Please note: Due to schools moving to remote learning in March, the universal screening ability assessments scheduled for after this time were not given. Without universal screening ability assessments at grades 1, 2 and 3, screening at these grade levels could not occur per the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) gifted regulations (8 VAC 20-40-40).  

Since we were able to give an ability assessment in the fall in certain grade levels, the screening and identification process did occur at the following grade levels: 

  • 4th grade
  • New to APS 5th grade students 
  • New to APS 6th grade

VDOE confirmed that ability assessments will still need to be part of the screening and identification process for the 2020-2021.  At this time, we have included the ability assessments in the testing calendar for this year.  Given that we are starting the year in a virtual teaching and learning mode, more information will be shared once a comprehensive plan is in place.

The following explains the screening, referral and eligibility process when students have an ability assessment. 

In APS, students may be referred and identified for gifted services in the following categories:

  • Specific academic aptitude in English, math, science, social studies (K-12)
  • Visual and/or performing arts aptitude (3-12)

A student may be considered for gifted services once a year. The deadline to submit a referral is April 1.

Students must be enrolled in Arlington Public Schools (K-12) to be considered for gifted services.

The documents used in the screening process are  available here: 2020-2021 Screening Documents Bundle. 

Please read below to learn more about each step in the process.


APS does universal screening at 1st and 2nd grade to create an automatic screening pool. These students will be screened for gifted services unless parents opt out of this process. In addition, teachers at every grade level work with the resource teacher of the gifted to refer students for the screening process.  Parents may also submit a referral.


Referral Form also available in Spanish, Bengali, Amharic, Mongolian, and Arabic.

A student is referred to the gifted services eligibility process based on one or more of the following criteria:

  • a need for services beyond that provided by the general education program of studies instructional program
  • available ability and achievement data information
  • digital portfolios that show growth over time; student products/work samples
  • academic performance beyond grade level standards
  • behavioral characteristics of gifted students

Referrals may be submitted before April 1 annually. A referral form may be completed by the following sources:

  • classroom teacher or other staff member
  • parent/guardian
  • community member
  • student

Please note: any student who is in the automatic screening pool does not need a referral form.

Students may be referred once during the academic school year. Typically this happens in the winter/spring unless student is new to APS.
During this once a year referral process, a holistic case study approach is used to examine data from multiple areas of strength to determine eligibility in the following areas: Academic: language arts, mathematics, science, and/or social studies; Visual and Performing Arts: general music and/or visual arts. 


Student referrals are considered by a school-based committee composed of a classroom teacher, resource teacher for the gifted, an administrator, special education teacher (as appropriate), ESOL/HILT teacher (as appropriate) and other members who may know the child and could provide input such as the counselor or school psychologist.

APS uses a holistic case study approach in the screening process. All relevant data is reviewed and the decision to identify a need for services or not is made by the committee. In identifying students for Gifted Services, multiple criteria are used including the following:

Parents are notified of the committee’s decision by letter.


Level One Appeal – School-based:
Parents and guardians who disagree for any reason with the decision of an identification committee may appeal the decision within 10 instructional days after being informed of the committee’s decision. The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Principal of the student’s school. Within 10 instructional days of receiving the appeal, the Principal and resource teacher of the gifted acting as representatives of the Identification Committee meet with parent/guardians to discuss the decision and review the identification file.

Level Two Appeal – Central Office Administrative Appeal:
Parents and guardians who disagree with the decision of the School-Based Appeal decision may appeal the decision within 10 instructional days after meeting with the Principal. The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Department of Instruction, Syphax Education Center, Supervisor of Gifted Services (2110 Washington Blvd., Arlington, VA 22204).