Gifted Program

The gifted and talented education program of the Fort Zumwalt School District is designed to meet the needs of academically gifted and talented students in grades K – 12. These students require services beyond those normally offered in the regular school program in order to more fully develop their abilities and to realize their contribution to self and society. Through participation in our program, students will be challenged through learning experiences geared to their level in small groups of peers, and guided by gifted learning specialists.


Mission Statement: The mission of the Fort Zumwalt Gifted Program is to create an environment in which each gifted child can reach his/her full potential.

Definition of Gifted: Students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual ability, academic achievement, and behavioral characteristics unique to gifted learners as evidenced by high performance on a standardized intelligence test, standardized achievements tests, and parent/teacher documentation including behavioral rating scales.  



Rationale for Gifted Program Curriculum



Gifted students are entitled to an education commensurate with their abilities and potential, as are all students. We believe it is critical for this segment of the population to be involved in a program designed to foster the unique academic talents of bright learners. Therefore, gifted students with advanced knowledge and unusual learning capacity are offered curriculum that is differentiated and matched to their unique learning characteristics.




Those characteristics include the capacity to handle content at an advanced level and pace, the ability to explore areas in significant depth, the tendency to ask and grapple with difficult questions, the potential to respond creatively, and the desire to use leadership abilities to make a difference in the world.




Curriculum for gifted students is specifically designed to challenge academically advanced learners and provide experiences that promote critical thinking and reasoning skills, creativity and divergent thinking, research and independent study skills, communication, and interpersonal and affective skills. While engaged in high quality gifted services, the students will have the opportunity to contribute to the strength and vitality of our schools, district and community.



Identification Process


Referral:  Students may be referred to the gifted program by a teacher, parent, or counselor. Students transferring in from another district do not automatically qualify for participation. All data used to determine eligibility must be equal to data gathered by the Fort Zumwalt School District and students must meet all FZSD criteria for placement in the program.



 Transfer Students: Any student entering the program must meet all requirements set by the district. Students moving into the district who have been in this type of program in the previous district do not automatically qualify for participation. All data used to determine eligibility must be equal to data gathered by the Fort Zumwalt School District for placement in the program.




Grades K-2:  The non-verbal ability test NNAT-2 is administered as a screening tool for students in grades K-2 who are referred each spring.  Students meeting the required 90th percentile or above on the NNAT-2 will then be given an individual intelligence test. 


Grades 3 & above: Referred students in 3rd grade and above are screened using their most recent achievement test scores. Requirements include at least two scores at the 95th percentile or above in total areas of Reading, Language, Math, or Composite on a standardized, nationally normed, group achievement test.  If such scores are not available, or if there is reason to believe the scores are not an accurate reflection of the student’s achievement, the NNAT-2 may be administered, with a required score at the 90th percentile or above. Students who meet the screening criteria will then be given an individual intelligence test.




Selection Criteria: Students are assigned points in a matrix, based on their performance on the following criteria:


  • General Mental Ability - Individual Intelligence Test – IQ Full Scale Score
  • Academic Achievement - Highest percentage in one area on recent standardized achievement test
  • Creativity & Divergent Thinking - Scores on elements of creativity and divergent thinking as assessed by both the parent and a teacher familiar with the student's performance
  • Documented Evidence of Gifted Behavior - Scores on checklists of gifted characteristics regarding planning, communication, motivation, and leadership skills



A minimum of 60 points is needed to qualify for placement in the gifted program. Placement in the program requires parent permission. Students not qualifying for placement may be re-screened/retested after 24 months, provided that the referral/screening criteria are met at that time. A student’s continued placement in the program is dependent upon his or her success in meeting the expectations of the program.



Program Structure 


Elementary: In JET, or Journeys into Expanded Thinking, students receive one full day of instruction per week. The program is a “pull-out” program whereby the students receive direct instruction in a small group setting from teachers trained to work with gifted students. Students are exempt from all regular class work on that day and are not required to make up assignments. The program is located at St. Peters Elementary and students are transported from their school of attendance to this location. 



Middle School: In GATE, or Gifted and Talented Education, middle school students have gifted education built into their schedules as a regular class.  Students at the sixth grade level receive instruction in the gifted education program daily instead of attending keyboarding class and an elective. Seventh and eighth grade students are offered GATE as an elective which meets every other day.  There is one gifted education facilitator at each middle school.



High School: Although currently there is no formal gifted program at the high school level, gifted students can continue their academic growth through advanced courses designed to challenge their thinking. Honors classes are offered for all levels and several Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available. Students at this level are self-advocates.  Bright students may take advantage of opportunities to work independently with a mentoring teacher in specific areas of interest.  High school counselors are available to meet with gifted students to ensure success in goal-setting, class selection, college and career planning, and social/affective issues such as leadership, stress management, and positive role models.


