Gifted and Talented

Challenging Higher Learners in an Equitable Environment

There are many research-based models for identifying and serving gifted students.  Valdez has chosen to implement and instruction model that aligns with our dual-language program. We are committed to equity within our identification process of GT students by offering various channels for a student to be identified. Our GT program advocates for the needs of every child, including the non-traditional GT student.  Most differentiation at Valdez takes place within the classroom.  A large number of students are provided with opportunities to participate in tiered lessons, compacted curriculum, flexible groupings and creative thinking strategies while a smaller number meets one on one with our GT teacher.

Based on our assessments and a body of evidence for each child, we provide our staff targeted development on best practices and instructional strategies.  Depending on our instructional objectives, we group students in similar-ability cluster groups at times and in different-ability flexible groups at times. This meets the needs of many gifted students.

The Bright Child vs. The Gifted Learner

Take time to read and understand the difference between a bright child and a gifted learn with this valuable comparison tool. Understanding the gifted learner helps meet the students needs in any environment.


GT and HGT

Denver Public Schools recognizes the difference between gifted and talented students (GT) and highly gifted and talented students (HGT). HGT students can be served here at Valdez or elect to go to magnet schools at the elementary and middle school levels. In order to be HGT identified, parents must choose to have their child tested with the CogAt or for Advanced Kindergarten. Here is a link for more information about the CogAt: .In the fall, flyers that announce this test are sent out to all families. If a family would like their child tested, they send the application to the GT department. The GT department reviews these applications. Then, the students are tested here at Valdez once they pass this screening process. There are other opportunities for your child to be tested with the CogAt at the GT district office during the year. The link to the DPS GT department is:


Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted learners (SENG)

What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well (NAGC)

A note from our GT Teacher:

My name is Kristen Heeres and I am the GT intinerant for Escuela Valdez.  Each day is a new adventure I anxiously await to take with each of the students here.  I am a very a passionate teacher who feels my main objective is to not only nurture the academic needs of the children I work with but also their social and emotional needs.  I am the mother to three beautiful and unique children.  My children teach me each day what a child yearns to know about the world and I am always learning with them.  I have been teaching for over 15 years in Denver Public Schools and my experiences as classroom teacher, specials teacher and more have paved the way to help me understand the needs of gifted learners in each classroom.  I want every child to be intrinsically motivated to learn and ignite their intellectual curiosity as a learner.  I want to share with you below some information about the programming here at Escuela Valdez.

The state defines “gifted and talented children” as persons ages five to twenty-one whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment are exceptional or developmentally advanced that they require special provisions to meet their educational programming needs.

Gifted students include gifted students with disabilities (i.e. twice-exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio-economic and ethnic, 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 ability
  • Creative or productive thinking
  • Leadership abilities
  • Visual arts, performing arts, musical or psychomotor abilities

Most important to understand is that gifted learners are NOT ALWAYS high achievers and high achievers are NOT ALWAYS gifted learners.  Identification takes place now over a period of time in which bodies of evidence are collected during your child’s academic journey, teacher and parent input is collected and individual observations and feedback are reviewed.  Please remember every child on earth has a gift to share with the world and we must celebrate all of their accomplishments and struggles to ensure they grow into happy, kind and productive adults who help our community grow.

Below you will find the steps to the identification process that all students must take and GT teachers need to document.  There will be times you will receive updated information about testing your child will or has taken with the district.  A child with magnet eligible note home will indicate your child is able to attend a HGT/GT magnet school in the district.  This eligibility will remain with the child eight years after the indication is noted.

Here are the steps:

Identification GraphCurrently at Valdez I continue to collect all area of evidence on every child and plan according to their individual needs.  There may be time you here I am working with your child but please understand that your child might not be designated HGT/GT at that time.  Bodies of evidence will be collected and I will keep you as informed as I can until designation is or is not reached.  Please understand that if your child is not designated it does not mean she or he is not a bright, intelligent magical being in our society.  In addition, students who work with me need to understand they are coming to me because their brain works a little differently than others in their class and they are not necessarily smarter or better than them in any way.  I am a vessel to guide deep thinking and outside the box learning for young children.

Please know my door is always open and I am happy to help with your child’s gifted needs in any way I can both at school and at home.  I will be holding bi-monthly meetings to discuss a variety of GT related topics.  I can be reached via email at