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Chapter 16

Acronyms                                  GIEP 

Criteria for Gifted                        GWR

Discipline and Expulsion                Programs and Services

Dual Exceptionality                      Re-evaluations

General FAQs                             Other Issues

Glossary of Acronyms

AP – Advanced Placement
CBA – Curriculum Based Assessment
CER – Comprehensive Evaluation Report (pre-2001 Chapter 14)
FERPA – Family Education Rights and Privacy Act
GIEP – Gifted Individualized Education Program
GMDE – Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation
GMDT – Gifted Multidisciplinary Team
GWR – Gifted Written Report
IDEA – Individual with Disabilities Education Act
IEP – Individualized Education Program
IQ – Intelligence Quotient 
LD – Learning Disabled
MDE – Multidisciplinary Evaluation
PDE – Pennsylvania Department of Education


General FAQs

1. Where should complaints be sent regarding Chapter 16? 

If the gifted student is also identified as a student with a disability, the Bureau of Special Education will assist with complaints regarding Chapter 14: Special Education for Students with Disabilities. 717-783-2311.  If the issue only involves gifted education, the Bureau of Teaching and Learning Support will provide assistance with Chapter 16 complaints as it does with Chapter 4 complaints.  Call 717-787-8913.

2. May affiliate groups and/or attorneys file requests for assistance with the PDE on behalf of parents as many parents are reluctant to file requests for assistance for fear of repercussions on their children by the school district and teachers?

Yes, affiliate groups and/or attorneys can file requests for assistance with PDE.  However, requests for assistance in regard to the GIEP of a specific child must name that child.


Criteria for Gifted

3. May a person with an IQ lower than 130 be admitted to gifted programs?

Yes.  Section 16.21 indicates that a person with an IQ lower than 130 may be admitted to the gifted program when other educational criteria in the student's profile strongly indicate gifted ability.  IQ may not be the sole criteria for identifying a student as a gifted student.

4.  May school districts set criteria such as high-test ceilings or IQ's of 140+ or design a matrix that is more restrictive than the requirements of Chapter 16 to determine whether a student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction? 

No.  Each school district must establish procedures for determining whether a student is mentally gifted through a screening and evaluation process that meets the requirements of Chapter 16.  Chapter 16 defines the term mentally gifted as "including a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher and when multiple criteria indicate gifted ability."  A person with an IQ lower than 130 may be gifted when other educational criteria in the child's profile strongly indicate gifted ability.  The matrix used the the school district may not be more restrictive than the requirement of the Chapter 16 regulations.

5. What are the multiple criteria that indicate a student may be mentally gifted?

The multiple criteria indicating a student may be mentally gifted include:

  • A year or more above grade achievement level in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests.

  • An observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills.

  • Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio, or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment.

  • Early and measured use of high level thinking skills (Guilford/Bloom's Taxonomy), academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise.

  • Documented, observed, validated or assessed evidence that intervening factors such as English as a second language, learning disability, physical impairment, emotional disability, gender or race bias, or socio/cultural deprivation are masking gifted abilities.

6. In the "multiple criteria" section 16.21 (e), what is meant by "subject results shall yield academic instruction levels in all academic subject areas"?

Subject results means subtests of achievement tests should provide results that can be used to determine placement in academic instruction in all academic subject areas.  

7. In the "multiple criteria" section 16.21 (e), how do you measure or show "an observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills that reflect gifted ability"?

Rate of acquisition is the rapidity or speed at which the student is able to acquire, understand, and demonstrate competency or mastery of new learning. Rate of acquisition and rate of retention of new materials/skills can be defined as how many repetitions the student needs before the student masters new information/skills and can use the information/skills appropriately any time thereafter.   This data can be obtained by simple procedures such as Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA), direct observation, and reporting from parents, teachers or supervisors.  The Gifted Guidelines includes a copy of the Chuska Scale for Rate of Acquisition and Chuska Scale for Rate of Retention for use by Pennsylvania school districts.

8. In the "multiple criteria" section 16.21 (e), how is "demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolios or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment" evaluated and reported?

Evaluations by a professional staff or an expert in the particular academic area would be used to report "demonstrated achievement, performance, or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolios, or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment".  The following examples could be a way to document achievement: 

  • Student A is a member of the high school debate team and has qualified for the state finals in grades 9, 10, & 11.

  • Student B loves to write poetry and has a folder of many unpublished works.

9. In the "multiple criteria" section 16.21 (e) what does measured use mean in "early and measured use of high level thinking skills, academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise."