Program Goals 


Goals for Graduates


As a result of differentiated curriculum and personalized support, gifted students will have the opportunity to achieve district goals at the level commensurate with their talent.  They will be challenged to apply their knowledge and skills in complex and advanced ways as they continue to develop academically, emotionally, and socially.  Provided with the challenge and support that is needed, these students will be college and career ready, prepared to contribute in significant ways to the well-being of the broader community. 



Content Area Goals 

Students will:


  • acquire a solid foundation in the disciplines of communication arts, mathematics, science, and social studies;
  • operate at advanced levels within these disciplines;
  • apply knowledge of disciplines to produce work that reflects individuality and creativity and is advanced in relation to other students of similar age and experience.



Performance Area Goals 

Students will acquire the knowledge and skills in the areas of



  1. Critical Thinking and Reasoning -gather, analyze, and apply information and ideas, and recognize and solve problems. 


  1. Creativity and Divergent Thinking -think creatively and take academic risks. 


  1. Research -persevere in the search for advanced knowledge and evaluate in-depth sources. 


  1. Communication-communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom. 


  1. Interpersonal and Affective Skills-work collaboratively with others and demonstrate positive character qualities. 


  1. Organizational and Time Management-demonstrate task commitment and work steadily to achieve goals.






The six performance goals are further delineated in the following specific objectives.



GOAL 1:  Critical Thinking & Reasoning Skills

Obj.  1

Grasp complex or abstract ideas

Obj.  2

Use logical reasoning and problem-solving skills

Obj.  3

Apply learned knowledge to new situations and different contexts

Obj.  4

Analyze relationships; judge between choices; support decisions


GOAL 2:  Creativity & Divergent Thinking Skills

Obj.  1

Generate a large quantity and wide variety of possibilities and responses.

Obj.  2

Design unique products; create innovative solutions

Obj.  3

Develop original ideas; elaborate and expand beyond the basic or obvious

Obj.  4

Show willingness to try new experiences and take risks


 GOAL 3:  Research Skills

Obj.  1

Persevere in the search for advanced knowledge beyond first or basic answer

Obj.  2

Compile and evaluate in-depth material from a variety of valid sources

Obj.  3

Demonstrate proficiency in using technology to obtain/relay information 


GOAL 4:  Communication Skills

Obj.  1

Effectively communicate ideas and experiences through written formats

Obj.  2

Effectively communicate ideas and experiences orally

Obj.  3

Produce high-quality presentations that demonstrate accuracy and clarity


GOAL 5:  Interpersonal and Affective Skills

Obj.  1

Demonstrate self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses; exercise personal responsibility; accept constructive criticism

Obj.  2

Listen effectively to others; respect and appreciate a variety of perspectives

Obj.  3

Contribute to and function effectively in a cooperative setting

Obj.  4

Demonstrate positive character qualities such as self-control, leadership and empathy


GOAL 6:  Organizational & Time Management Skills

Obj. 1

Organize ideas and materials

Obj. 2

Demonstrate task commitment; work steadily to achieve goals on time

Obj. 3

Follow through to completion; provide full and complete products





In order to ensure that students are continuing to develop these skills in an ongoing manner throughout their involvement in the program, general benchmark levels have been determined as explained below.  Students are introduced to all key areas in the primary grades and continue to grow and mature in their application of those skills throughout their involvement in the gifted program.  The progression of these performance skills is as follows:


Primary Grades (K-2)  BEGINNING

Students are introduced to the skill areas and begin to apply the strategies.


Intermediate Grades (3-5)  DEVELOPING AND EXPANDING

Students will progress in their development of the skills and show an expanded ability to utilize them.



Students further build their capacity to apply the skills and refine the techniques and methods they have learned.



Students mature in their abilities and display a high level of competence and expertise in the skill areas.


Rather than quantifying the individual components of the key areas, students at all levels can be instructed and challenged in all of the areas, in an increasingly complex manner, and in accordance with their age and development, rather than having to wait until a higher grade level to be introduced to some of the important skills of the six key areas. 


Our Staff


Jennifer Waters, Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction     636.542.7999


Jeaninne Olive, grades 1 and 2       [email protected]

Karen Battle, grades 2 and 3          [email protected]

Sara Place, grades 3 and 4            [email protected]

Jeanette Kell, grades 4 and 5          [email protected]

Mary Palisch, grade 5                    [email protected]

Donna Marx, DuBray Middle           [email protected]

Diane Kleeschulte, North MIddle     [email protected]

Vickie Pursifull, South Middle         [email protected]

Andrea Wurm, West Middle           [email protected]


For questions regarding our Advanced Placement classes, please contact your student's high school guidance office.



Gate Brochure                                                                     JET Brochure