Gifted and Talented Programming

Through the use of the Ohio’s Learning Standards, gifted programming is focused on evidence-based practices which increase the rigor of instruction, strengthen cognitive abilities, increase creativity, and foster the affective development of gifted learners. Emphasis is placed on enhancing interpersonal and technical communication in the 21st century in order for our gifted youth to realize their potential.

The SWCSD Gifted and Talented Department is dedicated to providing services for our gifted youth in grades 3 through 8. Students who meet gifted identification criteria set forth by the state of Ohio and meet the requirements set by our district will qualify for specialized programming. Qualifying students in grades 3 and 4 participate in a one day per week pull out Enrichment Program with a Gifted Intervention Specialist. Intermediate students in grades 5 and 6 who qualify for service participate in our Gifted Cluster Program. Students identified in reading receive services from a gifted specialist in the regular classroom 5 days per week. Students identified in math receive services in an accelerated math program. Middle school gifted students have opportunities to work at faster paces and with higher level content through specialized courses in the Accelerated Studies Programs. Click here to learn more about South-Western’s specific grade level services and qualifying information.

Executive Director 
Cheryl Spain, Ph.D. 
Executive Director of Middle Grades, Gifted and Testing 

Gifted Coordinators
Cheri Turner 614-801-3076
Stefanie Hall 614-801-3078

Gifted Intervention Specialists 
Diane Kowalke, Elementary Enrichment
Julie Spencer, Elementary Enrichment
Helen Cosner, Franklin Woods Intermediate & Park Street Intermediate
Sarah Rokoff, Galloway Ridge Intermediate
Melissa Ewing, Hayes Intermediate
Ami Homman
, Hayes Intermediate
Heather Cachat, Holt Crossing Intermediate
Jennie Joseph, Park Street Intermediate


Identification of Children Who Are Gifted 

Students may be identified as gifted in one or more of the following areas: Superior Cognitive Ability, Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Creative Thinking Ability, and the Visual and Performing Arts. Section 3324.03 of the Ohio Revised Code defines a child who is gifted as one who performs or shows potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to others of their age, experience or environment.

Students who do not meet the state gifted criteria but score within the district-established screening range are believed statistically to have a potential for scoring at the state required identification level and therefore are eligible for a second opportunity to test for gifted identification. After each whole-grade level testing opportunity (currently 2nd, 4th and 6th grades), gifted staff identify students in this range and seek permission from parents/guardians to further assess the student.

State of Ohio Identification Criteria 

Superior Cognitive Ability

A student shall be identified as exhibiting "superior cognitive ability" if the student did any one of the following within the preceding twenty-four months:

  1. Scored at least two standard deviations above the mean, minus the standard error of measurement, on an approved standardized group intelligence test (i.e. CogAT 128 or higher);
  2. Performed at or above the ninety-fifth percentile on an approved individual or group standardized basic or composite battery of a nationally normed achievement test or;
  3. Attained an approved score on one or more approved above grade-level standardized, nationally normed tests.

Specific Academic Ability

A student shall be identified as exhibiting “specific academic ability” if, within the preceding twenty-four months, the student:

  1. Scored at or above the 95th percentile at the national level on an approved individual or group standardized achievement test (i.e. IOWA, Stanford) of specific academic ability in that field, including Reading, Mathematics, Science, and/or Social Studies. A student may be identified as gifted in more than one specific academic field.
  2. Attained an approved score on one or more above grade-level standardized, nationally normed approved tests.
*The American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) have been approved for use in the identification of gifted students in select grade levels.

Creative Thinking Abilities

Identification for Creative Thinking Ability involves a two-pronged process because the student is evaluated for cognitive abilities and for creative characteristics. Evaluations of this kind can occur in conjunction with the referral/screening process for Superior Cognitive Abilities.

A student shall be identified gifted in the area of “creative thinking ability” if, within the previous twenty-four months, the students:

  1. Scored at or above one standard deviation above the mean, minus the standard error of measurement, on an approved individual or group intelligence test administered

AND did either one of the following:
  • Attained a sufficient score, as established by the department of education, on an approved individual or group test of creative ability; OR 
  • Exhibited sufficient performance, as established by the department of education, on an approved checklist of creative behaviors. 
Visual and Performing Arts Ability

A student shall be identified as exhibiting “visual or performing arts ability” superior to that of children of similar age if the student has done BOTH of the following:

  1. Demonstrated to a trained through a display of work, an audition, or other performance or exhibition, a superior ability in a visual or performing arts area; AND 
  2. Exhibited sufficient performance, as established by the Department of Education, on an approved checklist of behaviors related to a specific arts area. 
Screening and Identification Process Overview 

The screening and identification process for identifying students gifted in the visual arts includes the following components:

a. Nomination of the student for screening/assessment

Click HERE for Visual/Performing Arts Nomination Form

b. Evaluation of the student using an approved behavioral checklist

c. An evaluation of the student’s display of work/portfolio/performance using an approved scoring rubric completed by professionals in the field.

Gifted Services and Programming 

The Ohio Department of Education has published Operating Standards that districts must follow when identifying and designing services for gifted students. While gifted identification is required by law, gifted services are not mandated. However, districts receive state funding for providing such services, as long as those services meet the criteria set forth in the Operating Standards. SWCSD offers a variety of gifted services meeting the state criteria for students in grades 3-8. Eligibility for programming differs depending on grade level and the content area. For a complete understanding of the goals of each programming level, its requirements, and the content being served, please see the links below.

Click HERE for information about the Elementary Enrichment Program. 

