Tinton Falls School District

Gifted and Talented Programs

Grades K-8

The gifted and talented programs in Tinton Falls Public Schools are designed for those students who, when compared to their chronological peers, possess or demonstrate exceptionally high levels of ability in one or more content areas. The programs provide additional and appropriate educational challenges and opportunities to meet the needs of these students. The curricula for the various G&T programs are created by the G&T teachers, designed to provide appropriate challenge to intellectually and academically advanced learners, and approved by the Board of Education.


               We believe that all children come to us with unique gifts and talents. Their talents are recognized, cultivated and encouraged. Gifted and talented children are those that by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of exceptional performance. These students require extended educational planning, accommodations and services in order to assist in meeting those needs by realizing their potential contributions to self and society.



Because gifted children are so diverse, not all exhibit all characteristics all of the time. However, there are common characteristics that many gifted individuals share:

Reproduced by permission from: Webb, J., Gore, J., Amend, E., DeVries, A. (2007). A parent's guide to gifted children.Tucson, AZ:  Great Potential Press, www.greatpotentialpress.com.


Goal 1:  Students will engage in activities which provide concept enrichment while developing and improving complex, cognitive skills.

Goal 2:  Students will participate in activities designed to stimulate and improve the expression of creative thinking abilities.

Goal 3:  Students will participate in activities which will develop self-directed learning skills and the likelihood of academic success and personal satisfaction.

Goal 4:  Students will interact with one another and participate in activities designed to promote self-awareness and acceptance, interpersonal relationships and realistic recognition of abilities. 


The following programs are available to students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade as indicated:

Classroom Differentiation

Throughout kindergarten through eighth grades differentiated instruction exists in the regular classrooms. Differentiated instruction includes, but not limited to, varied instructional time, modification in assignments and materials, alternative forms of assessment, various grouping strategies, small group and independent work. Such strategies are to be utilized with all students formally and informally identified as needing modification in curriculum, instruction or assessment to meet their needs.

In-Class Enrichment (I.C.E): Grades K-3

In-Class Enrichment focuses on enriching the classroom curriculum while giving students the opportunity to make connections to real world situations. This course is offered as a trimester program enriching learning throughout the classroom. Topics focus on Literacy and Science Technology Engineering and Math subject.

        Specialty Groups: Grades 1 and 2:

Students in grades 1 and 2 participate in different enrichment opportunities. These specialty groups focus on advanced concepts in literacy and mathematics. Content is related to grand themes, abstract concepts, and real issues and includes the integration of multiple disciplines. Students are pulled out of their regular English language arts class or mathematics for additional content-specific enrichment once per week. First and second grade students are selected to participate by the classroom teacher and the gifted and talented teacher based on observation and student classroom performance.  Second grade students meet for the full year, where first grade students meet for the second half of the school year.

Enrichment Clusters (EC²): Grades 3-5

Students identified by the district as intellectually gifted, require educational programs that work to explore and attain their potential. This program allows students to be challenged in the use of critical thinking skills, investigation and problem solving. Entrance into the program consists of meeting a variety of criteria and selection is based on a selection committee.  This class meets for one school period, twice a week for one year in grades 3, 4, and 5. Content is related to grand themes, abstract concepts, and real issues and includes the integration of multiple disciplines and cross curricular connections. The curricula covered in EC2 is separate and apart from the regular education curricula offered by the district. Overarching themes of cluster topics include:

Cluster 1

Cluster 2

Cluster 3

Grade 3

Statistics and Probability

Legal System-Mini Court

Mindstorms/Lego Robotics

Grade 4

Computer science and coding

Graphic Novel Design


Grade 5

STEM Geometry and Rubik’s Cube

Stop Motion Animation

Forensic Science

Detailed goals, objectives and requirements of each cluster will be shared with parents and students in the GATE program.

Competition Connection: Grades 4-5

 Periodically throughout the year, fourth and fifth grade identified GATE students will have the opportunity to participate in competitions. These competitions will extend their thinking. The competitions will be held during the school day and participation in the competitions is based on student interest. Currently, competitions in the area of Math. Notices and sign-up times will be advertised to the students and the parents when the competitions will take place.

Advanced Math Program: Grades 6-8

Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students involved in advanced math will move at an accelerated pace in an effort to concentrate student's ability and talent in the discipline of mathematics.  The design of the program is exemplified by discovery learning, looking for underlying principles, problem solving, discovering formulas, investigating patterns and organizing data to find relationships. Students course work is accelerated and is as follows:

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

Grade 6 and 7 Mathematics

Grade 8 Mathematics

Algebra 1

         Advanced Language Arts Literacy Program: Grades 6-8

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students involved in advanced English Language Arts will move at an accelerated pace and increase the depth/breadth of the curriculum in an effort to concentrate student's ability and talent in the discipline of English Language Arts.



Phase I: Nomination Procedures


              The first phase in the identification of the gifted and talented population is screening of candidates. During the screening process names of potential program participants are compiled from a variety of sources. It is essential that inclusive screening procedures be established to avoid screening out potential candidates.

              Students may be nominated throughout the year by an administrator, teacher, or parent. Nominations will be solicited in the fall and in the spring.


Classroom Teacher Nominations

One of the easiest ways to obtain an initial list of prospective candidates is through teacher nomination. A letter is sent to each classroom teacher in May and in September detailing the categories of giftedness and requesting nominations for his/her classroom. Accompanying the form is list of characteristics, including negative characteristics, of gifted children to aid in the nomination process.


