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Gifted & Talented

Van Arsdale strives to provide academic challenge appropriate to each child’s level, including those identified as “gifted and talented” (GT). Van Arsdale also seeks to meet the social and emotional needs of all children, including those who are GT.

There are several people in the Van Arsdale community who are ready to help make sure gifted children’s distinct needs are met:

  • Your child’s teacher.
  • Van Arsdale’s GT building liaison, Delana Meier (delana.meier@jeffco.k12.co.us, 303-982-1864).
  • Suzanne Ghais and Karen Haneke, GT “ambassadors” for the Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children (JAGC). Suzanne (sghais13@yahoo.com, 303-913-5030) and Karen (Hanekekb@gmail.com, 720-361-7990) are both moms of GT kids at Van Arsdale and volunteer as ambassadors.
  • Susan Chapla, principal.
  • Jennifer Mulhern, gifted & talented resource teacher (Jennifer.Mulhern@jeffco.k12.co.us). Jennifer is one of 16 GT resource teachers for the school district. She works with teachers and administrators at nine schools to help ensure GT students’ needs are served.

Following are answers to some common questions about GT students.

I think my child might be gifted. What should I do?

Van Arsdale routinely administers the CogAT, which measures cognitive ability, to 2nd graders in October. For students who score in the 95th percentile or higher on any one of the three areas on the test, there are then several more steps to determine whether they are gifted. Three “bodies of evidence” (BOE) are needed to determine whether a child is gifted, and these can include cognitive data (like the CogAT), achievement data (like MAP or PARCC), and observations. The process to gather the evidence can take place during the 2nd grade year and the 3rd grade year once the child takes the CogAT in 2nd grade and classroom teachers work with the resource teacher, Jennifer Mulhern, to gather the evidence.

If you want your child tested sooner (or if you moved to the district later than 2nd grade), you may arrange this with the JeffCo school district. The Jeffco GT department offers cognitive testing twice a year.

What happens if my child is identified as GT?

GT children are put on an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP). The ALP is developed by the classroom teacher in consultation with the student and the parent. The district’s gifted & talented resource teacher (Jennifer Mulhern, see above) supports teachers in developing ALPs. There is a progress check about mid-year and a wrap-up at the end of the year to ensure the goals in the ALP are being met. Again, teachers are already differentiating instruction for a variety of different levels; the ALP is a way to ensure that gifted children can stretch themselves further in an area of passion, strength, or other need.

I’ve got concerns about my GT child’s needs being met. What should I do?

Assuming you have already consulted with your child, the first step is to talk to your child’s teacher. Remember that every teacher at Van Arsdale wants to meet your child’s needs and works hard to do so. The school has obtained training for teachers on differentiation—modifying instruction to suit all different ability levels in the classroom. That said, with a classroom full of children with various needs, it is challenging to meet them all. Also remember that as the parent, you know your child and his/her needs best. Approaching the teacher with a confident, collaborative mindset will benefit your child the most.

You are also encouraged to talk to one of the JAGC ambassadors (Karen or Suzanne). The ambassadors have undergone an orientation program through JAGC and can serve as sounding boards and help point you in the right direction.

If your concerns are not resolved after working with the teacher, the next step would be to set up a meeting with the principal.

Where can I learn more?

There are lots of resources on educating and parenting GT children. Here are some key ones:

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