Gifted Education


DCSD Gifted Education


Lisa Van Gemert
Gifted Guru Website

Ian Byrd

National Association for Gifted Children

Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented

What does it mean to be Gifted and Talented?
Students are identified as gifted and talented based on a combination of their aptitude (reasoning and problem-solving skills) and performance in class and on standardized assessments. To determine a student’s aptitude, we use the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). The CogAT is given to all 3rd and 5th graders as a universal screen and for 1st, 2nd and 4th graders at the request of a parent or the recommendation of a teacher. Student performance is determined using a unique body of evidence for each student. The body of evidence could include PARCC/CMAS scores, STAR scores, reading level as determined by the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, Math in Focus assessments, written pieces of work, student interviews, and much more. There is not a specific score or set of scores we look at to determine giftedness, but an overarching performance and achievement in the top 5% of their peers (national comparison, not within an individual school).

What does Gifted programming look like at Timber Trail?
At Timber Trail, we create an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) for all students identified as Gifted and Talented. In addition to having an ALP, students are clustered in groups of 4-6 in mixed-ability classrooms giving them access to appropriate levels of challenge and complexity by a trained teacher and an opportunity to be challenged by their peers. We also offer flexible grouping in math, independent study opportunities, and blended learning to ensure we are meeting the individual needs of all students.

What is an ALP (Advanced Learning Plan)?
An ALP is an Advanced Learning Plan. The ALP is written by the classroom teacher in collaboration with the Gifted Education Facilitator (Debbie Clemente), the student, and his/her parents. The ALP formalizes the differentiation that the classroom teacher does in order to meet both the academic and affective needs of the student.

What is the role of the Gifted Education Facilitator?
As the Gifted Education facilitator, I: facilitate the identification process, collaborate with teachers in writing goals, gathering support materials, and analyzing data, and provide professional development opportunities for teachers to deepen their understanding of gifted education.

How can you as the parent support your gifted child at home?

Often, the best thing you can do is support your child at home. Take them to libraries, museums, ball games, parks, hiking, etc. Expose them to many, widely-diverse experiences. They’ll discover interests. Devote your time/money/resources to those interests, no matter what they are. Interests change – that’s to be expected. The art of “being interested in something” takes practice.

Support projects based around what your kid is interested in. Help them limit scope so they can actually finish. Creating a 2hr stop-motion movie leads to failure and frustration. A 5-minute video can be great.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finishing and publishing. Publishing can take many forms. Put it online (you can do this in a limited way if you’re scared). Share it with friends and family. There are huge benefits to finishing and publishing. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to point to a finished product and say “I did that.”

Model learning at home. Read. Not just with your child, but in front of them. Let your kids see you learn. Turn the screens off and have family reading time. If you’re making kids practice math, you should also practice math.

Nothing at school will match the power you have at home to create a love for learning and creating. (Taken from