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Fayetteville Middle School is making it easier for area gifted students who want to nurture their academic talents by becoming an official EXPLORE testing site through the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP).
Duke TIP gives fourth, fifth and sixth grade students who are in the top five percent of their grade level the opportunity to gain recognition for their academic achievements, have access to online enrichment opportunities, receive exclusive publications and have contact with gifted education consultants, among other benefits. Additionally, the program allows these gifted students to take the EXPLORE test, an eighth-grade level assessment developed by ACT which provides additional insights into academic abilities.
In the past, local students had to travel as far as Murfreesboro or Nashville to take the test. With FMS being approved as an official site now, students in area schools systems are able to stay close to home.
“It’s been a lot of work getting it started,” said Kim Brewer, counselor at Fayetteville Middle School, who spearheaded the effort to gain site approval. “The process has taken four months, if not longer, to get to this point, but we wanted to make it more convenient for our parents and students … Our kids will be more comfortable in our school.”
The testing center is not just for FMS students, but for any area student registered for the EXPLORE test who wants to test closer to home.
Eagin Evans, counselor at Highland Rim School who administers the Duke TIP there, joined Brewer in the effort and will act as a proctor when the first EXPLORE test is administered Saturday. Penny Monks, assistant principal of FMS, also provided much assistance and will serve as room supervisor, administering the test.
“We all just worked together,” Brewer said of the team effort. “Penny Monks has been invaluable, as well as Eagin Evans at Highland Rim.”
Parents of FMS students involved in the Duke TIP have been very involved and supportive of the TIP program, which is in its second year at FMS, Brewer said, noting 43 students are currently involved at her school.
“The parents of our students have been just wonderful,” the counselor said. “My hat goes off to these parents for continuing to work as hard as they do.”
The FMS testing center can handle up to 80 students for the EXPLORE test, although officials do not expect that many for the first test date this weekend – “I think it is definitely small enough to not make them (the students) feel overwhelmed,” Brewer said. “We want it to be a very friendly and inviting place.”
Parents of students taking the EXPLORE test are welcome to remain on site during the testing period to enjoy coffee and doughnuts in the school’s library.
As an added benefit from FMS becoming a testing site, Brewer anticipates more gifted students will participate in the program next year as they hear from their peers about the rewards of the Duke TIP and the ease of the test-taking process. Parents interested in learning more about the Duke TIP or the EXPLORE test can visit www.tip.duke.edu for details.