All students in Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third grades receive gifted education services through SEARCH. SEARCH teachers plan and present lessons focusing on five thinking skills– perceiving, creating, reasoning, connecting, and evaluating. The lessons are designed to foster excitement for learning and discovery by stimulating critical and creative thinking through problem solving and open-ended situations. Classroom teachers participate in these lessons, making observations about students who respond at a high level.
During a student’s third grade year, Loudoun County uses a multi-faceted approach to identify students for gifted services in the upper grades. One factor is scores on standardized tests of 97% and above. Teachers are asked to complete the Professional Educator Evaluation on selected students and might be asked to write a brief profile of the student, focusing on his/her preferred learning style and area of talent. Documentation is provided by attaching outstanding work samples to the teacher evaluation. Parents are given the opportunity to present their view of the child’s strengths and accomplishments. The SEARCH teacher and the classroom teacher make observations during SEARCH lessons. A student portfolio is compiled as part of class lessons during the third grade year or in response to a referral. Other portfolio items may be submitted by the student or parents. Completed files are evaluated by a team of SEARCH teachers and decisions about need for gifted services are made at the Division level.