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AIG Frequently Asked Questions

How is giftedness defined?

North Carolina state law (NC General Statutes, Chapter 115C, Article 9B) states “academically or intellectually gifted students perform or show the potential to perform at substantially high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. Academically or intellectually gifted students exhibit high performance capability in intellectual areas, specific academic fields, or in both intellectual areas and specific academic fields. Academically or intellectually gifted students require differentiated educational services beyond those ordinarily provided by the regular educational program. Outstanding abilities are present in students from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.”

How does Watauga County Schools identify students as gifted?

Through the use of a wide variety of data, including an aptitude assessment provided to all WCS students in third grade, school-based teams known as Excel Teams identify students in need of gifted services. Excel Teams are led by AIG Specialists (or, at Watauga High School and Watauga Innovation Academy, by the District AIG Coordinator) and meet as necessary throughout the year to evaluate referrals on a rolling basis.

Students may be identified in the following areas:

  • Academically Gifted in Math and/or Reading
  • Intellectually Gifted -- students showing exceptional aptitude and potential without corresponding academic achievement
  • Academically and Intellectually Gifted -- students showing extremely high levels of both aptitude and achievement

Watauga County Schools is committed to equitably screening for, referring, and identifying giftedness within all races, ethnicities, cultural and linguistic groups, socio-economic levels, and other backgrounds and identities. Our practice of universal screening in third grade is one component of equitable practice, as is the use of alternative assessments to obtain accurate data (e.g. using non-verbal aptitude assessments for students who do not yet speak English).

How does Watauga County Schools serve students identified as gifted?

The WCS AIG Program seeks not only to provide academic and intellectual challenges to students identified as gifted, but also to provide essential support for their unique social-emotional needs.

In our K-8 schools, AIG Specialists, in collaboration with classroom teachers, provide services such as curriculum compacting, enrichment experiences, project-based learning, and academic clubs and competitions for students identified as gifted to ensure these students are appropriately challenged and supported throughout the school day.

Similarly, at Watauga High School and the Watauga Innovation Academy, the assistant principal in charge of gifted education and the Student Services Department work closely with students identified as gifted to ensure they select appropriately challenging courses, pursue their interests through extracurriculars, receive support for their social-emotional needs, and plan for beyond high school.

Every educator in every school building plays a role in supporting the academic, intellectual, and social-emotional needs of AIG students.

What should I do if I think my child is gifted?

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) provides helpful parent resources on common characteristics of gifted individuals and traits of giftedness. If you feel your child has ability well beyond their age-level peers and would benefit from gifted services, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher. You’re also welcome to contact your school’s AIG Specialist (or, for students in grades 9-12, their school counselor).

These educators can then provide more information about the AIG Program in general, discuss the data we have available for your child, and determine if a referral for identification is warranted.

Who can I contact for more information about the Watauga County Schools AIG Program?

For more information, please contact your school's AIG Specialist. Parents/guardians of students in grades 9-12 should contact their student's counselor.

All families are also welcome to contact Mr. Jake Orange, District AIG Coordinator, at or 828.264.8481.