A group of La Porte High School freshmen had the chance to learn about conducting in-depth research and participating in the Texas Performance Standards Project during an "in-school field trip" on Oct. 13.
Sandra Warren, LPHS Spanish teacher, explained that the activity was among those offered to students who are identified as gifted/talented and other interested students to help them prepare to do "incredible research" during their high school years.
The in-school field trip included two information sessions, "How Do I Do Research?" and "Elements of the Texas Performance Standards Project-Thinking Outside the Box" in addition to numerous other activities.
"Junk Box Wars" was the theme of one exercise in which groups of students created a device to hold a raw egg and safely parachute it to the ground when it was dropped from the top of Bulldog Stadium. The groups did in-depth planning and demonstrated their teamwork and creative abilities in working together on their projects.
The students later divided into groups for a Quiz Bowl, during which they answered questions pertaining to current events, their pre-Advanced Placement courses, or the research and Texas Performance Standards Project workshops held earlier that day.
The state goal for services for gifted/talented students, as outlined in the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, is that "students will demonstrate skills in self-directed learning, thinking, research, and communication as evidenced by the development of innovative products and performances that reflect individuality and creativity and are advanced in relation to students of similar age, experience, or environment." In addition, the goal cites that "high school graduates who have participated in services for gifted/talented students will have produced products and performances of professional quality as part of their program services."
In La Porte ISD, the Texas Performance Standards Project is required of all gifted/talented ninth graders and may be submitted for review by a panel of experts to possibly earn a "measure" for graduating under the Distinguished Achievement Plan (DAP). La Porte served as one of six districts in Region IV to pilot the Texas Performance Standards Project from 2000-2006.
The Texas Performance Standards Project is a system of interdisciplinary units and assessments to motivate and document high levels of academic achievement for gifted and talented students and is designed to improve the rigor and relevance of advanced academic instruction. Addressing the Texas State Goal for the Education of Gifted Students, the project provides an opportunity for GT students to produce quality, innovative work and challenges their communication skills, understanding of inquiry and research processes and ability to analyze and synthesize.
The students are enrolled in a "zero class" period, which means that meet on Wednesdays during lunch and have opportunities for work before and after school. LPHS teachers Julie Ipsen, Jaime Licon, Mary Wacey and Sandra Warren serve as mentors to the students and offer guidance to them as they complete their projects. The projects are presented and judged in May, and an exhibition is held at the high school to showcase the students' work. Students receive a grade each six weeks and a final grade for their project.
"I continue to be impressed with the high quality work our gifted and talented students are producing through the Texas Performance Standards Project," said Linda Wadleigh, La Porte ISD deputy superintendent. "The TPSP provides great opportunities for our students to explore their interests at levels not often possible in school. I firmly believe that participation in the in-depth study associated with the TPSP can positively impact our students' future studies and career plans."