PEAK Gifted & Talented

Helena Public Schools Gifted Education Plan

Mission Statement

The mission of the Helena Public Schools is to challenge and empower each student to maximize individual potential and become a competent, productive, responsible, caring citizen.


“Gifted and talented children” means children of outstanding abilities who are capable of high performance and require differentiated educational programs beyond those normally offered in public schools in order to fully achieve their potential contribution to self and society. The children so identified include those with demonstrated achievement or potential ability in a variety of worthwhile human endeavors. (Montana Code Ann. § 20-7-901)

Identification Process

The Helena School District Gifted and Talented identification process offers two different avenues for qualifying students for gifted services.

Group Testing (2nd Grade)

In 2nd grade, students are screened using the CogAT and iReady assessments. Qualification for Gifted Education Services is based on scores from the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) and iReady assessments. The CogAT measurements include Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal Reasoning scores, as well as Composite and Profile indicators. iReady scores reviewed in this screening include Reading and Mathematics.

In addition, Teacher Behavior Checklists and Creativity Assessments are administered by PEAK staff to complement the screening process by indicating students who may warrant further review.

Individual Testing (K-12)

In addition, referrals can be made for any student for individual assessment. Referred students are assessed with individual ability and/or achievement instruments administered by school psychologists.

Helena School District Gifted and Talented Model

The Helena Public Schools gifted and talented model provides a comprehensive array of services for identified GT students (K-12).

  • DIFFERENTIATION: The Helena School District GT staff offers professional development consultations with classroom teachers on differentiation strategies to meet the needs of all students in their classrooms.
  • ACCELERATION: The Helena School District provides opportunities for subject area, whole grade and early entrance acceleration options for their students. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is the district-wide protocol to determine appropriate placement.
  • DIRECT INTERVENTION: In the Helena School District PEAK Gifted and Talented Program, specialists trained in the identification, programming, curriculum design and student assessment strategies provide identified students with a specialized intervention in the following ten curricular areas: creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, communication skills, research, technology, leadership, intrapersonal skills, and interpersonal skills.

Specialized GT services include:

  • Consultations to parents and faculty K-12
  • Identification for pull-out services through multi-factored assessments
  • Weekly pull-out intervention services for identified students in grades 3-5
  • Twice-weekly lunch labs for identified students in grades 6-7 (Currently meeting online weekly)
  • Monthly intensive seminar pull-out services for identified students in grades 6-7
  • Weekly meetings for identified students in grades 8 (online) and 9-10 (evening classes)
  • Multi-day symposiums for identified students in grades 8-10
  • Parenting initiatives: speakers series, discussion groups, and conferences
  • Leadership Conference (grades 3-high school) each spring
  • International Expeditions: International investigations for qualifying GT students

Parent Involvement

Parents are actively involved in the following:

  • Focused Discussions: PEAK Parent Group (online meetings monthly)
  • Parent Expertise Sharing: “Yellow Pages” Project
  • Speakers Series
  • Book Club
  • GT Resource Library
  • End-of-Year Leadership Conference

Professional Development

Professional Development includes:

  • NAGC Conference
  • Montana AGATE Conference
  • Teacher In-service Training
  • Guest Speaker Series
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Professional Journals: Gifted Child Quarterly and Parenting for High Potential

Program Evaluation

The PEAK Gifted and Talented Program utilizes both formative and summative evaluations through the following:

  • Daily formative assessment on individual student growth: PLC TACA Data
  • Culminating summative assessments from parents, students and other authentic audiences.
  • OPI Grant data
  • Climate Surveys by students, parents, and teachers
  • End-of-year comprehensive data

For more information, please contact Administrator Erin Maxwell at 324-2900 or .