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Gifted Education Terms and Definitions

gifted students working together


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A Glossary of Common Terms and Definitions for Gifted Education

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Above Level Assessment

Assessment that measures performance above the grade level of the student’s age peers, addressing the instructional level or coursework (knowledge, skills, application) of the individual student.  May also be referred to as an "off-level assessment."

Academic Aptitude

Exceptional capability or potential in an academic content area(s) (e.g., a strong knowledge base or the ability to ask insightful, pertinent questions within the discipline, etc.).

View more information about academic aptitude


Moving through a curriculum at a faster pace.  A student may be “content accelerated” meaning he/she receives instruction in a specific content area, such as math, above his/her chronological grade-level placement.  In rare cases, a highly gifted student may be “grade-level” accelerated meaning he/she skips a grade.  Early access into kindergarten or first grade is a form of acceleration.  See, "telescoping" for an additional acceleration strategy. 

Achievement Test

A standardized assessment designed to measure how well a student can demonstrate knowledge of a specific skill or within a particular content area.

Administrative Unit (AU)

A school district, consortium of school districts, board of cooperative educational services (BOCES), or the Charter School Institute that administers gifted and special education in Colorado.

Locate AU Gifted Program Plans

Advanced Learning Plan (ALP)

Legal plan for an identified gifted student; must adhere to ECEA Rules and be aligned to standards.  The ALP is updated annually with parent and student input.

View more information about ALP

Affective Development

Pertains to the social and emotional (psychosocial) development and competencies of gifted students to include:  personal, social, communication, leadership and cultural competencies.  Students have an annual affective goal aligned to one of the competencies or post-secondary readiness.

View more information about Affective Development


To excel in performance in a specific area.


Communication that occurs as students move or transition through the school system, grade by grade and school level to school level.


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.

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Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES)

A cooperative formed by school districts to pool funding and personnel for various educational services. Typical services include special education, gifted education, library/online resources, and professional development.

Body of Evidence (BOE)

Qualitative and quantitative data from a variety of sources that helps identify a gifted student and/or monitor learning and growth.

View more information about BOE

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Cluster grouping

Assigning multiple gifted students to a specific class within their grade-level. 

Cognitive Assessment

An assessment that measures a student’s ability to think, reason, and solve problems.

Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented (CAGT)

State affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).

Visit CAGT website

Commensurate Growth

The academic and affective progress that can be measured and should be expected of a gifted student given the student’s level of achievement, learning needs, and abilities matched with the appropriate instructional level.


Shortens or eliminates work the student already knows.  Replacement assignments enable a more challenging or productive use of a student’s time.

Colorado Academic Standards (CAS)

The Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) include 10 content areas for preschool through 12th grade (comprehensive health; dance; drama and theater arts; mathematics; music; physical education; reading, writing and communicating; science; social studies; visual arts; and world languages) and incorporate the Common Core State Standards for reading, writing and communicating and mathematics.

View Office of Standards and Instructional Support website

Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)

CMAS is the state assessment program.

View Assessment Unit website

Comprehensive Program Plan (CPP)

The CPP is a description of the administrative unit’s gifted program that meets the requirements in the Rules for Administration of the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA) and sets targets for program improvement as needed.

View AU CPPs

Concurrent Enrollment

Provision of the Colorado Revised Statutes that allows districts to enter into an agreement with a college or university and pay for the tuition of high school students that take college classes; students earn college credit.

View more information about Concurrent Enrollment

Criterion-referenced Assessment

An assessment that measures a student’s mastery of specific content or skills. The assessment does not compare the student to other students.  An example is a math test at the end of a unit or semester.

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Adapting the pace, level, or kind of instructional curriculum to meet each student’s individual learning needs, styles, readiness, or interests.  Learning opportunities are differentiated by content (what is being taught), process (how content is taught), process (how learning is demonstrated), and/or environment (where learning takes place). 

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Early Access

Provision of the Colorado Revised Statutes allows AUs to admit highly gifted 4- and 5-year-olds into kindergarten or first grade if they meet specific requirements defined in ECEA Rules. AUs who have an approved Early Access Plan with CDE will receive the full amount of per-pupil funding for early access students.

View more information about Early Access

Early Entrance

A district or school may choose to allow a student to begin kindergarten or first grade early.  Early Entrance does not meet the provisions for state pupil funding as per the Early Access law and the student does not need to meet the gifted early access identification requirements for early entrance.

