Frequently Asked Questions

Giftedness and Identification

What is the definition of Gifted and Talented

DPS utilizes the Colorado Department of Education’s definition of gifted children as:

“Those persons between the ages of four and twenty-one whose aptitude or competence in abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment in one or more domains are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs. Gifted children are hereafter referred to as gifted students. Children under five who are gifted may also be provided with early childhood special educational services. Gifted students include gifted students with disabilities (i.e. twice exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic, ethnic, and 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 of giftedness:

  • General or specific intellectual ability
  • Specific academic aptitude
  • Creative or productive thinking
  • Leadership abilities
  • Visual arts, performing arts, musical or psychomotor abilities 12.01(16)”

For a glossary of Gifted and Talented terms, click here

Why would I want my child identified for gifted services?

In order to achieve their full potential, gifted students need the support of unique programming designed to meet their needs.  This programming may include a variety of different strategies designed to address both the academic and social/ emotional needs of gifted students.

Students formally identified receive an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) which is a legal document designed to support individual goals and programming needs of each child.

What should I do if I think my child may be gifted?

Begin by talking with the gifted teacher/point of contact at your child’s school: Gifted and Talented Teacher/Point of Contact

They will be able to answer your questions about the identification process. See the Identification section for additional information about the required pieces of information needed for gifted identification.

How long does the gifted identification process take?

The time it takes to complete a full identification takes varies from student to student. The GT teacher/point of contact has to collect a body of evidence of qualifying data points, which may take some time to complete.

Once an initial data point is collected, the GT teacher/point of contact will continue to work on obtaining the remaining two data points. On certain occasions, the process can be completed within a month or two. In other cases, if the data does not present itself immediately, the identification may take multiple semesters to complete.

Students who have initial data or who may not have remaining data over time may be considered for talent development and receive gifted and talented services while in process for a full identification.

The identification and evidence-gathering process for students pursuing an identification in a talent area, may take longer than a traditional academic identification.

It is good to check in with the gifted and talented teacher/point of contact at least once a semester to check on the status of your child if they are in process for an identification.

Please remember the identification process is governed by state law and DPS complies with the rules and regulations established by the Colorado Department of Education.

In what areas can my child be identified for gifted services?

Students may be identified through one of the three identification pathways: Academic Aptitude, Specific Talent Aptitude, or General Intellectual Ability.

For an identification in an academic pathway, the strength area would include one or more of the following:  reading, writing, math, science, social studies and world language.

If identification in a specific talent pathway, the strength area would include one or more of the following: performing arts, music, dance, psychomotor, creative and productive thinking, and leadership.

Students may be identified in more than one area.  Please visit the identification process page to find out more.

What is the difference between a GT identification and HGT (Magnet Eligible) identification?

GT identified students are those students performing well beyond their age mates and within the top fifth percentile in both ability and achievement areas. GT students require modifications in their academic strength area(s) in order to realize their full potential as well as social and emotional support. These modifications are made together with the GT and classroom teachers at the child’s school of attendance.

HGT students are identified as highly gifted with a cognitive score that is 97%ile or above and a body of evidence that supports the need for full time gifted and talented services. These students comprise 1-3 percent of the total population. Students who are (HGT) may need full time, intensive services delivered by highly qualified gifted teachers beyond what can be offered at traditional schools.

I'm confused: What is the difference between Magnet Eligible (ME), GT, and HGT?

The terms can be confusing, but they demonstrate where a student stands within the identification process:

  • 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 and will be given an Advanced Learning Plan.
  • 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.

If my child is Magnet Eligible or HGT identified, does he/she have to leave his/her current school to receive services?

No. There are Gifted Education teachers in every K-5, K-8 or 6-8 buildings and GT points of contact at DPS Charter schools who are there to support classroom teachers in making sure your child’s learning needs are addressed. Once identified as GT or HGT, your child will receive an Advanced Learning Plan each year to support their growth in their area of strength.

Your child may need to leave his/her current school if you feel that his/her needs are not able to be addressed there. You will want to talk with your child to determine if s/he is challenged, learning something new every day, has a group of peers with whom s/he can relate and is generally happy at school.  If you identify a concern, then you may want to consider “choicing in” to one of the magnet sites.

