Announcing a New ALPS Program at Joel P. Jensen Middle School!
ALPS is an acronym for the Advanced Learning Placement for Students, a gifted and talented magnet program that serves students in grades 1-9. The program is designed for students who demonstrate high performance, or capacity for high performance, beyond grade/age expectations and thus require specialized learning experiences beyond the regular curriculum. Students attend school full-time in one of four ALPS magnet schools (3 elementary schools and 1 middle school).
What are key benefits of the ALPS program?
(1) A faster-paced and more challenging curriculum
(2) Teachers with specialized training in gifted and talented education
(3) Opportunities to associate with other students who have advanced abilities.
How do I know if my child is a good candidate for the ALPS program?
Students should be considered for the program if they score above average on standardized tests, are one or more grade levels above placement in reading and math, and if they demonstrate characteristics of giftedness which may include having a broad knowledge base, easily making connections and intuitive leaps, exhibiting quick mastery of skills, showing creativity and originality, having an expanded vocabulary, having a questioning attitude, knowing an extensive amount of information about one topic, and being persistent.
How is an ALPS classroom different than a regular education classroom?
In ALPS, students engage in appropriately paced and rigorous curriculum with an emphasis on depth, complexity, and creativity. Students' abilities to master curriculum quickly allows for faster pacing of instruction and extended emphasis on higher level thinking skills.
How are students identified for ALPS?
To qualify for ALPS, parent must submit an application and students take two standardized assessments. Testing is conducted once each year. Applications are posted on this website each year in October. The application will contain the testing dates for the given year. Please visit ALPS Testing for more details on the assessment process.
Will my child have to re-test every year?
All students entering 1st, 4th, and 7th grades are required to apply for the program and take the assessments to qualify for placement. Once students are admitted into ALPS, they can remain in the program until the next mandatory testing grades (1st, 4th, 7th). New applicants to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 9th grades are admitted according to space availability.
Is there an appeals process if my child does not qualify for the ALPS program?
The appeals process is initiated by parent request and is an important part of the identification system. After additional assessments have been administered, the data is carefully analyzed and considered by the Appeals Committee. Please note that each individual student is important and our primary goal is to honor and respect children's educational needs.
Are twice-exceptional (2E) students candidates for the ALPS program?
Twice-exceptional (2E) is a term for individuals who are highly-ability learners and also have a type of disability such as ADHD, autism, sensory disorder, etc. 2E students are welcome to apply for the program. Appropriate accommodations are provided during the testing process and are also provided in the ALPS classrooms.
What if my child has been in ALPS and does not re-qualify to remain in the program?
Students grow and learn at different rates. It is not expected that all students who attended ALPS in the early grades will remain in ALPS in the upper grades. However, parents have the option of submitting an appeal if their child is not initially placed. Under the circumstance that a student returns to the regular classroom, support can be given to the teacher from a Gifted & Talented Teacher Specialist to ensure the transition is smooth and academic needs are met.
What if my child enters the program, but it is not a good fit?
Parents may choose to exit their children from the ALPS program at any time. If students do not experience success in the program, parents are contacted by the teacher, principal or counselor and appropriate interventions are implemented to help the student achieve success. If the interventions are unsuccessful, a formal conference is scheduled with the parents, teacher, principal and district Gifted and Talented Content Administrator to set goals and a three week reevaluation period begins. A follow-up meeting is then scheduled to assess the progress and discuss options that are in the best interest of the student..
What is available in local schools to meet the needs of advanced learners?
Local schools establish plans for meeting the needs of high-ability learners that meet the unique needs of their own community. Consideration is given to activities that provide talent development, enriched opportunities for all students, differentiated instruction, and interventions for students who demonstrate exceptional abilities. All schools are invited to participate in district-sponsored special programs that provide opportunities for enrichment such as Debate, Monster Math, Story Weavers, Creative Pursuit, and History Day. The district GT Teacher Specialist can also offer support to individual parents, teachers, and administrators who are seeking help to meet the needs of exceptional students.