Volume 3 Issue 3

Ask the Moms

It has been suggested that I have my child tested for the gifted program, what does that mean?
In Colorado, students with exceptional abilities by law must be provided the educational opportunities which meet their needs.  Colorado’s Exceptional Children’s Educational Act grants authority to the State Board of Education to create rules defining and guaranteeing the services that must be provided to a student with identified gifts. “Gifted and Talented” children are those whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs. 

According to the Jeffco website, children identified as gifted and talented may have gifts in one or more of the following areas: 

  • Intellectual abilities
  • Academic aptitude
  • Creative or productive thinking
  • Leadership and human relationship abilities
  • Music, performing arts, visual arts, or spatial abilities 
  • Psychomotor abilities

All gifted students have an academic plan created with the input of their parents, which outlines how their individual needs will be served. This Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) is reviewed with the parents and students periodically throughout each year to ensure the student’s needs are being met. The plan could include elements such as providing a student leadership opportunities, giving her extra instruction in an area of strength, or allowing him to join a higher grade’s classroom for more advanced instruction. 

Most Jeffco students identified as gifted and talented have their needs addressed at their neighborhood school. Students who qualify may be invited to attend a “gifted center” program. These programs, which started in 1984, are housed in neighborhood schools and provide full-time educational experiences for gifted students. Jeffco’s gifted centers give students the opportunity to be in a classroom with their peers. Instruction is accelerated, includes additional enrichment, and provides significant attention to affective needs. Instruction is based on various formal and informal data to assure that the needs of the students are met.

Gifted center admission requires a testing and application process. Tests are offered in the fall and spring. Testing this fall will take place on October 17, and will take between 2 and 2.5 hours. Students are given the CogAT test, and the application process includes a teacher recommendation and a parent survey. Testing for Center School programs is separate from school-based assessment, and is parent-initiated. There is no charge for the testing. 

If your child qualifies for a center program, you may choose to attend the center or you may choose to keep your child at your neighborhood school or the school of your choice. We strongly recommend you have your child tested as early as possible. Jeffco does test all 2nd graders in district run schools using the CogAt, but if a child needs services and is not identified until 2nd grade you have lost three years of guaranteeing your child’s needs are met. Early testing is the best way to determine your student’s needs. Regardless of your decision, the results give you more information about your child. Gifted students are not necessarily “smarter” than their peers; they just think differently. 
Jeffco also has a parent group which can provide more information and great supports for parents and gifted students. We encourage you to connect with the Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children (JAGC). They offer seminars, networking opportunities, provide information on enrichment opportunities around the country, and have parents who can answer your questions and help make sure you are prepared to connect your child with the services he or she needs. You can email the group: info@jeffcogifted.org and visit their website: http://jeffcogifted.org/.

My child has been invited to attend a dance with friends, but not at our school. She said there was a form that has to be filled out, is that true?
Yes, most Jeffco high schools allow students to bring to their dance a guest who does not attend that school, but they must receive prior permission. Forms are available in the schools’ offices, and must be filled out and turned in for approval before a student can attend a dance at a school in which they are not enrolled.