Frequently Asked Questions



    Does Pittsford have a gifted program?

    Pittsford provides services for gifted and high performing students, but we do not identify students for inclusion in a pull-out gifted program. Instead we identify students for fluid and flexible enrichment, based upon need.  

    What do enrichment services provide for my child? Do the Instructional Challenge teachers provide a separate math and ELA curriculum to my child?

    The Instructional Challenge teachers offer enrichment units and activities that are closely related to the classroom curriculum. These units and activities are in addition to the mandated grade level curriculum, not a replacement for the curriculum. The ELA related units include open-ended learning experiences that encourage higher-order thinking. For example, a first grader may engage in an author study of Mo Willems to explore the differences in style and content between his easy read books and his chapter book. A fifth grader may engage in research to write an argumentation essay about a topic of interest, including claims and counterclaims. Math enrichment units and activities are centered on problem solving experiences that require clear representation of their thinking, and perseverance to solve. 

    How does my child get to work with an Instructional Challenge teacher?

    Classroom teachers and Instructional Challenge teachers work together to identify students who need enrichment, based upon available data. We look at performance on district, state and classroom assessments, as well as classroom performance. Instructional Challenge has benchmarks that indicate when a child is performing at an advanced level in relationship to the standards in reading and/or math. Your child’s classroom teacher will let you know when your child is participating in an enrichment experience.

    My child worked with an IC teacher last year, will they receive services again this year?

    Not necessarily. Because our enrichment services are based upon current data, a student who qualified for services one year, might not the next. Student group memberships are especially variable in the primary grades.

    What can I do if my child is not feeling challenged in the classroom?


    The first step is to have a conversation with your child’s classroom teacher. Ask the teacher to explain how they see your child as a learner, both strengths and weaknesses. Where do they see that your child needs more challenge? How are they addressing that need in the classroom? What does that challenge look like in your child’s day? Can they show you some examples of your child’s work that illustrates both their strengths and how those strengths are being challenged to grow? Their weaknesses? After you have learned this information, you can respectfully share how your child feels about his work and his perception of school. For some students, there is a mismatch between how they learn and what school asks them to do. If that seems to be the case, you may ask for a brain-storming session between the classroom teacher, Instructional Challenge teacher, and the school guidance counselor. Working together, we can often make a real difference for these students.

    What can I do if my child's classroom teacher and I cannot agree about how to address his needs?

    If you and your child’s classroom teacher have discussed his needs, problem-solved together, and you still feel that your child’s needs for continuous growth and progress are not being met, you have several options. You can start by picking up the phone and calling the building principal. Ask for a meeting between the principal, classroom teacher, Instructional Challenge specialist, and school counselor, if appropriate. It is always better for your child if everyone works together to solve the concern. At this meeting, it is important to try to determine the underlying problem. Is it a mismatch between the classroom tasks and how your child learns? Is it a problem that is related to a social-emotional characteristic not being well supported? For example, is your child underperforming because they are paralyzed by unhealthy perfectionism, or anxiety? Solutions to these issues can be discussed and implemented immediately. However, if the team suspects that your child may be able to understand and apply specific core content well above grade level, they will want to gather more information about your child’s abilities and achievement. The ARP process can be used to gather this information. You can read more about the ARP process on the Individual Options link.

    I’ve heard people mention the ARP (formally ARI) Process. Is that the process for identifying students as gifted for accelerated math at the middle school?

    No, the Acceleration Review Process is used for determining if a child should be considered for either whole grade or single-subject acceleration, or other radical modifications. Before a child is looked at for acceleration, data must show evidence of performance well beyond the grade level standards. The purpose of the process is to match programming to a student’s academic needs, with consideration for their social and emotional well-being, not to identify a child as gifted or not gifted.

    How can I learn more about gifted children?


    If you have a gifted child, you probably know it. But, defining giftedness is not an easy thing to do. Gifted children vary greatly, one to the other. Much of those differences are attributed to the degree of their cognitive abilities, their temperament, and the intensity with which they view their world socially and emotionally. Read everything you can about gifted children. There are links on the Instructional Challenge site to websites and books where you can find high quality resources. You can also call your Instructional Challenge building teacher, or the Standards Leader for Instructional Challenge for help navigating the uniqueness of your child.


    What can I do to encourage and grow my child's interests and abilities outside of school?


    Know your child and follow their lead. That is the most important advice for any parent, and it is especially important for the parents of a gifted child. Above all gifted children need to know that they are accepted for who they truly are, and that their passions are validated and supported. The parent role is truly that of a facilitator of their passions and goals. Encourage their belief in self.


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    How can I find out more information about my child’s intellectual abilities?


    Additional data about your child’s abilities can be collected outside the school setting by making use of several readily available assessment tools. If you would like more guidance regarding these assessment tools, and the appropriateness of using them to collect data about your child, please contact the building Instructional Challenge teacher or the Standards Leader for Instructional Challenge. 

    • One tool for children in grades 2-8 is the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) which is administered by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. This computer based test is offered at a testing center in Pittsford. For more information, please see

    • For middle school students, taking the SAT or ACT may be the best, and most cost effective, option.

    Internally, Pittsford administers the OLSAT (Otis Lennon School Ability Test) to 4th grade students. A letter goes out to parents, explaining the test before it is given. In the letter, parents are informed that they may request their child’s score from the building guidance counselor.

    How does my child get into the Double Accelerated/Pre-Algebra Honors Math class at the middle school?

    We screen across the district for 5th grade students who show exceptional mathematical ability. Data is gathered, and the Instructional Challenge Teachers review the data and identify students who score at predetermined benchmarks. Students who qualify are reviewed at the building and a recommendation regarding placement is made to parents.

    We do not have a certain number of spots available per building. Rather we are looking for those few students cross-district who demonstrate such exceptional math ability that they require a program of study that accommodates their unique learning needs. Many bright and gifted students do not qualify for placement in this course.

    I still have questions. How can I learn more?

    If you have additional questions or concerns, after reading the information on the Instructional Challenge website, please contact the Standards Leader for IC or your building Challenge teacher.