At STEM School Highlands Ranch we put innovation at the center of learning to unleash the potential of all students and prepare them for an exponentially changing world.
At STEM, we actively seek out students to nurture their exceptionalities and develop innate knowledge, skills, creativity and character to thrive, lead and succeed in an ever-changing future. We are committed to ensuring that every child who requires differentiated programming has their educational needs met and prepares them for the utmost success in whichever endeavor they choose to pursue.
Gifted and Talented students are those students between the ages of four and twenty-one whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs. Gifted students include students with disabilities (i.e. twice exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic and 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:
As Educators, we understand that all children are different and those who are gifted will require academic and talent needs to be met in and out of the classroom. We are committed to finding the best ways for your individual child learns and set them up for success by providing that differentiation in the classroom.
The Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Jon Jennings, collaborates and consults with parents, students, classroom teachers, and district representatives to appropriately plan instruction and learning opportunities to meet the needs of gifted/high potential learners.
We center around the core belief that student success is determined by an intersection of student interest, academic rigor, and real-world application.
Our Problem Based Learning (PBL) model allows students to explore their current issues within their communities and guide their interests to engage them in academic learning opportunities better. PBL gives gifted students structure and helps them build skills to be self-directed learners, collaborative workers, complex thinkers and produce quality products. Teachers at STEM work together to provide differentiation around the content, process, and products students produce in the classroom to ensure the highest rigor and learning.
Gifted and talented identification can be a daunting and confusing process for parents. Here we are working to simplify the process as much as possible so you can be informed about where you are in the identification process and what you can expect next.
Referrals: The first step is to have your child referred through Douglas County School District. A parent, teacher, staff member, or the student themselves can be the referring party. To refer a student, you must fill out the District Referral Google Form.
Body of Evidence: The referral form gets compiled and sent to STEM’s gifted and talented coordinator. When the form is received, the coordinator works with parents and teachers to collect a robust body of evidence for the identification team to review and evaluate. This body of evidence includes:
Review Team: Once all of the evidence is collected, the GT Coordinator meets with the review team to present the body of evidence. The body of evidence is then evaluated, and the team makes a decision. The decision about the GT status can be:
Developing an Advanced Learning Plan: When a child is identified as gifted, the coordinator will contact parents with communication from the district showing the identified area and determining criteria and a parent form to fill out. The parent form is our way to collaborate with you to develop academic and affective goals and a starting point for programming.
Once the Advanced Learning Plan is put together, parents will be emailed a copy.
The Colorado Department of Education’s definition of “Universal Screening” means the systematic assessment of ALL students within a grade level for identifying students with exceptional ability or potential, especially students from traditionally underrepresented populations; and/or screening in conjunction with [the] creation of each student’s individual career and academic plan (ICAP).
STEM Follow’s Douglas County School Districts Universal Screening policy used the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) as a screening tool for students. Testing is done in the Spring for 2ed grade and the Fall for 5th grade.
For the 2023-24 school year, Universal Screening will take place between February 5-9.
Makeup testing for any students who missed any sections will be from February 26-March 1.
Referral testing for students in K-1st grade will be done at the same time as make-up testing for second grade. If you would like your child to do referral testing, please sign them up here.
For the 2022-23 school year, Universal Screening will take place between October 30-November 2.
Makeup testing will be from November 27-December 1.
Referral testing for students in 3rd, 4th, 6th, or higher will be done with makeup testing. If you would like your child to do referral testing, please sign them up here.
Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA) defines “Twice-exceptional” as:
A student who is:
Twice-exceptional students are those students who are identified as gifted and talented in one or more areas of exceptionality (specific academics, general intellectual ability, creativity, leadership, visual or performing arts);
AND ALSO identified with:
A disability is defined by Federal/State eligibility criteria: specific emotional learning disability, significant identifiable disability, physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, autism, or ADHD. The disability qualifies the student for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan.
Identification and Programming:
Gifted educators, special educators, and classroom teachers collaborate with parents and students to identify, plan for and meet the unique and diverse academic and social-emotional needs of twice-exceptional learners. Because hidden disabilities may prevent students with advanced cognitive abilities from achieving their potential, it is essential that disabilities are identified early so appropriate interventions can be provided at optimum times. Early identification and intervention provide an opportunity to create and implement a support framework.