Educational Services for Gifted Education Information Guide

Identification Process

Students are identified for services in English (language) and mathematics from kindergarten through grade twelve. Identification for services in history and social science and in science begins in grade six and continues through grade twelve.

Starting the Process

A parent or legal guardian, an administrator, a teacher, a school counselor, or a gifted education resource teacher may refer a student for consideration for gifted education services. A student may refer himself or herself. Students may also be referred by their peers or by community members. The referral form is available on the Gifted Education Web page. Referral forms are also available in all schools. Before the process can begin, parents or legal guardians must sign a permission form giving permission for the identification process.

The Multi-Criteria Process

Information from Multiple Sources

Examples of student work are collected for consideration. Teachers submit work, but parents and guardians and students themselves may also submit examples of work. All elementary and middle school students also complete a mathematics problem-solving packet. Parents or legal guardians are asked to submit a parent report. Teachers are asked to submit a professional report. Classroom grades are reviewed. For elementary children, reading levels are considered. For middle and high school students, the level of difficulty of their courses is considered. Standards of Learning test scores are included for students who have taken these Virginia tests. Tests from other states are included if these scores are available.

Aptitude Test Scores are included. Students in kindergarten and grades one, two, and three are given a Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test. This is a test that is administered individually to each student. All second grade students are given a Naglieri NonVerbal Abilities Test. All students who are reviewed for identification for services after grade two are given a Cognitive Abilities Test and a Naglieri Non-Verbal Abilities Test. These are group tests.

Profile Development Committee

A Profile Development Committee reviews all information. This committee meets in each school and considers the information in each of the categories. This committee includes an administrator, a school counselor, and classroom teachers. It is chaired by a gifted education resource teacher.

Identification and Placement Committee

Information is forwarded to an Identification and Placement Committee. Committees are established on the elementary, middle, and high school levels. These committees include administrators, school counselors, and classroom teachers from across the School Division. These committees review the evidence in each of the areas and make three decisions:

  1. Is this student eligible for services? Does this student need gifted education services above and beyond what is offered through our regular or advanced curriculum in order to fulfill his or her academic potential?
  2. If the student is eligible for services, what should the placement of this student be? Does this student need services in language or in mathematics or in both areas? Does this student also need services in history and social sciences and/or in science?
  3. How should those services be delivered? Should those services be provided through direct instruction by a gifted education
    resource teacher or should those services be provided by a classroom or subject teacher with support from the gifted education resource teacher?

Once these decisions are made, parents or legal guardians are notified of the Identification and Placement Committee decision.

The Appeals Process

If a parent or guardian or School Division professional staff member does not agree with the determination of eligibility, of placement, or of services, that person can appeal the decision of the Identification and Placement Committee. Requests for appointments with the Appeals Committee should be submitted within 90 instructional days after parents or guardians have been notified of the Identification and Placement Committee’s decision.

Appeals appointments are usually requested through the gifted education resource teacher who serves the school. Parents or legal guardians may also call 703.791.7400 or email the Supervisor of Gifted Education to request an appointment. That email address is posted under Office and Staff on the Gifted Education Web page.

While the process is called an appeals process under Virginia regulation, in Prince William County Public Schools the Appeals Committee functions as a diagnostic committee. Committee members review all evidence with the resource teacher present. Classroom teachers, school administrators, parents or guardians, and students may present additional evidence. The committee aligns all of the evidence to make a decision for eligibility, for placement, and for services.

  1. Referral form is completed and submitted to gifted education resource teacher.
  2. Resource teacher receives permission from parents or legal guardians to begin the identification and placement process. The process is completed within 90 instructional days.
  3. Resource teacher collects evidence from multiple sources:
    • Examples of student work;
    • Reports from parents and professionals;
    • Documentation of classroom achievement;
    • Results of aptitude testing.
  4. School Profile Development Committee reviews the evidence and, based upon that evidence, provides information to the School Division Identification and Placement Committee.
  5. Identification and Placement Committee makes a determination of eligibility for services. If a student is found eligible for services, the committee then makes a decision on the appropriate placement and services for the student.
  6. If the Identification and Placement committee needs additional evidence in order to make a decision on eligibility, placement, or services, with parental notification, the student profile is monitored until additional evidence can be collected to make the decision.
  7. The resource teacher sends a letter to inform parents or legal guardians of the Identification and Placement Committee’s decision.
  8. If parents or legal guardians have concerns about the eligibility, placement, or services decision, an appeals request may be submitted through the resource teacher or directly to the Supervisor of Gifted Education. The request should be submitted within 90 instructional days after the notification of the decision.