At a magnet site, the teachers have training and experience in working with highly gifted students. The teachers make accommodations in their curriculum for advanced learners and have other students with similar learning needs. Highly gifted students make up only 1-3 percent of the total population so finding like peers and others needing the same level of academic challenge in a traditional school is unlikely, which is why DPS offers magnet schools.

How can I locate a school to meet my child's needs?

We encourage you to review the programming description from the school found here. Reach out to the school to discuss their programs and consider the following questions:

  1. What are the advanced learning opportunities at your school?
  2. How do you identify advanced students who need differentiated instruction?
  3. How does the school address the social and emotional needs of my child?
  4. In what ways can we work/communicate together?
  5. Who helps support my child?
  6. What does staff training for gifted and talented look like?
  7. What extra-curricular programs do you provide to support the talents of advanced students?
  8. How do I assist my child in transitions to a new school?
  9. What are the ways I can participate in school activities/committees?

Where can I find out more about giftedness and supporting my child?

There are many wonderful resources for families to learn more about giftedness and supporting your child. These links are provided as a source of general information on giftedness.  Please note this is not an exhaustive list and many additional resources are available.

  • NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) website is a site for general information about giftedness.
  • SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is a website to promote understanding and support for the social emotional needs of gifted children.
  • CAGT is the website for our Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented.
  • Hoagies’ Gifted Education has a wealth of information and resources for parents.

Assessment and Universal Screening

What is ability testing and why is it a part of identification for gifted services?

Ability testing ( also referred to as cognitive testing) allows the student to demonstrate their potential to think and reason in a way that is not captured on grade level achievement tests. It is a critical component for the identification gifted learners because it is a student’s advanced ability that requires accommodations in the classroom.

Ability testing is often a requirement within the overall body of evidence towards identification, as outlined by Colorado Department of Education and state law.

How do I prepare my child for taking an ability test?

You should prepare your student for the testing experience by informing them the test is taking place and make sure they have adequate sleep and a healthy breakfast.

The actual content of a cognitive test is not something that can be studied. If your child participates in testing, you will receive an “Intent to Test” letter prior to the testing date.

What is the universal screening and when does it happen?

All DPS students who are enrolled in kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 6th grade, will be administered a universal screening with the Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT3) or the CogAT Nonverbal Battery (if participating in the Denver Online School) in the fall semester between September and January. The site assessment liaison or the GT teacher/point of contact will send home intent to test letters letting you know when the testing will occur. The school will send home the results for your records in the weeks following the testing.

What are the universal test scores used for?

The DPS GT Central Office review team processes all scores to determine student magnet eligibility. This criteria includes a 97%ile on one of the cognitive tests.

All test scores will be sent home from the school. Families of magnet eligible students will receive official notification letters from the GT Central Office in late December/early January in order to participate in the first round School Choice lottery.

The universal test scores are utilized as one of the data points for gifted identification. A qualifying score of 95%ile or higher does not mean that a student is automatically identified.

What is the process to have my child tested if they are NOT participating in the universal screening?

Students who are in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th grades or out of district, private school, or home school may participate in magnet testing. Families or teachers (with parent permission) may nominate a child for testing by submitting a magnet testing application (available online or for download on the home page of this site). Please be aware of posted deadlines.

Students not participating in the universal screening will receive the Cognitive Abilities Test, which assesses students on three subtests: verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal.

Can I have my child re-tested in the spring if I am not satisfied with their scores in the fall?

No. The DPS Gifted and Talented Department only allows a student to be tested on one cognitive test per calendar year. If a student took the NNAT/CogAT in the fall, they would not be eligible to be tested again until fall of the next year.

Families may review the appeals process found in this FAQ page for more information on contesting a score.

Does an NNAT3 score or CogAT score automatically identify my child as gifted or highly gifted?

No. These scores are part of information gathered for a body of evidence. This means that one test score alone does not qualify a child. Please review the identification tab for more information.

What if I want to appeal the identification team's decision?

It is the goal of  DPS  to provide all of our students with appropriate academic services. When there is a disagreement on matters pertaining to the identification, evaluation and eligibility for gifted services the appeals process may be initiated.