Early and measured use of high level thinking skills could include checklists, inventories, and anecdotal notes.  It could also include documentation of developmental milestones that are reached earlier than average students reach the milestone.  For example:

Language developmentMonths for aver.Months for gifted
Says first word          7.9         5.5 
Babbles with intonation        12          8.4 
Vocabulary of 4-6 words        15       10.5 
Names an object        17.8        12.5 
Vocabulary of 20 words        21        14.7 
Uses simple sentences        24        16.8 
The above details were taken from Harrison (1995) pp 24 & 33, with Harrison attributing her information to Hall, EG & Skinner, N (1980) Somewhere to turn: strategies for parents of the gifted and talented children. New York: Teachers College Press.

Using a "checkpoints for progress" chart, you could show that a student has mastered skills beyond that child's age level. These types of charts often accompany grade level texts. 

  • The average kindergarten student uses symbols and letters to represent words.

  • The average third grade student uses a variety of sentence structures.

  • The average sixth grade student writes effectively using standard grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling in a final draft.

A kindergarten student who is able to spell common words correctly, make appropriate and varied word choices, and/or understands common capitalization and end punctuation would be demonstrating achievements that are a result of early and measured use of high level thinking skills. 

A child who could speak before age one or read before kindergarten would be other examples.


Gifted Written Report (GWR)

10. On a Gifted Written Report (GWR) where do we put psychological evaluation results?

The psychological evaluation may be put into the "Ability and Achievement Scores" section of the Gifted Written Report.

11. Was it intentional that the GWR does not list assessment of cognitive functioning in Section I under Summary of Findings?  The GWR currently begins with assessment of academic functioning.

Yes. The GWR includes Ability and Achievement Test Scores under Findings & Assessment of Academic Functioning.  This allows for the knowledge level of gifted students to be sufficiently addressed to meet the requirements of Chapter 16.   

12. Why are signatures not required on the GWR?

The Chapter 16 regulations do not require signatures on the GWR.  The GWR is a compilation of information from the Gifted Multidisciplinary Team (GMDT).  The GWR contains information provided by the school district, by the parent, and/or anyone with information concerning the student's educational needs and strengths.  This information is used by the GIEP team to determine if a child is gifted and needs specially designed instruction.  Parents and other GMDT members can still express disagreement/agreement at the GIEP team meeting.  By regulation the proper place for formal parent agreement/disagreement with what is being proposed by the school district is the Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) issued to the parent by the school district.

13. On a GWR can individual results from a group test such as one that is given yearly by a school district be used to report "achievement test scores"?

Yes.  Group achievement test scores should be only one piece of achievement information.  Individualized achievement or ability tests, book or unit tests, end of the year tests, curriculum based assessments, or other testing may be needed to identify the instructional or academic functioning level and to support educational placement of the gifted student.

14. Is classroom observation is required for the GWR? 

No. Classroom observation is not required for the GWR.  

15. On a GWR can N/A be used if there are no "intervening factors" that seem to be interfering with a student's gifted potential?

It is preferable to write a statement such as "the evaluation does not indicate intervening factors". 

16. After a GWR is completed, if the recommendation is to NOT offer a gifted program, must that still be followed by a GIEP team meeting and the presentation of a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)?

Yes. The GWR is the accumulation of information regarding the student.  A GIEP team meeting must be held to consider the information in the GWR and to make a decision regarding eligibility for gifted education and programming. Following a GIEP team decision, a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) must be issued to the parent for their signature and to document the parent's approval/disapproval.

17. May districts re-format the GWR and GIEP since they are not considered "forms"? 

Yes, all of the information on the state promulgated formats must be included, but additional items may be added.


Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP)

18. What is meant by "appropriate objective criteria" under GIEP development (section 16.32(e)(5))?

Objective Criteria would set the level, standard, grade, performance, the percent of mastery or completion expected.

19. Please define under section 16.41(b)(2) what "benefit meaningfully" specifically means.

Benefit meaningfully means accomplishment of or significant progress toward the GIEP annual goals.  A gifted student would have meaningful benefit when their rate of learning results in a rate of achievement.  For example:  A student is determined to need an acceleration rate that is 1 1/2 times faster than the average, that is the student would be expected to learn 1 1/2 years of new material in one school year.  Meaningful benefit for that student would be achieving 1 1/2 years academic growth for one year spent in school.

20. Is the level of intervention of gifted support services in comparison to regular education placement eliminated on the GIEP?  

Yes. The level of intervention is not required on the GIEP. 

21. May the 10-day waiting period for GIEP be waived?

Yes. The purpose of the 10 day period is to provide parents the opportunity to reflect on the process.  If the parents wish to move forward before the end of the 10 day period, the school district may honor the parents' request.

22. May the parent waive the 5-calendar days wait for services to begin after a GIEP meeting? 

Yes. The Chapter 16 regulations provide the 5 calendar days wait so that parents have an opportunity to change their minds after thinking about the provisions of the GIEP.  School districts may honor the parents' request to move forward, but the parent may again have a change of mind during the remaining days in the 5 calendar days.

23. Since the GIEP does not need signatures there is no way to indicate who actually attended the meeting.  

The regulations do not require a signature on the GIEP; however, the GIEP document has a place to list the names and positions of the GIEP team participants.  It should be noted beside the name whether the person was in attendance at the GIEP team meeting or merely provided input.

24 How do parents indicate approval or disapproval of the GIEP?

The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) should be provided to the parents with an annual GIEP or anytime a significant change is made to the GIEP. A NORA provides the parents with formal opportunity to agree or disagree with the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of gifted education as written in the GIEP. 

25. How do we measure achievement if the goals are not measurable?

Achievement may be measured through the short-term learning outcomes.  The short-term learning outcomes are written as steps to reach the annual goal and are measurable.  

26. There is no place on the GIEP to indicate whether the student is eligible for gifted services or does not qualify for gifted service.

The GIEP team makes the decision whether a student is gifted or not gifted and requires specially designed instruction. The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) documents the decision of the GIEP team.  A student who is not gifted does not receive a GIEP.

27. Could the GIEP team conclude that a child is gifted but does not need specially designed instruction?

In unusual circumstances the GIEP team may conclude that the student is gifted but the educational needs are met outside the school district's instructional setting.


Programs and Services

28. At our upper secondary level, we anticipate for the next school year a caseload of 492 gifted students per four full-time equivalent staff members, or a ratio of 123:1.  This is over the Chapter 16 caseload of 75:1.  However, the question is whether the Chapter 16 caseload is a hard and fast limit in situations where teachers do not provide direct instruction to their students, but instead serve as facilitators and mentors for these students as they pursue academic competitions, shadow studies, and a wide variety of other individualized activities.  Additionally, 98% of these students are participating in Honors and Advanced Placement courses at the secondary level that play a significant part in meeting their needs as gifted students.

Chapter 16 is a regulation adopted by the State Board of Education under the authority of the School Code of 1949 (see 24 P.S. §§13-1371, 26-2601-B and 26-2602-B), and therefore the rules under Chapter 16 have the weight of law in Pennsylvania.  Section 16.41 (3) and (4) limit the total number of gifted students which can be on an individual gifted teacher's caseload to a maximum of 75 students and limits the total number of gifted students that can be on an individual gifted teacher's class roster to a maximum of 20 students. Caseload and class size maximums may be waived by the Secretary upon written request by the district for extenuating circumstances.

28. Our school district's special education program is being monitored this year.  Will the Bureau of Special Education's monitoring include Gifted Special Education?

No. The compliance monitoring for students with disabilities is a federal law requirement (IDEA '97) that must include specific responsibilities by the State Education Agency to receive federal funds.  The federal law does not include gifted in the compliance monitoring process.

29. Will "gifted services" be a required part of a school district special education plan?

No. Each school district's strategic plan developed under Chapter 4: Academic Standards and Assessments must include procedures for education for all gifted students enrolled in the district.

30. Does the school district have an obligation to find all mentally gifted students in a district, including ones not attending school in the public school district?

Yes. A school district must locate and identify all students who reside within the district who are thought to be gifted and in need of specially designed instruction.  

31. What is the school district's responsibility in providing services and programs for gifted students?

Section 16.2 indicates that each school district must, by direct service or through arrangement with other agencies, provide the following:

  • Services and programs planned, developed and operated for the identification and evaluation of each gifted student.

  • Gifted education for each gifted student which is based on the unique needs of the student, not solely on the student's classification.

  • Gifted education for gifted students which enables them to participate in acceleration or enrichment programs, or both, as appropriate, and to receive services according to their intellectual and academic abilities and needs.

32. Are school districts required to provide gifted services to students enrolled in parochial or private schools?

Chapter 16 says that parents may choose to have their gifted children educated at a private school at private expense.   Pa School Code does permit parochial or private students to participate in public school gifted services.

33. Could a teacher function as the district representative?

Yes. The person serving as the district representative must meet all three requirements of section 16.32 (c)(3) which says: "A representative of the district, who will serve as the chairperson of the GIEP team, who is knowledgeable of resources of the district, AND who is authorized by the district to commit those resources." 


Dual Exceptionality

34. If you have a student that is both Emotionally Disturbed and Gifted, does that mean the GIEP must be written with "measurable goals/objectives" since Chapter 14 takes precedence?

