Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

Houston Schools families who have children who are identified as “gifted” or “talented” academically face unique problems. The biggest one is ensuring that the child in question is being adequately challenged, without suffering burn-out. “I’m bored” is one of those phrases that all parents hate hearing. I mean really hate. It’s frustrating for a parent to be relied upon for entertaining and keeping the child busy, especially when that child is of school-age. By the time they are in 2nd or 3rd grade, kids should be able to find things to entertain and keep themselves occupied. The bright ones are no exception, and may be the ones doing the most complaining. Too often, kids who aren’t being challenged in school get themselves into trouble. Some see no point in even attending classes, are truant, or get into things they shouldn’t. Keeping these Houston Public Schools kids busy and challenged is the best way to ensure that none of the situations mentioned above occur.
Houston Schools are working to make their centers of learning ones where the gifted and talented are continually challenged with unique magnet programs and rigorous standards.
Starting in the ’07-’08 school year, students who are gifted or academically talented will all attend magnet schools called Vanguard Schools. Students are identified for placement in a Vanguard School by looking at various indicators and traits. The “identification matrix” used by Houston Schools includes test scores from the Stanford/Aprenza exam and the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test.  Report-card points and teacher recommendations are also considered. 
Students who have limited English proficiency, are enrolled in special education, or qualify as having low socioeconomic status are also considered for placement in one of these special Houston Schools.  These Houston Schools are continuously monitored to help ensure that high-quality and more-rigorous instruction is provided in all classrooms.  These Houston Schools students are expected to score above grade-level on the Stanford test. In addition, any of these Houston Schools high-school students who are enrolled in a Vanguard School are required to take a minimum of two advanced-academic courses (ex: Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or dual-credit). 
Having programs like the Vanguard Schools help make Houston Schools a desirable place to be and learn. Most kids who fall into the “Gifted and Talented” category want to be challenged and learn more. However, these kids look at the world a little differently than most, and require a unique program that will serve their needs. Houston Schools have made sure to identify these students and provide them with excellent places that they can attend to make the most of their public Houston Schools education.
Sounds like a good place to go to school!