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Homer 33C Discovery Program Overview

Program Overview

The Discovery program was developed to meet the unique needs of the gifted and talented students of Homer School District 33C. The district is committed to an educational program that recognizes the exceptional abilities of students and providing them with challenging, in depth educational experiences. Students who demonstrate superior talents and abilities need a qualitatively differentiated program that will enable them to reach optimal development of those talents. The Homer 33C Discovery program services the top 3%-5% of the grade level student body. (Please note: for the hard copy version of this document,  to access live links please visit; Parents and Students tab; Discovery Gifted Education.) 


To provide Homer 33C gifted and talented students with a district-wide program of advanced learning that encompasses experiences and opportunities in specifically designated areas of curriculum to allow students to utilize their special intellectual gifts to their fullest potential.

General Program Goals

The Gifted Panel

All Discovery based decisions are reviewed and agreed upon by the Homer 33C Gifted Advisory Panel. Our Gifted Advisory Panel includes:


The Illinois State Board of Education requires a screening process of all students for any gifted program. Homer School District 33C meets and exceeds the requirements outlined by Illinois Rules and Regulations for the Identification and Assessment of Gifted and Talented Children set forth in Section 14A-30. All 33C students are screened as they approach the two windows of entrance for our Discovery program - MAP scores are reviewed in third grade for the fourth through sixth grade Discovery program appointment, and MAP scores are also reviewed in sixth grade for the seventh through eighth grade Discovery program appointment. Throughout program appointment, MAP scores are consistently monitored to ensure appropriate placement of gifted students.

The general criterion measures for identification and placement consideration are as follows:

Students who are new to the school district and are in grades 4-8 are carefully considered for gifted placement upon registration and transcript review. Further testing may be required to determine appropriate placement into the curriculum. Parents of new students at these grade levels are encouraged to contact either of the Gifted Coordinator for more information.

Discovery Program Details

Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd Grades

Kindergarten, first, and second grade students are serviced in the classroom by the regular education teacher. The Discovery Program Coordinator can provide resource consultation and support to classroom teachers to help enrich the existing curriculum, if needed. No formal identification of students is used at this grade level.

3rd Grade

The third grade Discovery students participate in the Summer Scholars program. Summer Scholars is a program that enhances the existing curriculum and provides lessons tailored to the diverse needs of gifted children. Units of study may include: Mission to Mars/Communities, Tall Tales, and an Independent Research Project. Students are selected for the program through a formal identification process. Approximately 5% of the third grade populace will be serviced.

 4th Grade

The fourth grade Discovery program is a self-contained classroom that is currently housed at William J. Butler School. (Please note that students who accept the invitation, post screening, to the Discovery program will attend William J. Butler for the 4th grade.) The classroom teacher, Mrs. Michelle Schultz, utilizes differentiated instructional strategies designed to promote divergent thinking, abstract reasoning, and autonomous learning. Students experience accelerated and in-depth learning in content areas through whole group and independent study. A supplemental unit of study that students participate in is the Voyage of the Mimi. This interdisciplinary series combines a storyline with mini-documentary expeditions to develop reading, science, social science, math, and technology skills. The episodes follow the adventures of the crew of the Mimi, a converted French tuna trawler outfitted as a modern ocean-going vessel. Throughout the voyage, crew members construct hypotheses, make observations and measurements, and collect and analyze data. Students will learn about whales, oceanography, principles of navigation, how to read maps, and more.

Middle & Junior High School Program, Grades 5-8

The fifth and sixth grade Discovery program is housed at Hadley Middle School; the seventh and eighth grade program is housed at Homer Junior High School. Our 5-8 model will provide students who are exceeding grade level expectations with a differentiated middle and junior high school program, including an advanced curriculum rooted in depth of study. In addition, said model enables students to have consistent higher level learning opportunities. The classroom teachers utilize differentiated instructional strategies designed to promote divergent thinking, abstract reasoning, and autonomous learning. Students experience in-depth learning in the content areas through whole group and independent study.


Fifth through eighth grade math will align with current grade level Common Core State Standards curriculum while strongly emphasizing conceptual understanding, problem solving, and inquiry-based learning. Discovery students will have differentiated units of study unique to the program that offer more applied math and science while focusing on performance-based assessment. Physics will also be taught to eighth grade gifted students.

Appeals Procedures

Each tested student is carefully considered for the Discovery Program using the all aforementioned Identification Process criterion measures as well as the district matrix. The appeals process is available to parents who wish to pursue placement of a child after initial identification outcomes have been communicated (typically late March of the current school year). To file an appeal, please complete and submit the appeal form linked here. The form must be submitted by May 1 of the current school year along with all work samples parents choose to include as well as the Student Characteristics Checklist linked on the appeal form. Our Gifted Advisory Panel will perform an objective review of the appeal form questions and all submitted work samples; a final recommendation will be determined by the Panel. Please note the appeals process is lengthy; outcomes are typically available 4 weeks post the appeals submission deadline, which is stated on the Appeals form and updated annually.

If your child has not met the criterion measures of the Identification Process and you wish to make an appeal, please contact either of the Gifted Coordinator first for an analysis of long term NWEA MAP scores; they will assist you with the filing of an appeal.

Exit Procedures

Student performance and progress in the gifted program shall be monitored on an ongoing basis, including, but not limited to, course grades and local and state assessments. If necessary, an intervention may occur, and a plan may be developed and implemented to promote student success.

If a teacher, student, or parent request that a student be considered for removal, the Gifted Panel will meet before honoring the request to review longitudinal data and communication between school and home. The decision will be based upon student performance, educational and/or social emotional needs (including behavioral concerns), and other appropriate considerations.

Program Evaluation

Homer School District 33C will evaluate the Discovery Program through student growth, student/parent/teacher input, and other means. In the 2016/2017 school year, a thorough, two year review was performed by an outside educational entity that led to highly positive outcomes and tailored suggestions for improvement. Modification and/or adjustment occurs on an ongoing basis to enhance the program overall.

Discovery Contacts

Discovery Program Administrator:

Discovery Program Coordinator:

Discovery Program Teaching Staff: