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What is a gifted student?

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12 year old girl with blonde hair and green shirt at desk assembling a robot

Gifted and talented children are students between the ages of three and 21 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 and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural populations. 

Gifted students are highly capable in at least one of these areas: 

  • General or specific intellectual ability
  • Specific academic aptitude
  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Visual, performing or musical arts
  • Psychomotor abilities

How do we identify gifted students?

Equitable Access  

Since WPS enrolls a high proportion of students of poverty (72% FRL) and English learners (40%), it is especially crucial that we put non-discriminatory, yet rigorous, eligibility and identification policies in place.  In doing so, our district utilizes a tiered approach that pulls together a variety of student data and information that provides a holistic picture of the child’s strengths, interests, and curiosities. Data includes both quantitative and qualitative measures including, but not limited to, a variety of assessments (state, local, achievement, intelligence), observation scales, student portfolio assessments, and student interviews.  Assessments are offered in multiple languages and interpretations are available as needed. 

Eligible Gifted Education Students  

Once found eligible, the school’s Gifted Program Advocate will make a personal phone call to the families to notify them of the child’s eligibility.  Families are invited to the school to collaborate in the development of their child’s Accelerated Learning Plan (ALP). A formal letter of eligibility is then mailed as a follow-up to the phone conversation. Once ALPs are developed, copies are sent to the family and all pertinent licensed staff of the eligible student, including the mental health provider if such services are needed from the plan.

Want to refer a student for Gifted Education Identification?  Contact your Gifted Program School Advocate.  

For additional state resources, please go to the CDE Gifted and Talented Identification Website


WPS Gifted Education Identification Process-A Two-Pronged Approach 

Prong I

In order to screen for students that may have very high academic aptitudes, we utilize our district’s Alpine Achievement database to select each student that may warrant further review by our Gifted Education team for the purposes of eligibility.  Students with high achievement on district and state tests may not necessarily result in Gifted Program eligibility. Only when a student obtains a robust body of evidence do they become eligible.

Prong II

For all other students that may be eligible for Gifted Education in a non-academic area (e.g., general cognitive ability, leadership, performing and creative arts, etc.), referrals are made by parents or teachers based on data and information already in their possession (e.g., CogAT screeners, recitals/stage performances, community leadership activities, etc.), which would trigger a formal referral and the collection of a body of evidence.

Gifted Education Student Referral Process

  1. The teacher, families, or any other stakeholder completes a referral and sends it to the Gifted Education Department using our Referral Form.  
  2. The Gifted Education Department will review the referral, determine the next steps, and notify the school-level Gifted Program Advocate.  
  3. The Gifted Program Advocate will pull together a body of evidence that supports identification in a student’s area of strength (Talent Aptitude or Academic Aptitude).
    • Gifted Program Advocate includes a body of evidence on a Google Spreadsheet. 
    • The school team and Gifted Education leadership will collaboratively determine identification
    • Families will be contacted to provide additional evidence to support eligibility.  
  4. The Gifted Program Advocate is encouraged to notify families by phone when a student is identified for Gifted Programming or will be added to the Talent Pool list.

All student information is confidential and protected under FERPA.