Gifted and Talented Programming

What is 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.

  • To better understand the difference between a gifted learner, a high achiever and a critical thinker click here.
  • If you have a student who has been identified as gifted and you would like some tips on how to talk to them, click here.


Discovery Programing:

Discovery Program is designed to meet the needs of gifted elementary school students (2nd to 6th grade) who require intensity of instruction and acceleration beyond what can reasonably be expected from the regular school programming. A Discovery Program is located at Renaissance ELOB as well as other District elementary schools. Please visit the District website for identification and application information located under the "Discovery Program" tab.


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 (South Ridge Elementary) 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, input from classroom teacher, parent(s), and the student.

What Does GT Look Like at South Ridge Elementary?

At South Ridge, we create ALP plans for students that have gone through a GT identification process and qualify. The ALP is written by the GT Contact (Dawn Clarke & Amber Struthers) 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 South Ridge Elementary, 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 Multi-Tiered System of Supports (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, and Curriculum Compacting, a process by which students are pre-assessed to determine what parts of the curriculum they have already mastered.

What Will This Look Like at Mesa Middle School?

Mesa Middle School has many options for different levels of learning. Teachers and the GT Contact will make recommendations based on their knowledge of the student and the choices that are offered. Parent and student input is taken into consideration as well.

Social-Emotional resources for parents and students:

Twice-Exceptional Students Twice-exceptional students are those students who are identified as gifted and talented in one or more areas of exceptionality (specific academics, general intellectual ability, creativity, leadership, visual or performing arts);

AND ALSO identified with:

A disability defined by Federal/State eligibility criteria: specific emotional learning disability, significant identifiable disability, physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, autism, or ADHD. The disability qualifies the student for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. Please visit the Douglas County School District site for more information located in the "Special Education" site.

Discovery Program Application Process
The application process for the Discovery Program is now open.  Applications are due December 4, 2020. The Discovery Program is designed for highly advanced gifted learners in grades 2 - 6 whose needs will be best met in a center based program.  Please share the following information about the program with your families through your regular communication channels and consider students who might benefit from this intense gifted programming option

Want to know more about DCSD's Discovery Program? Join parents of Discovery students and staff from our district's Advanced Academics and Gifted Education team to learn more about this programming available through Discovery.

Join DCAGT (Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented) on their Facebook page on Wednesday, November 11 from 6:00 to 7:00pm.

DCAT Newsletter October 2020

Proceso de Solicitud del Programa Discovery

El proceso de solicitud del programa Discovery está abierto. Las solicitudes se vencen el 4 de diciembre de 2020. El programa Discovery está diseñado para estudiantes superdotados altamente avanzados en los grados 2 a 6 cuyas necesidades se cubrirán mejor en un programa basado en el centro.

Folleto del Programa
Discovery Solicitud y Proceso del Programa Discovery

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Based on feedback from families and the Colorado Department of Education, and our commitment to increased equitable gifted identification practices, we have made improvements to our Universal Screening process.  In the spring of 2020, DCSD transitioned from the “paper pencil” CogAT to the online version.  The online assessment platform provides for easier administration, faster results, and access to the directions in multiple languages other than English. (NOTE: Additional language options are in process.)


As part of this process, ALL students in 5th grade who have not been identified for gifted programming will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) the week of  Nov. 10th, 11th, & 12th.  This assessment indicates the level and pattern of cognitive development of a student in comparison to grade and age mates.  These general reasoning abilities, which start developing at birth and continue through early adulthood, are influenced by experiences gained both in and out of school.  

If your child is already identified for gifted programming, they will not participate in this universal screen testing. Your Gifted Education Facilitator will contact you directly with more detailed information about this process. 

Please see the following for additional information linked below:

DCSD Universal Screening Letter to Families_Fall 2020

Estimados Padres/Tutores:

Basándonos en los comentarios de las familias y el Departamento de Educación de Colorado, y nuestro compromiso de aumentar las prácticas equitativas de identificación de dotados, hemos realizado mejoras en nuestro proceso de Evaluación Universal. En la primavera de 2020, DCSD hizo la transición del CogAT de “lápiz de papel” a la versión en línea. La plataforma de evaluación en línea proporciona una administración más sencilla, resultados más rápidos y acceso a las instrucciones en varios idiomas además del inglés. (NOTA: Hay opciones de idiomas adicionales en proceso). 

Como parte de este proceso, TODOS los estudiantes de 5th grade que no hayan sido identificados para la programación para superdotados tomarán la Prueba de habilidades cognitivas (CogAT) la semana de Noviembre 10th, 11th & 12th. Esta evaluación indica el nivel y patrón de desarrollo cognitivo de un estudiante en comparación con sus compañeros de grado y edad. Estas habilidades de razonamiento general, que comienzan a desarrollarse desde el nacimiento y continúan hasta la edad adulta temprana, están influenciadas por las experiencias adquiridas tanto dentro como fuera de la escuela.  

Si su hijo ya está identificado para programación para superdotados, no participará en esta prueba de pantalla universal. Su Facilitador de Educación para Dotados se comunicará con usted directamente con información más detallada sobre este proceso. 

Consulte lo siguiente para obtener información adicional vinculada a continuación:

DCSD Universal Screening Letter to Families_Fall 2020_Spanish

  • Resources:

CDE Twice Exceptional Resource Guide

Intervention Central

Douglas County Special Education Advisory Committee

2e Newsletter

Gifted and SLD Topic Brief

LD Online

Uniquely Gifted

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Hoagies 2eBlog Hop

What is My Role?

Our role as the GT contacts are to collaborate with our assessment coordinator with CogAT testing, coordinate the identification process as well as facilitate writing the ALP. If a parent is interested in applying for the Discovery Program, we help with that process as well. We also collaborate with teachers in writing the goals, gathering support materials, analyzing data and adjusting plans as needed. South Ridge Elementary has a long history of highly capable students, and our teachers are well versed in differentiation for all students. When needed, we work with students on specific projects or affective goals that need individualization.


Referral for Gifted Identification
Referral for Gifted Identification (Espanol)
Formulario de recomendación para la identificación de estudiantes dotados en el DCSD - Consentimiento para la evaluación, Encuesta de padres/tutores y Encuesta de estudiantes
Spanish Referral Letter 
Spanish Consent to Test Form
Douglas County School District Programming for Gifted Learners
Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented (DCAGT)
Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented (CAGT)
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)
Colorado Department of Education, Office of Gifted Education (CDE-GT)
Center for Bright Kids
Ricks Center
Gifted Development Center

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