ASPIRE Academy Frequently Asked Questions

Expand the below categories for frequently asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us at info@gcisd.net. Please scroll for additional FAQs that pertain specifically to ASPIRE Academy at the middle school level.

Please click this link for the Advanced Academic Frequently Asked Questions.

ASPIRE Academy

What is ASPIRE Academy?

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s ASPIRE Academy is designed to meet the academic needs of highly gifted students who require significant curricular modifications in the classroom environment. These students typically score in the 99th percentile in multiple domains on a nationally normed aptitude test and also demonstrate remarkable ability in qualitative and/or quantitative achievement domains.

Why is the word “ASPIRE” in all capital letters?  

It’s an acronym and stands for Advancing Scholars in Pursuit of Innovation, Real-world connections, and Excellence in education.


Where are ASPIRE Academies located?

We utilize a “school within a school” model. This means that each ASPIRE Academy is housed within a GCISD campus. Elementary and middle school ASPIRE students have their core courses with other ASPIRE students taught by ASPIRE teachers, but they have have lunch, recess, and electives with all students on their respective campuses.

The elementary ASPIRE Academy is housed at Glenhope Elementary School. The middle school ASPIRE Academy is housed at Cross Timbers Middle School.

The high school ASPIRE Academy is housed at Grapevine High School. ASPIRE students take Pre-AP and AP English and social studies courses with their ASPIRE peers and are taught by ASPIRE teachers. Students zoned for Colleyville Heritage High School may attend CHHS and take a bus to Grapevine High School for their ASPIRE classes.

ASPIRE Teachers

Who teaches ASPIRE? Do they have special training for highly gifted students?

ASPIRE teachers have the required thirty hours of GT training necessary to teach gifted sections. However, the grand majority of ASPIRE teachers are GT state certified and/or have a master’s degree either in education or their specific subject area. They receive additional, on-going training relevant to meeting the needs of the highly gifted through district offerings, outside conferences, and online resources. All are dedicated to continuing professional development and to making their own scholarly contributions to the understanding and practice of gifted education. 

Additionally, it is worth noting that ASPIRE teachers choose to teach our district’s highly gifted students. These teachers are passionate about gifted education and have a heart for your kids. GCISD is extremely grateful for these specialized ASPIRE teachers. 

Enrollment Qualifications

How do I know if my child is a candidate for this program?

Eligible students must first be identified as GT in GCISD.  ASPIRE Academy is designed to meet the needs of the district’s highly gifted students. These students typically score in the 99th percentile in multiple domains on a nationally normed aptitude test and also demonstrate remarkable ability in qualitative and/or quantitative achievement domains. If students score in these high ranges, the GT specialists and secondary counselors will contact parents to ask if the parents would like for the child to be considered for the ASPIRE Academy. Elementary GT Specialists and secondary counselors are available to discuss the ASPIRE Academy with you to determine whether it is a good fit for your child. 


I have no idea how my child did on the aptitude testing. How can I find out?

Please call your GT Specialist at an elementary campus or the counselor at a secondary campus. He or she can assist you with assessment questions. 


How do students qualify for ASPIRE Academy?  What is the referral and placement process?

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s ASPIRE Academy serves highly gifted students and is designed to meet the academic needs of highly gifted students who require significant curricular modifications in the classroom environment.  These students typically score in the 99th percentile in multiple domains on a nationally normed aptitude test and also demonstrate remarkable ability in qualitative and/or quantitative achievement domains.

The eligibility and acceptance process was presented to the Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee for feedback and support, approved by district leadership, communicated to the Board of Trustees, and communicated to parents. All feedback indicated the importance of aligning with the overall GT Identification Process, including having "qualitative and quantitative data collected through three or more measures" (Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, 2.22). In other words, selection is not simply based upon one measure, such as one score on a sub-test of an aptitude test, but is based on a preponderance of evidence that indicates the student has an educational need for the highly differentiated curriculum of the ASPIRE Academy.  

Parents may refer their child to be tested for ASPIRE during the referral window that is used for all GT testing. ASPIRE testing occurs during GCISD’s testing windows. If a student has not been referred for possible ASPIRE placement but earns scores similar to students who qualify for ASPIRE, the GT Specialist or secondary counselor will notify parents and ask if they would like for their child to be considered for ASPIRE. In other words, parents are welcome to request that their child be considered for ASPIRE placement, but we also notice it if a student’s scores might qualify him or her for GCISD’s ASPIRE Academy.

The ASPIRE Academy placement decision is made by a district placement committee. The Director of Advanced Academics leads this committee, which includes the director and two or three GCISD teachers and/or members of the Advanced Academics team. Everyone on this committee has experience teaching gifted and/or highly gifted students and has many hours of gifted education training. Every child is very carefully considered on an individual basis, so these meetings take days to complete. Parents are mailed a letter regarding the placement decision. 

Additional information related to testing can be found on the general Advanced Academics Frequently Asked Questions page


Once my child is placed in this program, will he or she stay in the program, or do students have to re-test every year?

Your child will remain in the program unless the student and/or parents want to opt out of the ASPIRE program.  If a student is not progressing appropriately academically and/or behaviorally, a conference will be scheduled.


If my child is not performing, will he/she be exited from the program? Will that decision require parental consent?

