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.

Important Information: Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) - 2nd Grade Universal Screening


Universal Screening 

Based on feedback from families and the Colorado Department of Education, we are making improvements to our Universal Screening process.  Beginning the spring of 2020, DCSD will transition 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: Language options for the Spring 2020 Testing Window are in process.) In addition, we are changing our Universal Screening grade from 3rd grade to 2nd grade as recommended by state and national guidance. 


As part of this process, ALL students in Grade 2 will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT 8) the week of February 10, 2020  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 in 2nd grade and took the CogAT in September of 2019, you have the option to opt your child out of this testing window. Your Gifted Education Facilitator will contact you directly with information about this process. 


Gifted Identification Referral Testing 

DCSD will NOT have a second Referral Testing Window this school year (2019 - 2020). The next testing window will be in the fall of the 2020 - 2021 school year. 


If your child is in a grade other than 2nd,  and you believe he/she needs evaluation for Gifted Identification and Services, and you have not done so already, please initiate the Gifted Identification Referral Process by completing the referral form below HERE


NOTE:  Completing this referral form WILL NOT initiate the CogAT assessment. 


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




Academy Charter Schools Gifted Referral form DCSD Gifted Programming Website Douglas County Association of Gifted and Talented (DCAGT) Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented (CAGT) National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) Colorado Department of Education - Gifted Information

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 25 years of teaching experience, she has worked with students as a classroom teacher, a technology specialist and a gifted and talented teacher. 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.





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