The Coppell High School administration will no longer offer the Gifted and Talented Advanced Placement (GT/AP) courses for the 2019-2020 school year.
According to CHS associate principal Melissa Arnold, the only difference between an Advanced Placement (AP) and GT course is its differentiation to support gifted students.
“It’s not necessarily a better or worse thing, it just addresses a different type of learner, and GT kids really do learn differently than other kids,” GT/AP English III Teacher Melissa Alexander-Blythe said.
There were many factors that led to the removal of these courses.
CHS administration notes there are only four GT/AP courses out of the 30 AP courses offered. It also realized GT students took more AP courses instead of GT/AP courses. The administration also wants to model AP courses offered in CHS after the ones in colleges, where there is no GT option.
Current GT/AP teachers and students will merge with regular AP courses next year. There will be more students in AP courses, but more teachers to teach those students.
But this sudden change in the course guide has made some question whether this was the right decision for the future of GT/AP students at CHS.
CHS junior Ady Chaudhari does not think GT students can work to their full potential.
“I absolutely hate it, because I love my GT/AP courses,” Chaudhari said. “I feel like I really work with like-minded people in GT, and I don’t generally like being in just the honors and just the AP courses, because I have grown up with a certain community.”
However, the administration knows the GT learners learn in a different way, but many questions were raised on how they would provide that level of differentiation for the GT learners, but still have the same level of rigor expected within an AP course.
“All of our teachers have to get trained in Gifted and Talented instruction,” associate principal Melissa Arnold said. “We have plans to ensure that they are [AP teachers have received training in GT instruction] if they have not already received that training. The majority of our teachers have.”
Some teachers, such as Alexander-Blythe, do understand the decision making, and think it would be good for GT/AP students to be immersed with other learners.
“There is definitely some potential for some good things to happen,” Alexander-Blythe said. “GT kids tend to sequester themselves, and they tend to live in little microcosms, and it can be good for them to be in classes with other AP learners. It will be a good opportunity for teachers to interact more with GT kids and to differentiate [for] the GT kids.”
However, Alexander-Blythe thinks there will be potential fallbacks to this change.
“GT learners will get lost in the shuffle,” Alexander-Blythe said. “GT kids are smart and they are very capable, and when a teacher is already overwhelmed with everything they have to do, it would be very easy to just forget the smart kid and put them as the very last thing on your list that you need to do.”
Amid the dissatisfaction to some, the administrators said their best intentions are to prepare students for college courses.
“We are working to model a true college experience, and there is no GT section in any college I am aware of,” CISD Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Deana Dynis said.
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