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Gifted and Talented Education

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Who are the Gifted and Talented? 

Gifted and talented students are those students between the ages of four and twenty-one whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs. Gifted students include students with disabilities (i.e. twice exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic and ethnic, cultural populations. Gifted students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas:

  • General or Specific Intellectual Ability
  • Specific Academic Aptitude
  • Creative or Productive Thinking
  • Leadership Abilities
  • Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Musical or Psychomotor Abilities

What does it mean to be Gifted & Talented in Douglas County?  

If a student is identified as GT, he/she may go to his/her neighborhood school (Flagstone) or apply for the Discovery Program that is at another school.  The Discovery Program is designed for those students who have needs so intense that they cannot be met in a regular classroom. All students in Douglas County are given the CogAT, Cognitive Abilities Test, in 3rd & 6th grade as a universal screener for early intervention.  If there is a need for a student to take the CogAT in another grade due to teacher recommendation or parent request, that is possible at grades 1, 2, 4 & 5.  Testing at these levels is solely for the purpose of possible GT identification. At this time, the CogAT is given each September.

For more information regarding DCSD Gifted and Talented programming, click here.

What is an ALP?

An ALP is an Advanced Learning Plan.   All students that are identified as GT have an ALP whether they go to their neighborhood school (Flagstone) or a Discovery School.  The decision to create an ALP comes from an identification process that looks at a body of evidence that includes many data points including CogAT, classroom work/assessments, other standardized measures, and input from classroom teacher, parent(s), and student.  

What does GT look like at Flagstone?

At Flagstone, we create ALP plans for students that have gone through a GT identification process and qualify for GT programming.  The ALP is written by the GT Contact in collaboration with classroom teachers, students, and parents.  The ALP formalizes the differentiation that the classroom teacher does for the students in their identified area(s) as well as affective needs.  At Flagstone, we value and support the depth and complexity of knowledge, not just what grade level a concept may be.  All students in our building read and write at their highest independent level. Sometimes additional grouping is needed in the area of mathematics.  Our MTSS team collaborates to make the best determination of what that looks like year to year.  Some strategies that we use to meet needs at our building are flexible grouping in reading and math, content acceleration, grade level acceleration, independent study, curriculum, compacting, and blending learning.  

What will GT look like at Mesa Middle School?

Mesa has many options for different levels of learning.  Teachers will recommend based on their knowledge of each student and the choices that are offered.  Parent and student input is taken as well.

What is the role of the GT Contact?

My role as the GT contact is coordinate CogAT testing, data collection, identification process, as well as facilitate writing the ALP.   If a parent is interested in applying for their student to be admitted to the Discovery Program, I help with that process as well.  I also collaborate with teachers in writing the goals, gathering support materials, analyzing data and adjusting plans as needed. When needed, I work with students on specific projects or affective goals that need individualization.


General Resources






Third and Sixth Grade Information on CogAT Testing

We use the CogAT as a universal screening tool for all third grade and sixth grade students. Scores and reports from this universal testing will be used as one piece of data to inform instruction for all students, not only for advanced learners. Please see the linked letter below for more information about this year's testing window.


16-17 FSE CogAT Universal Letter


Teachers or parents may make a referral to test in grades 1, 2, 4, or 5 who have demonstrated the need for advanced programming, differentiated instruction or advanced learning needs. If students grasp concepts quickly, need additional depth, complexity, and/or creative expression a referral might be necessary. Referral testing is not for all students. Referral testing will take place at the neighborhood school only during the stated CogAT window; separate Saturday testing will NOT be provided, nor will another testing window be provided. Referral students must have a signed Consent to Test/Gifted Identification form. There will not be another CogAT testing window later in the year. We will need to know the names of parent referrals by 8/19 at 4:00 pm. Please return your request paperwork to you child's teacher.


Please see linked letters below for information on parent referrals and the Consent to Test/Gifted Identification form.


16-17 FSE CogAT Referral Letter


FSE CogAT Consent to Test / Gifted Identification Referral 2016-17


Parent Observation Form for Gifted Identification


If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Radford, FSE's 16-17 GT Coordinator at jcradford@dcsdk12.org or 303-387-5225.
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