Gifted & Talented

Grades K-6 Quest: The Tri-District School-wide Elementary Enrichment, Exploration, and EXCELLENCE Programming 

Quest is a multi-layered approach to enrichment and gifted education that includes enrichment and accelerated instruction opportunities for all students. It is an inquiry and interest-based approach to education. The three core components of Quest are Enrichment & Innovation, Explorations, and EXCELerate. Enrichment & Innovation as well as Explorations will be implemented during the 2021-2022 school year. Interest meetings and the application process will begin midyear of 2021-2022 for EXCELerate. Prior to this program transition, identified students in grades 3-6 will receive pull-out instruction under our present gifted and talented model, which is referenced below: 

Atlantic Highlands Elementary School for Grades 3-5: Identified students have the opportunity for modifications to core curriculum as well as periodic pull-out consultations with the assigned teacher. Students who are pulled out for these enhanced learning opportunities are expected to maintain their core classroom performance.

Atlantic Highlands Elementary School for Grade 6: Identified students have the opportunity to be placed in Challenge ELA/Math courses. These courses are designed based on grouping, curriculum compacting, and acceleration.

Highlands Elementary School for Grades 3-6: Identified students have the opportunity for modifications to core curriculum as well as periodic pull-out consultations with the assigned teacher. Students who are pulled out for these enhanced learning opportunities are expected to maintain their core classroom performance.

Identification criteria and the related correspondence will be provided by the building Principal.

Enrichment & Innovation

Grades K-6 Enrichment & Innovation programming will include weekly interest-based and problem-based learning opportunities for all students. This replaces technology or i-Lab with additional push-in enrichment opportunities during center time or social studies/science. This curriculum focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, inquiry and research, strengthening communication, and collaboration. 

Explorations is a voluntary self-paced program open to all students in grades 2-6. Students identify what they want to learn about, how to research, discover the topic of interest, create a hypothesis, and generate new knowledge, ideas, products, or solutions. These can be individual or small group passion or capstone projects. Students will engage in self-paced full-year or half-year projects with support from teachers and experts that they choose. Culminating presentations will occur at the end of the school year. 

EXCELerate includes more intensive accelerated learning opportunities for identified grades 3-6 students. Core content will be presented in a way that promotes critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and more authentic application. 


Students are identified via multiple measures: 

Student letter of interest/commitment

Parent/Guardian recommendation/commitment 

Teacher recommendation

Student portfolio or presentation (from work in Enrichment & Innovation or Explorations Program) 

Academic data 

Gifted screening tools 


Pull-out programming for identified students will occur at least bi-weekly. Programming will not be subject-specific. Instead, programming will be multidisciplinary with cross-content standards. The focus is on accelerated application of higher academic standards, exploration, research, communication, problem solving, and critical thinking. Students will set individual S.M.A.R.T. goals for learning and work with teachers to customize individual learning plans during instruction. Students must maintain certain benchmarks and criteria to remain in the program based on prescribed rubrics. 

Grades 7-12 Gifted and Talented 

Identified students in grades 7-8 are eligible for Pre-Algebra and Enrichment English Language Arts and Science courses at Henry Hudson Regional School.

Students in grades 9-12 are afforded the opportunity to participate in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses and to receive differentiated instruction in the regular classroom setting. We also offer a STEM Academy sequence of courses for eligible students, which follows an accelerated and enriched pace and curriculum. Specific to electives, what we offer serves as a vehicle for enrichment in various areas of student strength and interest. 

Of importance, enrollment in similar grades 3-6 programming does not guarantee continued enrollment in Pre-Algebra and Enrichment courses at Henry Hudson Regional School, nor is a student required to have participated in this type of programming in order to access these courses.

A matrix of multiple measures and academic criteria based on grade level expectations is utilized to identify students. This includes: 

Grade 6 i-Ready spring benchmark scores 

Prior year grades

Prior year assessment scores 

(New Jersey Student Learning Assessment for English Language Arts/Mathematics/Science when available)

If a student meets the academic criteria, the teacher completes an evaluation that measures learning behaviors and areas of exceptional student strength. These areas include core academic areas as well as critical thinking, creativity, leadership, intrinsic motivation, task commitment, and curiosity.

In grades 7-12, gifted and talented students will be guided by their grade level guidance counselor and their classroom teachers.