Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) gifted regulations (8 VAC 20-40-40) guide school systems in the screening and identification of gifted learners. Per regulations, an ability assessment must be part of the screening and identification process for students referred in an academic content: mathematics, language arts, science and/or social studies. 

The following explains the screening, referral and eligibility process: 

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

  • Specific academic aptitude in language arts, math, science, social studies (K-12) (*an ability assessment is needed)
  • Visual and/or performing arts aptitude (grades 3-12)

A student may be considered for gifted services once a year. The deadline to submit a referral is April 1. (If April 1 falls during spring break, referrals will be accepted on the first day back from break.)

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: Screening Documents Bundle. 

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


APS does universal screening at multiple grade levels in elementary and middle school. Based on the universal screener, students who reach a benchmark score are automatically screened for gifted services. 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 to begin the screening process.


Referral Forms  are available in multiple languages: 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 demonstrated potential and/or 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 and/or potential 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 automatically referred by the universal screener does not need a referral form.

Students may be referred once during the academic school year. Typically this happens in the winter/spring unless a 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.  Families of eligible students will receive a permission form to return to accept placement. Families of ineligible students will receive information on how to appeal if they choose to do so.


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 Level One Appeal – 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).