PEAK Programming by Level: Elementary, Middle and High

2 years ago

By Kim Hamilton

As students transition from elementary to middle to high school, PEAK programming shifts to best meet student needs. While programming varies from building to building, parents and students can expect the following general progression of PEAK services. Parents are encouraged to contact the PEAK staff member at each school for more specific programming information.


PEAK Teachers, in collaboration with the classroom teachers, work with identified, talent pool, and high achieving students in whole and small group situations to provide learning opportunities that support their needs in order to learn and grow.  

The topics in small groups evolve according to student needs and curriculum requirements.  Activities may include (but are not limited to) math extension, advanced level literacy groups, advanced writing instruction, and inventive and/or creative thinking activities.  Student involvement in these groups will change according to need and inclusion in these groups is based on demonstrated performance, observations, and pre-assessment.  Students‘ needs change as the skills being taught revolve; therefore children may move in and out of these small groups accordingly.

The Roaring Fork Schools District uses the Schoolwide Cluster Model in grades K-8 which is an inclusion model where students with exceptional learning needs are integrated into mixed-ability classrooms with their academic peers. Therefore, PEAK Teachers at each building also meet regularly with general education  teachers to plan instruction, gather resources, and evaluate lessons.  A collaborative planning model allows the classroom teacher to better meet the needs of the students and ensures that gifted children receive appropriate instruction all day long.  


In middle school, gifted and talented students are transitioning from an elementary environment that offers more direct, small group services, to an inclusion setting based on collaboration between students, teachers, the PEAK teacher, and parents. Middle school students develop more ownership of their learning by identifying their unique academic and social emotional (affective) goals, learn to track these goals, and expand their skills to appropriately self-advocate for their learning needs. In the middle school model, PEAK students:

  • Receive instruction in the classroom in clustered general education classes and/or advanced pace groups (contact individual schools for more information on advanced offerings at each school).

  • Are challenged through differentiation within the classroom through pre-assessment for mastery of standards, curriculum compacting, and tiered lessons.

  • With help from the PEAK teacher, students learn to collaborate with teachers and parents to ensure their academic needs are met and their learning goals are understood by all involved. Goals are updated annually and monitored over the course of the year.

  • Learn to self-advocate to ensure needs are met within the classroom, with assistance from the PEAK teacher when needed.

  • Develop an ownership of their Advance Learning Plan (ALP) and learning needs.

  • Identify specific social emotional needs, which are an additional focus of the ALP. With assistance from the PEAK teacher, students self-assess progress made towards social emotional goals.

  • Prepare for high school and beyond by understanding how they learn best, what is needed to be challenged, and how to approach school staff to ensure they obtain a rigorous academic experience.


At the high school level, students are ready to take on even more ownership of their academic and social-emotional growth. Each high school has a PEAK Liaison available to support students as they become more self-sufficient. PEAK Advisory groups meet regularly to address student needs and support students as they navigate course offerings and extracurricular opportunities offered at each high school.

At the high school, students and families are able to choose the level of support that meets their academic and social emotional needs.

Academic Programs

Gifted programming is aligned with a gifted student's assessment data and ALP goals in the area(s) of giftedness. The following program options are among those available at RFSD:

Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model—An inclusion model in which a "cluster" of gifted students are integrated into mixed-ability classrooms with teachers trained to provide appropriate differentiated learning opportunities. Cluster grouping allows teachers with specialized training in gifted education to challenge gifted students in all content areas. The pacing of instruction and the depth of content that gifted students need is made possible through compacting, differentiation, and flexible grouping arrangements. More information can be found about the Schoolwide Cluster Model here.

Flexible Grouping (Interest Based)—involves grouping students together for different purposes. The groups are formed based on ability, achievement, or interest, and should be fluid and flexible. Some common methods used to form flexible groups that are successful with gifted students include grouping by: • Interest area(s) • Content mastery • Ability level • Project choice • Readiness level for targeted objective. This can be done at the school-level or within a classroom.

Flexible Grouping (Schoolwide flooding)—if the grade level has a common time for a specific subject, students are grouped according to ability level to receive instruction in their zone of proximal development. Schools that practice flooding MUST have provisions in place for students whose abilities reach beyond their grade span.

Content Replacement Programs “Pull-Out”—students usually receive accelerated learning opportunities in a specific subject area in an alternative classroom setting. Gifted students are typically pulled out of the regular classroom for replacement of services in math and/or reading. On average, the content is one to two grade levels beyond the student’s assigned grade.

Tiered Instruction Tiered assignments are parallel tasks provided to small groups of students based on their similar levels of readiness to complete them

Grade-level Acceleration—Advancing a child one or more entire grade levels to expose him/her to more advanced curriculum.

Subject Area Acceleration—Advancing a child in one or more subjects (advanced math classes, higher grade level reading groups, dual enrollment in college).

Independent Study—A formal independent study allows a student to research an area of passion and work with experts in the field to deepen knowledge and understanding.

Mentorships—Students are matched with an expert in a field of interest and given an opportunity to learn more about a specific topic. This works best in conjunction with an independent study.

Dual/Concurrent Enrollment—Allows high school students the opportunity to take college level courses and receive high school credit at the same time they are earning college credit.

Social and Emotional Programs

In addition to academic programming, gifted students are served through a variety of programs that address their unique social and emotional needs which may include:

* Mini-Crew Groups

* Individual counseling

* Friends or Lunch groups by specific needs

* Transition support (building change, college planning)

* Advisory Groups or Clustered Crews

Social and Emotional Supports are also woven into regular program delivery and augmented with specific small group supports as needed.