Gifted Education Services

Identified students are offered continuous and sequential service options that include classroom and gifted education resource services from kindergarten through grade twelve. Students identified for gifted education services must have instructional time with age-level peers, instructional time with intellectual and academic peers, and time to work independently. Service options are designed to foster intellectual and academic growth. Instructional strategies are based upon School Division, Virginia, and national research-based best practices. Instructional strategies provide for differentiation in content, process, and product, and support collaboration and reflection. Specific research-based best practices are used for assessing and reporting student academic growth.

The elementary program provides an opportunity for elementary students identified for services to work with a resource teacher 28 times each year.

Kindergarten students meet for approximately 45 minutes distributed across a two-week schedule. Students in grades one and two meet for 45 minutes on a weekly schedule. Students in grade three meet for approximately 90 minutes on a weekly schedule.

Students in grade four and five receive direct resource services for approximately 225 minutes on a weekly schedule.


In middle school, students receive the equivalent of 90 minutes of resource service on a weekly schedule. Schools may establish an alternate schedule through the Gifted Education Advisory Committee.

In high school, student schedules may vary depending upon the availability of opportunities for advanced course work. Students receive a total of at least 18 hours of direct resource service each year unless an alternate plan has been approved through the Gifted Education Advisory Committee.

Differentiated Services Plans

Parents or legal guardians receive a Differentiated Services Plan each year at the end of the first grading period. This plan indicates what services will be provided for each student. On the elementary level, these plans are developed collaboratively by the classroom teacher and the resource teacher. On the middle school level, the plans are developed by the resource teacher with consideration of classroom services offered. On the high school level, the plans are developed collaboratively by the student and the resource teacher.

Gifted Education Progress Reports

Parents or legal guardians whose elementary school student is receiving direct resource services receive a Gifted Education Progress Report each semester. Parents or legal guardians whose middle or high school student is receiving direct resource services receive a Gifted Education Progress Report at least once during the academic year. These reports document student academic growth. Any parent or guardian who has not received a Progress Report by July 1 should notify the Supervisor of Gifted Education.

Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

Collaboration with classroom teachers supports the continuum of service options. This collaboration also supports continuous and sequential services for students.

In elementary school, students receive these services from their classroom teachers with support from resource teachers. Resource teachers provide enrichment materials for the classroom or support advanced work during core extension time.


Depending upon their areas of academic strength, middle school students may take Extended Language Arts or Extended Mathematics or enroll in both classes.

In high school, depending upon the program offered in each high school, students may enroll in pre-Advanced Placement, pre-International Baccalaureate Diploma, or International General Certificate of Secondary Education courses. As they advance, these students may enroll in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Diploma, or Advanced International Certificate of Education courses.


Curriculum and Instruction

Classroom Services

Continuing classroom models for curriculum and instruction based upon School Division, Virginia and national research-based best practices provide the structure for classroom services.

Direct Resource Services

Models for curriculum and instruction support learner outcomes for gifted education services. These include the Integrated Curriculum Model (Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary), and the Parallel Curriculum Model (National Association for Gifted Children).

Resource program curriculum and instruction form an integrated, interwoven design. The vertical alignment from kindergarten through grade twelve is based upon 21st century skills. 

Critical Thinking 

• Creative Thinking
• Collaboration
• Communication
• Conceptual Thinking

The horizontal alignment is based upon standards for content, process, and product in each subject area or discipline. The completed design becomes a learning environment to support learner collaboration and reflection.