Education Data Advisory Council (EDAC)

EDAC is a CDE committee comprised of data and research personnel that approves survey, questionnaire and other data-related documents and activities between CDE and districts.


Components defined in ECEA Rule.  The AU’s comprehensive program plan describes implementation of ECEA elements.

View more information about elements

English learners or English Language Learners (EL or ELL).

Those who learn English as a second language (ESL).

View Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education website


Going broader into a topic of study; representing a topic as thematic or multi-disciplinary; enhancing grade-level content standards to show relevance and application of skills and knowledge.  Enrichment is an instructional strategy appropriate for all students. 

End of Year (EOY)

The end of the year report submitted to CDE on or before September 30 for the prior fiscal year 

Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA)

Colorado law that mandates appropriate education for exceptional students (i.e., those with disabilities and those who are gifted); the State Board of Education adopts Rules that guide administrative units on how the law is to be administered.

View ECEA Rules


Going deeper into the content; extending the curriculum beyond what is typical or expected in a class or in a grade-level; acquiring new ideas, skills or concepts aligned to the content area.  Extension is an instructional strategy appropriate for advanced students ready to move beyond grade-level expectations.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA is the federal law pertaining to elementary and secondary education. ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind legislation. ESSA includes provisions for gifted education and consideration of gifted student needs in use of federal funds.

View more information about ESSA in Colorado

Exceptional Student Services Unit (ESSU)

ESSU at CDE contains the Offices of Gifted Education, Office of Special Education, and Office of Facility Schools.

View ESSU website

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Fiscal Year (FY)

Fiscal Year  (FY25 = July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025; budgets are reported by fiscal year expenditures as is the end-of-year report data)

Flexible grouping

Grouping students for an assignment, unit, or project based on interest or readiness.  Groups are fluid and change as new curriculum is taught. 


Gifted education Forum consists of AU directors or coordinators that represent their region of the state, as well as GERCs; Forum meets in person or via conference call several times a year to promote two-way communication about initiatives in the field and to provide feedback on regional gifted education challenges and celebrations.

View more information about Forum

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General/Specific Intellectual Ability

Exceptional capability or potential recognized through cognitive processes (e.g., memory, reasoning, rate of learning, spatial reasoning, ability to find and solve problems, ability to manipulate abstract ideas and make connections, etc.).

View more information about intellectual ability

Gifted Child

The Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA) defines "gifted" children as:

Those persons between the ages of four and twenty-one whose aptitude or competence in abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment in one or more domains are so exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs. Gifted children are hereafter referred to as gifted students. Children under five who are gifted may also be provided with early childhood special educational services. Gifted students include gifted students with disabilities (i.e. twice exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural populations. Gifted students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas of giftedness:

  • General or specific intellectual ability
  • Specific academic aptitude
  • Creative or productive thinking
  • Leadership abilities
  • Visual arts, performing arts, musical or psychomotor abilities 12.01(16)

Gifted Education Monitoring (GEM)

The collaborative process between an AU and CDE to monitor implementation of the AU’s Comprehensive Program Plan and key requirements of ECEA.

View more information about GEM

Gifted Education Regional Consultant (GERC)

GERCs serve each of the designated Colorado regions (10) by supporting administrative units, providing professional development, and facilitating network meetings.

View more information about GERCs

Gifted Education State Advisory Committee (GE-SAC)

GE-SAC reports to the State Board of Education; GE-SAC explores questions about gifted education, gathers data from stakeholders in each congressional district, and reports back to constituents.

View more information about GE-SAC

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Higher Level Learning

Asking students to use a higher-level of thinking, reasoning, and/or problem solving.  Moving students from just knowing or comprehending facts, to a level of application or evaluation of information.  Increasing the depth and complexity of learning.

Highly Advanced Gifted Child

A gifted child whose body of evidence demonstrates a profile of exceptional ability or potential compared to same-age gifted children. To meet the needs of highly advanced development, early access to educational services may be considered as a special provision. For purposes of early access into kindergarten or first grade, the highly advanced gifted child exhibits exceptional ability and potential for accomplishment in cognitive process and academic areas.

