Homer 33c Discovery 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 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.


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 students are screened as they approach the various phases of entrance for our Discovery program. MAP scores are reviewed in third grade for the fourth through sixth grade Discovery program appointment. 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.

The selection process will also involve testing using the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). Scores from all testing are converted and placed on a district matrix; an overall score is deduced. All student data pieces are reviewed by the Homer 33c Gifted Advisory Panel, and students are selected based upon the qualifying matrix score.

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

Students with strong aforementioned testing criteria that are found to have a testing anomaly are also reviewed 

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. Students are selected for the program through a formal identification process. Approximately 5% of the fourth grade population will be serviced in the self-contained classroom.

Middle & Junior High School Program, Grades 5-8

A highly advanced and accelerated program is available for middle and junior high school students. 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 and accelerated curriculum. 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 accelerated and 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.

Students are selected for the program through a formal identification process. Student achievement data, learning performances/grades, and teacher input are considered for placement. Approximately 3% of students are selected within each grade level population and serviced in a self-contained classroom in fifth and sixth grade. Discovery students will be serviced in some or all of the core classes based upon the results of our identification process. Thus, students can be placed in reading/language/social studies gifted classes, math/science gifted classes, or all gifted classes in the core content areas. All final placement decisions are made by the building administrators.

Appeals Procedures

Each tested student is carefully considered for the Discovery Program using the all aforementioned 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, being May 1 of the current school year.

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.

For additional information on the Homer 33c Discovery Program please feel free

 to contact any of our team members below:

Discovery Contacts

Discovery Program Co-Coordinators:

Discovery Program Teaching Staff:

Discovery Program Social Worker: