LEAP: Learning Environment for Advanced Programming
What is the purpose and philosophy of LEAP?
The purpose of LEAP is to provide profoundly gifted students who, when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment, require specialized programming beyond what is provided by the regular educational setting. CHCCS believes that highly gifted learners are equally present across all student groups and we actively address the need for equitable identification of gifted students.
The LEAP option provides a learning environment that provides advanced curriculum and instruction designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted students in grades four through eight. These profoundly gifted students consistently exceed grade level performance expectations, well beyond their age and grade level peers. These students present an extreme need for differentiation in all subject areas, particularly reading and math. They may also exhibit specific social and emotional needs common in highly gifted learners. Their unique learning needs are best met in a setting other than the grade-level classroom.
LEAP curriculum and instruction are designed to accelerate, extend, and add depth to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, which serves as a framework for each respective grade level. While academic and intellectual rigor is the primary emphasis, a whole child approach balances this need with support for emotional and social growth for highly gifted upper elementary and middle school students.
What is LEAP programming like?
Large amounts of independent study will deepen students’ experiences. However, students will participate in shared learning experiences daily. They will work in small groups with others pursuing the same coursework. In addition, students will work in larger groups on thematic projects and discussions. The themes will serve to connect students’ work beyond their immediate courses and will cross grade level and age. These projects and discussions will provide students opportunities to work together within the community of the school in intellectual pursuits, contributing to a shared learning environment and support network. This will complement service learning projects.
How are students identified for LEAP?
This is a multi-dimensional process that considers the whole-child and includes quantitative and qualitative measures. LEAP students are identified with a variety of measures including evidence of extreme scores on nationally and locally normed tests. To determine the level at which a student is functioning academically, above-grade achievement tests are necessary. This raises the ceiling of the test so students have the opportunity to demonstrate how much they know beyond grade level. Aptitude tests are also used to determine level of need.
In 2019-20, CHCCS transitioned to a holistic process to consider both quantitative and qualitative data of highly gifted children who demonstrate severe and profound need for a specialized program.
After each student is carefully reviewed by their school-based teams, the school refers those students who show profound need to a district level team. The district level team reviews all referrals and then makes final placement decisions.
What electives are available?
The LEAP format provides students an opportunity to take specials and electives with the heterogeneous population of the host school. This structure provides the students opportunities to interact with their age peers.
How does programming support social and emotional learning?
The goal of LEAP is to meet the extreme academic, intellectual, social and emotional needs of the students. Profoundly gifted students are a very small part of the total school population. They are different in many ways from their age peers. Students with profound aptitude and abilities are keenly aware of their differences. They may experience the world differently than age peers, learn differently than age peers, and may have very different interests. In LEAP, students learn how to effectively interact with others. Through specials, electives, and community service projects, profoundly gifted students will have opportunities to learn important communication and social skills necessary for their future success.
How is the value-added impact of the LEAP Program evaluated?
Student progress will be evaluated utilizing above-grade tests and student work products evaluated by their classroom teachers. Each student will have an Individual Differentiated Education Plan (IDEP) which will be developed with input from the parent, student, and teacher. Annual monitoring of students’ progress relative to their IDEPs will be conducted by LEAP teachers and school administrators. The Director of Advanced Learning and Student Leadership will support as needed. In addition, students will take age appropriate district and state-required and/or course appropriate tests, including End of Course tests (e.g.i-Ready, EOGs, EOCs, above-level tests, etc). This data will also indicate student progress. Students’ performance reported in assessment data will be an important indicator of successful implementation of LEAP Programming.
What if my student is not in LEAP?
LEAP is only one of the ways we meet the advanced learning needs of our students and it is the most extreme modification. It was created to address severe and profound learning differences. For the large majority of our district students, their needs are best met in their neighborhood school with the support of the gifted education specialist and their core teachers.
All pathways to all advanced learning opportunities throughout middle and high school are available to students regardless of AIG identification status or LEAP placement. We are committed to open opportunities for all of our learners.