an IQ score from the WISC IV or the Stanford-Binet.
What happens if my child is not eligible?
If your child has gone through testing and is not eligible, it may be that your child is correctly placed in the regular education classroom. You will have an idea of your child's strengths and relative weaknesses. In many schools there are after-school programs in which your child can participate. There are usually clubs that can also help your child to develop his or her interests.
If your child's scores are sufficiently high and if there is room in the program, your child may be invited to come to the Extended Learning class on a semester-by-semester basis. If this happens, you would have to sign a letter stating that your child has your permission to attend, and that you understand that the invitation does not mean formal placement, and that it is on a semester-by-semester basis.
If my child is found eligible, when does s/he have to test again?
If your child is determined to be eligible for the Extended Learning Program in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, then you will be asked to sign a Student Plan that allows us to place your child in the program. After placement, your child will not need further testing in order to continue receiving services in our school district. This holds true even if you temporarily leave the district, or if your child is not attending public school for any length of time. If your child does not require services for any reason, your child is still eligible for services in our district when s/he chooses. Please note that if your child qualifies in our district, this does not mean that your child will qualify in another district in Alaska, or qualify in another state.
What if my child moves to a different school?
If your child is eligible for services in the Extended Learning Program and you move to another school within the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, your child is still eligible for services in the Extended Learning Program at the new school.
Out of District
The State of Alaska has not standardized programs for gifted students in how they are run or in how students are identified. As a result, your child may be placed in a program based upon test results from the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, or s/he may have to retest. Inform the new district about your child’s placement, and they will let you know what services they have available and how to access them.
Out of State
Not every state has a program for their gifted students. Many states do, however, have excellent programs. In states where there is a program for gifted students, each has its own criteria for entrance into the program. Your child may have to be tested again in order to receive services in another state.
My child was in a gifted program in another district. Can s/he participate in ELP?
For those of you who are new to our district, we will need to see the testing that was used to determine eligibility into a program for gifted students in another district or another state. Some testing is the same as ours, or at least similar enough for us to accept. If the testing is more than a year old, or if the testing is not similar to the testing our district does, your child will need to be retested for eligibility into our district's Extended Learning Program. The exception to this would be if your child was given an IQ test and their total composite score is in the 95 percentile or higher our district accepts those scores with no further testing.
Are honors/Advanced Placement classes only available to students in the ELP?
No. Advanced placement classes in high school are based on student readiness and teacher recommendation. Many things are taken into account, such as background knowledge of the subject and a student's work habits. If you are interested in learning more about honors classes or advanced placement classes, please talk to your child's school counselor.