Gifted and Talented Programming

Gifted and Talented Program

Goal: Academy Charter School (ACS) is dedicated to high-quality gifted/talented and enrichment programming that will serve as a model for other Charter schools in the district, state and county.

Gifted and Talented Definition:

As referenced on the DCSD Gifted Education website, 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 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

Gifted Identification:

ACS follows Colorado state-mandated policies for identifying gifted and talented students. Identification is based on documented advanced cognitive ability as evidenced by the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), consistent above grade level performance, advanced scoring on state assessment, parent, teacher, and student input.

Once a student is identified, parents will be notified. An Advanced Learning Plan (ALP), a legal document, is written with input from the Gifted Specialist, classroom teachers, parents and students. ALPs address the student’s academic strengths, identify goals for the upcoming school year and are used to tailor educational programming. Each ALP also includes an affective SMART goal addressing social/emotional needs. Classroom teachers and the Enrichment Specialist work with students on their goals and may be addressed through a variety of options during the school day. Teachers, students and parents reflect on progress toward goals at the end of each trimester.

District Administered Testing

A Cognitive Abilities Test, the CogAT, is administered in early September to all of 3rd and 6th graders.  The data is used by classroom teachers to drive instruction for all students and is one piece of evidence used for gifted identification. During the test administration window teachers, parents and students themselves may request testing. CogAT testing referrals are limited to those new to Douglas County and/or have not previously taken the CogAT test.  Only those who demonstrate abilities or talents that are “so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs” should be referred for testing. Students in 1st and 2nd grade will receive CogAT testing in 3rd grade.  All testing referrals are considered for our Gifted and Talented identification process.

Students may be referred for CogAT testing in grades 1, 2, 4, or 5 who have demonstrated the need for advanced programming, differentiated instruction for advanced learning needs, grasp concepts quickly, need additional depth, complexity and/or creative expression, etc.

Referral testing is not for all students!  These are students who may require targeted gifted programming at the neighborhood/charter school or intensive programming in the DCSD center based Discovery Program.

Referral testing will take place only during the stated CogAT Window,; separate testing will not be provided. ACS will administer the CogAT test the week of September 10, 2018.Consult with the student's former teacher(s) for additional information to determine whether the student demonstrated the characteristics of a gifted learner in prior years.

CogAT Universal Testing Letter – Grade 3rd or 6th
Parent Referral form
Opt out of CogAT testing form
Consent to Test, en Espanol

ACS Gifted/Talented and Enrichment Programming Objectives:

Our objectives address our students, our parent community and our staff.

  1. We want to ensure that identified gifted, and high-achieving students, continue to grow and achieve through a system of support and customized services. Our Enrichment Specialist specializes in the unique characteristics and needs of gifted and talented students, and those with high abilities. Those students will be academically challenged in regular classroom settings, and when appropriate, placed in acceleration and enrichment groups so they will make continuous academic progress. Social and emotional programming is addressed on a case-by-case basis. We adhere to the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards.
  2. We want to ensure the parents of our identified gifted students have a dedicated teacher advocate. The Enrichment Specialist is trained to discuss characteristics and behaviors associated with giftedness, access resources to develop individual talents and address elements of gifted programming and write/maintain ALPs according to current legislation. When needed, Gifted and Talented related information will be provided in their native language.
  3. We want to ensure our staff is trained on current best practices in meeting the needs of gifted and other high achieving students in the classroom. Our Enrichment Specialist collaborates, leads professional development, coaches and provides resources for all staff members.

ACS Gifted and Talented/Enrichment Specialist:

Melinda Kennedy is the Enrichment Specialist at Academy Charter School. With 20 years of teaching experience, she has worked with students as a classroom teacher, a technology specialist and a gifted and talented teacher. She’s excited to return to a role she loves. Melinda joined ACS in 2009. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English, a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction and the Gifted Education Specialist endorsement on her teaching license.


Key dates on the ACS ’18 – ’19 gifted and talented calendar.

  • CogAT testing window – week of September 11, 2018
  • ALP Tri 1 goal reflections – Week of November 5, 2018
  • ALP Tri 2 goal reflections – Week of February 11, 2019
  • ALP Tri 3 goal reflections – Week of April 22, 2019
  • Draft of ’19 – ’20 ALP goals complete – prior to May 17, 2019

Links to Colorado Gifted and Talented education resources

DCSD gifted
CDE – gt

Writing Submission Links

Note: Mrs. Kennedy is happy to support and encourage ANY enthusiastic writer!



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