HES Gifted & Talented


Highlands Elementary School
Gifted & Talented 2020-2021

Goals of our Tri-District Program

To provide students with high abilities in one or more areas with opportunities that will challenge them in regular classroom settings, as well as accelerated enrichment programs that will enable them to make continuous progress in school.

Grade Spans of our Tri-District Program

  • Identified students in grades K-6 are eligible for participation in the programs at Highlands Elementary School and Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. *NOTE* Kindergarten students will be identified following the Winter benchmark assessments
  • Identified students in grades 7-8 are eligible for Pre-Algebra and Enrichment Science/ELA course opportunities at Henry Hudson Regional School
  • Students in grades 9-12 are afforded extended opportunities through participation in honors and advanced placement (AP) courses, as well as through differentiation in the regular classroom setting.  We also offer a STEM Academy sequence of courses for eligible students, which follow an accelerated and enriched pace and curriculum. Our robust selection of electives also serves as a vehicle for enrichment opportunities in various areas of student strength and interest. 

Please note: Enrollment in elementary G&T programming does NOT guarantee continued enrollment in Enrichment or Pre Algebra courses at Henry Hudson Regional School, nor is a student required to have prior G&T experiences in order to access such courses. Enrichment/Challenge courses at the elementary level are opportunities for enrichment, but do not constitute a "track" for students - the entry and exits to this program are flexible and contingent upon identification and continued student success. In addition, participation in G&T programming is optional for families and students, and we recognize that a number of our students may be gifted and talented, yet choose not to participate in any given year for various reasons.

Identification Process - Highlands Elementary

Multiple-measure identification matrix for academic criteria based on grade-level specific expectations in ELA, mathematics, and other content areas as appropriate.

iReady ELA/Math Benchmark (Fall and Winter of current school year)
Running Record Levels (suspended for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year)
Prior year assessment scores (Prior year Winter/Spring iReady benchmarks, NJSLA ELA/Math/Science)
Prior year class performance (for initial identification) followed by current class performance (for later entry points)
Teacher Recommendation Form (secondary screening level)

Program Structure - Highlands Elementary

At the elementary level, screening opportunities take place three times per year. After the Fall and Winter screenings, students in grades K-5 will be flexibly entered and/or exited from the subsequent cycle of G&T Programming.  Each cycle is approximately 10 weeks in duration, which affords more students with the opportunity to be captured within the screening process, and aligns with our growth-mindset philosophy. Following the two cycles, students will be afforded an opportunity to prepare and present a culminating project experience to celebrate their work throughout the year (TBD).  The schedule of dates below is subject to change

September - October 9th: Benchmark Window and Identification/Placement Window
October 19th - December 18th: G&T Cycle I
January 4th - January 22nd:  Benchmark Window and Identification/Placement Window
February 1st - April 16th: G&T Cycle II
May 3rd - June 3rd - Final Project/Experience Preparation (TBD)

All enrollment in Gifted and Talented programming is fluid, and continued participation and/or entry to the program is contingent upon maintaining classroom performance while participating in additional enrichment learning opportunities. 

Gifted and Talented projects and programs at the Elementary schools will be managed by assigned G&T teachers in each building. These staff members will work with the classroom teachers, families, administrators, and most importantly the students to support children along pathways of individualized learning interests and strengths. Topics for each cycle of gifted programming will be responsive to the individualized strengths and needs of students in the group.

Program Design at Highlands Elementary School

Grades K-5
*NOTE* Kindergarten students will be identified following the Winter benchmark assessments

Tier I: Identified students will be grouped within the home classroom environment and provided with enrichment opportunities through differentiated instruction. This differentiation will be facilitated daily by the classroom teacher.

Tier II: Differentiated instruction will be supplemented through weekly or biweekly pull-out visits by a supplemental Gifted & Talented teacher who will provide additional activities and scaffolds in various areas aligned with student strengths and interest. Additional or more frequent pull-out opportunities may also be added periodically, but the central goal is to have each student's individualized learning pursuits integrated into the core classroom setting as much as possible. Students who are pulled out for these enrichment opportunities are expected to maintain their core classroom performance

Please note: Grouping is not synonymous with tracking. “Grouping is flexible, targeted, and not permanent; tracking historically refers to an inflexible approach to placing students in tracks from which they could not move" (Plucker, Burroughs & Song, 2010). 

Gifted programming for the K-5 elementary level is predominantly centered around STEAM learning opportunities, with the precise nature of projects and programming dependent upon the strengths and interests of the identified students. For instance, while all identified gifted students will engage in various kinds of learning experiences, students with particular gifts in written expression may engage in projects and activities centered around problem-solving research and writing-driven projects. Students with particular gifts in mathematics might engage in coding and/or robotics activities, and those with gifts in oral presentation expression or the arts may engage in activities centered around showcasing student voice and creativity.  

Grade 6
ENRICHMENT ELA/MATH Identified students in grade 6 have the opportunity to be placed in Enrichment ELA and/or Math courses at Highlands Elementary. These courses are designed around a philosophy of grouping, curriculum compacting and acceleration. Prior participation in gifted programming is not a prerequisite for placement into these courses.
ARTS HIGH (6-8) (at Henry Hudson Regional School, through the Monmouth County Arts & Education Center)
Arts High (6-8) is a special co-curricular program for gifted and talented students, grades 6-8. Students interested in joining the program must audition to participate in rigorous, advanced level courses for developing artistic skills and creative expression in the art form of the student's choice. Please visit www.artshigh.net for more information.

Complaint Process at Highlands Elementary School

An individual who believes that the district has not complied with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:35-34 et seq. may file a complaint with the Board of Education.  This policy for filing a complaint shall be linked to the homepage of the Board’s Internet website.  The Board shall issue a decision, in writing, to affirm, reject, or modify the district’s action in the matter.  The individual may then file a petition of appeal of the Board’s written decision to the Commissioner of Education through the Office of Controversies and Disputes in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:6-9 and the procedures set forth in State Board of Education regulations.