Advanced Academic Programs

Our Advanced Academics Resource Teacher

Our Kent Gardens ES Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART), Mrs. Bulford, collaborates with the school staff to determine the appropriate level of advanced academic services. Ongoing observation and assessment ensure that student needs are being met.

Parents may refer their child for advanced academic services or get additional information on the screening process at Kent Gardens by contacting Mrs. Bulford at

Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) are divided into four levels, and Kent Gardens offers students all of the levels, including a Local Level IV program as an option in grades 3-6. Here is a description of each of the four levels of service: 

Level l

Critical and Creative Thinking Lessons, Grades K-6 

The first level is provided to all students in kindergarten through grade six and consists of model lessons that are designed to teach critical and creative thinking skills. The lessons are modeled in all classrooms by the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART) and the thinking strategies are then used throughout the year by classroom and other teachers who work with students. Student responses to these lessons are used as part of the identification process for Levels II-IV. Parents may also practice these strategies during family conversations and activities. 

Level II

  • Differentiated Lessons in Areas of Academic Strength, Grades K-6
    • Students identified by a local school screening committee are offered differentiated lessons (Level II) in areas of specific academic strength. The AART collaborates with classroom teachers to provide additional challenges through lessons and resources within the general education program. Screening for this level of service is ongoing throughout the school year. 

Level III

  • Part-Time Advanced Academic Programs, Grades 3-6
    • Students identified by a local school screening committee for Level III part-time advanced academic services are challenged through models and strategies designed to extend and enrich the POS in the four core subject areas. Students receive direct instruction from the AARTeacher.
  • Screening
    • Screening for Level II and Level III can happen at any time during the school year, but is done schoolwide in spring to determine services for the next school year. Parents or guardians may initiate the screening by submitting the AAP School-Based Services (Level II-III) Referral Form to the AART at Kent
    • Gardens prior to spring screening (approximate date each year is in mid-May).  Parents or guardians who submit a referral will be notified by Kent Gardens of their student’s eligibility status (approximate date each year is in late-May). 

Level IV

  • Full-Time Advanced Academic Programs, Grades 3-6
    • Students found eligible for placement in full-time Level IV Advanced Academic Programs through a central selection process receive a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.
    • The full-time advanced academic program is differentiated in depth, breadth, and pace of instruction. It provides an appropriate level of challenge for highly gifted learners with a strong emphasis on critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving.
    • The mathematics curriculum is accelerated by one grade level and readings and resources that are used in other subject areas are also presented at advanced levels. 

Kent Gardens Local Level IV program - How the Local Level IV differs from the Level IV Center

  • The Kent Gardens Local Level IV program provides an important option for advanced learners who need the challenge of a full-time AAP center curriculum and do not want to leave their local school.
  • The Level IV Center for Kent Gardens ES is located at Churchill Road ES.
  • Teachers in both settings are trained in gifted education and teach the same advanced academic curriculum to students who are ready for a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.
  • The main difference is in the make-up of the class. All of the students in full-time, center-based classes at Churchill Road have been identified as center-eligible by a central selection committee and will be coming from several neighborhood schools to comprise the center class. In a Local Level IV classroom at Kent Gardens, the students are a mix of students who are center-eligible and high achieving students who are capable of working at advanced levels, all enrolled in the local school. 


  • In the spring, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) is administered to all FCPS first grade students. In the fall, the CogAT-Custom Form is administered to all FCPS second grade students. During the fall testing cycle, the NNAT and/or Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) may be administered to students in grades 3-6 who do not have an ability test score.
  • An initial second-grade screening pool for AAP Level IV is established using the test results from first and second-grade testing. Parents of students in the second-grade screening pool receive a letter notifying them that their child will be screened for the full-time advanced academic program. 
  • The benchmark score used to create the second-grade initial pool will be published on the FCPS AAP website by mid-January.

Referrals for Full-Time AAP Level IV

  • Students who are not in the second-grade pool will not receive notification.
  • Parents or guardians of students not in the second-grade screening pool may initiate the full-time AAP Level IV screening process by completing and submitting an Advanced Academic Programs Level IV Referral Form to the local school. The referral form plus forms for additional optional information are available on the FCPS website (link below) and in the Parent Information Packet available at the local school.

FCPS Level IV Referral Form

FCPS AAP identification and placement

Note: Please do not wait for test scores before submitting a referral for your student as there will be no referrals for Level IV screening accepted past the deadline. If you are waiting for test scores and would like your student screened for Level IV, please submit the referral by the published deadline (even if you have not received the test scores for your student).

The FCPS Testing and Identification Timeline link below includes the deadline for submitting the Advanced Academic Programs Level IV Referral Form for students in Grade 2 who are not in pool and students in Grades 3–6.

When is the Parent Referral Form due?