Learner Outcomes

Learner outcomes are established in content, process, and product with support for learner collaboration and reflection. These outcomes are evaluated through the Gifted Education Progress Report.

In elementary, the program for students extends the classroom curriculum. Within this program, students explore the subjects of language, history and social science, mathematics, and science. They also examine the connections among these subjects.


In middle school, interdisciplinary units help students make connections among the subject areas they are studying. While working on independent learning centers, middle school students assume roles such as writers, scientists, lawyers, architects, or computer programmers to explore the subject areas that interest them.

On the high school level, students learn through a reflective seminar program. This program is designed to support students as they form their own connections among the several subjects they are studying. Students are challenged to question their own understanding and assumptions about the world.

Acceleration Process

Designated regulations of Prince William County Public Schools in the “600 Instruction” or “700 Students” categories define specific procedures for appropriate academic acceleration of individual students.

Identification in Visual and/or Performing Arts

Students are identified for services in Visual and/or Performing Arts in grade nine through grade twelve. Services are provided through the Center for Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) at Colgan High School in the areas of dance, instrumental music, vocal music, music technology, theater, creative writing, and visual arts. Identification is completed through the application and audition process for acceptance to the CFPA. The application process begins in the fall with applications due in December. In the program, students are supported in their efforts to master a common core of learning that promotes a broader understanding of the arts. Students are trained in the skills necessary to be successful in a university arts program and are encouraged to develop creativity, self-expression, academic achievement, and critical thinking.

Virginia Governor’s Schools

Virginia Regional Academic-Year Governor’s Schools

The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park

Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University
10900 University Boulevard Manassas, VA 20110-2203
703.993.7027

The Governor’s School @ Innovation Park is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiative of three school divisions, Prince William County, Manassas City, and Manassas Park, in collaboration with George Mason University. Students attend the Governor’s School in the morning and return to their home high schools for one class each afternoon. The instructional design of the program integrates strands in biology, chemistry, and physics with mathematics, with concepts of engineering and technology, and with laboratory research. Learning experiences focus on real-world research with mentorship opportunities in business, industry, government, and university settings. Qualified sophomores are eligible to apply for the program. Applications will be available online and in each high school by November 1.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

6560 Braddock Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22312

The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a Regional Governor’s School, accepts Prince William County students into its four-year program through an application and testing process. Interested eighth-grade students should ask a designated middle school counselor for an information packet. Application timeline and additional information is available through the Thomas Jefferson Admissions Office at 571.423.3770 or at www.fcps.edu/registration/thomas-jefferson-admissions.

Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s Schools

Sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply for Summer Residential Governor’s School Programs. Each of these summer programs is held on a college campus. There are programs in agriculture, humanities, mathematics, science and technology, life sciences and medicine, and visual and performing arts. There are mentorships in engineering and marine science. There are also opportunities to participate in foreign language academies. Applications become available in October. High school gifted education resource teachers provide information about these programs.

Professional Development

Professional development opportunities are aligned with specific teacher competencies required in Virginia Regulation.

Gifted Education Resource Teachers

Gifted education resource teachers are required to complete the Virginia endorsement in gifted education within three years of accepting a position as a resource teacher.

Classroom Teachers

Classroom teachers working with identified gifted education learners in English (language), history and social science, mathematics, and science are required to complete a School Division accreditation requirement based upon the Virginia Standards of Accreditation. To fulfill the Virginia regulation requirement for “continuous and sequential service” identified students receive a combination of classroom and direct gifted resource service. In order to meet this requirement, identified students are placed in classrooms with accredited classroom teachers.

Equitable Representation of Students

In Prince William County Public Schools, student learning is enhanced by national, global, and multicultural perspectives.

Equitable representation of students for gifted services is monitored annually through the School Division Strategic Plan and through the Gifted Education Advisory Committee Report. Access of diverse learners to specialty programs and to Advanced Placement Program, Cambridge Programme, and International Baccalaureate Programme Diploma courses is also measured.

The identification of and support for English Language Learners and Twice-Exceptional Learners is a component of the equitable representation of students. English Language Learners include learners who are eligible for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services. Twice-Exceptional Learners include learners who are eligible for both special education and gifted education services and learners who have specific documented disabilities that must be considered in educational planning.

