Gifted Programs

Gifted individuals experience the world in quantitatively and qualitatively different ways than average and bright individuals.This can make them more insightful, sensitive, opinionated, and challenging. In many ways they each live in their own alternative universe. They are special needs children with inadequate support in the United States public education system. Most programs for gifted students within our public schools are geared toward moderately gifted students. Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted students with IQ scores in the top 1% to 2% are not well served by standard gifted programs. They need to move at a much faster pace while exploring subjects in greater depth. As a group, their increased sensitivity, awareness and intensity can cause them issues in school, even in gifted programs. Few programs serve all gifted children well because there is no such thing as a typical gifted student. With that in mind, here are some programs worth exploring.


Minnesota Full-Time and Nearly Full-Time Public School Programs:

Many of the public school programs are geared toward elementary school students. It is assumed these students will then attend regular middle schools and take honors and advanced classes. Some gifted students may not fair well with this system due to the social pressures and challenges that can saturate the middle school environment.



The Lighthouse Program (Spring Lake Park) Grades 1-12

The Lighthouse Program is a full-time, alternative public school program for highly gifted students. Its uniqueness emerges in the curriculum approach that focuses on the 21st Century skills of critical and creating thinking, inquiry, collaboration, and competition in a non-graded, multi-age environment. In it, self-directed students work at their own pace, frequently zooming well-ahead of traditional grade level in subjects that capture their passion and curiosity.



Capital Hill Magnet School (St. Paul)  Grades 1-8

Full-time program for academically talented and gifted students. Acceleration (fast-paced learning), combined with complex content, allow for in-depth study. Elementary (grades 1 – 6) admission is based on identification of gifted/talented status. Admissions to the secondary grades (7 – 8) is through open enrollment.

DIMENSIONS ACADEMY (Bloomington)  Grades 4-8

Dimensions Academy, a self-contained classroom-based program is designed to meet the unique educational and social/emotional needs of gifted children who have exceptional academic skills. Dimensions Academy provides a highly rigorous content at an accelerated pace. Therefore, this program is not for all students. Student selection is based on the Bloomington Public Schools’ assessment measures or other professional assessments that deem this program to be educationally beneficial for highly/profoundly gifted children.

Friedell Middle School Highly Gifted Program (Rochester)  Grades 6-8

This school within a school is designed to meet the unique educational, social, and emotional needs of highly gifted students while still being part of a regular middle school experience. The advanced curricular content focuses students on the depth and complexity of learning and knowledge. Learning key concepts develops students’ understanding of the relationships within, between, and among disciplines. Educational challenges promote student opportunities for manipulating information at complex levels by using divergent and higher order thinking models. Differentiated instruction is used to meet the sophisticated learning needs of highly gifted students in this program. The program provides a highly rigorous content at an accelerated pace; therefore, this program is not for all students.

Students in this program take part in four advanced subject disciplines: science, social studies, mathematics, and language arts. Additionally, these students participate in standard offerings such as music, physical education, and exploratory classes.

Eagle Ridge Gifted & Talented Magnet School (Burnsville/Eagan/Savage)  Grades 7 & 8

The program works to guide, support and encourage gifted students to realize their full potential to become self-directed learners. Any junior high-aged student who lives within Independent School District 191 or Independent School District 194 has the opportunity to apply to any of the magnet schools. Families from outside these two districts are also highly encouraged to apply, and will be considered for admission to Eagle Ridge according to the groupings within each tier of placement. Students can qualify in subject-specific areas, such as math and reading, and will be placed in classes commensurate with qualifications. A student does NOT need to qualify in all areas to be in the gifted and talented program.



AGATE Academy (Brainerd)  Grades 1-4

Operating over 30 years and using a School-within-a-School model. It is currently housed in Lowell Elementary and consisits of four classrooms. Students are identified initially in Kindergarten for placement in the program. A variety of criteria are used to assess a student’s need for more rigor and a rapid pace or learning.

Atheneum (Inver Grove Heights)  Grades 2-5

located at Salem Hills Elementary School, Atheneum Gifted Magnet Program is a National Blue Ribbon, high-performing school. Atheneum program started in Inver Grove Heights in 2002. Students in Atheneum have to meet eligibility criteria determined by a district identification committee. Students invited to participate have been tested and found to be in the superior range of cognitive ability. The program’s mission is to provide a self-contained classroom option for students to enhance the daily academic rigor that will motivate and challenge this group of learners.

