Gifted and Talented Program at Willow Creek

  • Definition

    Willow Creek Elementary employs the district definition of Gifted and Talented students. This definition both embraces and exceeds the state definition by going deeper to support students from a wide range of backgrounds.

    The Cherry Creek School District defines gifted and talented students as children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, and/or environment. These children and youth exhibit high performance capability in intellectual, creative and/or artistic areas; may possess an unusual capacity for leadership; or excel in specific academic fields. These students require services beyond the rich and varied services normally provided by the regular classroom. Cherry Creek believes that outstanding talents are present in children and youth from all cultural groups, across all economic strata and in all areas of human endeavor.

    Typically, gifted students fall within the top 5-7% of the general student population. The purpose of formally identifying gifted students is to plan for and monitor services to ensure the appropriate academic growth for each child. The Cherry Creek School District has established guidelines for identifying students eligible for gifted programming. These guidelines support the approach of looking at a variety of information on a student, both quantitative and qualitative, in building a "body of evidence." It is the preponderance of evidence that will determine if a student needs targeted or intensive programming beyond the regular classroom. For more information about the district's approach, see the district's Advanced Academic and Gifted Students Services Department Webpage.

    Formal Identification

    At Willow Creek, the Gifted and Talented teachers actively monitor our talent pool. Through data collected, classroom observations, conferencing with students, direct servicing, and student work samples, the Gifted and Talented teachers build a body of evidence to best know​ learners and their unique educational needs. We acknowledge that potential and accomplishment can surface at various times in a student's life, which requires staff to continuously search our talent pool. Identification can occur at any age.​

    The Body of Evidence

    Willow Creek follows the district and state guidelines for building a body of evidence. Information is gathered in four areas: aptitude, achievement, performance and behavior. The data collected as evidence of intensive academic need and/or exceptional ability are both quantitative and qualitative. Listed below are each of the four characteristics and the possible data that may be used under each area (please note: not all of the assessments under each characteristic may be gathered or used):

    • Aptitude: Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (N-NAT), other
    • Achievement: Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), other
    • Performance: portfolios, student products, report cards and grades, performance tasks, other
    • Behavior: Kingore Observation Inventory, Parent Survey, Renzulli/Westberg Behavioral Rating Scales, Cherry Creek Screening Checklist, anecdotal notes, other​

    Identification Process

    Initial referral of students for consideration and screening for identification may come from a teacher, a parent, the student him- or herself, or a peer. The GT resource teacher in each building is responsible for facilitating the identification process.

    Formal identification occurs after the careful examination of the body of evidence for each referred student. These are the three possible outcomes:

    • There is sufficient data for identification of the student. The student's area of exceptionality is identified. An Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) will be developed and shared with the parents and classroom teacher.
    • Additional information is needed as part of this student's body of evidence in order to make the best determination of need.
    • The evidence does not support the identification of the student.

    Communication concerning the outcome of the student referral will be mailed directly to the child's parents or guardian.

    If a child is identified as gifted, an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) will be developed based on student data, teacher observation and recommendations, student performance, strengths and needs, GT resource teacher input, and requests from parents. The ALP will be addressed during both Fall and Spring parent-teacher conferences.


    An appeals process may be initiated by notifying the building GT resource teacher in writing. The appellant will meet with the school principal and GT resource teacher to review data. New information may be introduced to clarify inaccuracies, review decisions, and decide a future course of action. If the appellant is not satisfied with the decision reached at this meeting, a written appeal may be made to the district's Coordinator of Gifted Education and Advanced Academic Services to review the decision.​

    Gifted and Talented Programming

    Willow Creek seeks to meet the needs of our identified gifted and talented students and support our talent pool. Each year, we look at our students' needs at each grade level, and we develop that year's instruction to meet those needs. A body of evidence is used to make decisions on participants for each GT pull-out class. (A pull-out program is defined as classes and activities held during the school day but outside the regular classroom.) We have a variety of other programs and opportunities for students.​

    Primary Enrichment

    For grades K, 1, and 2, enrichment opportunities multiple times a week are provided to add depth and complexity to classroom learning. Lessons with the Gifted and Talented teacher will grow from current learning in the classroom but will aim to challenge and spark creativity. Getting to know learners will be a priority to best meet individual student needs. Additional support is available as needed.​

    Inter​mediate Math

    Formally identified students and high-performing students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will receive math instruction in a flexible pull-out group. Students with an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) will strive towards reaching their goals, while high-performing students are challenged in a compacted curriculum. (Compacting is an instructional strategy in which a student's grasp of a subject area is frequently reassessed by the instructor, and following demonstration of mastery of the subject, the student is allowed to progress to the next level or is given more in-depth work in the same subject area.) High-performing students will be identified through a complete body of evidence in an effort to reach their learning needs. For each unit, a pre-assessment will determine student needs and teaching will be modified to meet instructional goals. The district-wide Bridges math curriculum will be the main focus of instruction.​

    Intermediate Language Arts

    Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 will be flexibly grouped based on need for language arts pull-out programming. Students with Advanced Learning Plan goals in the area of reading and/or writing, along with students exhibiting advanced achievement or high potential, will be grouped for a unit of study. Literature, informational text, persuasive writing, informational writing, narrative writing, advanced vocabulary development, grammar, creative production, and motivation are the main instructional focuses for units of study. Units will have a start and end date. Students will meet daily with the GT teacher for the duration of the unit. Each unit's roster is based on student need and instructional goals. A body of evidence is reviewed prior to class placement.​​​

    For More Inform​​ation

    Feel free to contact our GT teacher, Peg Link, at if you would like more information.

Last Modified on September 26, 2019