Talent Development and Acceleration Services

  • Talent Development and Acceleration Services (TDAS) supports the goals of Strong Schools, Strong Communities 2.0 through leadership and support of district departments and school sites. We acknowledge the many unique abilities, talents, interests and personal/social emotional needs of students by supporting the implementation and delivery of rich, differentiated curriculum that offers students opportunities to aspire to reach high academic achievement and stimulate their intellectual curiosity.  We also support schools with the development of talent for all students. We provide leadership, professional development and collaboration.


    TDAS Programs and Services:

    • Staff development supporting differentiation for acceleration
    • Assessment (including CogAT and Portfolio)
    • The Honoring Project
    • K-5 Identification and acceleration support
    • 6-8 acceleration support
    • Advanced Placement (AP)
    • International Baccalaureate (IB)
    • APEX courses, subject and/or grade level acceleration 
    • Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet (Serving Grades 1-8)


    Harding High School MYP and DP Site

  • What is the definition of Gifted and Talented?

    Posted by:

    Minnesota Department of Education Definition of Gifted and Talented,

    Approved by Minnesota Department of Education, August 2005

    Gifted and talented children and youth are those students with outstanding abilities, identified at preschool, elementary, and secondary levels. The potential of gifted students requires differentiated and challenging educational programs and/or services beyond those provided in the general school program. Students capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement or potential ability in any one or more of the following areas: general intellectual, specific academic subjects, creativity, leadership and visual and performing arts. Visit the Minnesota Department of Education, Gifted Education website.

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  • What is the definition of acceleration?

    Posted by:

    Visit the Minnesota Department of Education, Gifted Education website.

     Acceleration is an intervention that moves students through an educational program at a more rapid rate than their age-mates. The goal of acceleration is to tailor the level and complexity of the curriculum to the ability and academic readiness of individual children. The Institute for Research and Policy (IRPA) Guidelines for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy contains an easy-to-use checklist to guide policy development. Visit the IRPA website.

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  • How can I find out about different extracurricular opportunities for my gifted child?

    Posted by:

    Contacting the school site your child attends is the most efficient way for options to be reviewed.  At the high school level, contact the guidance counselor at your child’s school. You can also look at options that may be available on our TDAS website under Enrichment Resources for Students and Families. If your question about gifted services in St. Paul Public Schools was not answered in this FAQ list, please contact a staff member on the Talent Development and Accelerated Services team.

    Isis Buchanan, Elementary TOSA, isis.buchanan@spps.org, (p) 651-744-5409

    Tara Dobbelaere, Secondary TOSA, tara.dobbelaere@spps.org, (p) 651-744-2669

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  • How is Saint Paul Public Schools developing the talent of children district wide?

    Posted by:

    SPPS offers professional development for the gifted and talented building contacts.  The information gained through professional development impacts instruction in the classroom.  Examples of professional learning topics include: differentiation, enrichment in the general education classroom, acceleration, and other topics as requested by sites.  The Talent Development and Acceleration Services department also works in collaboration with professional development provided by other academic areas (ie. literacy, math, science, social studies, etc.) across the school district.

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  • Are there any International Baccalaureate (IB) Schools in the St. Paul Public School district?

    Posted by:

    Yes, SPPS has several IB schools. At the elementary level we have three International Baccalaureate-Primary Years Programme sites: Benjamin E. Mays, Highland Elementary, and Hazel Park Preparatory Academy. At the Secondary level we have the Middle Years Programme at Highland, Ramsey, and Hazel Park Preparatory Academy. We have the Middle Years Programme & Diploma Programme at the following senior high schools: Central, Harding, and Highland.

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  • If my child was in another district’s gifted program, are they guaranteed placement in SPPS?

    Posted by:

    Participation in a gifted program in another school district does not necessarily qualify a student for gifted service in St. Paul Public Schools. We evaluate a new student’s needs in the same way we evaluate the needs of all SPPS students. We review information a student brings from another school district. At the high school level, a counselor analyzes the student’s transcripts and works with the student to find appropriate course selections and extracurricular opportunities.   

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  • Do gifted programming efforts change as students move from elementary to middle to high school?

