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Specific Talent Aptitude

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Exceptional Children’s Education Act (ECEA) definitions:

“Aptitude” means abilities or behaviors that can be monitored, evaluated, or observed to determine potential or a level of performance in problem solving, reasoning, and other cognitive functions (e.g., memory, synthesis, creativity, speed in problem solving). Aptitude or general ability assessments predict potential in an area of giftedness and/or academic school success. [12.01(5)]

“Assessment” means methods, tools, and data collected as a body of evidence for use in the following gifted education processes: Identification and programming; Monitoring the gifted child’s performance and outcomes; and Program evaluation. [[12.01(8)(a-c)]

“Creative or productive thinking” is exceptional capability or potential in mental processes (e.g., critical thinking, creative problem solving, humor, independent/original thinking, and/or products, etc.).

  • “Criteria:” Creative or productive thinking is demonstrated by advanced level on performance assessments or ninety-fifth percentile and above on standardized tests of creative/critical skills or creativity/critical thinking. [12.01(16)(c)]

“Leadership” is the exceptional capability or potential to influence and empower people (e.g., social perceptiveness, visionary ability, communication skills, problem solving, inter and intra-personal skills and a sense of responsibility, etc.).

  • “Criteria:” Leadership is demonstrated by advanced level on performance assessments or ninety-fifth percentile and above on standardized leadership tests. [12.01(16)(d)]

Visual arts, performing arts, musical, dance or psychomotor abilities are exceptional capabilities or potential in talent areas (e.g., art, drama, music, dance, body awareness, coordination and physical skills, etc.).

  • “Criteria:” Visual arts, performing arts, musical, dance or psychomotor abilities are demonstrated by advanced level on performance talent-assessments or ninety-fifth percentile and above on standardized talent-tests. [12.01(16)(e)]

Specific Talent Aptitudes

Areas for Specific Talent Aptitudes include:

  • Creative or Productive Thinking
  • Leadership
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Performing Arts (Theater, Speech, Debate)
  • Psychomotor*
  • Visual Arts

A student may be identified in one or more of the gifted domains.  Areas of identification are coded separately for the October Pupil Count.

See Gifted Student Enrollment


Talent Identification Toolkit

CDE has created a toolkit to support and guide Talent Identification.

Talent Identification Toolkit



To meet criteria for portability, a student's body of evidence (BOE) must meet one of the following conditions:

I:  One (1) qualifying measure from each of the three (3) assessment categories below:  Performance Evaluation, Observation Scale, and Criterion- or Norm-referenced Test. 

II:  Two (2) or more indicators in the performance area along with an exceptional rating on an valid and reliable observation scale when criterion- or norm-referenced assessments are not available in the talent area and/or the student does not score at the 95th percentile or above on a cognitive assessment. 

In some cases, a norm-referenced scale may not provide an appropriate measure for certain talent domains.  An observation scale that has been developed through analysis and research of the discipline may be used to provide qualifying evidence for talent identification only.  Observation scales and performance evaluation scales should contain content and construct validity. 

A student does not need a qualifying cognitive score for identification in the talent aptitudes; however, a qualifying cognitive score meets the requirements for one of the three measures for identification.

Not meeting criteria on a single assessment tool shall not prevent further data collection or consideration for identification, if other indicators suggest exceptional potential as observed in a body of evidence. [12.02(2)(d)(ii)]


Identification in the area of psychomotor is designated for state- or national-level elite athletes who have received this ranking from the sport’s national governing body.  These athletes may require a gifted determination to address the interventions necessary as a result of the amount of time the student is out of school or to earn credits for specific courses.   

Districts are not required to provide or financially support athletic coaching, training, or competitions for students identified in this area outside the school setting. 

The body of evidence for psychomotor identification would include three of the following four indicators: 

  • 95th percentile or above on the Gifted Evaluation Scale (GES) or Gifted Rating Scales (GRS)  for Motivation;
  • Portfolio that chronicles the student’s exceptional performance;
  • Top state or national ranking as determined by the sport’s national governing body;
  • Student or team receiving a top placement or ranking in a multi-state or national competition. 

Specific Talent Aptitude Pathway

There are multiple pathways and a variety of measures that can lead to an identification in a specific talent aptitude.  It is important educators understand the unique and varied characteristics a student may demonstrate in the talent domains and the difference between a highly skilled student versus a student with gifted abilities.

It can often take several years to collect sufficient data to make a formal identification.  Students may be included in a talent pool to foster potential and ability over time.  The student may require further development to build a body of evidence that would support future identification. 

Three (3) measures of qualifying data are used to make a Specific Talent Aptitude identification. 


Talent Aptitudes

Performance Evaluation

Observation Scale Criterion- or Norm-referenced Test
  • State or national talent contest - top place or ranking
  • Expert juried performance (Advanced or Distinguished)
  • Portfolio Expert Review (Advanced or Distinguished)
  • 95th Percentile or above on a norm-referenced observation scale in creativity, leadership or motivation
  • Exceptional rating on an observation scale developed through analysis and research of the discipline
  • 95th Percentile or above on norm-referenced talent or creativity test
  • Advanced/95th Percent or above on an approved criterion-referenced talent assessment
  • 95th Percentile of above on one or more batteries on a cognitive assessment



Resources for Specific Talent Aptitude

Note: If you are not able to access the resources or need additional support, please contact the Office of Gifted Education Program Administrator.