Parent and Community Involvement

Goals for continuous improvement in parent and community involvement have been established in the School Division Strategic Plan including an increased emphasis on dissemination of information with additional support for opportunities for dialogue.

Gifted Education Advisory Committee

Each School Board Member has the option to appoint a representative to the Gifted Education Advisory Committee. Additional potential Committee members are determined based upon recommendations from multiple stakeholders. The Superintendent of Schools or his designee reviews the list of additional potential Committee members to ensure that the criteria established in the Virginia Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students have been met.

School Board Members make their appointments through the established appointment procedures for advisory councils and committees. The Superintendent of Schools submits a list of additional potential Committee members to the School Board for approval. Under Virginia Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students, all Committee members are appointed by the School Board.

Annual Review of Program Effectiveness

The annual review of program effectiveness has established procedures. A plan focusing on different plan components on a regular cycle has been developed to support this review. A five-year cyclical timeline has been developed to support this review.

The Gifted Education Advisory Committee has a central role in the evaluation of the effectiveness of gifted education services. Each year, as part of the information gathering process, the Committee visits schools and hears from a student panel.

To meet Virginia regulation, a written plan must be reviewed and approved by the Gifted Education Advisory Committee in order for a school to provide services through a model that differs from the range of models established in the Gifted Education Plan.

The Gifted Education Advisory Committee submits an annual report to the Superintendent of Schools and to the School Board on the effectiveness of gifted education in Prince William County Public Schools.

Gifted At A Glance

Definition of “Gifted”

The definition of gifted used in PWCS is based on Virginia Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students. Students who are found eligible for gifted education services demonstrate high levels of academic accomplishment or show exceptional academic potential beyond their age peers of similar experience or environment in one or more specific academic areas.

Gifted Education Program

Gifted students need advanced and complex content that is paced and sequenced to respond to their intellectual curiosity, exceptional problem solving abilities, and rapid acquisition and mastery of information. The Gifted Education Program offers pull-out resource services in Kindergarten through 12th grade for students whose learning needs cannot be entirely met in the general education classroom setting. Minutes and frequency of services vary depending on the grade level. Differentiated classroom services are also provided through collaboration between classroom teachers and the gifted resource teacher.

Goal of Gifted Education

The goal of gifted education services in PWCS is to develop advanced skills in

  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Conceptual thinking 

… in order to encourage and enable students to become self-directed learners.

Identification Process

The identification process is ongoing throughout the school year. A student may be referred at any time by a parent, professional, Divisionwide screening tool, or self-referral. PWCS uses a multi-criteria approach to identification. Balanced consideration is given to many factors, including aptitude test scores, academic achievement, parent and professional reports, and student work samples. No single criterion is used to determine a student’s eligibility. The gifted identification process begins with the completion of a referral form, available on the Gifted Education website or at your child’s school.

Early Talent Development

In PWCS, all students in Kindergarten through second grade participate in enrichment lessons taught by gifted resource teachers. The lessons focus on nurturing critical and creative thinking skills and expose all students to challenging opportunities. The Early Talent Development (ETD) program recognizes students with gifted potential and provides targeted support to develop that potential. 

Spotlight on Equity

Increasing equitable access to challenging opportunities is a strategic goal in PWCS and is a priority for Gifted Education. Accurate identification of economically disadvantaged, minority, students with disabilities, and limited English proficient students requires purposeful action. Strategies, including universal screening, professional development for educators, community outreach, and early exposure to enriching opportunities, are implemented in PWCS to remove barriers and increase equity.

Gifted “Look-Fors” at Home

Gifted students typically have one or more of the following characteristics, which may be observed at home:

  • Curious, questioning attitude
  • Keen observer
  • Vivid imagination
  • Learns quickly
  • Sophisticated sense of humor
  • Exceptional memory
  • Sensitive to human issues, fairness, justice
  • Strong communication skills
  • Motivated to learn or develop a skill
  • Quick to learn a second language Intense interests
  • Enjoys problem solving