Some school districts may be able to employ a gifted education specialist, but this may not be feasible for many districts.  Alternative strategies include sharing a gifted education specialist among several schools or contracting with a gifted education specialist for specific services including high quality professional development.  The OPI's Gifted Education Training Site and Planning Guide  outlines a number of classroom strategies as part of Montana's Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).  This process is useful in planning and managing instruction for gifted and advanced students.


Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for Gifted and Advanced Learners

Tier 1

Tier 1 refers to classroom instruction for all students that utilizes evidenced-based materials and practices to teach core subject areas such as reading, written expression, and math. 

The most important Tier 1 strategy for gifted and advanced learners is differentiated instruction that usually occurs in flexible small groups within the regular classroom or regular instructional time. The key principles of differentiated instruction are:

  • Student-centered instructional practices and materials are standards-based and grounded in research
  • Instruction has clear objectives with focused activities to reach the objectives.
  • Assessment results are used to shape future instructional decisions
  • Students have multiple avenues to show mastery of essential content and skills and to demonstrate their learning
  • Instructional pacing, depth, and complexity are varied.

Tier 2

Tier 2 refers to evidence based, targeted, supplemental skill-building intervention. In the case of gifted and advanced learners, Tier 2 refers to students who require specific supports in addition to work in the classroom to make adequate progress. This is part of an ongoing decision-making process to determine the effectiveness of interventions and programming options and assessment of learning to meet the needs of students for whom general education Tier 1 strategies do not support adequate progress.

Tier 3

Tier 3 refers to evidence-based intensive targeted interventions for students whose academic and intellectual needs are not being met by Tier 1 or Tier 2 supplemental and/or targeted instruction. Generally, children and adolescents who need this intervention are highly or exceptionally gifted (IQ of 145 or greater). Early speech, reading, and other developmental skills are indicators of a highly gifted child. This small percentage of students require radical acceleration, dual enrollment, early entrance, specialized counseling, long-term mentorships, or participation in a specialized classroom or school for gifted students. 

Please see our Gifted & MTSS and Differentiation and Interventions pages for more information.

Need strategies to get started in the classroom? Visit our "Getting Started" list. 

Professional Development

Visit the OPI Teacher Learning Hub, and participate in the Introduction to Gifted Students or Introduction to Twice Exceptional Students to learn more about gifted students.


Please visit OPI's Gifted Education Training Site for resources and information regarding how to identify gifted students.


Please see OPI's Characteristics pages for more information regarding the characteristics of gifted learners:

  • Types of Gifted Students
  • Twice-Exceptional
  • Social Emotional

 Additional Resources

Return to Gifted, Talented & Advanced Placement Home

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Tammy Lysons, CETA Unit Manager, 406-431-2309