Elementary Gifted and Talented Services Frequently Asked Questions

What does “gifted and talented” mean? 
The Annotated Code of Maryland outlines a definition of “gifted and talented” that underpins each school districts’ gifted and talented services. It is important to note the specific language that is included in this definition:

Education:  Title 8.  Special Programs for Exceptional Children
Subtitle 2.  Gifted and Talented Students
§ 8-201.  “Gifted and talented student” defined.

In this subtitle, “gifted and talented student” means an elementary or secondary student who is identified by professionally qualified individuals as:

  1. Having outstanding talent and performing, or showing the potential for performing, at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with other students of a similar age, experience, or environment;
  2.  Exhibiting high performance capability in intellectual, creative, or artistic areas;
  3. Possessing an unusual leadership capacity; or
  4. Excelling in specific academic fields.

[An. Code 1957, art. 77, § 106F; 1978, ch. 22, § 2; 1997, ch. 109; 2003, ch. 418.]

How does a child get identified as “gifted and talented” and receive services?
Maryland school districts follow the Code of Maryland Regulation for Gifted and Talented Education. Identification includes multiple measures of ability, performance, and potential. Every district must conduct universal screening, which initiates the gifted and talented identification process. FCPS screens all of its students in Grade 2 during a defined testing window that is set every year.  Like most of the other school districts in Maryland, FCPS administers the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) as its screener. Students are not retested as a CogAT score is valid for three years. 

Sometimes students who have an IEP or 504 Plan are also identified as gifted and talented. Ability and achievement scores gained from formalized testing may be used during the gifted and talented identification process. These students are “twice-exceptional” students and receive services that address their needs.

Similarly, English language learners may be identified as gifted and talented based on their ACCESS for ELLs testing results and other data.

Gifted and talented identification--like that for EL and special education--ensures a focus on addressing students’ specialized academic needs, rather than providing students with labels.

If my child is new to FCPS, or if my child is homeschooled, then how might my child be screened for gifted and talented identification?
Please read more information about the processes for students who are new to FCPS, attend a private/parochial school, or who are homeschooled.

Isn’t gifted and talented education better than the educational program that happens in the regular classroom?
No. FCPS provides gifted and talented students with specific specialized education services, rather than programs. This approach mirrors English language learner and special education services. They are based on the specialized services required to meet students’ unique needs. Gifted and talented students are “outliers” from the general education population as defined by the Annotated Code of Maryland description. 

Gifted and talented students participate in FCPS’ Essential Curriculum, which is aligned with Common Core Math and English Language Arts Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and other MSDE and county-approved standards/curricula. However, gifted and talented learner services are differentiated through the use of more challenging, specialized resources and modules provided through the Office of Advanced Academics.  Differentiation also includes other best practices that are inherent in gifted and talented instruction. Gifted and talented services are different, not better.

How are gifted and talented services delivered?
All schools in Maryland are required by COMAR to provide gifted and talented services. FCPS has implemented services using the cluster group model. Cluster grouping is a research-informed model for gifted and talented service delivery.  Gifted “cluster groups,” are grouped within the general education classroom. The cluster group participation is based on the specific area(s) of talent. In other words, a student may be gifted in one academic area and not in another, which is typical of many gifted students.

Classroom teachers assigned to teach a gifted cluster group are required by COMAR for Gifted and Talented Education to engage in ongoing professional learning about the characteristics and needs of gifted students, as well as specialized instructional practices and resources.

If other students--those not formally-identified as gifted and talented--have demonstrated academic need(s), then they may also receive access to advanced-level resources. 

We were hoping our child could participate in the FCPS Magnet Program. Why are the FCPS Magnet Programs being phased out? 
Gifted and talented students are now an accountability group for every school in Maryland, just like English language learners and students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Gifted and talented students must be identified and served at every elementary school. Services must address the unique academic and emotional needs of gifted and talented students.

COMAR for Gifted and Talented Education mandates equity for gifted and talented identification and services. FCPS Magnet Programs have a limited number of “seats.” Not every child who is identified as gifted and talented is admitted to these programs.

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