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Identification Process

Colorado State Identification Guidelines

The Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA) defines “identification” as: The assessment process used by the AU [DPS] for identifying students who meet the definition for identifying the educational needs of gifted students.

The gifted and talented identification process offers multiple opportunities and pathways for student identification in the following areas:

  • specific academic aptitude (reading, writing math, science, social studies, and world language)
  • specific talent aptitude (visual or performing arts, musical, dance or psychomotor abilities, creative or productive thinking and/or leadership abilities)
  • general or specific intellectual ability

Per state law, all gifted identification must be based on a body of evidence, which must include standardized assessments. The development of a body of evidence is an ongoing, thoughtful process and may take time to gather the three qualifying pieces of data.

Click here for a Brief Identification Overview 

DPS Identification Process

Identification is an ongoing process. Denver Public Schools follows the ECEA guidelines for identification. In an effort to find and identify students, DPS universally assesses approximately 22,000 students every fall in kindergarten, 2nd, and 6th grade using the online Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT-3). The NNAT-3 score of 95%ile or higher may serve as one formal identification point in the body of evidence.

A body of evidence can be collected at the school-level using a variety of district-based information and scores, which GT teachers review and collect towards an identification throughout the year (to find your GT teacher: Gifted and Talented Teacher/Point of Contact). All information is reviewed and evaluated by a highly qualified team to determine the educational needs of the student and the most suitable level of gifted support. Depending on the complete review of the body of evidence, your child may or may not qualify for gifted services.

The DPS identification process is open and accessible to all students. Families may have additional information about their child that may not be seen in a school setting. We encourage families to connect with their child’s GT teacher to discuss the body of evidence towards identification and to determine which identification pathway is appropriate for the child. If you need further support, please contact the GT Department at 720-423-2056.

If you are out-of-district, please email us to initiate a review of your child’s data and to discuss next steps.

The specific academic identification pathway is used to identify students with an academic need in one or more of the subject areas below.  The student must have over time demonstrated advanced academic abilities beyond grade level to qualify for gifted services for specific academic aptitude in any of the following areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • World Language

The GT teacher will help determine which academic area is appropriate to pursue based on the available body of evidence.

The state recognizes two academic identification pathways:

Specific Academic Pathway #1

Students with a cognitive score of 95 percentile or above (generally through the NNAT or the CogAT) can follow this pathway for identification in one or more academic areas. Each academic area requires three pieces of supporting evidence for formal identification. Denver Public Schools does not accept private assessments as the sole means of identifying students for gifted services.

A student may score 95th percentile or above on one or more batteries of a cognitive test and demonstrate aptitude on two (2) specific academic measures.

Specific Academic Aptitude Criterion- or Norm-referenced Achievement Test Norm-referenced Observation Scale Performance Evaluation
  • Exceeds Expectations on state assessment (CMAS- score of 5)*
  • 95th Percentile or above on norm-referenced achievement test
  • 95th percentile or above on district approved assessments for non-state tested standards
  • 95th percentile or above on a norm-referenced observation scale for specific content area
  • State or national academic contest – top ranking
  • Expert juried performance (Advanced or Distinguished)
  • Teacher/expert assessed portfolio review (Advanced/Distinguished/Above Grade Level)

Table adapted from the Colorado Department of Education

Specific Academic Pathway #2

Students without a cognitive score of 95th percentile or above can follow the pathway below for identification in one or more academic areas.  Academic strengths must be demonstrated over time.  Each academic area requires three pieces of supporting evidence for formal identification.

A review team may determine a comprehensive body of evidence demonstrates gifted academic ability.  Content-specific measurement tools to meet criteria for identification should include at least three (3) or more measures from two (2) of the three areas below.

Specific Academic Aptitude Criterion- or Norm-referenced Achievement Test Norm-referenced Observation Scale Performance Evaluation
  • Exceeds Expectations on state assessment (CMAS- score of 5)*
  • 95th Percentile or above on norm-referenced achievement test
  • 95th percentile or above on  district  approved assessments for non-state tested standards
  • 95th percentile or above on a norm-referenced observation scale for specific content area
  • State or national academic contest – top ranking
  • Expert juried performance (Advanced or Distinguished)
  • Teacher/expert assessed portfolio review (Advanced/Distinguished/Above Grade Level

Table adapted from the Colorado Department of Education

Specific Talent Aptitude

The specific talent identification pathway is used to identify students with a demonstrated talent beyond what is typical for peers of the same age in one or more of the categories:

  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Psychomotor
  • Creativity
  • Leadership

The talent pathway requires demonstration of the ability over time. Please refer to the Portfolio Guide for Families for specific body of evidence criteria.

To be identified in a talent area, a referral form must be received to start the process. Referrals can be submitted by anyone who knows the child (such as family members, friends, community members, students, teachers, etc.). To nominate a student for a talent area, please submit a Referral Form

The specific talent identification pathway is the ONLY pathway that requires a referral to start the process of identification.

Please refer to the Talent Pathway Portfolio Guide for Families to learn more about the specific criteria required for a talent identification within DPS.

General Intellectual Ability

The general intellectual pathway is used as an exception to the rules for identification outlined above. This pathway is used for students with a cognitive score of 95 percentile or above with no other qualifying achievement or performance data. This pathway is used only in extreme cases. The gifted and talented identification team makes determination of eligibility for this pathway when reviewing the body of evidence for an individual child.

The Differences Between GT, HGT, ME, or Talent Development/Pool

School photo shoot at Lena Archuleta in December 2017.

The terms can be confusing, but they demonstrate where a student stands within the identification process. For identification questions, please reach out to your child’s GT teacher or point of contact at the school.

Glossary of GT terms

Students with Formal Identification

  • GT: This is a formal identification where a student has a qualifying body of evidence. Cognitive scores may fall within the 95-96%ile. Students may receive a GT designation based upon a body of evidence that includes achievement scores, portfolio displays of work, or other qualifying data. Students with this designation will receive an Advanced Learning Plan, but are not eligible to attend an HGT magnet site.
  • HGT: This is a formal identification where a student has a cognitive score in the 97%ile or higher in the presence of other qualifying data points. Students with HGT status will be eligible to “choice-in” to all HGT sites and will receive an Advanced Learning Plan in the designated areas of giftedness.

Designation Title

  • Magnet Eligible: If your child has been designated as magnet eligible (ME), it means that they received a cognitive score that was in the top 1-3%ile of their age group (typical scores are in the 97%ile or higher) but they may not have all of the other required pieces in the body of evidence to receive a formal identification yet. Because the identification process may take time in the collection of the body of evidence, students with ME status may “choice-in” in one of our HGT magnet sites and receive services while “in-process” for a formal identification. Please note: a status of Magnet Eligible does not automatically mean that a student has been determined GT/HGT. No Advanced Learning Plan will be issued until formally identified.

  • Talent Development (also may be referred to as “Talent Pool): If your child has been selected for talent development, it means that a teacher has discovered evidence that shows potential for growth in a specific academic area but has not yet been formally identified. A talent development designation allows a student to receive gifted and talented programming while the GT teacher continues to pursue the necessary data points for a formal identification. Students in talent development do not receive Advanced Learning Plans and are not eligible to attend a magnet site.