Gifted Program - SPARC
Student Personalized Academic Resource Coordination (SPARC) was developed as a pilot program to serve students with special and gifted needs.
The Sparc Institute
Our SPARC Institute program kicked off in the 2021-22 school year as a two-year pilot of a self-contained gifted classroom. While we evaluate the pilot and consider the possibility of its extension into other grade levels, we have paused accepting further applications for the SPARC Institute and look forward to providing an update in January 2023. In the meantime, we’d be happy to share about how we support gifted learners throughout our school with our approach to differentiated instruction and our strong focus on social and emotional development.
The SPARC Resources Program
The SPARC resources program helps support a broad spectrum of learners, from those who are in need of specialized support to those who would benefit from an accelerated structure. This is accomplished through the coordination and monitoring of an individualized educational plan for identified students. This program seeks to build on strengths while ensuring mastery of the grade-level curriculum and beyond, and students remain in their regular classroom setting.
The SPARC Institute classroom is a self-contained classroom. All 15 students will remain with their dedicated teacher for all academic rotations. SPARC Institute students will join their 1st grade peers for lunch, recess, field trips, extended day, and all other school events. The SPARC Institute will use the core curriculum used by CHA (Singapore Math, Daily 5, Writer's Workshop, and more), but extended and differentiated in accordance with the National Standards of Gifted and Talented Education. The SPARC Institute will also leverage enrichment beyond the accelerated curriculum, including docents, time with subject specialists, and flexibility in project completion. The SPARC Institute will integrate social-emotional learning as a consistent component of the student's weekly routine, to help foster students' confidence and self-understanding. SPARC Institute students will also have time to explore their individual aptitudes and talents. The SPARC Institute is a learning environment with the consistency of a cohort, and with the resources to meet the individual needs of gifted students.
- Is the SPARC Institute a pull-out program?
- What if my child does not meet the minimum criteria for the 1st Grade gifted classroom?
- How many first-grade students will participate in the gifted classroom?
- Can we opt-out of participation in the SPARC Institute even if our child meets the criteria?
- Will you share the names of other students participating in the SPARC Institute?
- How will the SPARC Institute differ from a 1st Grade general education classroom?
- Will there be a tuition increase associated with the SPARC Institute?
Our goal is to meet the needs of all students at Chestnut Hill Academy. Our general education teachers have continued access to accelerated curriculum and resources and will continue to differentiate instruction regardless of a student’s participation in the SPARC Institute. Further, our baseline SPARC program provides accommodations and academic opportunities to all students with an identified need for support or enrichment based on their psycho-educational assessment.
Yes, we understand that some families would like their highly capable child to remain in a classroom with a broader spectrum of learners. In these cases, prospective families would only need to complete the standard Chestnut Hill Academy admissions application. Current CHA families who have a child who meets the criteria but would like to remain in the general classroom would only need to submit their recurring contract for the 2021-2022 school year.
Building upon the rigor, exceptional academic standards, and leadership focus of our general education classrooms, The SPARC Institute will offer a highly differentiated and accelerated curriculum. This curriculum will allow high achievers to remain challenged through curricula extensions, research projects, and enhanced opportunities to develop critical thinking skills while fostering creativity. With a singular focus on developing the whole child, each student will take a partnering role in setting the pace and intensity of their academic program. A student’s readiness, interests, and learning profile shape instruction. The instruction includes activities for multiple intelligences and flexible grouping is used for instruction. The development of student potential is encouraged, and students are assessed in accordance with their abilities.
The SPARC Resources program serves a broad spectrum of learners with special and gifted needs in an inclusive academic setting that enables students to reach their full potential. A commitment to differentiated instruction allows us to meet students’ needs as we recognize each individual student as an independent learner, building on strengths while ensuring mastery of the grade-level curriculum and beyond. This is accomplished through the coordination and monitoring of an individualized educational plan for identified students.SPARC will support students who have completed testing through an Educational Psychologist. Once a student with special needs has been identified and/or qualifies as highly capable, they will be considered for SPARC support.
- Who is eligible?
- Is SPARC Resources a pull-out program?
- Will my student be paired with other SPARC students during instruction?
- What is the difference between a SPARC and a non-SPARC student?
- Does SPARC offer a social-emotional component?
- Can you share which students are part of the SPARC Resources program so we can connect?
- What if the classroom teacher is not able to meet the needs of my child?
The Student Personalized Academic Resource Coordination (SPARC) program was developed to serve students with special and gifted needs. Students with current test results conducted by a licensed Educational Psychologists will be eligible for consultation with the SPARC program administrator to determine if interventions are appropriate.
The goal of our SPARC Resources program is to meet the needs of each student within the context of providing instruction in an inclusive classroom environment, and as such is not a pull-out program. To accomplish these goals, our teachers have access to several tools, including but not limited to differentiated curriculum both at and above grade-level, lesson extensions and enrichment opportunities, modification of intensity and rigor, and the modification of expectations. Pull-out programs are often designed to place the student in a small class setting, which already exists at CHA.