Yes. For students identified with dual exceptionalities, the needs established under gifted status in Chapter 16 must also satisfy the procedures required in Chapter 14.

35. Why does Chapter 14 over-ride Chapter 16?  Which is "primary" gifted or Learning Disabled?  How do you mesh the special instruction, the acceleration and graduation requirements.

The regulations require that a dually diagnosed student must have their gifted needs and strengths addressed as part of the IEP.  Information on both exceptionalities may be used to mesh the special instruction, acceleration, and/or graduation requirements. 



36. When there is an IEP for a student with Emotional Disturbance and Gifted and it comes time to do a re-evaluation (MDE) do you need to do a re-evaluation of the gifted portion as well as the special education portion?

No. There is no specific requirement for gifted re-evaluation.

37. Do you have to include the dual diagnosis (Gifted/Learning Disabled) in the Notice of Intent to Reevaluate?

The evaluation or re-evaluation is of the child, not the exceptionality.  The notice is to inform the parent of the types of assessments being conducted; therefore, school districts should include the types of assessments on the notice. 


Discipline and Expulsion

38. Which procedures are followed regarding disciplinary exclusion and provision of services for gifted students?

The school district must follow the provisions of Chapter 12 when disciplining a mentally gifted student. Under certain circumstances (see §§12.6 –12.7), a student of compulsory school age may require some form of educational experience.


Other Issues

39. Does Chapter 16 provide for recovery of attorney's fees in proceedings to resolve disputes regarding gifted education?

No.  Attorney fees are only available to students with disabilities under federal law.

40. What does "is no longer school age" mean? 

School age is the period of a child's life from the earliest admission to a school district's kindergarten program, or when no kindergarten program is provided, the district's earliest admission for beginners until the child turns 21 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.  For information regarding school age and attendance in public schools, see Chapter 11: Student Attendance regulations.

41. Do charter schools need to follow the new Chapter 16 regulations?

No, unless it is specifically addressed in the school's charter.

42. Should we continue to add and update child count information on PENN Data?

Yes.  Gifted is included in the child count requirements for PENN Data.

43. May parents represent themselves at a hearing?

Parents may represent themselves at a hearing.  Chapter 16.63(h) says that parents may be represented by legal counsel and accompanied and advised by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to students who are gifted.

44. Is there any provision for independent evaluation at the district expense?

No.  Independent evaluations are at the parents' expense.

45. May the 5 pages of the Parent's Rights be compacted by copying them back to back or by shrinking them to fit standard size envelopes, much like what has already been done with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) rights? 

Yes.  Parent's Rights print set up may be altered to compact the document and two sided copies may be made.  If the school district chooses to shrink the Parent's Rights document, care should be taken to be sure the print is readable.

46. Under the screening and evaluation process, (Section 16.21(b)), each school district is to conduct public awareness activities.  What is meant by public awareness activities and what would be considered good practice?

Public awareness activities could include the following:

  • A school district would provide for the distribution of printed information regarding available gifted services and programs and rights to due process;

  • A school district would provide annual public notification (published or announced in newspapers or other media with circulation adequate to notify parents throughout the school district) of child identification activities.  

The annual notice would include the following:

  • The purpose of identification activities;

  • A description of gifted services and programs available and the needs of children served by these services;

  • The purpose, time and location of screening activities to be held in the district.

  • A description of how to request that the district initiate screening or evaluation activities for a child; and

  • An explanation of the protection of the confidentiality of information obtained regarding a specific child. 

47. Define what is meant by "administrative proceeding" under section 16.61(b), Procedural Safeguards.

An administrative proceeding would be a pre-hearing conference, mediation, or due process hearing. 

48. Who can represent parents in an impartial due process hearing?

Chapter 16.63 (h) states that "only legal counsel may represent parents in due process hearings."  However, a parent may be advised and accompanied by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to students who are gifted.

49. In section 16.63(i) what is the time limit for access to educational records? 

According to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the educational agency must comply with a written request to access records within a reasonable period of time but not more than 45 days after it has received the request.

50. May districts wait until five days prior to the hearing to make these records available to the parents and/or legal counsel?

Yes, a school district or parent could wait until five days before the hearing to make records available.  If the information is not disclosed by that time, that information cannot be used as evidence.

51. In section 16.63(m)(2) what does "without delay" mean?  What is clarified as a reasonable time period? 

There should be no purposeful delay in meeting the request.  However, factors like holidays or weekends might prevent an immediate response.

52. May advocates act as participants at the mediation conference? (See definition of participant under section 16.64(b), Mediation.)

Yes, participants are defined in Chapter 16 as "other persons appearing at the mediation conference on behalf of either party, such as family members and specialists".