Gifted & Talented

Atlantic Highlands Elementary School
Gifted & Talented 2020-2021

Goals of our Program

To provide students with high abilities in one or more areas with opportunities that will challenge them in regular classroom settings, as well as accelerated enrichment programs that will enable them to make continuous progress in school.

Grade Spans of our Tri-District Programs

  • Identified students in grades K-6 are eligible for participation in the programs at Atlantic Highlands and Highlands Elementary schools. *NOTE* Kindergarten students will be identified following the Winter benchmark assessments
  • Identified students in grades 7-8 are eligible for Pre-Algebra and Enrichment Science/ELA course opportunities at Henry Hudson Regional School
  • Students in grades 9-12 are afforded extended opportunities through participation in honors and advanced placement (AP) courses, as well as through differentiation in the regular classroom setting.  We also offer a STEM Academy sequence of courses for eligible students, which follow an accelerated and enriched pace and curriculum. Our robust selection of electives also serves as a vehicle for enrichment opportunities in various areas of student strength and interest. 

Please note: Enrollment in elementary G&T programming does NOT guarantee continued enrollment in Enrichment or Pre Algebra courses at Henry Hudson Regional School, nor is a student required to have prior G&T experiences in order to access such courses. Enrichment/Challenge courses at the elementary level are opportunities for enrichment, but do not constitute a "track" for students - the entry and exits to this program are flexible and contingent upon identification and continued student success. In addition, participation in G&T programming is optional for families and students, and we recognize that a number of our students may be gifted and talented, yet choose not to participate in any given year for various reasons.

Identification Process - Atlantic Highlands Elementary School

Multiple-measure identification matrix for quantitative (numeric) and qualitative (written teacher recommendation) criteria based on grade-level specific expectations in ELA, Mathematics and other content areas as appropriate.

iReady ELA/Math Benchmark (Fall and Winter of current school year)
Running Record Levels (suspended for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year)
Prior year assessment scores (Prior year Winter/Spring iReady benchmarks, NJSLA ELA/Math/Science)
Prior year class performance (for initial identification) followed by current class performance (for later entry points)
Teacher recommendation form (secondary screening level)

Program Structure:

At the elementary level, screening opportunities take place three times per year. After the Fall screening, students in grades 1-4 will be flexibly entered and/or exited from the subsequent cycle of G&T Programming.  *NOTE* Kindergarten students will be identified following the Winter benchmark assessments. Each cycle is approximately 10 weeks in duration, which affords more students with the opportunity to be captured within the screening process, and aligns with our growth-mindset philosophy. Following the two cycles, students will be afforded an opportunity to prepare and present a culminating project experience to celebrate their work throughout the year (TBD).  The schedule of dates below is subject to change

September - October 17th: Benchmark Window and Identification/Placement Window

October 26th - January 22nd:  Benchmark Window and Identification/Placement Window

February 1st - April 16th: G&T Cycle II

May 3rd - June 3rd - Final Project/Experience Preparation (TBD)

  • All enrollment in Gifted and Talented programming is fluid, and continued participation and/or entry to the program is contingent upon maintaining classroom performance while participating in additional enrichment learning opportunities. 
  • Gifted and Talented projects and programs at the Elementary schools will be managed by assigned G&T teachers in each building. These staff members will work with the classroom teachers, families, administrators, and most importantly the students to support children along pathways of individualized learning interests and strengths. Topics for each cycle of gifted programming will be responsive to the individualized strengths and needs of students in the group.

Program Design at Atlantic Highlands Elementary School

Grades K-4
*Kindergarten identification will take place by January of the school year.

Tier I: Identified students will be grouped within the home classroom environment and provided with enrichment opportunities through differentiated instruction. This differentiation will be facilitated daily by the classroom teacher.

Tier II: Differentiated instruction will be supplemented through weekly or biweekly pull-out visits by a supplemental Gifted & Talented teacher who will provide additional activities and scaffolds in various areas aligned with student strengths and interest. Additional or more frequent pull-out opportunities may also be added periodically, but the central goal is to have each student's individualized learning pursuits integrated into the core classroom setting as much as possible. Students who are pulled out for these enrichment opportunities are expected to maintain their core classroom performance

Please note: Grouping is not synonymous with tracking. “Grouping is flexible, targeted, and not permanent; tracking historically refers to an inflexible approach to placing students in tracks from which they could not move" (Plucker, Burroughs & Song, 2010). 

Gifted programming for the K-4 elementary level is predominantly centered around STEAM learning opportunities, with the precise nature of projects and programming dependent upon the strengths and interests of the identified students. For instance, while all identified gifted students will engage in various kinds of learning experiences, students with particular gifts in written expression may engage in projects and activities centered around problem-solving research and writing-driven projects. Students with particular gifts in mathematics might engage in coding and/or robotics activities, and those with gifts in oral presentation expression or the arts may engage in activities centered around showcasing student voice and creativity.  
Grades 5 and 6
CHALLENGE ELA and MATHEMATICS Identified students in grades 5 and 6 have the opportunity to be placed in Challenge ELA and/or Math courses at Atlantic Highlands Elementary. These replacement courses are designed around a philosophy of grouping, curriculum compacting and acceleration. Prior participation in Challenge classes or G&T programming is not a prerequisite for placement into these courses, and continued enrollment is contingent upon continued success and parent/family acceptance.
Frequency: Daily replacement for ELA or Mathematics
The AHES Challenge Art Program offers advanced art classes with an exclusive focus on traditional fine art skills and techniques, most of which are measurable/quantifiable elements (such as proportions and ability to render realism through contour and shadow) within the context of the elementary learning environment.  All students in grades 5 and 6 are evaluated for this class during the first few weeks of school, with drawing exercises designed to assess their skill levels. 
Students must demonstrate an exceptional quality of work above and beyond grade level in order to be admitted to the class.  Their drawing tests are scored using a rubric that measures technical skill level, creative approach, grades from Art the previous year, engagement and performance in Art class, and a portfolio review (for which students can submit work they have done independently or in an extracurricular setting).  Challenge Art students explore concepts, techniques, and materials typically offered in a junior high and high school art classroom setting.  Drawing and shading techniques make up much of this program, yet there is also exposure to watercolor and acrylic painting skills.
Frequency: Weekly by grade level (for identified students)

The AHES Challenge Drama program is open to any 5th or 6th grader with an interest and skill in theatre. This class covers many aspects of the theatre including, but not limited to: acting techniques, theatre terminology, studying important figures (actors, playwrights, directors, etc), backstage roles, script format, writing scripts, analyzing performances as well as plot details, the history and evolution of theatre, and movement for the stage. Students may complete activities such as writing a script, performing a monologue, improv activities, pantomime, blocking and directing a scene. 
In order to participate, students must complete three activities in their audition. First, they will be given an improv activity, then pantomime a task and lastly, do a cold reading of a short script. Scores are tallied and the top 10-12 students per grade level are invited to participate in this weekly class.
Frequency: Weekly by grade level (for identified students)
ARTS HIGH (6-8) (at Henry Hudson Regional School, through the Monmouth County Arts & Education Center)
Arts High (6-8) is a special co-curricular program for gifted and talented students, grades 6-8. Students interested in joining the program must audition to participate in rigorous, advanced level courses for developing artistic skills and creative expression in the art form of the student's choice. Please visit for more information.

Complaint Process at Atlantic Highlands Elementary School

An individual who believes that the district has not complied with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:35-34 et seq. may file a complaint with the Board of Education.  This policy for filing a complaint shall be linked to the homepage of the Board’s Internet website.  The Board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter.  The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the Board’s written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.