Gifted Program (Quest)

Gifted Program (Quest)

Challenging Our High-Aptitude Learners

Quest, Charlottesville’s gifted education program, seeks to provide appropriate educational experiences to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade who are identified as having unusually high aptitudes in English and mathematics. ArtQuest, beginning in grade 5, serves students gifted in the visual arts.

In all components of the program, students with similar abilities meet together to ensure an opportunity for interaction and growth. They are encouraged to think critically; to consider complex problems using the higher thought processes of analysis, synthesis and evaluation; to create new and original ideas; to produce divergent responses; and to develop the confidence necessary for risk-taking.

Program Goals

Program Goals

  • To identify gifted learners using multiple criteria in the specific academic aptitude areas of English and mathematics in grades K–12 and in the visual arts in grades 5–12.
  • To offer a continuum of services in kindergarten through twelfth grade that provide appropriately challenging, differentiated instruction to address the diverse cognitive and social-emotional needs of gifted students.
  • To align curriculum and instruction to address the diverse cognitive and affective needs of high-ability learners in English and Mathematics for grades K–12 and in the visual arts for grades 5–12.
  • To provide gifted education specialists and classroom teachers with ongoing professional development in research-based best practices that address the unique needs of gifted learners.
  • To use a variety of qualitative and quantitative assessment data to identify and develop the talents of all students, including those who are economically disadvantaged, have disabilities, and are English language learners in order to increase screening, referral, and identification for gifted services.
  • To enrich and expand parent and community understanding of and involvement in the education of gifted learners.


Areas of Giftedness Served

Charlottesville City Schools provides gifted services for students identified in the following categories (2010 Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students):

  • Specific Academic Aptitude: Students with specific aptitudes in English and mathematics as demonstrated by advanced skills and creative expression in those areas;
  • Visual and Performing Arts Aptitude: Students with specific aptitudes in the visual arts as demonstrated by advanced skills and creative expression and who excel consistently in the development of a product or performance in the visual arts.  To learn more about this area, see “ArtQuest.

Gifted Programs Services

Intellectually gifted students in grades K–8 receive services through a collaboration model, which allows for specialized services for high ability learners that integrate with the general education program. Classroom teachers and gifted education specialists together plan and provide a variety of learning experiences geared to the particular needs of different groups of students. Students receive differentiated experiences in and outside the regular classroom throughout the week. They participate in activities that promote superior mental development and stimulate academic and creative achievement.

Quest at the secondary level (grades 7–12) is incorporated into the regular academic program with opportunities available for students having unusually high aptitudes in English and mathematics. Through a range of instructional and management strategies, teachers differentiate classroom content, thinking processes, and student products according to learners’ readiness, interest, and preferred learning style.

Middle School Level

At the middle school level academically gifted students receive differentiated instruction in advanced level classes. They participate in activities that promote superior mental development and stimulate academic and creative achievement. The mathematics program is designed to enable exceptional math students to accelerate the pace of their learning in the traditional math sequence of courses. In English emphasis is placed on the acquisition of thinking skills that enable students to deal effectively with abstract and complex concepts.

High School Level

High school students with unusual aptitudes are offered opportunities, which foster the development of their interests and abilities. Quest and the guidance department work cooperatively to design appropriate educational experiences, to inform parents and students of courses and opportunities that are particularly suitable, and to identify elective courses and extracurricular activities which may be of special benefit. Advanced level classes are offered in numerous academic areas for students who are prepared for advanced work and are motivated to achieve. This includes dual enrollment and Advanced Placement (AP) courses where college credit may be earned. Students who exhaust course offerings at the high school may capitalize on resources at a nearby university. Arrangements for such study are made on an individual basis.

Identification Process

Identification Process

Quest uses a well-defined identification procedure. It begins with screening, an inclusive process whereby a student, nominated by a professional staff member or by a parent/community member, is placed in a “pool” for further consideration. Referrals are made by contacting the principal, gifted education specialist, art teachers, and/or counselor in the appropriate school. In addition, all first-grade students are screened for Quest and all fourth-grade students are screened for ArtQuest.

Throughout the screening process, data to support a student’s nomination is collected. Information is placed on a chart to represent a total profile of the student and to show a pattern of performance over time. Identification committees schedule meetings throughout the academic year and the profile of each student in the screening pool is reviewed to decide if the information meets the predetermined selection criteria. Eligibility decisions rest with these committees.

Quest Identification Process for Specific Academic Aptitude:

Screening Referral Nomination Deadline Identification Meeting Timeline for Providing Results
Ongoing 3rd Friday in August September Within ten (10) instructional days
October 1 November
December 1  February
March 1 April
2nd Friday in April May/June

Art Quest Identification Process:


Referral Nomination Deadline

Identification Meeting

Timeline for Results

Ongoing 1st school day in August September Within 10 instructional days
1st Friday in December January
2nd Friday in April May

Parent Involvement

Parent/Community Involvement

Parent awareness and involvement in gifted education is encouraged through the following:

Quest Advisory Committee

Each year a Quest Advisory Committee is established to advise in the development and implementation of Charlottesville’s services for gifted students. It is composed of two parent representatives from each school and a School Board member. Among its responsibilities are overseeing the implementation of the local plan, participating in the review and revision of the plan, and reporting to the School Board about the needs of gifted learners. Dates of all meetings are posted on the division calendar and a portion of each meeting is reserved to discuss ideas and concerns from parents or community members.

Please share your thoughts by contacting a committee member, a gifted education specialist, or Beverly Catlin, Coordinator of Instruction.


Enrichment Opportunities Outside the School Division

Excellent enrichment programs and other opportunities are available for gifted or high-ability, high interest students. Parents are encouraged to place their names on the mailing lists of these centers so that they will receive information about program offerings on a regular basis.


To Learn More

Program Director: Beverly Catlin, Coordinator of Instruction