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How to Use TPSP

The Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP) provides a series of TEKS-based performance tasks and assessments for gifted/talented (G/T) students in grades K-12. These interdisciplinary research units, some of which have a discipline-specific focus, can be used by schools and districts to enrich G/T programming.

The primary, intermediate, middle, and high school level TPSP web pages provide the following resources:

  • Several tasks per grade
  • Assessment rubrics
  • Sample forms that can be adapted to support program administration, communications, and student work
  • Samples of student work


Tasks include a TEKS alignment guide, adaptable activities, and other resources. The structure and content of the tasks provide the following:

  • Wide variety of choices for student learning
  • Flexibility to pursue topics of student interest
  • Real-life research experiences
  • Focus on a high-quality product and presentation

The tasks were designed to give G/T teachers the flexibility to integrate the TPSP into existing programs and instruction. The tasks are open ended and can be extended and adapted. The tasks provide teachers with a structured curriculum, but teachers still have the freedom to make appropriate adjustments and enhancements. For example, teachers can extend tasks into community service projects if appropriate.

K-2       3-5       6-8       9-12

Grades K-10

In grades K-10, the TPSP tasks consist of two phases.

  • Phase I, Learning Experiences, involves teacher-driven instruction. In the lower grades, tasks require more teacher guidance than in the upper grades.
  • Phase II, Independent Research, allows students to immerse themselves in a project and develop a high- quality end product that demonstrates their knowledge and skills.

Each task has unique requirements. Submission requirements are listed within each task summary. All tasks have a presentation component to accompany the final product. Please note that each task lists options for product development—students do not need to complete all of the options.

Extended Research

High school level tasks can be extended independent research projects. These tasks are completely student driven and based on a student-chosen topic of interest that may be outside the traditional high school curriculum. The project structure should allow for the long-term development of a question or idea that is significant to professionals in the student’s specified field of study.

Projects should allow students to demonstrate sophisticated and advanced research methods and the use of technology appropriate to the field of study. Over the course of a year, each student works with a mentor who is a professional in the student’s field of study to create a unique, innovative final product or performance that is of professional quality.


Tasks at all grade levels are aligned with a standards-based assessment system that allows students and teachers to evaluate student performance in the following six domains:

  • Content Knowledge and Skills
  • Analysis and Synthesis
  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Research
  • Communication
  • Presentation of Learning

At the high school level, the following additional domains are considered:

  • Ethics/Unanswered Questions
  • Methodology and Use of Resources
  • Relevance and Significance
  • Professional Quality

Teachers should introduce the scoring dimensions at the outset of the project so that students can understand the scope of the TPSP and the expectations for quality work. For formative, ongoing evaluation, students and teachers should regularly evaluate progress and revise plans as necessary using the language of the scoring dimensions. During product development, teachers may also wish to encourage students to use self-evaluation and peer-evaluation techniques using the scoring dimensions as a guide. Upon completion of the project, the teacher scores the final product according to assessment rubric.

See the Assessments grade level TPSP pages for more information on the scoring dimensions and to access assessment rubrics.

K-2       3-5       6-8       9-12

How teachers can support students completing TPSP projects

  • Determining criteria for selecting a task
  • Informing students of project guidelines, requirements, and scoring criteria
  • Providing the instruction necessary for students to succeed in the project
  • Coaching students throughout the duration of the project
  • Locating necessary resources to support learning and research experiences
  • Assessing student progress periodically and providing final assessments of student projects
  • Certifying that the project is the student’s own work

Research Skills

The student research process should consist of the following steps:

  • Identifying and defining the research problem or question
  • Reviewing the existing evidence
  • Refining the research question(s)
  • Developing a research design and proposal
  • Carrying out the research design
  • Analyzing the results
  • Reporting the findings through a product or performance

Teachers may want to provide instruction to help students build their research skills, including lessons on the following topics:

  • Conducting research and surveys
  • Asking guiding questions
  • Developing computer skills
  • Using library resources
  • Using a variety of primary and secondary sources
  • Writing a research proposal, paper, and bibliography
  • Developing tables, charts, and graphs

Organizational and Time Management Support

Teachers may want to consider use of the following to support student work:

  • Using organizers or research journals
  • Setting weekly goals and keeping records
  • Conducting structured activities to reflect on and revisit project goals
  • Developing calendars with deadlines and deliverables
  • Holding individual student conferences
  • Implementing flexible grouping as appropriate

Documentation of Learning

Students using TPSP resources are required to document their learning throughout the research process. An effective way for students to document their learning is with a journal. The journal will allow students to review their experiences and findings from Phase I and apply them in Phase II. Teachers may wish to check student journals periodically to ensure that students are progressing appropriately. Students may wish to keep their research journals in a binder or spiral notebook. Teachers can reinforce the idea that documentation of learning is evidence of scholarly behavior.

See the Sample Forms on the relevant grade level TPSP pages for examples of forms that students can use to document their learning, including recording research findings and documenting primary and secondary sources.

K-2       3-5       6-8       9-12      


For more detailed information on using TPSP resources in the classroom, see the Guides for Success documents that were developed for the original TPSP pilot projects in grades 4, 8, and High School level.

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