ELEMENTS (Bloomington)  Grades 2 & 3

Elements is a self-contained classroom-based program designed to meet the unique educational and social/emotional needs of gifted children who have exceptional academic skills. The goal of the Elements program is to serve primary students whose outstanding academic talent, advanced motivation, performance (or potential for performance) at high levels of accomplishment indicate their need for in-depth, complex and rigorous curriculum and instruction.

GATE (Stillwater)  Grades 4-6

The goal of the GATE program is to meet the academic and social needs of highly gifted learners.  These learners are children whose academic abilities indicate the need for in-depth, complex and rigorous curriculum and instruction beyond that which can be provided in the gifted cluster groupings that are currently in place.  Unlike clustering, which includes students of various abilities, the classes at GATE include only highly gifted learners. Differentiation in the depth, breadth, and pace of instruction with an emphasis on higher level thinking skills is utilized to meet the needs of advanced learners.

Gateway (Woodbury)  Grades 3-5

A “school within a school” for students who are highly gifted and have exceptional abilities. Gateway has been successful in challenging highly gifted students who have demonstrated needs beyond the Cluster Classroom model. Transportation is provided for students who come from any of the fourteen elementary sites across the district.

Harriet Bishop Gifted & Talented Magnet School (Burnsville/Eagan/Savage)  Grades K-6

Uses differentiation and schoolwide cluster grouping to maximize learning for all students, while giving all students the opportunity to get to know and learn from each other. This magnet school is a hybrid that includes enrichment for all students as well as targeted and leveled instruction within the school day for students who meet the gifted criteria. The school provides both within-school and outside of school opportunities for highly-gifted students to soar.

Ignite! (Lakeville)  Grades 3-5

Ignite! is a unique elementary age full-time gifted program that combines a challenging core curriculum with flexible choice offerings to provide highly gifted children the opportunity to ignite their passion for learning. Ignite! is intended for highly gifted learners at the 98th and 99th percentile. The identification process allows for multiple ways for students to demonstrate this.

Navigator Program (Minnetonka)  Grades 2-5

A program for exceptionally gifted students with an IQ of 145 and over. Successful students demonstrate high levels of focus in areas of interest with longer than average attention spans for their ages. They have high levels of intellectual curiosity, intensity, and big picture thinking.

Pinewood Elementary Gifted Program (Rosemount/Apple Valley/Eagan)  Grades 3-5

Full-day gifted/talented classrooms. Eligibility is based on student scores on standardized tests of cognition and achievement. Generally scores above the 95th percentile in reading, math, and cognition are considered for placement. GT students participate in physical education, art, music, and media classes, and eat lunch with their grade-level peers. They also participate together in grade-level and school events such as field trips and special programs. Assignments are more rigorous and geared to the students’ needs and interests. Several long-term projects are completed during the school year.

SAGE Academy (Prior Lake/Savage)  Grades 3-5

A school-within-a-school full-time gifted program. Students are eligible for SAGE Academy if they meet the identification criteria which includes test data (i.e., Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), Otis Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), or another nationally normed achievement test). Teacher and parent input is also considered. Students who qualify are invited to attend SAGE Academy. 2nd grade students currently enrolled in Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools do not need to complete the application form. All current second grade students are automatically considered for placement in SAGE Academy.

Quest (Buffalo/Hanover/Montrose)  Grades 2-7

A school within a school program for highly gifted students. The Quest program covers the core areas of English, mathematics, science and social studies within a full-time, elementary classroom for students in grades 2-5, and at the middle school level in grades 6-8. Students in the Quest program experience enriched and accelerated curriculum. Instructors in the Quest program receive specialized training for meeting the needs of highly gifted students.

Highly qualified students will have consistently achieved MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) or other achievement test scores in the mid 90th percentiles on both math and reading tests, and in the mid 90th percentile on the CogAT test (Cognitive Abilities Test).



The Davidson Academy of Nevada 

A free public day “university school” for profoundly gifted learners. Eligible candidates have SAT, ACT or IQ scores in the top 1/10th of 1%, and perform academically at the middle or high school level.

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