SOAR (Students of Academic Rigor)
for Gifted and Highly Talented Students

Current news and updates on SJPII’s SOAR Program as posted by the program director. 

Beginning in 1993, the U.S. Department of Education adopted the following definition of giftedness:

  • “Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”

In order to ensure that students enrolled in SJPII who have been identified as Gifted, academically advanced, or academically talented have the opportunity to reach their full potential KCFS created the Students of Academic Rigor (SOAR)program, the only one of its kind in the Diocese of Erie schools.

SOAR will offer qualified students in grades two through five enriched and enhanced small group and independent learning experiences once per week during the school year. SOAR activities will include but are not limited to:

  • Academic Games and Competitions
  • Career Exploration and Job Shadowing
  • Field Trips
  • Community Service Projects
  • Inter-District Workshops With Gifted Students Attending Public Schools

SOAR’s ultimate goal is to promote academic excellence by substantially enhancing each student’s competency and proficiency in the following areas:

  • Investigation and critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Interest exploration and self-awareness
  • Research
  • Independent and small group studies

Criteria for Participation in SOAR

Generally speaking, students who demonstrate most or all of the following characteristics/attributes are candidates for participation in the SOAR program:

  • High-level Thinking Ability
  • Academic Creativity
  • Leadership Skills
  • Intense Interest in Specific Subjects or Areas of Study
  • Communication Skills
  • Technological Expertise
  • Problem-Solving Capability
  • Creativity and Originality

KCFS has adopted a formal, three-step admissions process for SOAR comprised of the following components: Identification, Formal Evaluation, Final Determination.

Step One: Identification.

Potential candidates for SOAR may be identified in three ways:

  1. Parental Request: Any parent who believes their child is gifted or highly talented may request that KCFS provide a multi-disciplinary evaluation to determine if the child is eligible for the program.
  2. Teacher Referral: A teacher may notify administrators and parents that a student’s classroom performance indicates that he or she may be gifted or highly talented.
  3. Test Score Review: SJPII administrators and staff will conduct an annual review of the Stanford Achievement Test scores of every student in grades two through five to determine which students may be gifted or highly talented. Parents will be notified if their child falls into either of those categories.

Step Two: Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation.

Once a potential candidate for SOAR has been identified parents will be asked to complete a “Permission to Evaluate” form authorizing KCFS to undertake a multi-disciplinary evaluation of their child. This evaluation will be conducted under a process prescribed by the state of Pennsylvania and will include an evaluation of the student by the KCFS certified school psychologist.

Step Three: Final Determination.

Admission to the program will be based on a number of factors including the results of the multi-disciplinary evaluation:

  • IQ: unlike many gifted programs in public schools that establish a single IQ level for participation, SOAR is a two-tiered program featuring the following benchmarks:
    • Gifted: Students with IQ scores of 130 and above
    • Enrichment or highly talented: Students with IQ scores of 120-129
  • IQ scores are not the sole factor for determining admission to SOAR. Students who score slightly below or above the benchmarks established for the program may be admitted if they demonstrate characteristics such as advanced creativity, exceptional performance in one area of study or specific subject, i.e. Math, or other recognized attributes of gifted or highly talented students.
  • The BSJPII principal will, after close consultation with the Gifted Program teacher, make the final decision regarding a student’s admission into SOAR.

Removal From the Program

A parent or administrator may remove a student from SOAR at any time during the school year. Reasons for removal from the program include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Routine failure to complete SOAR assignments
  • Inability to keep pace with SOAR program material
  • Evidence that participation in SOAR is having a negative impact on day-to-day performance in the classroom