Parenting & Family

Question regarding PACE program (gifted kids)

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Sr. Member
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Question regarding PACE program (gifted kids)

folks,

My 4rth grader recently got news that he passed first stage of PACE program and is being moved to the next step which is assessment based on WISC-5.
Any thoughts on how to prepare kid for this if possible? Maybe practice tests or something? He is super excited and really wants to pass and move to a "gifted" school.
I know this is some sort of psychological assessment and even we ourselves can pay and get this done.
Any thoughts on this?
So please help me navigate through this somehow to increase his chances of passing.
19 replies
Sr. Member
Jun 11, 2006
541 posts
550 upvotes
I'm not in Toronto but my kids have each gone through "giftedness" testing through the school in Gr 3.

My youngest just did it, and her resource teacher just said to get a good night sleep and eat a good breakfast, that this type of testing is just to see how your brain is wired.

But just for this type of testing in general, I would think that it's not the sort of thing to study for? Studying for a gifted program seems almost an oxymoron to me ;)
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Feb 8, 2014
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The best way to increase his chance at doing his best is to deal with any anxiety and to make sure he focuses on the assessment and gives 100% effort. Attention span will help him perform his best.
But that does not mean ADHD drugs.

Make sure he knows you will be proud of him no matter what and that this is not a make or break test, its simply an aptitude measure.
Also if he doesn't get in to the gifted school but does want to learn more than school is teaching him do that on your own or even look into other available resources. School is not the only way to pursue wisdom.
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
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Dec 27, 2013
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The comments below are based on my experience and knowledge as: a student who went through the gifted program, a teacher who taught Grade 3 and facilitated the first stage several times (including conversations with parents before, during and after the process), a teacher who has taught students identified as gifted (though never in a gifted community class), and a Special Education Resource Teacher who has worked directly with the psychological services and has experience with various academic and psycho-educational assessments.

What you're describing is a common misconception that many parents and students have about gifted screening. There is no "passing" or "failing." The WISC is an IQ test that looks at cognitive ability in various domains. The psychologist will look at relative strengths, relative weaknesses, and see if there are any domains that are significantly above or below the others before making a determination.

The gifted program is a special education program for students whose learner profiles do not match the typical child. In order to achieve their potential, they require an Individualized Education Program that provides instructional, environmental and assessment accommodations because the children learn differently from others. This is not different than an IEP supporting a student with a learning disability (where the IEP provides accommodations to help the student use skills that are relative strengths to support and develop skills that are relative weaknesses), or support a student with ADHD (where the IEP provides accommodations that address focus and attention) or any other student with an identified exceptionality.

The word "gifted" and the assumptions made about what that means and what the program is are frustrating to me. There is so much stress on some kids to "pass" the test and many parents will simply pay for a private screening to get the results that they want. Unfortunately, this results in a student being placed in an educational program that is not best for their needs.

The gifted program ends in Grade 10 and provides no advantage with respect to any post-secondary pathways.

The gifted program can be a great place for students who need it because the regular classroom setting or a regular elementary program is not right for them. I have seen students go from being disengaged, disinterested, even disruptive in class to having huge success after a gifted identification and placement in special education programming. I'm not knocking the program, or the reason the program was created. What I'm challenging is the pervasive perception that this is a superior program for the smarter and better kids that will give them an advantage later on.

Here is a thread in which I discussed my thoughts in more detail: december-kids-your-experience-jk-2162779/2/#p28836218

Here are two more threads where you might find some more information: gifted-school-york-region-2138877/3/ gifted-program-michael-cranny-2337706/#p32646916
Sr. Member
Jun 11, 2006
541 posts
550 upvotes
OntEdTchr wrote: .

