Understanding Gifted Schools and Programs in Minnesota

By Janette Boik

School-within-a-school gifted programming is the model used for most full-time gifted and talented programs in Minnesota. These programs are exactly what their title suggests – a number of classrooms consisting of only gifted students contained within a regular school. Teachers in these classrooms generally have specialized training in gifted education and understand the unique academic, social, and emotional needs of gifted children. Rigorous curriculum has been selected which meets the academic needs of gifted students and the curriculum is presented at a much faster pace than in a general classroom. In addition to the academic benefits of these types of classrooms, gifted students have the opportunity to spend significant time during the school day with similar learners which offers a positive social environment. These students interact with the rest of the student body during lunch and recess and in many cases during non-academic courses like physical education, music, and art.

Explaining gifted magnet schools is a little more difficult since there are two distinct models of these programs in Minnesota. The first model is used at the elementary level of Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in St. Paul. For grades 1 – 6, children must be identified as gifted and talented in order to be admitted to this school. Thus each classroom contains only gifted students, just like the GT classrooms in a school-within-a school model. The second type of gifted magnet school contains classrooms which consist of students with a wide range of intellectual abilities. The school strives to provide a more rigorous overall curriculum than the average school and encourages gifted and talented students to apply. A small number of gifted students, typically around five or six, are clustered together into one or more class rooms per grade-level. In addition to the cluster classrooms, these programs use options such as differentiated curriculum, flexible grouping, curriculum compacting, and subject and grade acceleration to meet the academic needs of their gifted students. To the best of my knowledge, Harriet Bishop Gifted and Talented Elementary, Eagle Ridge Jr. High Gifted and Talented Program (both in the Burnsville/Eagan/Savage independent school district) and the Jr. High program of Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School are currently the only programs in the state which use this model.

Click on the link below for a list of schools:

Full Time Gifted School Programs