(City of) Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools, a system of schools serving the City of Atlanta, calls its gifted services program the Challenge Program.

At the elementary school level, students are served by a pull-out model. They may go to a gifted class once every day, or may have a gifted class that meets for a full day, once a week.

At the middle-school level, gifted students may be offered advanced classes taught by teachers with gifted certification, or they may be taught by a non-gifted-certified teacher who gets help from a gifted teacher in creating a modified curriculum.

High-school students  can enroll in advanced classes including Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Like middle-school students, they also may be taught a differentiated curriculum created through a collaboration between the classroom teacher and a gifted-certified teacher.

More information is available at APS’s gifted services page.

Identification of gifted students

APS screens students twice a year to identify students who should receive gifted services. At the beginning of the school year, gifted teachers review students’ scores on any nationally normed tests to identify those who should be evaluated. Then, in December, classroom teachers observe students and score them on specific traits, abilities and behaviors that may indicate giftedness. Parents also have the option of requesting that their child be referred for gifted assessment. The APS web site offers compete information on the identification process.

Acceleration policy


School choice

APS allows students to request transfers to attend a school outside their district, so long as there is room at the school they want to attend. The schools also are open to students from outside the City of Atlanta, although tuition is required of these families. More information is available on the school system’s student transfers page.

High school options

Years ago, APS’s high schools were magnet schools, each one having an area of focus. In 2010, APS changed to a “learning communities” model, in which each high school had several pathways its students could take, each with a theme such as engineering, hospitality, or health sciences. While some APS high schools have returned to a more general curriculum, some still offer learning pathways such as STEM, biomedical sciences, fine arts, and international studies.

I hesitate to specify which pathways are available at which schools, as in my attempts to fact check the information, I have found different information on the APS pathways web page (officially referred to as Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education, or CTAE) and on the schools’ individual web sites. If your child has a particular area of interest, look for a school that offers a related pathway, then contact the school or APS to verify that the educational program you’re looking for is still in place.

Charter schools

APS has more than a dozen charter schools. Those that may be good options for gifted students include:

Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School: Serving grades K-8, with an emphasis on student engagement, community and real-world learning.

Atlanta Classical Academy: Opened in fall 2014 to serve grades K-8, and will be adding a grade level each year until it reaches K-12. Follows the classical education model, which includes a focus on liberal arts, study of classical texts, Latin, and the arts.

The Kindezi School: Opened in 2010, this K-8 school emphasizes differentiated learning in extremely small groups — each class has only six to eight students, and teachers regularly work with groups of one, two or three.

Wesley International Academy: This K-8 school, opened in 2007, teaches the International Baccalaureate Programme (see below) and includes Chinese instruction for all students.

International Baccalaureate Schools

International Baccalaureate (IB) is a rigorous, demanding curriculum with a global perspective. It is offered at eight APS schools. The IB Primary Years Programme is used at Bolton Academy, Deerwood Academy, Morris Brandon Elementary, Garden Hills Elementary, Warren T. Jackson Elementary, E. Rivers Elementary, Sarah Smith Elementary and Beecher Hills Elementary. Sutton Middle School uses the IB Middle Years Programme, and Maynard H. Jackson High School and North Atlanta High School offer the IB Diploma Programme, which culminates in an IB diploma that can earn course credit at many colleges.

Other gifted programs

One APS learning community is open only to children who have been identified as gifted: the Gifted Academy at Brown Middle School. (NOTE: As of July 2016, the school’s web site no longer has any references to the Gifted Academy. Maybe it’s been discontinued?)

At the county office

Dr. Quail T. Arnold is the coordinator for Gifted and Talented Education Services. Dr. Arnold can be reached at (404) 802-7585.

Dr. Meria Carstarphen is superintendent of APS. Her phone number is (404) 802-2820.

Elected officials

The Atlanta Public Schools system is governed by a nine-member Board of Education.

Links and content on this page were verified on 7/31/2016.

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