Appeals based on one of the following criteria may be submitted to the Gifted and Talented Department:

  • Additional information about my child which may include, but is not limited to, newly obtained district assessment data, parent examples of advanced abilities, etc. Please note: Private testing will not be considered as a reason for appeal.
  • A condition or circumstance believed to have caused a misinterpretation of the testing results.
  • An extraordinary circumstance occurred during the testing period that may negatively affect the validity of the test results such as a death in the family or extreme physical ailment.
  • The suspicion of an error in the administration of the assessment.  For example: The designated proctor did not follow assessment prescribed protocols.  Testing day or time of assessment within the school day are not considered to be errors in administration.

Click here to submit the form to appeal your child’s score.
Note: Appeals will only be accepted within a 30 day window from when scores are received. The form is currently closed from the spring testing session. 

Appeals for fall 2022 testing will be accepted starting October 13, 2022. The form for fall testing will close on January 24, 2023.

If you have any supporting additional data that would be helpful to the Appeal Review Team (e.g. district testing data, outside testing data, observation scales, personal observations of the child’s advanced abilities/thinking), you will be able to upload this to the form. Please note that this upload requires a gmail account. If you do not have a gmail account, please email the files to and in the subject line, please list as Test Results Appeal and Your Child’s Name.

The Gifted and Talented Department’s Appeal Team will notify you of receipt of the appeal. Appeals will be addressed on a weekly basis. Additionally, extra testing considerations may be unavailable or delayed.

All appeals will go before the Appeal Review Team, and you will be notified of the decision by email. The team may contact you for additional information if necessary.  The decision of the Appeal Review Team is final.


I'm confused about all of these terms and acronyms. Where can I go to learn what all of these things mean?

Please click the link below for a detailed description of academic terms related to gifted education: Glossary of Gifted Terms

Does DPS use private IQ assessments for formal DPS gifted identification?

The Gifted Department will consider cognitive and/or IQ testing administered outside of DPS on a case by case basis for formal gifted identification and/or magnet eligibility.  If you have outside of district cognitive test results you would like reviewed in consideration of a gifted identification, please contact your school’s gifted teacher for more information about the gifted identification process in DPS.

If my child was identified for gifted services in another district or state, will their identification transfer into DPS?

Please submit all documents including any achievement and ability test results from your prior district/state to your school’s GT Teacher or designated point of contact. The Central Identification Team will review all documentation to assure alignment with the state of Colorado’s identification criteria.

If you are relocating from a Colorado district, please send the data for review.

Please review the individual school program descriptions for more information. For additional guidance, contact the Gifted and Talented Department

How can I get my child's test scores?

If your child recently took the NNAT, please contact your school. The GT teacher/point of contact or Site Assessment Liaison should be able to give you these results.

For all other data requests including CogAT score reports, Advanced Learning Plans, or scores older than 2018, please reach out to the Gifted and Talented Department. Include:

  • student’s name
  • ID number
  • written statement of permission (if you are the legal parent/guardian)
  • requested item(s)

If you are leaving the district, GT identification completed within Denver Public Schools should be portable within the State of Colorado.

I have a child in preschool. What opportunities are available for my young child who is demonstrating gifted characteristics?

DPS Gifted and Talented does not have programs for preschool aged children. We begin collecting a body of evidence towards identification during kindergarten, starting with the universal screening. Students must be enrolled at least 45 days in an accredited kindergarten program in order to be eligible to be tested for magnet services.

We do encourage you to contact Early Education to learn what opportunities are available to young learners. As a parent of an advanced learner who is looking for possible school options for your child, there are several questions which can help you gain more information about individual schools philosophies and whether it will be a good fit for your child.  It is always important to visit schools and ask questions!

  1. What are the advanced learning opportunities at your school?
  2. How do you identify advanced students who need differentiated instruction?
  3. How does the school address the social and emotional needs of my child?
  4. In what ways can we work/communicate together?
  5. Who helps support my child?
  6. What does staff training for gifted and talented look like?
  7. What extra-curricular programs do you provide to support the talents of advanced students?
  8. How do I assist my child in transitions to a new school?
  9. What are the ways I can participate in school activities/committees?