SAGE members met with our special guest, GCISD Director of Advanced Academics Becky Manning, for a Brown Bag lunch, October 21 @ 11:30 a.m. at PDEC, the  Professional Development and Education Center, 5800 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, Texas 76034. The event was free for SAGE members; $5 at the door for non-members.


The following are notes on Ms. Manning’s presentation and her answers to questions submitted by the attendees (including questions we didn’t get to during the Brown Bag).

1. GT LEAD & Collaborative Planning

A GT specialist meets with the teachers in each grade level. The goal is to extend the GT curriculum into the regular classroom and tie the regular curriculum into the pull out program so that there is more of a connection between the two.

2. Expansion of ASPIRE Academy

First year = 57 students; this year = 168 students. Now there are 2 sections of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. They have combined the testing for GT identification with the qualification for ASPIRE so that if you score high enough during the GT qualification you will have an opportunity to continue the process for ASPIRE admission.

3. Parallel Curriculum goals:

Core – TEKS and NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) and other standards and elevate what is taught to increase rigor and challenge for GT.
Connections – Address depth, complexity, trends, patterns, etc. as well as connections between content areas.
Practice – show how the instructed material applies in real life; let them see an authentic purpose for what they’re learning
Identity – how students view themselves as learners, social and emotional support

4. GT Advisory Committee (GTAC)

Goals are: addressing curriculum options for meeting GT needs and challenging GT students; insuring GT training ; improved communication

5. AP (Advanced Placement) Council

Just formed this month. Led by Becky Manning, comprised of teachers representing all core content areas across all middle and high schools. Sharing best practices among campuses and district-wide program improvement.


Check websites to see what colleges will take which AP scores for credit. Not all GT students should take all AP classes; take what is appropriate for you. Other way to earn college credit is via dual enrollment.

Q&A from attendees

– STEM vs ASPIRE Academy – which should I choose?

Must qualify for AA with general intelligence assessment score of 140+. If you are deciding between STEM and ASPIRE — choose based on what you know about your child’s interests, what your child wants, and what you want for them. The STEM schools are “schools of choice” and anyone can enter the lottery for a chance to attend. The STEM schools are not GT schools; however, a GT-identified student attending a STEM school would go to the GT LEAD program. ASPIRE Academy is a service for highly gifted (the top 1 to 3% of population) and does not have a STEM focus though STEM activities could be a part of Academy.

– Why is ASPIRE Academy Class size so large?

There is a 1:22 teacher to student ratio for Academy classrooms. Ideally they would be smaller but we do not have the funding to do so. In regular high and middle schools, classes are much larger, like 30+ students. This is all due state funding constraints.

– Assessments discussion, iStation, MAPS, etc

Participants expressed frustration about the children being assessed with a different test each year, making it impossible to track progress over time, and the ongoing use of iStation at the elementary level. Several spoke of a great desire to stick with one assessment and use it to create the individual learning plans described in the Lead 2021 plan. There was also a discussion about PSAT prep in high school and the boot camp that the district offers to students that have the potential to make National Merit Scholar. The Khan Academy offers free SAT prep for the revised SAT.

– GT identification in Kindergarten

Teachers are conducting screening through “kid watching” and helping identify students who have GT tendencies to be GT tested. Testing will take place in December, and kindergarten GT services will begin in January.


Telescoping is handled under the math department but we know that there is a lot of overlap with Advanced Academics and that counseling plays an important role in ensuring that kids and parents can consider the impacts down the road (i.e. high school) if they decide to go this route.

-Duke Talent Identification Program

-Duke TIP /ACT/ SAT testing for 7th and/or 8th?

-How does the district measure “a full year’s growth” for our GT kids?

-AP Human Geography. Why do we ask our freshmen to take such a rigorous class which transfers as a college elective?

AP Human Geography is the only course College Board allows to be a Freshman course.

-Please discuss “content mastery” and how you see it evolving in our district over the next few years. Relate this to personal learning plans – as in “I get it, let’s move on.”

Do we mean standards-based? It refers to the concept of students demonstrating mastery of standards and reporting reflecting that mastery rather than a list of grades accrued through school assignments and tests.

-Please explain high school GPA and how it works for the top 10%.




SAGE is grateful to Becky Manning for providing information and answers to us! Thank you to everyone who attended the Brown Bag. We will see you next time.