    Posted by:

    As students grow and move from the elementary level to the middle school level to the high school level opportunities and programming efforts vary as does selection criteria for those opportunities. Gifted opportunities are available in each of our district schools. Additionally, independent selections: honors course, college prep, Advanced Placement courses, College in The Schools, and Post-Secondary Educational Options are available at the High School level.

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  • Does SPPS have a gifted services magnet school?

    Posted by:

    Yes, Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet school serves students in grades 1-8.  For more information visit the school website.



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  • Which standardized gifted and talented test is administered in the St. Paul Public School district? 

    Posted by:

    SPPS currently administers the following standardized test at the elementary level which are used as evidence in making decisions concerning gifted programming: Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) which measures verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative aptitude. 

    All SPPS kindergarten and 2nd grade students take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT7). Students in grades 1, 3, 4 and 5 may take the test by nomination from a parent, teacher, family member of other knowledgeable party.

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  • What are the benefits of the portfolio process for gifted and talented identification?

    Posted by:

    In SPPS the portfolio process is an alternative way to identify gifted learners. According to the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC), using a standardized test may not accurately effectively identify all students. The portfolio review may include: multi-dimensional holistic rating scales, a parent inventory, recommendations, student work samples and assessment scores from multiple perspectives. Family members, school teachers/staff/administrators, or community members can recommend a student for the portfolio process.


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  • What kind of information is used in identifying student needs?

    Posted by:

    A variety of evidence is used for student identification for gifted and talented services.  Generally, measures of performance, cognition, and achievement are collected by the CogAT7 test or through the comprehensive portfolio process. The CogAT7 measures general reasoning abilities in three domains: verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal. The portfolio review includes: student demographic information, academic test scores, multi-dimensional holistic rating scales, a parent inventory, and a student work sample.

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  • How will I know if my child has been identified?

    Posted by:

    Families of students who are identified for gifted and talented services receive letters from the Talent Development and Accelerated Services department. Families may also be contacted by the gifted specialist in the school the child attends.  You can contact your child’s school for information about gifted and talented services that are available at your child’s school.

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  • When are students identified and when do they start service?

    Posted by:

    In SPPS we assess students through the CogAT7 and the portfolio process. It is our intention to provide multiple measures for students to be assessed. When students are identified for accelerated services this identification remains with them throughout their K-12 academic career in SPPS. 

    All SPPS kindergarten and 2nd grade students take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT7). Students in grades 1, 3, 4 and 5 may take the test by nomination from a parent, teacher, family member of other knowledgeable party. The CogAT7 measures general reasoning abilities in three domains: verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal. 

    Gifted and Talented services are site based, you can contact your child’s school to find out specific details about G/T services that are available for your child. As students move into the middle school level, this information is shared with the middle school staff who continue the process of matching student needs with academic opportunities. During the registration process for middle and high school students and families are made aware of advanced academic opportunities by school counselors and administrative personnel.

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  • I believe my child is gifted and would like to have him/her evaluated. What do I do?

    Posted by:

    If you feel that your child is gifted and is currently enrolled in a St. Paul public school, please contact the GT coordinator/specialist at your child’s school.  If your child attends school at a charter school, or attends a school in a different district, please visit the Talent Development and Acceleration Services website for information about the portfolio process. If your child is a preschooler, please contact the Office of Early Learning.

    You can also contact the district elementary or secondary gifted and talented teacher on special assignment.

    Elementary TOSA-Isis Buchanan

    Secondary TOSA- Tara Dobbelaere



    Comments (-1)
  • How do I know if my child is gifted?

    Posted by:

    There is no definite way to know when a child is gifted. There are a myriad of stories which illustrate that gifted children often think and/or perform differently from other children their age.   Children identified as gifted typically have mental abilities in the upper two and ½  to three percent of the population. Parents are often the first to recognize a child’s giftedness. They see that their child seems advanced in language and the ability to understand and infer compared to others of the same age. If you feel your child may be gifted, please contact the gifted and talented contact at your child’s school site.

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Contact Us

  • contact us









    Isis Buchanan

    TOSA Elementary, IB PYP




    Kristen Butler

    TOSA AVID  - all sites




    Tara Dobbelaere

    TOSA Secondary, AP & IB MYP and DP




    Chanda Green, Ed.D.

    Supervisor - k-12