CANTON - The Canton Area School District is refining its approach of identifying gifted students.

Eric Briggs, supervisor of special education in the district, gave an update to the school board at its last meeting.

Briggs said the district has drafted screening criteria and an evaluation tool to identify gifted students, and hopes to implement them in the fall of 2012.

He noted that the district is seeking to have a tool to evaluate "multiple criteria" other than IQ.

Currently, students are identified as gifted if they have an IQ of 130. But the district hopes to look at other things that might make a student gifted.

For example, a student might have an IQ of 127, but still be considered gifted by other criteria such as expertise in another area.

Also, Briggs said that the district has gone through its special education compliance monitoring audit, which district must undergo every six years.

He said the audit looks at the integrity of a district's special education program.

Briggs said that 10 files were pulled by the state and all were compliant in terms of the multiple areas that were examined, such as date and time frames that must be followed.

In addition, the state looked at another 10 files for an educational benefit review. He said the state takes a child's IEP (Individual Education Plan) and looks at it over three years with numerous questions to determine if the child is making relevant educational growth.

"All our kids did," he said.

He noted that the district was required to submit a Dropout Prevention Program plan to the state for approval.

Briggs explained that students with disabilities can stay in school until they are 21 years old. For example, a parent may choose to keep their severely disabled child in school longer in order to improve specific skills, such as counting change.

However, when students stay longer than four years in high school, the state doesn't consider them to be "graduated," he said.

In the last year, Briggs said, the district had three such children, and this prompted the state to request the Dropout Prevention Program plan to be submitted by Canton.

He said the district outlined in the plan what steps it will take to prevent special education students from "dropping out."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.