Gifted Services


Maria deOlazo

Abingdon Resource Teacher for the Gifted

Email:   Twitter: @deOlazoRTG



APS Gifted Services Logo


Gifted students need opportunities to think abstractly, work at various rates and levels of complexity, and pursue tasks independently. In addition, students eligible for gifted services need opportunities to learn with others of like abilities, as well as opportunities to develop socio-emotionally. APS Gifted Services 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 Gifted Services collaborative resource model, in which the classroom teacher works with the resource teacher for the gifted to develop and present appropriately differentiated learning experiences for gifted students within the general education classroom.
  • In the general education classroom setting, identified students are cluster-grouped (minimum of 5 – 8) and through a variety of flexible groupings based on ongoing data.
  • Identified students work with teachers who are specifically trained in instructional needs of and curriculum written for gifted students.
  • Specific curricula which are differentiated or extended from concepts in the general education curriculum, and when appropriate, through opportunities for acceleration and extension.

The Gifted Cluster Model

The Gifted Cluster model provides services to identified students by allowing the RTG to “push in” to the classroom and collaborate with teachers through CLTs and individual planning sessions. Using this model, GT identified students are placed in Gifted Cluster classrooms with intellectual peers. The classroom teacher, with the support of the RTG, is the primary provider for Gifted Services.Advantages of this model include…

  • Students have intellectual peers necessary for academic and social development all day
  • Students have more access to gifted curriculum and/or strategies in their classroom
  • Non-identified students who also need challenges will have the opportunity to try out advanced curriculum or strategies
  • RTGs can monitor students that should be assessed for eligibility for gifted services

RTG 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 instructional strategies (i.e. APS’ K-12 Critical Thinking Strategies)
  • 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 gifted services in our building, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at

Classroom Teacher’s Role and Responsibilities

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

Abingdon’s Innovative use of technology integration is trickling out to the rest of the county through Professional Development and Educational sharing opportunities. Our program has helped integrate instructionally sound, meaningful use of technology into the concept-based curriculum at Summer Laureate, one of the APS summer school enrichment programs. #DigitalAPS created a short video highlighting how this transition happened for students in every classroom at every grade level K-5th. This work was taken directly from the innovative work being done at Abingdon Elementary.  Watch the video! #DigitalAPS Explores New Tech Integration Piece @LaureateAPS

The Gifted Services Program fully supports Abingdon’s unique instructional plan, helping to emphasize the focus on personalizing instruction for the individual student. Students are encouraged to use their creativity and expand their body of knowledge using many different styles of learning.

The goals of Gifted Services include the following:

  • Identify students in grades K-12 in Specific Academic Aptitude(s) and Visual/Performing Arts Aptitude
  • Provide appropriate differentiated services based on information provided in the identification process to meet the identified student’s unique learning needs
  • Train teachers and other professional educators who instruct gifted students in learning characteristics and behaviors of gifted children and differentiation of content, skills, activities, and product development
  • Encourage involvement of parents and the community-at-large in the educational program of gifted students

The Office of Gifted Services complies with Virginia Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students based on the following concepts:

  • Giftedness is developmental; it is potential which must be nourished
  • Giftedness is a collection of behaviors which are interactive and dynamic
  • Gifted students share some characteristics with all other children
  • There is variability among the gifted

As the full-time Resource Teacher of the Gifted (RTG) at Abingdon, Ms.deOlazo provides support for classroom teachers in differentiating the curriculum. Sometimes lessons are planned so that she is able to work with the whole group by co-teaching in the classroom or by modeling strategies for differentiated instruction, and sometimes she works with small groups of gifted and highly able students during pre-planned sessions as part of a grade level team plan for reaching and teaching all students.

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 Gifted Services

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 Resource Teacher for the Gifted.Referral Form also available in Spanish, Bengali, Amharic, Mongolian, and Arabic.Referrals may be submitted before April 1 annually. A referral form may be completed by the following sources:

  • classroom teacher or other staff member
  • parent/guardian
  • community member
  • student

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 Gifted Services Identification

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

Eligibility Criteria

  • Gifted Services in Specific Academic Areas
  • Standardized Testing Information
  • Teacher Checklist on Observations of Academic Behaviors
  • Grades/Academic Performance
  • Student Products
  • 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.

For more information:



Ms. deOlazo

1st graders in Ms. Kim’s class are estimating, skip counting, patterning, adding and recording their math thinking. Meaningful math talk happens through collaboration and exploration.@AbingdonGIFT @APSGifted
Published October 25, 22 1:07PM