The word "gifted" and the assumptions made about what that means and what the program is are frustrating to me. There is so much stress on some kids to "pass" the test and many parents will simply pay for a private screening to get the results that they want. Unfortunately, this results in a student being placed in an educational program that is not best for their needs.
I totally agree. I wish the program did not have the word "gifted" in it. My sons were/are both in it and my daughter was anxious taking the test, because she too wants to "pass" (because of her brothers) and felt that if she doesn't qualify, that she is "not as smart". Smiling Face With Horns Argh. So I have tried to emphasize that the program does not equal "smartness"; I like how her teacher emphasized that it is only to see how her brain is wired. If she doesn't qualify, I hate how this will potentially affect her self esteem. And having kids who are going(been) through it (only 1 day/week with an IEP), I think it is a good program but in no way do I think this will impact their future success or not.
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Jan 2, 2015
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erexa wrote: folks,

My 4rth grader recently got news that he passed first stage of PACE program and is being moved to the next step which is assessment based on WISC-5.
Any thoughts on how to prepare kid for this if possible? Maybe practice tests or something? He is super excited and really wants to pass and move to a "gifted" school.
I know this is some sort of psychological assessment and even we ourselves can pay and get this done.
Any thoughts on this?
So please help me navigate through this somehow to increase his chances of passing.
I am in a difference province and don't know what PACE is. However, I have two kids that are in a gifted school. They had their CACT test to determine their IQ's are gifted, but we never considered it a test in the traditional way. There is no pass or fail, giftedness is just another way that certain kids learn. In my province, Giftedness is considered a complex learning need. I strongly suggest not viewing giftedness as 'better' or superior. If you child does not get into the gifted school, did fail he fail? Is not as smart?

We only tested our kids for giftedness because we wanted a different school option that fit with their learning better. The regular program wasn't doing it for them. We tested them, and the moved to the gifted school. There was any very bright student but not gifted (there is a huge difference), and she was determined to be 'as smart' and also go to the gifted school. She wrote the test a few times, there was apparently some study materials to practice, and they went with a private assessment which if you tell them what you want, they will make the child score in the gifted range. It has been for this child a constant 'fish out of water' Not for lack of trying, but the child was smart buy not gifted. For my kids, I had took them right to the test from a grueling sports practice after a late night. I wanted them to be gifted even on their worst days. I told the physiatrist not to inflate anything, and evaluate to ensure they would fit in without struggling.

I would make sure your child is well rested, and has eaten properly before. We never stressed the test, even though my oldest has severe anxiety. We told them the test just to get a better understanding of how we could support their learning. We told them we weren't sure if they were go to the gifted school even if they tested gifted, but would get the test to see if that was an option. There was never a pass or a fail but rather a better understanding of who they are as learners. We to this day have never shared their scores, other than both of them scored exactly the same over all in different areas.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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Completely anecdotal: I took the gifted test 30 years ago through the North York School Board in grade 3. My parents had tons of IQ test material for me and I did them endlessly. Math, puzzles, pattern recognition. I recall the day of the test finishing it way before anyone else. It was probably the most well prepared I had ever been for any test in my life. It was "easy". I don't have a memory of the meeting with the psychologist, but apparently I checked all the right boxes for being gifted.

They say you can't prep for an IQ test, but my experience was you can. It's the same type of questions, symbols, patterns. See enough of them and they're simple. To this day, I don't know if I'm truly gifted or if it was due to all that drilling. I personally think it was the latter. Regardless, being gifted gave me the confidence to persevere through school. FWIW.
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May 28, 2012
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Saskatoon
I'm in SK and my sons were both tested when they were in grade 3 (?) and we were told they could benefit from "enriched" learning, whatever that means. They were in the Catholic system and no such program existed. The public board had a gifted learner program and I was involved in that. To be labeled "gifted" is one thing, to have the self motivation to succeed is something else entirely. There were many students who thrived in this program but also some that needed to be coaxed at every turn to get their work done. You get this dynamic in a regular classroom too, but in an enriched learning situation it's easier to fall behind because the pace of learning is accelerated.
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goob3r wrote: Completely anecdotal: I took the gifted test 30 years ago through the North York School Board in grade 3. My parents had tons of IQ test material for me and I did them endlessly. Math, puzzles, pattern recognition. I recall the day of the test finishing it way before anyone else. It was probably the most well prepared I had ever been for any test in my life. It was "easy". I don't have a memory of the meeting with the psychologist, but apparently I checked all the right boxes for being gifted.

