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How Triangle Schools Identify Academically Gifted Students


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The N.C. Department of Instruction mandates that all N.C. public schools identify and serve academically or intellectually gifted students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Each local education agency determines how to identify and serve its AIG student population. The state's AIG Program Standards serve as a statewide framework for LEAs to develop, coordinate and implement AIG programs.

This article was originallly published on Oct. 3, 2011 and updated on Feb. 6, 2015.

Wake County Public School System

A parent, student, teacher or other school personnel can nominate any student in kindergarten through 12th grade for WCPSS's AIG program during the school's testing window each year.

"Nomination/testing windows are posted at each school. Nominations received by the school AIG teacher prior to the close of the established nomination/testing windows will be considered for referral," says Wendy Carlyle, director for the WCPSS AIG program. "If a nomination is received after the nomination/testing windows, the nomination will be considered during the next semester testing window."

Nominations are based on teacher observations, standardized test scores at or above the 95th percentile, an aptitude-cognitive abilities test (CogAT or other accepted test) score at or above the 95th percentile or an achievement test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills or other accepted test) score at or above the 95th percentile.

"When a referral is made, the SBCGE (school-based committee for gifted education) may request additional information about the student in the areas of aptitude, achievement, classroom behaviors, performance, interest and motivation to assist in making an informed decision best for the individual student," Carlyle says.

The CogAT is administered to all WCPSS third-grade students. Those scoring at or above the 85th percentile on the composite or any subtest take the ITBS for further screening. Parents may opt students out if they choose. Third grade student data will be evaluated for possible referral for identification through one of the gateways for AIG identification.

Prior to third grade, a student may be identified for AIG differentiated services if he or she meets certain criteria. Following third, students may again be nominated during the specified windows for possible identification. 

Chapel Hill-Carborro City Schools

Students who score at or above the 90th percentile on the Naglieri Nonverbal Aptitude Test (NNAT) in third grade, or at or above the 95th percentile on an EOG test in third through eighth grade, may be nominated for consideration in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools AIG program. These students go on to take the CogAT for further screening. Additional indicators include kindergarten-through-second-grade assessments, diagnostic assessments, math profiles and other factors. (The school system stopped using the ITBS in 2014-15 and will choose a different achievement test for testing potentially gifted students in the upcoming school year sometime during sumer 2015. Stay tuned for an update.) 

Durham Public Schools

DPS's 2013-2016 AIG plan states: "Durham Public Schools will employ multiple pathways for AIG identification and to ensure appropriate service matching. Identification procedures will be consistent and use multiple criteria. ... Article 9B also states that students can be found intellectually gifted, academically gifted, or intellectually and academically gifted. The Advisory Council feels strongly that the matrix has kept identification procedures consistent across the district, while providing the opportunity to catch students who may perform better on one test than another. However, use of the matrix does exclude a student if he/she does not meet all four criteria: Aptitude, Achievement, Gifted Behaviors, and Class Performance. This current matrix will only allow for identification in both academically and intellectually gifted areas, when it should be multiple. Teacher surveys reveal that the ability range of AIG identified students is so broad that the district should investigate a multiple pathway identification model."

Duke Talent Identification Program

Duke TIP offers two "talent search programs" to students who score at our above the 95th percentile on an IQ/aptitude test score or an achievement test score in reading, math or writing administered in their school setting. The fourth and fifth grade talent search program offers qualifying students in those grades the option to participate in a session of the EXPLORE test, developed by the publisher of the ACT to assess the achievement of eighth-grade students.

"The 4th-6th Grade Talent Search is the entry point for TIP that can motivate gifted students to realize their full potential throughout their school years and beyond," says Katy Munger, Duke TIP's director of External Relations and Communications. "Participants receive recognition and a variety of benefits to nurture their academic talent, including a unique online curricula, educational resources, access to research-based advice and more. A major benefit is the opportunity to take EXPLORE®, an above-level test designed by ACT for eighth grade students."

The 7th Grade Talent Search helps families determine how advanced their students' academic abilities truly are. Duke TIP registers this select group to take the ACT or the SAT college entrance exam. After participants take their test, valuable benefits are provided to them throughout high school, including access to unique resources for gifted students developed by experts in the field of gifted education.

"Since its inception in 1980, over 2 million students have participated in a Duke TIP talent search," Munger says.

Additional AIG Resources

N.C. Department of Public Instruction

N.C. Association for the Gifted and Talented

Duke TIP

Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education (PAGE) of Wake County

Chapel Hill PAGE

Durham PAGE


This article was first published Oct. 3, 2011, and updated Feb. 6, 2015.

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