Young Scholars Program
The Young Scholars (YS) Program is an academic program that embraces research-based practices for identifying and nurturing gifted potential in students who have been historically underrepresented for gifted services.
Students are considered based on their need for:
- Access to resources and experiences that nurture their high potential
- Affirmation of their potential to develop their self-confidence and academic propensity
- Advocates to ensure that their potential is recognized and further developed
Additionally, the YS program targets students in the following population groups due to their historic underrepresentation in gifted services:
- English Language Learners
- Students receiving free and reduced lunch
- Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Thai)
The Young Scholars model promotes the notion of nurturing continuous academic growth beginning in kindergarten. Early identification coupled with early intervention allows each school to provide learning experiences that strengthen basic skills and requires students to think and apply knowledge on a higher, more complex level.
How Students Are Chosen
Elementary YS specialists go into each K-3 classroom during the first trimester of the school year and teach lessons that are designed to help promote critical and creative thinking skills. During these lessons the classroom teacher acts as an observer and, using a specifically designed observation tool, records student observations during the lessons.
After the lessons have been taught, the YS specialist and classroom teacher, along with other professionals look at the observed results for:
- Quality of performance
- Intensity of the observed intellectual, emotional, or physical energy invested in tasks
- Frequency of the demonstration of the above described behaviors
Based on classroom observations, work samples, and test scores, students are chosen for inclusion in the YS program. Parents are notified by letter of their student’s inclusion in the program. Students are reassessed for the program each year.
Services Students Receive
Once identified, students work with the YS specialists in a small group setting on a regular basis. Lessons taught provide creative and critical thinking opportunities for students to question, explore, and investigate. Learning activities are also connected to students’ diverse backgrounds as well as to content taught in the regular classroom. Students also have the opportunity to attend a week long summer day camp. Information about day camp comes home with each YS student in the spring of the year.
Young Scholars are held to high standards and performance expectations. This increases the likelihood that YS students will pursue advanced level coursework in both middle school and high school. The long term goal for YS students is to participate and succeed in Advanced Placement courses in high school and to become college and career ready.
To learn more about Young Scholars contact your school’s Young Scholar specialist or email Pam McDonald at Pam.McDonald@district196.org.