Click HERE for information about the Intermediate Gifted Cluster Program. 

Click HERE for information about the Middle School Accelerated Studies Program. 

Currently, SWCSD does not offer specific gifted services at the high school level. The district does offer a wide-range of programming to meet the needs of high school students with gifted identifications including Honors and AP courses, College Credit Plus, and the Accelerated Learning Center.

Written Education Plans

All school districts in Ohio reporting gifted services must have on file a copy of a Written Education Plan (WEP) for each student served. Ohio Administrative Code 3301-51-15 (D)(4) outlines the specific points that must be included on the WEP. SWCSD gifted staff work directly with classroom teachers in creating goals for gifted students. Because this is a process of getting to know students’ needs, WEPs are written and sent home in the fall of the year of service. Those goals are then reviewed the following year if the child remains in service, and are modified as needed. Parental and student input is welcome in this annual process. Not all gifted students have a WEP on file; ONLY children currently receiving service will receive a Written Education Plan.

Withdrawal from Services

There are times when gifted programming may not be in a student’s best interest. In such cases, parents/guardians of the students will meet with Gifted Department staff, teacher(s), and a building administrator to discuss alternative placement/programming. If the team determines to pursue withdrawal from program, the appropriate paperwork will be completed and filed.

Click HERE for The Gifted Services Withdrawal Form. 

Referral Process For Gifted Testing 

Currently, second, fourth and sixth grade students participate in whole grade level standardized testing during the school year. The tests utilized in this assessment are also on the Chart of Approved Assessments for Gifted Identification in the State of Ohio. In addition to the standardized testing, SWCSD offers two referral testing opportunities each year. During the referral testing windows, any teacher, staff, parent or student may make a referral for a child to be tested by the gifted department. Please see the following links for specific information about referral testing window timelines and referral applications.

Fall Referral Window: 
  • Opens in mid-September and closes at the end of October 
  • Elementary students will be screened by school psychologists in October/November 
  • Tests are administered by Gifted Coordinators in October/November/December 
  • Results are sent to parents/guardians and schools by the end of December 
Click HERE for the Referral Timeline - ELEMENTARY

Click HERE for the Referral Timeline - INTERMEDIATE/MIDDLE SCHOOL 

Spring Referral Window:
  • Opens in January and closes at the end of February 
  • Elementary students will be screened by school psychologists in February/March 
  • Tests are administered by Gifted Coordinators or Gifted Intervention Specialists in March/April/May 
  • Results are sent to parents/guardians and schools by the end of May 
Click HERE for the Referral Application - ELEMENTARY 

Click HERE for the Referral Application - INTERMEDIATE/MIDDLE SCHOOL

Academic Acceleration for Advanced Learners 

The State Board of Education adopted a model acceleration policy for advanced learners in April 2006. Districts were required by Section 3324.10 of HB 79 to adopt a similar Acceleration Policy for Advanced Learners (Link to Acceleration Policy) that addresses all forms of acceleration, including early entrance to kindergarten, whole grade acceleration, subject area acceleration, and early high school graduation.

Process for Acceleration Referrals

Early Entrance to Kindergarten

This process takes place in August of each year; however applications are accepted and kept until the assessment window opens. For more information, see the following:

Early Entrance Referral Process & Application

Single Subject (Content) Acceleration and Whole Grade Acceleration

Parents of candidates for single subject acceleration should discuss this with their child’s classroom teacher for that subject. He/she can provide valuable information about the student’s performance and particular curricular needs pertaining to that content area. The parent then completes (with the help of the teacher) the “Acceleration Referral form” and the attached “Permission for Screening” form and turns them in to the building principal. Assessment for acceleration requires multiple pieces of data entered in a scale/rubric in order for the acceleration team to make a final placement decision.

Acceleration Process 

Elementary Acceleration Referral Form 

Early Graduation Requests

Please see your high School guidance counselor for the proper forms to complete. Any early graduation candidate with the purpose of beginning their higher education path earlier than their peers must have a Written Acceleration Plan on file with expected graduation date and a planned schedule of courses leading up to the graduation date.

Appeal Process for Acceleration Recommendations

All acceleration decisions are made as a team along with the parents. This team may consist of a principal, counselor, psychologist, receiving teacher, current teacher, gifted specialist, gifted coordinator, or other qualified personnel. Even though this process is based on a group decision, there may be times that a parent disagrees with the final recommendation. In these cases, the parent must complete the Appeal Document. Appeal decisions are made by the district superintendent or his/her designee and all decisions at that level are final.

Acceleration Appeal Request Form

Final Note About Acceleration

The Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS), Third Edition, is currently the only acceleration assessment process approved by the Ohio Department of Education for evaluating candidates for early entrance to kindergarten and whole grade acceleration for students in kindergarten through Grade 9. This scale includes measures of ability, achievement and aptitude, among other elements, to form a complete picture of the candidate’s needs. This scale considers ability (IQ) to be a “Critical Issue” in the process and that candidates with an ability score of 115 or below are NOT recommended to continue in the assessment process for acceleration. However, other curricular alternatives should be considered to further meet the student’s needs.

Written Acceleration Plans

Any student referred for and is placed in an accelerative placement (early entrance to kindergarten, single subject acceleration, whole-grade acceleration, or early graduation) MUST have a Written Acceleration Plan on file for the first year of the accelerated placement. Since a child is not required to be identified gifted in order to accelerate, non-identified students are included in the WAP process. This is not a reference to gifted service or gifted programming; it is a document that specifies the placement of the student in an accelerated setting and strategies to support a successful transition to the setting.

Subpages (2): Forms Parent Program