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Gifted and Talented

Our mission is to maximize learning opportunities for academically gifted, talented, and high-ability learners by offering value-rich, project-based education and cultivating lifelong, autonomous learner habits. Programming supports all multiple intelligences, integrating the arts with critical thinking opportunities and technology skill development. We support a gifted student community that truly reflects the ethnic composition of our school.

Additionally, we work with CCSD to formally identify students with state-qualifying test scores on standardized assessments, generally at 95%ile or above.

Seth Geltman •

Carol Redmond •

Group Photo



All CCA students are invited to attend an open enrichment session in the Innovation Space on weekday mornings from 7:20 to 7:55.  Students have free choice of a variety of activities, including Dash and Dot robots, creating with recycled materials, watercolor painting, and working with iPad apps.

Starting in January of 2023, the 1st-grade students in Ms. Nygard’s and Ms. Hackett’s classes will be participating in a pilot program combining enrichment activities with technology education, taught by Ms. Redmond and Ms. Van Loan. 

Grades 2-4

Students in grades 2-4 may be eligible to participate in our small group Gifted/ Talented pull-out program, which occurs during the classroom library period.  These sessions are led by Ms. Redmond and focus on critical thinking, inquiry-based learning, and creative problem-solving.

Using a philosophical framework and activities inspired by the Autonomous Learner Model Resource Book, participating students build the foundation for independent learning through cognitively challenging activities and personal choice projects, with support for social-emotional development.

Teaching resources include Core Knowledge Curriculum materials, Depth and Complexity icons, Denver Art Museum lessons, Mystery Science activities, Destination Imagination challenges, and more.

Eligibility for this small group program is determined by 2nd-grade CogAT screener and Iowa Assessment scores, with flexibility for outstanding talent, creativity, or exceptional self-initiative for learning. Students with test scores in the 95%ile nationally are given priority for inclusion in the pull-out program and may become eligible over time to apply for formal district gifted identification. 

Grades 5-8

The ALITA (Autonomous Learning in the Arts) class is an option for students in grades 5- 8 who have qualifying test scores, outstanding talent or creativity, or exceptional self-initiative for learning. Offered as part of the Specials rotation, this class is taught by Mr. Geltman and combines music, art, and technology with critical/metacognitive thinking and challenging brain games. In the second half of each year, students develop independent study projects in an area of strength, interest, and/or passion. The independent projects are showcased in May during a popular evening event called “Student Spotlight.” 

Although our content varies from year to year, based on student preferences, these slides give a sense of our work. This presentation describes our ‘21-’22 work, and the ‘21-’22 archived newsletter provides a week-by-week description of class activities.

CCA students in grades 5- 8 are also welcome to participate in the school Spelling Bee. Our school sends 4 (with 1 alternate) finalists to compete in the CCSD Spelling Bee in January.

Eligibility for ALITA is usually determined by cognitive/academic test scores, with flexibility for outstanding talent, creativity, or strong self-initiative for learning. To facilitate individualized instruction, we aim to keep class sizes small. 


Students with 95%ile or above on state-qualifying assessments may be eligible to start a body of evidence that builds over time toward a full gifted identification with CCSD.  State criteria for formal gifted identification is rigorous and approval requires evidence from multiple testing sources over time. Students who are approved for formal gifted identification will receive an Advanced Learning Plan, with both academic and social/ emotional goals monitored by a Gifted/Talented teacher.

Students with Special Education plans who also have state-qualifying cognitive or academic test scores may be eligible to apply for gifted identification as a 2e (twice-exceptional) student.

Please contact Mr. Geltman or Ms. Redmond if you are interested in nominating your child to enter the process for formal gifted identification.


GT Resources from the Davidson Institute
Enrichment at home (e.g., KenKen, Star Battle, Freckle differentiated learning platform)
CCSD Steam-A-Palooza event
Summer enrichment opportunities
CCSD Inside/Out Summer Program
Ricks Center offers camps that are open to non-Ricks students.
Ricks is a well-established GT school connected with DU. 
Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a noted writing program, also offers classes for youths.
John Hopkins online programs and summer camps 
Stanford summer courses
Robinson Center summer courses

young boy
young girl
upside down project


1. When does student testing for Gifted/ Talented pull-out programming start?

In second grade, all students take the universal screener CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test).  Students who score in the 90%ile or above are asked to take an additional academic battery of tests, the Iowa Assessment of Basic skills.  Based on this data, a limited number of students are invited to join the small pull-out groups at CCA.

Please note:  We are currently transitioning from a more informal referral system which primarily relied on teacher recommendations for K-1 students.

2. When will I know if my 2nd grader has been invited to participate in the Gifted/ Talented pull-out program?

If your child is currently participating, his or her pull-outs begin at the start of the school year. Students in the program are generally invited to continue from one grade level to the next. New students are added when CoGAT/ Iowa tests are administered in the fall for 2nd and 6th graders. 

3. If my child has high academic abilities but isn’t able to participate in the GT pull-out program, what options are available to support their needs?

GT teacher support is available for classroom teachers to offer project extensions and challenge homework, in addition to their own differentiated lessons.

4. Can my child pursue formal gifted identification, but not participate in CCA programming?  

In some cases, yes. Students in grades 5-8 may opt out of ALITA and would be given the option of working independently on a personal research project with Mr. Geltman.

5. What is the definition of a Gifted/ Talented student?

One of the most commonly accepted definitions of the Gifted/ Talented students comes from Dr. Joseph Renzulli, an education professor at the University of Connecticut. He defines it as a confluence of three general characteristics: Above Average Ability, Task commitment, and Creativity.

The Cherry Creek School District website states that:

"Gifted and talented children” are those learners between the ages of four and 21 whose abilities, talents, and/or potential for accomplishment are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs. Gifted students include students with disabilities (i.e., twice-exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic and cultural populations. Gifted students are capable of high performance, extraordinary production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas.

6. What is the definition of a 2e (twice exceptional) student?

The Cherry Creek School District website states that:

A twice-exceptional student is one who is formally identified as having:

  • a learning disability, emotional disorder, communication disorder and/or physical disability and

  • a formal identification as gifted in one or more areas: intellectual ability, specific academic ability, leadership or is recognized for extraordinary talent in creative and/or artistic areas.

7. Can I refer my own child for formal gifted identification or does the referral have to come from a teacher?

Parents may initiate a referral for their student, but should consult with Mr. Geltman or Ms. Redmond first about building a robust body of evidence that meets state criteria over time. The formal process entails a thorough review of standardized test scores assembled by CCA's GT team, then evaluated by the Gifted/ Talented department at CCSD.  A team of specialists from the district GT department makes the decision about a request for gifted identification.

8. If I have test results from an outside source, can I submit it to support formal identification for my child?

Yes.  If you have additional outside testing data (WISC IV, DAS, Stanford-Binet, other cognitive/IQ testing, etc.) you would like us to consider for an identification application, please feel free to send results to Mr. Geltman or Ms. Redmond.

Here is a list of accepted assessments for formal gifted identification. 

9. Does CCA offer academic acceleration?

In rare cases, the Cherry Creek School District will approve whole grade or single subject acceleration for a student.  This educational intervention is reserved for students who move through an educational program at a younger than typical age, and is appropriate only for students who meet predetermined criteria for consideration. Nominated students may apply to enter the CCSD acceleration determination process and, if approved,  undergo an additional rigorous assessment process, establishing a need for this unusual type of programming.