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Gifted and Talented

Gifted and talented programming

Gifted and talented programming
According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), “children are gifted when their ability is significantly above the norm for their age.”


The mission of Willmar Public Schools is to inspire and prepare all learners for their future in our community and the world, which is why we strive to be responsive to the needs of all learners, including ones who demonstrate abilities above the norm for their age.

At Willmar, we offer a variety of experiences and opportunities for our students at all levels.

Identification of gifted and talented learners

In our efforts to be responsive to the needs of all learners, Willmar Public Schools utilize a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. All students have access to and receive quality core instruction.

Based on classroom assessments and teacher observations, many students will demonstrate the ability to be high achieving learners who meet or exceed grade level benchmarks. These students will receive differentiated learning experiences from their classroom teachers within the core instruction, as well as extended learning opportunities during the “What I Need” (WIN) reading and/or math blocks found at our schools each day.

However, some students will demonstrate abilities that far surpass high achievers.

Elementary learners

In order to participate in elementary gifted and talented programming beginning in third grade, Willmar uses a multi-faceted approach for identification. Each spring, all second graders are screened using the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) to determine potential eligibility.

Students who score in the top percentiles on the screener will then complete the CogAT post-screener. The results from the post-screener, as well as achievement test results and qualitative data, will be used to select eligible students to participate in the elementary gifted and talented program.

In addition, students who are newly enrolled in grades three through five or who are referred by a teacher or parent may also take the CogAT screener.

Middle and high school learners

Eligibility at the middle and high school-level is based on student interest, teacher recommendation, and completion of prerequisite courses.

Gifted and Talented programming is offered through before and after-school clubs and activities, theater, specialty courses and conferences.

The district also offers numerous opportunities for students to earn college credit at Willmar Senior High School.