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Gifted and Talented

Danielle Ceja, EdS – School Psychologist – – 719-658-2220 ext.117

Teresa Wall – District Coordinator – – 719-658-2220 ext.131

General Information

Each district has resource materials and staff who can talk with you about the identification procedure for gifted students. All children bring their gifts to school and deserve to have their needs met. A gifted student is one who has "special educational needs" that are difficult to meet with core classroom curriculum. We often confuse high achieving students with those who are gifted based on our own experiences when in school. Today, we identify students who may be high achievers, but also those who may be underachieving or who have gifts in creativity, leadership and/or the arts. We try to identify all gifted students to be certain they do not go school "at-risk" for not achieving to their potential. When you approach your child's classroom teacher, besides stating, "My child may be gifted," be prepared to describe his or her unique learning needs that aren't being met with the core curriculum. In addition to academic needs, share those social/emotional needs that may not be evident in the general classroom.

The best thing a parent can do when a child complains about being bored in school is to ask for more information to get a better understanding of the situation. For example: 

  • Describe what you mean by bored? What are you doing and what are the other students doing? 
  • What subjects or when during the school day do you feel this way? 
  • Have you talked to your teacher about this? 

It is important to give your student tools to be a self-advocate to get his or her needs met in school. Suggest how a conversation might be opened up. Here are some things you might say to your teacher: 

  • "I seem to always finish assignments in _____ before everyone else. Can I do harder work?" 
  • "Is there another way I could show you that I know the lesson by doing something that's more challenging to me?" 

If your child doesn't wish to initiate a conversation with his or her teacher about the situation, make an appointment and bring your child with you. S/he needs to be part of the conversation to identify a solution.

Common Characteristics In preschool years, giftedness can be demonstrated by early physical development, early language development, and/or exceptional powers of observation and curiosity. While it is rare for a gifted child to exhibit all of the following characteristics, it is common for a gifted child to manifest many of them:

• Good problem-solving abilities

• Learns rapidly

• Extensive vocabulary

• Good memory

• Longer attention span

• Compassion for others

• Perfectionism

• High degree of energy

• Prefers older companions

• Wide range of interests (or narrow ones with intense focus)

• Interest in experimenting and doing things differently

• Unusual sense of humor

• Early or avid reader with greater comprehension ability with puzzles, mazes or numbers

• Seems mature for age at times

• Insatiable curiosity and persistence

• Intense concentration

• Perseverance in areas of interest

• May question authority

• Advanced sense of conscience, concern about the world

• Perceives abstract ideas, understands complex concepts

• Sees relationships

• May demonstrate intense emotional and/or physical sensitivity

• Exhibits creativity


Culturally/Linguistically Diverse Students

Children of color, representing different ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds, have been underrepresented in gifted and talented programs for a variety of reasons. In addition to the use of culturally biased identification tools and practices, cultural factors such as degree of risk-taking or questioning, the established practice of working to address the needs of the group and not the individual may stand as a barrier to student nomination. Students may be required to spend time in the home, assuming roles of responsibility or may mask their intellectual abilities at school to not be noticed. Interests of these students may include culturally related, not school-based activities.


Students from Poverty

Mobility rates may make it difficult to sustain identification procedures and services. Parents and students may not trust "special labels" of being identified with special services at school. Students may have limited self-expectations and may demonstrate behavior inconsistent with school perceptions of gifted characteristics.


Underachieving Gifted Students

Students who demonstrate through standardized measures a discrepancy between intellectual and/or creative ability or potential and academic achievement and/or creative productivity are considered to be underachievers. If giftedness is not nurtured, students may become bored, frustrated, and depressed with school activities. Often focus is on what students cannot do, instead of what a child can do. This may serve as a deterrent to engagement in school assignments.


Bright Child
Knows the answers
Is interested
Is attentive
Has good ideas
Works hard
Answers the questions
Top group
Listens with interest
Learns with ease
6-8 repetitions for mastery
Understands ideas
Enjoys peers
Grasps the meaning
Completes assignments
Is receptive
Copies accurately
Enjoys school
Absorbs information
Good memorizer
Enjoys straightforward sequential presentation
Is alert
Is pleased with own learning


Gifted Learner
Asks the questions
Is highly curious
Is mentally and physically involved
Has wild, silly ideas
Plays around, yet tests well
Discusses in detail, elaborates
Beyond the group
Shows strong feelings and opinions
Already knows
1-2 repetitions for mastery
Constructs abstractions
Prefers adults
Draws inferences
Initiates projects
Is intense
Creates a new design
Enjoys learning
Manipulates information
Good guesser
Thrives on complexity
Is keenly observant
Is highly self-critical

Every identified student is required to have a current Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) that identifies programming and accountability measures designed to address identified strength area(s). These plans MUST be reviewed annually and may be reviewed at any time during the school year if deemed necessary. Plans require parent (and usually student) collaboration when being developed. Most often, the plans are reviewed during parent-teacher conferences. If you have questions, based on anecdotal evidence from your child, feel free to review the appropriateness of the current ALP.