View more information about Early Access

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Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP)

ICAP is an individualized plan developed by the students and parent or guardian in collaboration with school counselors that is used to establish and monitor academic and career goals, including postsecondary education; required of every Colorado high school student; may be combined with the ALP.

View more information about ICAP

Identification (ID)

Processes and procedures used to formally identify a student as gifted according to the state definition. 

View more information about gifted identification

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Judge (Adjudicator)

A performance assessment is evaluated by an expert, often referred to as an adjudicator or judge.  A juried or adjudicated performance means bringing together experts in the field to evaluate a student’s portfolio, resume, or presentation.  Data from a performance assessment are used as qualifying data for a gifted identification.

View more information about Body of Evidence

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Kingore Obervation Inventory (KOI)

The Kingore Observation Inventory is for observing gifted behaviors in K-8 students Return to top


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Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

MTSS is a prevention-based framework of team-driven data-based problem solving for improving the outcomes of every student through family, school, and community partnering and layered continuum of evidence-based practices applied at the classroom, school, district, region, and state level.

View more information about MTSS

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National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

NAGC is a non-profit organization of parents, teachers, educators, other professionals and community leaders who unite to address the unique needs of children and youth with demonstrated gifts and talents as well as those children who may be able to develop their talent potential with appropriate educational experiences.

Access the NAGC website


A regional group of AUs that are served by a GERC; networks meet periodically throughout the year for technical assistance and professional development.

View more information about GERCs


Norm-referenced Assessment

An assessment that compares a student’s results to a large group of similar students (referred to a “norming group”).

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A combination of thoughts and behaviors generally associated with high standards or expectations for one’s own performance.  Can lead to positive or negative results in gifted children.

Performance Assessment

An assessment based on observation and judgment. It has two parts: the task and the criteria for judging quality. Students complete a task, and the task is evaluated by judging the level of quality using a rubric.

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). 

PBIS is the behavioral component of MTSS.

View more information about PBIS

Progress Monitoring

Practices and tools utilized to assess a student’s ongoing performance on academic and affective goals.

Pull-out programs

A specific delivery of instruction where a student leaves his/her regular classroom setting to attend a specialized class typically taught by a resource teacher. 

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Qualified Personnel

A licensed educator with an endorsement or higher degree in gifted education.  CDE has three types of licensing for gifted educators: Core Endorsement, Specialist, and Director.  AUs are encouraged to hire qualified personnel to administer their gifted programs.  The position is partially funded through an annual gifted grant (USQP).

View more information about Qualified Personnel

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Response to Intervention (RtI)

RtI is a framework that promotes a well-integrated system connecting general, compensatory, gifted, and special education in providing high quality, standards-based instruction and intervention that is matched to students' academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs.


A rubric is a research-based chart that defines criteria for evaluation and provides levels of attainment.


Colorado Rules for the Administration of the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA) are regulations of law promulgated by the State Board of Education. Rules guide minimum expectations for implementing gifted education programs.

View ECEA Rules

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Academic and affective ALP goals must be: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

View more information about ALP

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Talent Areas

Gifted education in Colorado considers the “talent” areas as:  performing arts, visual arts, music, dance, creativity, and leadership.

View more information about Talent Aptitudes


A type of acceleration where students complete specific content or a class in a faster amount of time compared to classmates, allowing them more time for advanced studies. 

Twice Exceptional (2e)

2e is a gifted student who also has an IEP or 504.

View more information about 2e

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School performance that falls short of a student’s potential and/or ability. 

Unified Improvement Plan (UIP)

Plan and process developed by CDE to support schools and districts in managing both state and federal accountability requirements.  The district UIP include analysis of gifted student achievement and/or growth data and establishes a target and action plan for gifted students’ continuous improvement.  The UIP fulfills the obligations for accountability as defined within the Exceptional Children Education Act (ECEA) for the Gifted Education Annual Plan

View more information about UIP for Gifted Education

Universal Screening

The systematic assessment of all students at a grade level for the purpose of identifying exceptional ability or potential, especially in underrepresented populations; partially funded through an annual grant.  Universal screening is a practice that promotes more equitable identification of all student groups. 

Universal Screening Qualified Personnel (USQP) Grant

The USQP grant is available to each administrative unit as supplemental funds to: 1) hire up to .5 full-time employee of a qualified person in gifted education; and, 2) purchase screening exams for students at the K-2 level and/or middle school level. 

View more information about the USQP Grant

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