They say you can't prep for an IQ test, but my experience was you can. It's the same type of questions, symbols, patterns. See enough of them and they're simple. To this day, I don't know if I'm truly gifted or if it was due to all that drilling. I personally think it was the latter. Regardless, being gifted gave me the confidence to persevere through school. FWIW.
You definitely can prepare for the tests. Apparently, it could make up to a 15-20 difference, which is huge. However, if one has to work that much to be 'gifted' then it may be a constant struggle to keep up with the kids that naturally are gifted. If you were in a gifted program and you find you fit right in, and the tests you took were 'easy' then you probably were gifted. My kids didn't study and they found most parts generally easy too.
Mars2012 wrote: I'm in SK and my sons were both tested when they were in grade 3 (?) and we were told they could benefit from "enriched" learning, whatever that means. They were in the Catholic system and no such program existed. The public board had a gifted learner program and I was involved in that. To be labeled "gifted" is one thing, to have the self motivation to succeed is something else entirely. There were many students who thrived in this program but also some that needed to be coaxed at every turn to get their work done. You get this dynamic in a regular classroom too, but in an enriched learning situation it's easier to fall behind because the pace of learning is accelerated.
Great point. Giftedness does not mean motivation or success. The label means that you have the ability to do well. In the psychoeducational assessments my kids took, they both score 'average' giftedness in most areas which is based on their natural ability, but was another score to show where were in terms of the 'motivation' and how hard they worked which was much higher. The psychiatrist explained that they use their natural ability but perform higher because they are motivated. Sounds great, except kids like this tend to be really stressed and at a higher risk of clinical anxiety. She was saying there are some kids that score really high in iq but the motivation area is really low. So for those kids they are not performing to potential because they may be bored or disengaged. In an ideal world, one would preform to their potential or higher without killing themselves over it. The kids that have above average (over 100) iqs, but are not gifted but are really motivated seem to be the ones that do very well in life.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
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As a general aside, isn't the gifted program beginning shutdown as of next fall as part of the PC government push to discontinue "academic streaming"? I know that all grade 9 gifted programs for math are discontinued as of next fall, and then for fall 2022 they will be discontinued for all grade 9 secondary courses and grade 10 secondary math. As of fall 2023 no gifted courses are to be offered for grades 9 & 10 as they will be fully de-streamed at that point.

I also second what OntEdTchr says about not needing to study/prepare for the test as that is not the point of it.
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Mar 23, 2009
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What do they test anyway? Just curious.

My kid did the initial test and we were told she is on track for the gifted program, pending other tests should we wish to pursue that. However, we are currently inclined not to move her to a gifted program since she is doing well and is not bored, and has good teachers who seem to be able to offer at least some differentiated learning for those capable. Plus, the gifted program is in a completely different school 7 km away which could potentially make it more difficult for her to attend other after school activities just from a logistics point of view. She has a bunch of other non-school activities she's involved with that she'd like and we'd like to continue. And of course, she'd no longer see any of her current school friends at the new school, all of which whom live in our neighbourhood.

Note that there are a couple of disruptive kids in her current class, but she seems to be able to just ignore them, according to the teachers. Some of the other kids have been affected by them, but our kid seems to have just rolled with it without issue.
Clacker wrote: As a general aside, isn't the gifted program beginning shutdown as of next fall as part of the PC government push to discontinue "academic streaming"? I know that all grade 9 gifted programs for math are discontinued as of next fall, and then for fall 2022 they will be discontinued for all grade 9 secondary courses and grade 10 secondary math. As of fall 2023 no gifted courses are to be offered for grades 9 & 10 as they will be fully de-streamed at that point.
How much truth is there to this for the lower grades, or is this just rumour?
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EugW wrote: What do they test anyway? Just curious.
It's kind of like the old-school IQ tests. They're testing reasoning skills as opposed to fact recall
EugW wrote: How much truth is there to this for the lower grades, or is this just rumour?
I don't know what it's like in the Junior grades as I teach high-school. At my school we're losing ~8 gifted classes in grade 9 next year due to the de-streaming, and then the following year the grade 10 classes will be gone. It's not a rumor but was ordered by the provincial government.
Newbie
Jun 6, 2018
98 posts
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It helps to improve the curriculum for the student.
However, once out of the gifted schooling stream, they are just another person. Society does not assign extra merits for the stream they schooled in.
However that said, they learn how they best learn/ succeed on the path they choose.
My opinions are based on my wife and son whom both went through the stream.
They are impressive in their thinking.
Jr. Member
Nov 1, 2005
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you can't prep for the "gifted" assessment, and if you find that you need to do a lot of prep.. that's likely not a good idea as then you'll be put in the PACE program which is quite enriched, faster paced.