Students at CHA are paired based on capability, work habits, and maturity, regardless of their SPARC status. As a result, some instructional peers may be part of SPARC, while others will not. This is to create an inclusive environment. Each classroom teacher endeavors to meet the needs of all students, so while some families have elected to not pursue testing, their child, based on demonstrated abilities, will be provided with instruction consistent with their aptitude and needs.
SPARC students have undergone Psychoeducational Assessments to identify needs unique to that student. For students with learning differences, SPARC helps to create and implement a 504 Plan that helps identify and guide classroom accommodations to ensure academic and social success. For students with highly capable evaluations, the Cognitive Assessment and report will guide the instructional staff in developing accommodations to ensure that the student continues to be challenged academically within the classroom.
Students do not need to be part of the SPARC program to receive social-emotional support. All CHA students practice social-emotional skills throughout the day as part of our school’s mission to create an environment where children become educated global-leaders, problem solvers, and life-long learners. All CHA students begin building social-emotional skills in kindergarten with our Superhero Social Thinking and Second Step Curriculum.
Your participation in SPARC and details about your student are considered confidential information and are shared internally with faculty and staff to the extent necessary to provide instruction and meet the needs of the student. If you are seeking resources to build relationships and community with families with similar interests and questions, CHA can share recommendations for online resources and peer groups matched to your family’s needs.
With access to a wealth of resources, it is uncommon for us to be unable to meet the academic and social needs of students within the classroom environment. However, if teacher input, assessments, or formal and informal observations indicate that a student’s needs cannot be met in the classroom, we will schedule a meeting to discuss alternative options. These include, but are not limited to, working with an instructional assistant, tutoring, or recommending an outside specialist for Occupational, Vision, Speech, or other therapy.
SPARC Application Guidelines and Procedures
Thank you for your interest in The SPARC Institute for the 2022 – 2023 academic year. The following standards and procedures will apply to your student's initial application to our program.
There are four key criteria that must be met for basic program eligibility:
- Eligibility for 2022-23 is limited to students entering the 1st Grade and 2nd Grade.*
- Documentation must be provided showing that the student has taken the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) evaluation. For students age 6 and older we also accept the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V). In both cases, a complete testing report must be submitted.
- Test scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale should meet or exceed the 97th percentile.
- All testing should be completed by a certified or licensed psychologist and be dated within two years of your SPARC Institute application described below.
APPLICATIONS CAN BE SUBMITTED THROUGH RAVENNA
*if spaces are released by current participants
- Will CHA screen the student body as a whole?
- Why do I need to submit a full testing report as part of the application process?
- What specific tests are required?
- Can I submit a different intelligence or achievement test in place of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale test?
- Do the tests expire? How often should we have our child retested?
- Is there a list of CHA approved Educational Psychologists?
- My child has been tested by a licensed Educational Psychologist. Where should I submit the results?
- I submitted my child’s evaluation report and test results. What comes next?
No. Testing is tailored to the needs of the individual student based on the judgment of an Educational Psychologist. Families who have recent test results or are considering testing would independently provide those results to the SPARC program. A complete report summary should be included as part of any assessment submission.
The full testing report offers valuable insights that inform our review of the testing results. These often include a narrative of how the child presented on the day of testing, the perceived effort and attention that was given to the tests, and any additional professional observations to understand the validity and rigor of the testing. The full report also generally gives us valuable insights into each child’s learning profile and relevant academic and/or developmental history which help to guide our team in recommending the most effective instruction.
A neuropsychologist will design the battery of tests based on the specific concerns raised by the family, as well as on his or her medical evaluation. The specific subtests and individual evaluation can vary based on the age of the student and desired objectives for learning. Additionally, most Neuropsychologists provide examinations for neurocognitive mediators and a variety of other factors that can moderate abilities. Any tests conducted and recommended by a Neuropsychologist are considered relevant for SPARC evaluation.
Currently, we are accepting test results from any licensed Educational Psychologist. This will provide families with the flexibility to choose the specialist that best fits their needs. Please refer to the following list of local licensed psychologists should you need a recommendation:
Eastside Psychological Associates - Dr. Reilly, 8226 Bracken Place SE Ste 200, Snoqualmie, WA 98065 (425) 427-2474
Cindy Dupuy - 9725 SE 36th St., Ste. 206. Mercer Island, 98040 (425) 378-7634
Dr. Kawena Begay - DrBegay@KawenaPLLC.com 425/998-6435 (messages only) For the fastest response, please email
Kinderminds - Elizabeth A. Smith, Ph.D., 5400 Carillon Point, Building 5000, Kirkland, 98033 425-301-1816 www.kinderminds.com (Complete Comprehensive Neuroeducational Evaluation Only)
The SPARC Institute will use the first-grade curriculum. Students will use Singapore Math, Into Reading, Wired for Reading, Mystery Science, among others. However, the pacing, instructional techniques, and extensions will match the rigor needed to challenge each student. For example, students may complete the same science unit as the general education first grade classes, but the content will be extended with opportunities such as docents, student choice in assignment completion, project-based learning, inquiry-based learning and interest-based extension opportunities.