Gifted and Talented FAQ

Please select a topic below find answers to common questions about MPS's Gifted and Talented program.

General Gifted and Talented Questions (Testing) | Elementary Services | Junior High Services | High School Services


General Gifted and Talented Services Questions

How can I tell if my child is gifted?

While all gifted students are different, there are some research-based indicators of giftedness.  The National Association for Gifted Children web site has information explaining the different traits and characteristics of gifted children.

How do I go about having my child/student considered for the gifted program?

Screening and testing takes place three times a year.  Depending on the grade level of your child, the process is different.  For more information on elementary testing, visit the elementary program web page.  For more information on the junior high testing procedures, visit the junior high program page.

Are there any resources to help me understand and support my gifted child?

Check out the resources page for information about web sites, books, and organizations about gifted children.  Additionally, the Gifted and Talented teacher for your school has resources to share about gifted children.

My child was tested in another district.  Do those scores count?

Scores from other districts are screened by the Gifted and Talented Department. If the test scores were results from a state approved assessment, the scores are analyzed with the district criteria which determines appropriate service.  When you child enrolls in MPS, either contact the gifted and talented teacher or contact the Gifted and Talented Department for guidance in this process.

My child was in the gifted program at his/her old school.  Will they be in the gifted program in Mesa?

Each district provides services differently for their gifted students.  Because of this, the eligibility of students enrolled in gifted programs in different districts will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  When enrolling in a Mesa school, make sure to contact your former school/district and ask them to send your child's test scores to MPS's Gifted and Talented department.

My child did not meet the eligibility requirements the first time they tested.  Can he/she be retested?  When can he/she retest?

The need for retesting should be examined by both parents and teachers.  A student's past performance on a qualification test or their observed work in the classroom might indicate that retesting is warranted.  The first step would be to consult your child's classroom teacher or the gifted and talented teacher/advocate at your school to look into retesting.  It is always important to gather data, which indicates the need for gifted testing whether it is the first time testing or a retest.  If a retest is deemed appropriate, the retest can not take place sooner than two calendar years from the previous testing occurrence.

What if my child is absent and unable to take the CogAT Screener Form?

Each student is provided two opportunities to take the CogAT Screener Form. If they are absent from both testing sessions they can be screened during the next screening event. For additional information, talk to your site’s on-campus gifted support teacher. 

Can a student study or prepare for this test?

You can’t study for ability tests like the CogAT. Whereas most tests administered in school assess what you know, the CogAT assesses how you think. The best preparation is to make sure your child has eaten a healthy breakfast and had the opportunity for a restful sleep.

If I opt for my child to not take the test, can they test for gifted eligibility in the future?

Absolutely. There are three gifted testing sessions each year, and you can refer your child for testing at any time. They can be screened during the next screening event. Contact the gifted teacher on your campus or your child's classroom teacher for more information.

Why isn't CogAT Screening Form data provided to teachers or parents? 

The CogAT Screening Form's sole purpose is to identify students who are likely to do well on the post-screener. It is not a valid measure of a student's reasoning abilities.

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Elementary Gifted and Talented Services

How will Gifted and Talented pullout classes help my child?

These classes allow students who are academically and intellectually gifted to improve their higher-level thinking skills. In these classes, emphasis is placed on critical and creative problem-solving, independent research/investigation, and self-development. Students learn to apply these higher-level thinking skills across disciplines and integrate ideas across different subject areas.

Do children in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade receive any gifted services?

Identified gifted Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd students receive services within the regular classroom with support from the gifted and talented on-campus support teacher. For more information, contact the gifted & talented department. 

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Junior High Gifted and Talented Services

How do students transition from the elementary gifted program to the junior high? What programs are available?

Identified gifted and talented students at the junior high receive services through dual placement in English and Social Studies Honors classes and/or dual placement in Math and Science Honors classes based on their identified strength area(s).  For more information, click on the junior high programming page.

What scores count for gifted placement in each junior high class?

Students are registered for junior high classes according to their strength area scores on the Cognitive Abilities Test. A verbal score of 90th percentile or above will place a student in both English and Social Studies.  A score of 90th percentile or above in either the quantitative or non-verbal section will place the student in advanced coursework in both Math and Science.  Please visit the junior high Gifted and Talented webpage for more details.

What about students who are not on the "list" to test? Is there a way for them to get into these classes?

Any student in 2nd-8th grade may request testing on the Cognitive Abilities Assessment as a first step, as long as it has been two years since previous testing has occurred. Parents may contact the elementary Gifted and Talented teacher or the junior high school counselor to receive dates and times for testing.

If a student tested last year and was just a point or two short, how might he/she test again?

In order to maintain this national test’s validity and reliability, we follow the guideline of giving this assessment to a student once every other calendar year. Although it may seem like the percentile scores have a one point differential, missing the cut off by one or two percentile points does not mean a student missed the cut off by only one or two questions.  A number of mathematical scoring conversions determine a student’s percentile.

Can students be placed in honors classes even though they have not tested as a gifted and talented student?

MPS supports all students learning in the most challenging environment possible. If a student wants the extra challenge offered in an honors class, and/or is dissatisfied with his/her current placement, parents may request to place that student in an honors class. Each school may handle this process differently; thus, for more clarification it is worthwhile to contact the junior high counseling office in your attendance area.

What title is given to the junior high classes geared toward gifted and talented students?

Junior high core classes will carry the name of “Honors.” This serves as a bridge to the high school when students can choose Honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate dependent upon student desire and long range goals.

How is honors coursework different from the regular coursework offered at the junior highs?

Honors classes are taught by teachers who regularly attend trainings at the district and hold ongoing conversations with peers that center on the needs of gifted and talented learners. These teachers work to increase the rigor or difficulty of tasks to ensure that all students are challenged. These differentiated tasks also may be interdisciplinary, meaning they require students to connect information from multiple disciplines. Teachers of gifted and talented pupils are also required to have or be working toward, a gifted endorsement from Arizona Department of Education.

If my son/daughter has tested into the gifted and talented program is it necessary to take both of the co-registered classes that coincide with his/her strength area?

Gifted and talented students are automatically co-registered with English and Social Studies and/or Math and Science. These students may be required to work on a single project for both of their co-registered classes. A student that chooses to register for only one of the core classes is not guaranteed instruction from a gifted endorsed teacher and is not included in the interdisciplinary projects/lessons created with gifted students in mind.

How can I find out more about the junior high registration process?

Each junior high school has a gifted and talented teacher advocate and a counseling department that will know specifics about each site's opportunities.  The advocate information is located on our website and the MPS main website will have a link to individual schools. In February, most junior high schools offer transition activities for the new students attending the following school year.  Contact your child's junior high for more details.If you have additional questions regarding the program feel free to call the department office at 472-7248 for clarification on any Gifted and Talented service.


High School Services

What are the gifted services that are available in high school?

Gifted and Talented students may choose to enroll in various advanced placement (AP) courses, international baccalaureate (IB) program, and/or technical courses (EVIT).  Offerings will vary by school site.

Who might I contact for more information about the available services at my school site?

Contact your high school's student advisers for more information.

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