My older one is in PACE, and thrives: enjoys doing work, great self confidence, positive mental mind set. Ex. In Gr 5 PACE-they just learned the periodic table! (and there's TONS of projects-currently researching everything about one element on the table), in math: they just learned BEDMAS, their last test was on the different levels of governments etc etc.

After seeing how enriched the curriculum is for the older one, my younger one who also qualified for PACE next year, will not be placed into their program voluntarily by us as the younger one is quite happy to do what is given to her in the regular curriculum, has no interest in doing extra work and enjoys playing with the other kids in her class whom as less "academically inclined" and "sillier". The younger one also doesn't handle pressure as well so we think PACE would actually be detrimental to her mental health.

So if the child does not have great work habits or love learning...PACE is probably not a good idea as they're likely be at the "bottom" of the class which might affect their self esteem and be a bigger problem in the long run. If you had to "prep" the child for the assessment, they may not be able to handle the day to day work in the PACE class independently and there's only so much a parent can help with everyday schoolwork.
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stars78 wrote: you can't prep for the "gifted" assessment, and if you find that you need to do a lot of prep.. that's likely not a good idea as then you'll be put in the PACE program which is quite enriched, faster paced.

My older one is in PACE, and thrives: enjoys doing work, great self confidence, positive mental mind set. Ex. In Gr 5 PACE-they just learned the periodic table! (and there's TONS of projects-currently researching everything about one element on the table), in math: they just learned BEDMAS, their last test was on the different levels of governments etc etc.

After seeing how enriched the curriculum is for the older one, my younger one who also qualified for PACE next year, will not be placed into their program voluntarily by us as the younger one is quite happy to do what is given to her in the regular curriculum, has no interest in doing extra work and enjoys playing with the other kids in her class whom as less "academically inclined" and "sillier". The younger one also doesn't handle pressure as well so we think PACE would actually be detrimental to her mental health.

So if the child does not have great work habits or love learning...PACE is probably not a good idea as they're likely be at the "bottom" of the class which might affect their self esteem and be a bigger problem in the long run. If you had to "prep" the child for the assessment, they may not be able to handle the day to day work in the PACE class independently and there's only so much a parent can help with everyday schoolwork.
I wanted to correct a small misunderstanding if you don't mind. The curriculum is the same. I have not personally seen an IEP for a child with a gifted identification that includes a modified program. But please keep in mind that there are fairly big differences between how school boards approach special education programming.

All Grade 5 students in Ontario learn about properties and changes in matter as one strand in the science curriculum. They are all expected to "conduct investigations that explore the properties of matter and changes in matter" and "demonstrate an understanding of the properties of matter, changes of state, and physical and chemical change." In Social Studies, "People and Environments: The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship" is one of the two strands that all Grade 5 students learn. They are all required to "demonstrate an understanding of the roles and key responsibilities of citizens and of different levels of government in Canada, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit governments." In math, all Grade 5 students are required to "use knowledge of numbers and operations to solve mathematical problems encountered in everyday life" as an overall expectation. One specific expectation is to "use the properties of operations, and the relationships between operations, to solve problems involving whole numbers and decimal numbers, including those requiring more than one operation, and check calculations."

There's a difference between the curriculum itself and the tools that teachers choose to deliver that curriculum. It's very reasonable to expect that teachers in a PACE program or gifted class (different boards use different terms) may feel that their students are capable of understanding and applying more complex tools, but that's a function of the individual teacher and their opinion and not of the curriculum itself. I personally consider the curriculum to be a floor, not a ceiling and approach my class accordingly. None of the experiences that you described are unique to the PACE program, or only accessible by students in the PACE program, and even within the program, the experiences of different kids will vary from teacher to teacher and school to school.

I just wanted to clarify that since I don't want people to have the impression that a PACE or gifted identification somehow provides access to a better or different curriculum.
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Jul 21, 2004
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Totally agree. They might modify the way that best suited for that child and may give some extra material of the child of interest to explore.

