Additional Gifted and Talented Information

What is gifted/talented education?

Gifted education is the umbrella term for programs and services that are offered to identified gifted/talented students and that often extend to other advanced students as well. The focal point of gifted programming is on those students whose exceptional abilities and potential require instructional accommodations so that they may continue to learn at a rate commensurate with their abilities.

What is the definition of a gifted and talented learner?

“Gifted children” means those school-age children and youth “whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishments are so outstanding that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs."

Gifted and talented students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of the following:

  • General or specific intellectual ability
  • Specific academic aptitude
  • Creative or productive thinking
  • Leadership and human relations abilities
  • Visual arts, performing arts, or musical abilities

Generally, gifted students are performing in the top 1-3% of the student population nationally in their strength area(s). Gifted children represent all cultural, ethnic, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds and may demonstrate both gifts and disabilities. Currently in St. Vrain Valley our identification and programming efforts focus primarily on students with general intellectual ability and specific academic aptitude.

How do I know if my child is gifted?

Parents are often the first to notice exceptional learning abilities in their own children. Sometimes they notice the child’s early acquisition of language, advanced vocabulary, mature sense of humor, interest in social issues, strong motivation to learn, curiosity and creativity, strong interests, or very strong memory and quick recall. Some parents, in an effort to understand their child’s learning needs and capabilities, also seek private testing. They may still question whether their child is “just bright” or actually qualifies as gifted according to state and district educational guidelines. Parents are encouraged to contact the school principal with questions, and/or complete the Nomination Form and return it to their school office.

What if my child was identified as gifted in another school or district?

Identified students in St. Vrain who transfer to another St. Vrain school do not need to reapply and they remain on the district Gifted/Talented database. Students moving in from other districts or states do need to go through the review process, as identification criteria is not common across all districts. Parents are encouraged to provide the school with test data and other qualifying information from the previous district, which greatly facilitates the review process and sometimes prevents the necessity for further testing.

What happens once my child is nominated?

  1. Data Review - Multiple sources and tools allow a child to reveal his/her exceptionalities or potential. A variety of assessment tools are used to collect information on a student whose background or talent area makes him/her unique from others. The identification process uses a body of evidence for gifted identification that includes:
    • Verbal, non-verbal or written objective methods such as group and individual tests of achievement (e.g. CSAP), and general ability tests (such as the Cognitive Abilities Test).
    • Subjective assessment methods including referrals, observations, rating scales, interviews and student work.
    • Input from teachers, parents or the learners themselves.

    As data is collected, it is added to the student’s formal Profile Sheet. At least two people trained in the identification of gifted students review the information, and look for sufficient evidence of exceptional talent or ability to warrant special programming or services.

  2. Recommendation - Information collected is confidential. The gifted education resource teacher and/or a school committee reviews the information collected to determine if the nominated student qualifies for gifted education services.
  3. Parent Notification - The building GT resource teacher, GT liaison or principal notifies parents regarding the results of the identification process through a written letter.

Is there a “test” for giftedness?

A “Body of Evidence” is required for identification that includes indicators of outstanding ability, achievement, behaviors and performance. This information, often collected over a period of several years, is reviewed approximately once a year to determine if the student requires intense or sustained resources, adaptations or acceleration in order to demonstrate continued progress commensurate with his/her ability level.

Sometimes parents ask if their child can take “the gifted test”. As noted above, qualifying for gifted services involves a collection of data, and no individual test works to qualify a student as gifted. Sometimes parents seek outside testing at their own expense to complement school data or if the level of the student’s abilities and need are in question; however outside assessment is not required for identification or educational planning in district schools.

Are students in the program for all the years they attend St. Vrain Valley School District?

At benchmark years, generally in 5th and 7th grades, student data is re-evaluated to determine if students still qualify for services.

What if my child has poor test scores and does not qualify, but I am convinced of his/her giftedness?

The Body of Evidence may include surveys, observations, rating scales, interviews, and student work. This allows for consideration of students who may not do well on more formalized tests. Nonverbal (culture-fair) tests and surveys are available for minority students. Students who are both gifted and learning disabled (twice-exceptional) may perform poorly on tests and in some classroom settings. The district has procedures for determining if a student may be gifted in addition to having a disability. If the student is identified as twice-exceptional, he/she then becomes eligible for gifted education services.

Identification committees may also make a decision for tryout of a possibly gifted youth in a program or service. When doubt or uncertainty exists, the trial period may help to determine if the student can handle the demands of advanced programming.

What happens once a student is identified as gifted/talented?

Gifted education includes a range and variety of services to address student needs, and may be delivered within the student’s regular classroom, in advanced programs, and in special classes. Programming is linked to identified student strengths, with options and strategies matched to a student’s identified academic and affective needs.

The actual delivery of services for gifted/talented students varies depending on student needs and building resources. Ideally, each school strives to provide a continuum of services, including enrichment that is accessible and appropriate for all interested students, advanced courses that are ideally suited for identified students, and grade level acceleration, mentoring and counseling for students with a very high level of need.

Gifted education resource teachers and/or liaisons at each building help to facilitate these services. Schools need the additional support and involvement of parents and community members for programming to be comprehensive and effective. Please feel free to get involved and help make comprehensive services for gifted students a reality in St. Vrain Valley Schools.