Parent Nomination

Parents are also invited to nominate their child(ren) for screening. Information is sent out through communication in the spring.


Participation in Other Gifted and Talented Programs

Students entering the school district who have participated in Gifted and Talented programs in other districts will be screened for participation in the Tinton Falls G.A.T.E. program. Entrance is contingent upon students meeting the ascribed criteria.

Parents who do not wish that their child be screened must send a note to the G.A.T.E. teacher.

Phase II: Identification Process

Grades K:

Students in grade K who demonstrate higher level thinking skills and are reading above level, are identified for additional differentiation programs within the classroom environment. This varies based on student need.

Grades 1-2:

 First and second grade students are selected to participate by the classroom teacher and the gifted and talented teacher based on observation and student classroom performance and DRA reading level for reading program.  Parents are notified of student participation.

Grades 3-5


              Parents of potential candidates are notified in writing that their child(ren) is/are being evaluated for participation in the G.A.T.E program.  At that time parents will also receive program information outlining program goals, activities and procedures.


Gifted and Talented Evaluation Scales (GATES)

              Teachers are notified as to which students in their classes have been selected for further consideration and are asked to complete and return a rating scale of learning characteristics for each student (GATES). The GATES provides a rating scale that identifies intellectual ability, academic ability, and creativity.  This is a norm-referenced rating procedure that helps identify gifted and talented students. Reliability and validity rating are strong and support the use as a diagnostic instrument.


Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary and Middle School Students (SAGES-2):

              The SAGES-2 is a norm-referenced group administered instrument used to identify students ages 5 to 14 who are potentially gifted in academics (achievement) and reasoning (aptitude).  

DRA (incoming third and fourth graders only):

The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) is a standardized reading test used to determine a student’s instructional level in reading. The DRA is administered individually to students by teachers and/or reading specialists. Students read a selection (or selections) and then retell what they have read to the examiner. As the levels increase, so does the difficulty level for each selection.

Grades 6-8


              At the end of Grade 5, selected grade 5 students are nominated to take a placement test in the area of Mathematics and English Language Arts Literacy.  Parents may also nominate their child to take the advanced test. Student readiness and grades are assessed for the initial nomination. Multiple measures including grade average, common assessment average, and   are used for identification in the advanced ELA or mathematics program.


Phase III: Selection Procedures


Grade 3-5:


Students are selected for the GATE EC2 program using test scores from the following:

Top 8-10% of the students at the grade level are accepted into the program following the specific criteria.



Grades 6-8:


Students are selected for Advanced English Language Arts and Mathematics through the use of multiple criteria.  Include grade point average, common assessment average, Lexile Level, and score on the advanced placement test.

Top 6-8% are included in the English Language Arts Advanced Class

Top 18-20% are selected for the Mathematics Advanced Class

Phase IV: Notification


Grades 1-2

              Parents are notified at the beginning of the school year and throughout the school year by the classroom if they are identified for a specialty group in the area of Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics.


Grades 3-5

              Parents, teachers and students are notified of student acceptance for the school year by mid-September. Notification is also sent to teachers and parents of students not selected for the program.

Grades 6-8

              Parents and students are notified in June of acceptance into the Advanced Classes.

Student Evaluation  

Student Evaluation (Grades 3-5):

 Students are evaluated through a report card at the end of each cluster. Parents will receive notification of performance, along with a narrative component

Student Evaluation (Grades 6-8):

Students will be provided with grades throughout the course work and are provided a grade on report card at the end of each trimester.

Phase V: Re-evaluation and appeals


Grades 3-5: Re-evaluation


              Participants are routinely screened each year.  The screening is generally informal consisting of achievement test data, student work, and teacher input.  Participation of a student whose success in the program is marginal or whose achievement declines, may be formally re-evaluated for G.A.T.E. participation.  Parents will be notified in advance of possible problems and will be invited to a conference to discuss the student's’ progress and achievements.


These programs are pull-out programs. Students in any G&T program are expected to maintain high quality performance in the G&T program(s) and to show sustained motivation for learning. Furthermore, students must demonstrate higher order thinking skills, task commitment, intellectual independence, responsibility for learning, and cooperation with peers to remain in the G&T program(s). In addition, participants in the G&T programs are responsible for regular class work which they miss as a result of their attendance at pull-out classes for the G&T program, as well as for maintaining excellence in the regular classroom as evidence that their grade-level curricula achievement is not suffering as a result of participation in any G&T program.

Grade 6-8: Re-evaluation:


        Students must maintain an 88 average in the advanced classes in order to continue in the advanced program.


Grades 3-5: Appeals Procedure


              An appeals procedure may be initiated through the building principal by any parent or teacher who disagrees with the selection decision.  The principal may then initiate the appeals procedure (if he/she sees a need).


Grades 6-8: Appeals Procedure


              An appeal may be initiated by any parent or teacher who disagrees with the decision through the building principal. The building principal will re-evaluate the student’s test scores.


 Program Evaluation

              Support and enthusiasm for gifted and talented programs are essential to an effective program. Parents and students report the development and stimulation of new interest and ideas from program activities.  Student and parent surveys and questionnaires will provide an indication of the programs strengths.  The student evaluation instrument will be administered at the end of each strand and the data will be compiled to assess student success.  The parent survey will be administered at the end of the year.  The data will be compiled and reported to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.