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 Programming:

Discovery Program is designed to meet the needs of gifted elementary school students (2nd to 6th grade) who require the 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 is the Gifted and Talented Facilitator's 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.

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.

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.

Programing & Referral Resources

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


Bibliotherapy with Gifted Students

Gifted Challenges BlogSpot: Dr. Post is a Clinical Psychologist, with over 30 years of experience. Advocating for the gifted learners by offering resources and tips to gifted adults, parents of gifted children, teaching professionals, mental health professionals, and parent advocacy groups.

SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted ): a nonprofit group that empowers families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. SENG provides various articles, resources, conferences and online groups.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): not GT-specific, but does have great support groups, conferences, etc.

Gifted Haven (an online forum for young people)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

"Mellow Out" They Say. If I Only Could. Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright by Michael Piechowski

The Smart Teens Guide to Living With Intensity by Lisa Rivero

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by James Webb, Edward Amend, Nadia Webb, Jean Goerss, Paul Beljan and Richard Olench

Additional 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

Dear Parents/Guardians,

DCSD is committed to implementing equitable practices to increase access to advanced/gifted learning opportunities. Based on state and national recommendations and requirements, we implement Universal Screening for students in 2nd grade (February) and 5th or 6th grade--a student's final year of elementary school (November).


5th/6th Grade Universal Screen

As part of this process, ALL students in 5th grade not identified for gifted programming will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) the week of  November 8th.  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 missed their regular universal CogAT screening last year, they will be assessed during this window.  This would pertain to students currently in 3rd and possibly 6th or 7th grade (depending on the last grade in elementary).

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 information about this process. 

Gifted Identification Referral Testing 

  • If your child is in grades 3 and 4  and you believe he/she needs evaluation for Gifted Identification and Services, you may refer your child for testing by initiating the Gifted Identification Process.  

  • NOTE:  Requesting this assessment automatically initiates the process to evaluate for Gifted Identification. 

Referral for Gifted Identification (Espanol)

  • Upon receipt of this form the Gifted Education Facilitator will connect with you to discuss next steps in the gifted identification process.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.

In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado,, 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.