Question: What's the scoop on identifying and serving twice-exceptional homeschooled TAG students?
By Margaret DeLacy, Ph.D.
If you are home-schooling your child it is very likely that your child is not enrolled in his school district. Districts may sometimes allow home-schooled students to participate in school activities even when they are not enrolled. If you believe they are mistaken about that status, you will need to find out whether your district is receiving ADM funds (that is, state per-student payments) for him. ADM funds are only provided for enrolled students.
How should home-schooled students be registered?
Home-schooled students should be certified with the relevant Education Service District (ESD) and the ESD is responsible for keeping track of the student. Students who are neither registered with their ESD as home-schooled nor with their resident school district may be subject to truancy prosecutions.
What if the student is on an IEP?
IEP plans are carried out on a completely different track from TAG plans. Districts do evaluate students for IEPs who are not enrolled, as this evaluation is needed to determine whether a student will in fact be enrolled in a regular school or placed in an alternative program. If your child has an IEP it will probably focus only on his areas of difficulty, where remediation is needed. It will not include any plan to address above-average performance in an academic area. The fact that your son is gifted is not a reason for districts to refuse to evaluate him for deficits, but there is no SpED requirement in Oregon that they provide academic instruction in areas of strength.
Can districts use the CogAT?
Districts have the option to use the math portion of the CogAT for TAG identification if they wish, but they don't have to. This is because the CogAT is considered a test of aptitude, not of achievement, and so districts can insist that only the entire composite CogAT score is considered as a measure of aptitude and require a different, separate assessment of math achievement.
IF your child continues to be homeschooled almost entirely, you won't have much to gain from pursuing a TAG designation from the school, because it won't secure additional services for your child. If at some point you decide to enroll the child more than half time (and this is very likely to happen eventually) then it would certainly be encouraged for you to nominate him/her for TAG (any parent can do this) and have him/her evaluated. If a student is designated as being "potentially" gifted, the school must also provide TAG services. With a 98% on the CogAT in math and a 96% overall you would have a strong case for the student being listed as "potentially" gifted, but districts have a lot of latitude over the way they define the "potential" category.
Finally there is also a different Administrative Rule (not part of the TAG mandate) that states that students who "exceed" benchmarks are entitled to additional services. The services are not defined in the rule and I don't know of any parents who have tried to use this provision, but it might be worth raising that topic.
In any case, if your child should return to the classroom, I would certainly recommend advocating for him/her to participate in advanced math instruction.
In the mean time, as you are homeschooling your son, you will have to arrange for him to take an achievement test in third grade anyway. So when you do this, make sure you keep his scores--especially if the math score is in the top 5%.
Additional resources for twice-exceptional students.
I would also recommend investigating the information available from SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) http://sengifted.org/ and the Twice-Exceptional newsletter
There are also sections on twice exceptional students on the Hoagiesgifted.org website, the database section of the Davidson Institute website (ditd.org), especially this section: http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/topic/105220/entryType/1 and the Wrightslaw website http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/2e.index.htm
The SENG website will be especially helpful for those parents seeking support in this area.
Also, the Gifted Homeschools Network has other useful supports.
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