Advanced Academics & Talent Development

Abingdon Advanced Academics FAQs

How does a student become identified as gifted in APS?A referral for Gifted Services initiates the evaluation process.  This referral can be made by anyone– a parent, teacher, or even the student. Referrals for students new to APS can be submitted to Mrs. Miller (AAC) from the beginning of the school year until April 1. Once submitted, the school has 90 instructional days to collect data and determine eligibility.After a referral submission, the teachers will begin collecting/generating work samples, observational notes, and testing data that will be used during the gifted identification meeting.  This meeting, which will be attended by teachers, administration, and the Advanced Academics Coach (AAC), will be held to evaluate the student’s file, and determine whether or not the student is eligible for Advanced Academic Services.  Since parents are not participants in the meeting, we ask that the Parent Information Form (sent to each family) is completed as a way for parents to share their insights about their child.Students can be found eligible for gifted services in Math, Language Arts, Science, and/or Social Studies as early as the end of Kindergarten.Once a child is in third grade, he or she may also be referred for services in General Music or Visual Art. Once an identification decision is made, notification to the parents will be sent via email.  Services will begin the next school year.Once a child is identified as gifted, how long does the identification last?A gifted identification will be part of a student’s file within APS until he/she graduates from high school.Should I tell my child he/she has been referred for gifted services?  Should I tell my child that he/she has been found eligible for gifted services?As always, talking to your child about educational opportunities is a parental decision that needs to be made on an individual basis.  However, it is common for parents to not tell their child that they are being referred for gifted services because it can set them up for disappointment if they are not found eligible by the evaluation committee.  In terms of telling a child that he/she has been found eligible for gifted services, many parents in our Abingdon community do not tell their children for various reasons. The teachers at Abingdon do not do or say anything to set gifted children apart from other children in the classroom.   All teachers utilize small group instruction as part of their daily workshop model, so children taught in a small group for gifted services appear no different than children taught in a small group for any other level of instruction.What is the Naglieri?  What is the CogAt?The Naglieri and CogAt are ability tests that APS uses as universal screeners for gifted services.  An ability test is different than an achievement test in that an ability test measures intelligence in a specific category (nonverbal ability, verbal ability, and quantitative ability).  An ability test cannot be studied for since it measures natural ability. Conversely, an achievement test measures if a student has learned information that has been taught– such as an end of unit test or SOL.The Naglieri is a nonverbal ability test.  This test is administered so that we can learn which students have a high natural ability in nonverbal intelligence, since nonverbal intelligence is less likely manifest in the general classroom when compared to verbal or quantitative ability– especially within underserved populations such as English Speakers of other Languages (ESOL).How are gifted services delivered at Abingdon?Services are primarily delivered by the classroom teachers in the general education classroom.  Teachers with clusters of gifted students work with Mrs. Miller (AAC) to plan differentiated instruction that will take place during reading, writing, and math workshop as well as during science and social studies classes.  The workshop model allows for small group instruction based on pre-assessed data as well as provides a choice of activities for students to access as they progress in each subject area.What are the components of Mrs. Miller’s job?As an Advanced Academics Coach (AAC), I wear many hats throughout the day!

  • I meet with grade level teams at least once per week to plan instruction and ensure that all teachers, not just those housing gifted clusters, have access to higher level resources that can be used in their classrooms.
  • I meet individually with cluster teachers to plan and/or coach them through best practices in teaching advanced learners.
  • I curate materials to be used in the classroom by the homeroom teachers.
  • I co-facilitate small groups of students.
  • I manage the gifted identification process (data collection, parent communication, administrative tasks)
  • I strive to maintain ongoing parent communication with parents of students identified as advanced learners as well as those wanting to learn about the program.

My child was identified as gifted as our previous school.  How will that work when we come to Abingdon?If your child attended a school in APS the identification will transfer automatically.  However, please contact the front office at Abingdon over the summer to ensure classroom placement into one of the classes containing a cluster of gifted students.If your child is coming from a different school district, please try to have identification paperwork with you when registering your child at Abingdon and alert the front office staff of the identification so that your child can be properly placed in a classroom with a cluster of gifted students.  Also, upon registration, feel free to contact Mrs. Miller to provide a heads up! That will help get the proper paperwork in place at the start of the school year.How are gifted services in Art and Music delivered?Beginning in third grade, a student may be referred for gifted services in Visual Arts and Musical Performance.  A referral can be submitted by a teacher, parent, or student.

  • Gifted services will be delivered by the child’s music or art teacher during the regularly scheduled music class.
  • Music teachers will strive to incorporate projects into their teaching that will allow for a natural extension.

Delivery of Services

Advanced learners need opportunities to think abstractly, work at various rates and levels of complexity, and pursue tasks independently. In addition, they need opportunities to learn with others of like abilities, as well as opportunities to develop socio-emotionally. Services for advanced learners are implemented through school-based and countywide activities, which comply with school board and state objectives. These school-based services are delivered in the following ways:

  • APS Advanced Academics and Talent Development is collaborative resource model, in which the classroom teacher works with the Advanced Academic Coach (AAC) to develop and present appropriately differentiated learning experiences for advanced learners within the general education classroom.
  • In the general education classroom setting, identified students are cluster-grouped (with a goal of of 10+) together.  Unit and subject-based flexible groupings are utilized based on ongoing data.
  • Identified students work with teachers who are specifically trained in the instructional needs and curriculum written for advanced learners.
  • Specific curricula which are differentiated or extended from concepts in the general education curriculum, and when appropriate, through opportunities for acceleration and extension.

The Cluster Model

The Cluster Model provides services to identified advanced learners by allowing the AAC to “push in” to the classroom and collaborate with teachers through CLTs and individual planning sessions. Using this model, identified advanced learners are placed in a cluster classrooms with intellectual peers. The classroom teacher, with the support of the AAC, is the primary deliverer of advanced curriculum.Advantages of this model include…

  • Students have intellectual peers necessary for academic and social development all day
  • Students have more access to curriculum for advanced learners and/or strategies in their classroom
  • Non-identified students who also need challenges will have the opportunity to try out advanced curriculum or strategies
  • AACs can monitor students and foster talent development for students not currently identified for services

AAC Roles and Responsibilities

  • Collaborate and co-plan with teachers
  • Extend and deepen student learning through higher level discussion, rich content, and high expectations
  • Provide supplemental resources
  • Model lessons, co-instruct, or facilitate lessons
  • Coaching best practices and instructional strategies (i.e. APS’ K-12 Critical Thinking Strategies)
  • Help plan and facilitate book clubs and extension projects
  • Promote differentiation practices throughout the school
  • Manage gifted and talented screening process and evaluation
  • Facilitate professional development for teachers

For more information about Arlington Public Schools’ full plan for Gifted Services, please review:  For frequently asked questions, please review:  If you have school-specific questions, or if you would like to learn more about differentiation, growth mindset practices, and Advanced Academics and Talent Development in our building, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at Abingdon Elementary.

Classroom Teacher’s Role and Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with the AAC to provide differentiated curriculum, extension opportunities, and supplemental curriculum resources
  • Plan units and lessons to meet the learning needs of students demonstrating the need for advanced curriculum
  • Coordinate instructional needs of all learners in the classroom
  • Keep open communication with AAC on students that may need to be screened for gifted identification

Identification Process

Each year, the total population of our school is screened by school staff to create a pool of eligible highly able candidates based on students’ participation and performance in various academic and arts activities.Screening is formal: We review all test scores following standardized testing, and scholastic academic performance. Screening is also informal: We note students’ competitions, awards, honors, and participation in school events.

Referrals for Advanced Academics

Students may be referred for services by their classroom teacher, school personnel, parents/guardians, community leaders, and self or other students until April 1 for the current school year.A referral form must be filled out and given to the Advanced Academic Coach (AAC).Referral Form also available in Spanish, Bengali, Amharic, Mongolian, and Arabic.Please note: any student who is in the automatic screening pool due to ability test scores, like the NNAT or CogAT, does not need a referral form. Students may be referred once during the academic school year. Typically this happens in the winter/spring unless student is new to APS. During this once a year referral process, a holistic case study approach is used to examine data from multiple areas of strength to determine eligibility in the following areas –

Areas of Identification

  • Specific Academic Aptitude:
    • English
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies
  • Visual or Performing Arts:
    • Visual Arts
    • Music

Eligibility Criteria

  • Standardized Testing Information
  • Teacher Checklist on Observations of Academic Behaviors
  • Grades/Academic Performance
  • Student Work Samples
  • Parent Information

Definition of a Gifted Student from the Virginia Plan:

  • “These students possess talents and abilities that differ from those of their peers to such a degree that differentiated educational programs should be provided to nurture their growth and development.”
  • “The identification of these students is based on the premise that they need and can benefit from specifically planned educational services different from those provided by the general educational experience.”

An Appeals Process is available to families following the eligibility process. Appeal begins at the school level with the principal. Second level of appeals is a county-wide Gifted Services Administrative Appeals Committee.

Resources for Parents

Arlington Public Schools Advanced Academics Website: and National Level Associations that support gifted students:

■Virginia Association for the Gifted (VAG)

■National Association for the Gifted (NAGC)

■Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)

Advanced Academics & Talent Development

Welcome to Advanced Academics and Talent Development at Abingdon Elementary!  Please take a look through the helpful links to discover more about what Abingdon has to offer our growing scholars. APS Advanced Academics and Talent Development:

  • Arlington Public Schools is dedicated to maximizing the strengths and potential of all students so they may become self-confident, well-rounded, responsible and productive citizens. Many advanced learners need opportunities to think abstractly, work at various rates and levels of complexity, and pursue tasks independently. In addition, advanced learners need opportunities to learn with others of like abilities, as well as opportunities to develop social relationships with others of all abilities.

Link to the APS Advanced Academics and Talent Development website

Who Should I Contact for Gifted Services?

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Kelly Miller

Advanced Academics Coach (AAC)