DeKalb County Schools
Gifted services in the DeKalb County School District are offered primarily via pull-out classes. This means that gifted children spend a few hours each week in a separate classroom led by a teacher who is a gifted-certified instructor.
The elementary school pull-out class is called Discovery. County policy states that Discovery should meet for 225 minutes per week. Middle schools and high schools may offer Impact, a gifted class which meets one period per school day.
Identification of gifted students
For most students, gifted evaluation happens automatically based on their scores on the CoGAT or ITBS standardized tests. Gifted testing is usually done in grades 1, 3, 5 and 7. In rare cases, kindergarten students may be evaluated with the approval of the school’s Gifted Eligibility Committee, which will review a portfolio of the child’s work.
Outside of this standard process, students may be referred for gifted evaluation by teachers, administrators, counselors, parents / guardians, peers, self or anyone else familiar with the child’s abilities.
More detailed information on the qualification process and the types of programs offered is available on the county’s gifted program overview page.
DeKalb County has formal acceleration guidelines to follow when considering whether students can study at a higher grade level for one or more subjects (subject-matter acceleration), or advance to a higher grade level altogether (grade acceleration). See the acceleration policy document (PDF) for details.
Magnet schools for high achievers
DeKalb County operates six magnet schools for high achievers:
These magnet schools are rigorous and demanding. Your child can expect a challenging course load, and all students are expected to study a foreign language and learn a musical instrument in addition to their usual studies.
Eligibility is based on test scores and GPA. Demand for these schools is high, so each spring, the county holds a lottery to select which of the eligible applicants will be given a chance to enroll. Those who aren’t selected are placed on a waiting list and will be contacted if spots become available.
Once a child is in the high achievers magnet program, he can remain at the school as long as he is in good standing. Kids who complete the high achievers program at Kittredge or Wadsworth are guaranteed a space at either Chamblee or Chapel Hill. Likewise, students who graduate from the magnet programs at Chamblee or Chapel Hill middle school can continue to Chamblee or Southwest DeKalb high school without having to go through another lottery.
To have your child considered for the high achievers program, you can apply as early as 3rd grade (applying to enroll in 4th grade). Applications are available in March on the magnet lottery area of the DeKalb County Schools ePortal. If your child isn’t selected for admission as a 4th grader, you can reapply each spring. Sometimes spaces open up for higher grades.
You can find more information about the high achievers program in the county’s magnet schools brochure.
Magnet schools of the arts
If your child is creatively gifted and has an interest in art, music, dance or theater, you may want to consider one of the county’s magnet schools with an emphasis on arts:
DeKalb School of the Arts (8-12)
Children applying for grades K-3 will be selected by a random lottery. Those applying for grades 4 or above will be asked to give an interview and audition, and to provide recommendations in both arts and academics. Some applicants to DeKalb School of the Arts may need to present a portfolio.
You can find more information about the schools for the arts in the county’s magnet schools brochure.
International Baccalaureate schools
DeKalb County has seven schools using the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, a well known, rigorous course of study.
Druid Hills (Shamrock) Middle School, Salem Middle School and Tucker Middle School offer the IB Middle Years Programme; the Primary Years Programme is used at Avondale, Fernbank and Midvale elementary schools.
Other magnet schools
DCS operates a number of additional magnet schools:
- Clifton Elementary School – math, science and computer education
- Evansdale Elementary School – math, science and foreign language
- Columbia Middle School – math, science and technology
- Arabia Mountain High School – technology
- Columbia High School – math, science and technology
To enroll at one of these schools from outside the regular attendance zone, a student must have a B average and must complete the school choice application process.
Science classes at Fernbank Science Center
For students with a strong interest in science, DeKalb County offers free, hands-on classes for high-school students at Fernbank Science Center. All of these classes earn course credit.
The Advanced Studies program meets after-school — generally twice a week — and teaches classes in a variety of scientific topics, from ecology to physics. Some courses are one semester long; others last the entire school year. Students can register anytime prior to the beginning of the course, provided space is available.
Ninth graders may also take Scientific Tools and Techniques (STT), which exposes them to the process of scientific inquiry. Students take STT during the school day in lieu of taking a science class at their home school. Transportation is provided by the county. Students should apply for this program in 8th grade through their home school.
At the county office
Donyell Atkinson is the gifted coordinator for DeKalb County Schools. You can reach her at (678) 676-0175.
Michael Thurmond is the interim superintendent for DeKalb County Schools.
DeKalb County Schools are governed by a nine-member Board of Education. Board meetings usually take place on the second Monday of each month. Meetings are held at the Mountain Industrial Center Complex, located at 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain, just off U.S. Hwy. 78. If you can’t attend meetings in person but want to keep up with what’s happening, you can watch past meetings online.
A group of knowledgeable parents discuss gifted education in DeKalb County Schools in a Yahoo! group called Gifted Advocates.
A special note for Decatur residents
DeKalb County residents who live within the city limits of Decatur are served by the City Schools of Decatur. Gifted services falls under the system’s Department of Special Education.
Links and content on this page were last verified 8/9/2013.