Gifted and Talented

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).

2nd Grade Universal Screen

As part of this process, ALL students in 2nd grade not identified for gifted programming will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) the week of February 5.  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 information about this process. 

Kindergarten/ 1st Grade Gifted Identification Referral Testing


  •  If your child is in K or 1st  grade 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. 

  • Please request CogAT testing for your child by completing the Referral for Gifted Identification linked WME Referral Form

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

Who are the 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 socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural populations. Gifted students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, and/or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas:

  • General or Specific Intellectual Ability
  • Specific Academic Aptitude
  • Creative or Productive Thinking
  • Leadership Abilities
  • Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Musical or Psychomotor Abilities

What does it mean to be identified as Gifted and Talented in Douglas County School District?

If a student is identified as Gifted and Talented (GT), they may go to their neighborhood school (Wildcat Mountain Elementary) or apply for the Discovery Program. The Discovery Program is designed for those students who have needs so intense that they cannot be met in a regular classroom. All students in Douglas County are given the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) in 3rd and 5th grades, for the Rock Canyon High School feeder area, as a universal screen for intervention. If there is a need for a student to take the CogAT in another grade due to teacher recommendation or parent request, that is possible at grades K, 1, 2, and 4. Testing at these levels is solely for the purpose of possible GT identification. At this time, the CogAT is given each September.

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 (Wildcat Mountain Elementary) or a Discovery School. The decision to create an ALP comes from an identification process where a team of teachers and interventionists 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 Gifted and Talented Look Like at Wildcat Mountain Elementary?

At WME, we collaboratively create ALP plans for students that have gone through a GT identification process and qualify. The ALP is written by the GT Facilitator in collaboration with classroom teachers, students, and parents. The ALP formalizes the differentiation that the classroom teacher provides for the students in their identified area(s) as well as affective needs within the classroom setting. At WME, we value and support 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 and are differentiated for based on need. 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, writing, and math, content acceleration, grade level acceleration where appropriate and necessary, 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 Rocky Heights Middle School?

Rocky Heights Middle School has many options for various levels of learning. Teachers along with the GT Facilitator will make recommendations based on their knowledge of each student and the choices that are offered when making class placement decisions. Parent and student input is also taken into consideration throughout this process.

What is My Role?

My role as the GT facilitator is to coordinate CogAT testing with our school assessment coordinator, to collect data, to coordinate the identification process as well as to facilitate the writing of the ALP. I also support teachers in planning for differentiation and instruction to meet ALP students' needs and goals. If a parent is interested in applying for the Discovery Program, I assist with that process as well. I also collaborate with teachers in writing goals, gathering support materials, analyzing data and adjusting plans as needed. Wildcat Mountain Elementary has a long history of highly capable students, and our teachers are well versed in differentiation for all students. When needed, I work with students on specific projects

GT Resources:

Please contact me if you have any questions.
Jolie Pinke
[email protected]
GT Facilitator