Most often, student needs are addressed through "differentiated curriculum" delivered in the regular classroom. This does not mean that curriculum is differentiated all day - but every day all students deserve the right to learn something new. If this is not happening, request a conference with your child's teacher to increase the intensity of differentiation in your child's strength area. 

Remember that parents are also critical in providing enrichment outside of school. Getting involved in a district or regional parent group may assist in helping you find other resources in the area.

All identified students have a separate folder, different from the cumulative folder, stored at their school. This folder includes information, or "the body of evidence" that was collected to determine if your child required gifted education services. Included may be a student profile, test data, assessment documents and ALPs. The cumulative file contains a document or has a "flag" to identify that a gifted education file exists for the student. Although when you enroll in a new school, all files are generally requested, you have the right to request a copy of all files to carry to the new district.

Most districts include a section on the student registration form where you can check if your child has been receiving services for gifted education. If you moved from another district within Colorado, your child is eligible for services without any additional testing. If you are from out-of-state, the school will need to review eligibility criteria to determine if it aligns with our state/district's operational definition of giftedness. 

In some districts, students are delineated as "guests" or are in a "talent pool" and receive some gifted services. This option may not be available at your new school.

Ability grouping -- the flexible regrouping of students based on individual instructional needs.
Acceleration -- moving at a faster pace through academic content.
Accreditation -- Means by which schools are acknowledged as providing adequate education to student while fulfilling all mandates and laws governing education. 
Achievement test -- one which determines what a student knows within a specific unit or curriculum. 
Affective needs -- the social and emotional needs of students.
Aptitude test -- one that measures how capable and able a student is to learn. May or may not be in a specific curricular area.
Benchmarks -- measurable achievements of students leading toward mastery of each Standard.
Charter school -- a public school designed and implemented to meet needs of a specific student population.
Cluster grouping -- the intentional placement of a group of similar ability students in an otherwise heterogeneous (mixed ability) classroom for a particular learning activity.
Concurrent Enrollment -- a provision that allows students to be enrolled in college classes while still in high school (see Post Secondary Option).
Cooperative grouping -- an instructional strategy in which small, usually heterogeneous groups of students work collaboratively to learn. 
Curriculum -- the course of study, i.e., math, English, history
Curriculum compacting -- an instructional strategy in which a student's grasp of a subject area is frequently reassessed by the instructor, and following demonstration of mastery of the subject, the student is allowed to progress to the next level or is given core in-depth work in the same subject area. 
Diagnostic test -- one which determines what a student knows within a specific unit or curriculum
Differentiation -- the modification of programming and instruction based on a student's academic need and intellectual ability.
Enrichment -- the enhancement of the curricular program with additional opportunities for learning. 
Exceptional Children's Educational Act -- a Colorado law that groups students with disabilities, students for whom English is not the primary language, and gifted/talented students as those who have different educational needs based on their identified exceptionally.
Feeder schools -- those schools that, because of location, generally accept and send students to one another -- elementary to middle to high
Gifted and Talented -- refers to children of exceptional ability. 
Heterogeneous grouping -- students are taught in mixed ability groups.
Home school -- a parent provides all or some of a child's education privately in the home. Parent requires no certification but child is tested with a standardized test to demonstrate achievement. 
Homogeneous grouping -- students are taught in similar ability groups.
Mandate -- a law that compels a specific method of addressing a particular educational need. Gifted education does not have a legislative mandate in Colorado.
Mentorship -- a cooperative arrangement between a student and a professional adult for the purpose of sharing common interests in a particular skill, knowledge or career orientation.
Out-of-level (or off level) testing -- testing typically given to a particular grade or age of students and used to assess abilities of younger students at a higher level than their developmental peers
PSO (Post Secondary Option) -- a provision that allows students to be enrolled in college classes while still in high school (also called concurrent enrollment)
Private school -- a school which is funded by private sources and/or tuition.
Pull-out program -- Classes and activities that are held during the school day but outside the regular classroom. 
Standards-based education -- a state-mandated mechanism for which students demonstrate what they know and are able to do with regard to particular content areas such as reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, geography, and foreign language. For gifted students this system of establishing identifiable and assessable skills and knowledge offers a framework for flexibility and instruction based on need.
GT Teacher/Facilitator -- the person assigned to a specific school to insure identification of Gifted and Talented students, support staff in provision of appropriate educational experiences, and be an advocate for Gifted and Talented students.
Tracking -- a rigid, inflexible system in which students are selected for semi-permanent grouping based on ability. In the past, students with high ability in one subject might have been selected for the high track in all subjects.
Transition process -- the process of student articulation between grades and levels.
Twice-exceptional students -- those who have both the characteristics of students with disabilities and of students with outstanding potential.