Cobb County Gifted and Talented Programs: A Comprehensive Guide


Discover the exceptional opportunities available for gifted and talented students in Cobb County. This guide provides detailed information on eligibility, testing processes, program options, and the numerous benefits offered to enhance your child’s educational journey. Whether you are a parent seeking to support your child’s academic growth or an educator looking for resources, this comprehensive guide is designed to provide all the information you need.


Overview of Cobb County School District Gifted and Talented Programs

Cobb County School District is dedicated to fostering the intellectual and creative potential of gifted students through its Gifted and Talented Program (GATE). The program is designed to provide enriching and challenging educational experiences tailored to advanced learners, aiming to promote academic excellence, critical thinking, creativity, and social-emotional development.


Eligibility Criteria

Students must meet specific criteria that demonstrate exceptional academic performance and intellectual abilities to qualify for the GATE program. These criteria include:

  • Academic Achievement: High grades and top performance in standardized tests.
  • Cognitive Abilities: High scores on intelligence tests.
  • Creative Thinking: Ability to think creatively and solve complex problems.
  • Teacher Recommendations: Endorsements from teachers who recognize the student’s capabilities.
  • Parent Nominations: Parents can nominate their children based on their observations of exceptional talents.


Testing and Identification Process

The identification process for the GATE program involves several steps to ensure only the most qualified students are selected:

  • Referral: Students can be referred by teachers, parents, or through self-nomination. Referral forms are available on the Cobb County School District’s website.
  • Screening: Initial screening assessments evaluate students’ academic performance and cognitive abilities to identify those who may benefit from further testing.
  • Testing: Qualified students take a series of standardized tests to measure their intellectual capabilities, creativity, and problem-solving skills.


Detailed Information on Key Tests

CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)

The CogAT assesses reasoning abilities in verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal areas. It evaluates cognitive development influenced by both school and external experiences. The verbal section tests vocabulary and reasoning, the quantitative section assesses numerical problem-solving, and the nonverbal section evaluates abstract reasoning through geometric shapes. Learn more about the CogAT test.

NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test)

The NNAT test focuses on nonverbal reasoning and problem-solving skills using geometric shapes and designs. This test is ideal for identifying gifted students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, as it does not rely on language skills.

Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS)

These standardized tests measure educational development in subjects like reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. The ITBS helps evaluate academic skills crucial for identifying gifted students.

Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT)

The TTCT measures creative thinking abilities, including originality, fluency, flexibility, and elaboration. It identifies students with exceptional creative potential, complementing cognitive and academic assessments.

Gifted Rating Scales (GRS-P and GES-3)

These scales assess gifted potential based on observations and ratings by teachers and parents. The GRS-P is used for younger children, while the GES-3 is used for older students, evaluating traits such as intellectual ability, creativity, and motivation.

Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (CAIMI)

The CAIMI measures a student’s intrinsic motivation towards academic activities, assessing their interest and enjoyment in learning. It provides insights into a student’s internal drive and engagement with their education.


Eligibility Determination

Students can qualify for the GATE program through two main pathways:

  • Option A: Scoring in the 99th percentile (K-2nd) or 96th percentile (3rd-12th) on the CogAT or NNAT and in the 90th percentile in the Iowa total battery, total reading, or total math section.
  • Option B: Meeting eligibility in three of four areas:
    • Mental Ability: 96th percentile on the CogAT or NNAT.
    • Achievement: 90th percentile on the Iowa total battery, reading, or math section.
    • Creativity: 90th percentile or 90% on a creativity assessment.
    • Motivation: 90th percentile or 90% on a motivation evaluation or a GPA of 3.5+ for grades 7-12.

Kindergarten students who qualify will start receiving services in the fall of 1st grade.


Program Options and Curriculum

Cobb County offers several program options to meet the needs of gifted students at different educational levels:

  • Elementary School Programs: These include enrichment activities and advanced curriculum in core subjects like math, science, language arts, and social studies. Gifted students are grouped within classrooms and receive enhanced instruction from both their classroom teacher and a designated gifted teacher. Additionally, advanced content courses in reading/English Language Arts and math are available for students showing exceptional abilities in specific areas.
  • Middle and High School Programs: These programs offer accelerated courses and specialized projects. Students participate in advanced classes and extracurricular activities that challenge their intellect and creativity. Middle and high schools use cluster grouping and advanced content classes in core subjects. High schools offer honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, allowing students to learn with peers of similar academic abilities.

The curriculum is designed to foster critical thinking, creativity, and a love for learning, encouraging students to explore their interests and develop their talents.


Benefits of the G&T Programs

Participating in the GATE program offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Enhanced Academic Achievement: Rigorous curriculum helps students reach their full academic potential.
  • Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Encourages critical thinking and complex problem-solving abilities.
  • Increased Motivation and Engagement: Students thrive in an environment that nurtures their talents, leading to higher motivation and engagement.
  • Social and Emotional Growth: Opportunities to interact with similarly gifted peers foster social and emotional development.


Real-Life Examples and Practical Advice

Case Study: Meet Sarah, a fifth-grader who struggled in a regular classroom. After joining the GATE program, she excelled academically and participated in advanced projects that matched her interests. Her parents noticed a significant improvement in her enthusiasm for school.

Preparation Tips: Encourage your child to read widely, engage in creative activities, and develop problem-solving skills. Create a stimulating home environment that nurtures curiosity and intellectual growth.

Support Strategies: Keep open communication with your child’s teachers and program coordinators. Attend meetings, stay informed about program offerings, and provide emotional and academic support.


Current Screening Schedule

Screenings are conducted in K, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 8th grades, but students in any grade can be referred for further assessment.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How can I refer my child to the GATE program?
    Parents can complete a referral form on the Cobb County School District’s website or contact their child’s teacher for guidance.
  • What should I expect during the testing process?
    The process includes multiple assessments focusing on cognitive abilities, creativity, and academic performance, using tests like the CogAT, NNAT, Iowa, Torrance, GRS, and CAIMI.
  • Are there additional costs for participating in the GATE program?
    No, the program is funded by the school district and is free for eligible students.
  • How can I support my child’s success in the program?
    Encourage a love for learning, provide a stimulating home environment, and maintain communication with educators. Attend parent-teacher meetings and stay involved in your child’s progress.
  • What if my child does not qualify for the program?
    Discuss alternative enrichment opportunities with teachers or school counselors. Many schools offer supplementary programs and activities for intellectual stimulation.