Accelerated Programs and Gifted Education

  • Dr. Keena Ryals-Jenkins Director

    Description of Program

    Gifted education programs provide academic challenges by extending GCPS’ AKS. The gifted program is called FOCUS at the elementary school level, PROBE at the middle school level, and is referred to as gifted education and QUEST in high school. Students participating in the program in grades K-5 may receive instruction in resource, cluster and/or advanced content classes. Middle and high school students receive instruction in advance-content classes. Students are identified and placed in gifted education based on criteria established by the Georgia General Assembly and the Georgia Board of Education. Students who transfer from gifted education programs within the state will be placed into the Gwinnett program, providing the original placement was completed correctly. Students who transfer from out of state must meet Georgia requirements. Parents should notify the school of their interest in the gifted education program at the time of registration. The gifted program teacher at the local school will review the student’s educational records and discuss the records with the parents. For more information, contact the local school or call the Gifted Program office at (678) 301-7020.

    The gifted education program stresses five areas: 

    1. AKS extensions 
    2. advanced content
    3. research and reference skills 
    4. communication skills 
    5. metacognition/cognitive strategy development

    Fundamental to GCPS’ curriculum for gifted students are learning experiences that develop the use of thinking strategies and processes. Instruction that develops thinking strategies enables students to make informed decisions, to understand and apply concepts, to make reasonable judgments and to define, create and implement problem solving skills.



    Rules and regulations dealing with assessment are approved by the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education. These rules and regulations, called "due process," have been established for the protection and privacy of individuals.

    There are three steps in the process of identifying and placing gifted students: referral, evaluation and eligibility.


    The referral process is the first step for entrance into the gifted program. A referral may come from teachers, parents, peers, or as the result of system-wide testing scores. Referrals are reviewed by each school's local gifted referral team. This team determines which students will be evaluated for gifted education placement.


    Following parental consent, the local school evaluates the student's mental ability, achievement, creativity and motivation through the use of nationally normed group tests, performance assessments, and survey checklists.


    An eligibility team composed of at least three people (a local school administrator, a teacher, a counselor and/or the gifted program teacher) reviews the evaluation information about the referred student. The team follows guidelines set by the State Department of Education when making a decision about the student's placement in the gifted program. The local school notifies parents as to the team's decision.

    A student must qualify in the following areas to be placed in the gifted program:

    • Mental Ability 96th %ile
    • Achievement 90th %ile
    • Creativity    90th %ile or 90%
    • Motivation 90% (K-5) / 92% (6-12)

    Gifted education students are responsible for mastery of GCPS’ Academic Knowledge and Skills. However, due to the unique nature of the elementary gifted resource program and the additional workload the students are expected to carry, they will, in most cases, be excused from daily and related homework assignments given while attending classes.


    Delivery of Program

    Elementary School (FOCUS)

    At the elementary school level, the gifted program offers extensions of the AKS through academic expansion in a variety of settings. The leadership team at the local school determines which setting is appropriate for the school’s student population. Elementary gifted education program settings include resource, magnetism, advanced content, and/or cluster classes. A complete listing of curriculum topics is available through local school gifted education programs.

    Middle School Program (PROBE)

    Gifted education classes are offered in advanced and enriched academic courses through extension of the AKS. Students may take PROBE classes in mathematics, science, social studies and language arts. Classes lay the foundation for students who seek a rigorous course of study at the high school level. Students are selected for the classes based on their areas of strength and advancement.

    High School (QUEST)

    Content Classes

    Gifted Education classes are available (9-12) in math, science, social studies, language arts and foreign language classes. Students receive credit for the gifted education courses on their high school transcripts. 

    Advanced Placement

    Advanced Placement (AP) classes are offered in a variety of content areas. AP is a course of study designed by College Board. The course content is equivalent to that found in freshman and sophomore level college courses. Students take the Advanced Placement exam at the end of the course. Depending on the score received, the student may be able to transfer the AP class for credit to the college(s) he plans to enter following high school graduation. 

    Directed Studies

    Gifted students can participate in directed studies which are designed for students who would like to do research in a specific content area as an elective. A contract is developed for the research work under the supervision of the local school's gifted program teacher.


    The QUEST gifted internship program enables gifted high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to spend a portion of the school day with a mentor in the community for an in-depth career exploration. Students gain specific knowledge of careers while developing maturity, leadership, sensitivity, and self-awareness. Community members interested in learning more about the program should contact the Accelerated Programs & Gifted Education Department.

    Dual Enrollment

    Students in Gwinnett County Public Schools have the opportunity for dual enrollment in post secondary institutions. Although these programs are not under the gifted education department many gifted students are interested in these options. Dual Enrollment offers the opportunity for students to take courses at local technical schools, junior colleges, colleges and universities while still being enrolled in courses at their high school. Students earn credit for both college and high school. 

    International Baccalaureate

    The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is currently offered at Norcross High School and Shiloh High School. IB is a comprehensive and rigorous two-year curriculum, leading to examinations. Although the IB program is not directly part of the gifted education department many gifted students participate in the program and pursue an IB diploma. Successful IB program students earn the International Baccalaureate Diploma/Certificate. The program is designed for highly motivated, honors level students. Strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship. The balanced, but challenging curriculum has been accepted for forty years by over 800 participating schools in 80 countries around the world. Most colleges and universities accept IB credit for placement into the sophomore year upon entrance into college.

    Extracurricular Offerings

    Competitive events for gifted education students are selected at the local school level. Gwinnett's students may participate in Future Problem Solving, Odyssey of the Mind, Destination ImagiNation, National Academic League, Scholar's Bowl, Debate and The Governor's Honors Program.

  • Dr. Keena Ryals-Jenkins, Director
    Dr. Keena Ryals-Jenkins, Director