I believe you should not prep the child ie drilling them with endless hours of problem solving etc just to pass the assessment. It might hurt them in the end by giving the child too much pressure.
Newbie
Nov 1, 2021
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Reviving the thread here…

I noticed Pace is planning to offer SKs. Are the psychoeducational assessment effective for 4 yr olds?

Specifically to Pace, any recent parents w kids in the junior grades (1 to 3) can share your experience? How does pace determine if your child is a good fit for their program?

For those who have dropped out of Pace, what are your reasons ? Curriculum wise are there other schools in York Region / North York that may have a more enriched curriculum?

Thanks!
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Oct 7, 2010
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OntEdTchr wrote: I wanted to correct a small misunderstanding if you don't mind. The curriculum is the same. I have not personally seen an IEP for a child with a gifted identification that includes a modified program. But please keep in mind that there are fairly big differences between how school boards approach special education programming.

All Grade 5 students in Ontario learn about properties and changes in matter as one strand in the science curriculum. They are all expected to "conduct investigations that explore the properties of matter and changes in matter" and "demonstrate an understanding of the properties of matter, changes of state, and physical and chemical change." In Social Studies, "People and Environments: The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship" is one of the two strands that all Grade 5 students learn. They are all required to "demonstrate an understanding of the roles and key responsibilities of citizens and of different levels of government in Canada, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit governments." In math, all Grade 5 students are required to "use knowledge of numbers and operations to solve mathematical problems encountered in everyday life" as an overall expectation. One specific expectation is to "use the properties of operations, and the relationships between operations, to solve problems involving whole numbers and decimal numbers, including those requiring more than one operation, and check calculations."

There's a difference between the curriculum itself and the tools that teachers choose to deliver that curriculum. It's very reasonable to expect that teachers in a PACE program or gifted class (different boards use different terms) may feel that their students are capable of understanding and applying more complex tools, but that's a function of the individual teacher and their opinion and not of the curriculum itself. I personally consider the curriculum to be a floor, not a ceiling and approach my class accordingly. None of the experiences that you described are unique to the PACE program, or only accessible by students in the PACE program, and even within the program, the experiences of different kids will vary from teacher to teacher and school to school.

I just wanted to clarify that since I don't want people to have the impression that a PACE or gifted identification somehow provides access to a better or different curriculum.
It just makes the parents feel better and have bragging rights. Gifted school and expensive private school usually just grill the kids harder. Truth if a kid is gifted, he or she will excell regardless of which school they go.

There is also no private or gifted universities that give them the edge. Everyone still need t apply to then fairly.
Member
Dec 29, 2019
249 posts
122 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Weird to read about people trying to prep for these tests. You can definitely do it and they can be gamed of course, but from what I remember when I got tested decades ago was that it was just part of the standardized tests, and I did not prepare for it let alone really keep it mind what day it was happening lol.

In my mind, the test was explained to be sampling what students knew and it wasn't affecting our grade, so I didn't care and just assumed I was doing my part of being a statistic for how well the curriculum was being absorbed or something. Anyway, this landed me in the gifted program, and my parents, elated, signed me up to some hour+ bus ride to a good school that had a fulltime gifted program. So pretty much from Grade 4 until end of highschool (except for grade 5-6 when I had to move) I was in the gifted program.

Mind you, my parents barely spoke english, so I knew I would have to be fending for myself a lot with zero help on any schoolwork I didn't understand (because I was also too shy to be asking teachers and peers for help). We were also poor, so it was mystifying some of my peers had access to home libraries or even labs to do their science projects (lol wtf why did they send me to a rich people gifted school..).

The good: you get exposed to a lot of bright peers. Many, MANY will have autism (Asperger's) of some sort, which is cool. The education or depth of it is just greater.

The bad: The expectations are higher or more abstract. I had a lot of anxiety about keeping up with my peers, and developed some perfectionism and self-loathing due to it.

I haven't really achieved much greater than anyone else despite all my gifted education. I was near the top of all my gifted peers when it came to grades, BUT I just stock goecery store shelves now (on mat leave currently), but that is probably just the autism aspect. I don't regret it though. It's fun to learn stuff.

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