 ASPIRE is a specialized learning environment designed for highly gifted students, and it may not be the right environment for all students. If a student is not progressing appropriately academically and/or behaviorally, a conference will be scheduled that will include some or all of the following people: the student, the campus principal, a counselor, ASPIRE teachers, parents, ASPIRE’s District Liaison, and/or the Director of Advanced Academics. The purpose of this meeting would be to plan a course of action that is in the best educational interests of the student. No decision will be made without involving parents in the process. 

New to GCISD

We live in GCISD (or in the city of Grapevine or Colleyville), but my child attends a private school. Can my child be tested for ASPIRE Academy?

Students who live within GCISD boundaries (or in the city of Grapevine or Colleyville) who are not currently enrolled in a GCISD school can be assessed for ASPIRE Academy. This typically occurs in late spring. Those students who qualify can begin ASPIRE Academy in the fall of the next school year.


We don’t currently live in GCISD. Can my child still be tested for ASPIRE Academy?

No. GCISD’s administrative regulations require families to live in GCISD (or in the cities of Grapevine or Colleyville) before we can test for potential ASPIRE placement. Once residency is established, the Advanced Academics department can administer this testing for potential placement in ASPIRE Academy if there is space available in the student’s grade level. We know this may be disappointing, but we just don’t have the personnel or resources to test students who are not a part of our district (as described above).


What if our family doesn’t currently live in GCISD, but we are willing to move? Can my child be tested before we move?

No. GCISD’s Administrative Regulations require families to live in GCISD (or in the cities of Grapevine or Colleyville) before we can test for potential ASPIRE placement. Once residency is established, the Advanced Academics department can administer this testing for potential placement in ASPIRE Academy if there is space available in the student’s grade level. We know this may be disappointing, but we just don’t have the personnel or resources to test students who are not a part of our district (as described above).


If we do decide to move to GCISD (or within the cities of Grapevine or Colleyville) and thereby establish residency, when can my student be tested for ASPIRE?

Per GCISD’s Administrative Regulations, students who are new to GCISD may schedule assessment for ASPIRE Academy for the current school year prior to enrollment if ASPIRE space is available in your student’s grade level. Placement determines at which school the student will be enrolled and the student did not have this opportunity the previous year.

As another option, students who reside within the GCISD boundaries or the cities of Colleyville or Grapevine may be assessed for ASPIRE Academy placement for the subsequent school year prior to enrollment during a designated testing window (if ASPIRE space is available) if the student doesn’t want to change schools mid-year.

Transportation

If my child is placed, will transportation be available?

In the morning, transportation is provided from a student's home campus to the ASPIRE Academy. Parents will need to provide transportation for their child to the child's home campus. (Note: to determine if you are eligible for district transportation to your home campus, please refer to the district website.) 

In the afternoon, a bus returns the student to their home campus for parent pickup. It is important to note that in the afternoons, parents will have to provide transportation for their child from the home campus to the child’s home.  


What transportation is provided for ASPIRE high school students who attend Colleyville Heritage High School as their home campus but want to take ASPIRE classes at Grapevine High School?

High school ASPIRE students whose home campus is Colleyville Heritage High School are shuttled to Grapevine High School for ASPIRE classes.


May I opt out of transportation?

Parents may also opt out of transportation if it is not needed.

Academics

What curriculum will be used? How will that differ from what happens in the regular classroom and in the ASPIRE Pull-Out classroom?

Through pre-assessments, curriculum compacting, and formative assessments, teachers are able to introduce enrichment and extension opportunities using additional resources such as, but not limited to, William and Mary curriculum units, Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP), Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM), Project Based Learning (PBL), Junior Great Books, Creative Problem Solving, Depth & Complexity, and Young Mathematicians at Work. The curriculum is designed by the teachers and GCISD’s Advanced Academics Department around state and NAGC standards with expectations for sophisticated products and performances.

High school Pre-AP and AP ASPIRE courses begin with College Board standards as their foundation. ASPIRE teachers differentiate by adding other components, such as theory, philosophy, and ethics. 


What level of STAAR test will my child take?

Students enrolled in grades 3 and above will take STAAR/EOC at their instructional level.  Students enrolled in grades 3 and above who telescope in math will take the STAAR/EOC test for the grade or course to which they telescope. Students in 7th Accelerated Math take the 8th-grade STAAR math test.  Students in 7th Accelerated Science take the 8th-grade STAAR science test. Algebra 1, Biology, and Pre-AP English 1 and 2 include required EOC exams. Middle school students who have already taken the Algebra I EOC are required to take their grade-level math STAAR test, regardless of what math course they are taking.


How much will the workload increase? I understand the curriculum is rigorous, and I am curious if it is so much additional work that we may not have time for extracurricular activities and sports?

The curriculum will be appropriately rigorous to meet the needs of highly gifted learners. However, added rigor does not necessarily imply added homework. We expect the workload to increase in terms of challenge but not in terms of amount.  


What is the role of technology and fine arts in the curriculum?

ASPIRE Academy classrooms are all 1:1 digital classrooms. Fine arts is the same as on home campuses, which is through specials for elementary ASPIRE students and electives for secondary students. Both technology and fine arts options are also offered after school and during Gatorville at Glenhope. Students choose fine arts  and technology electives at the middle and high school levels.


What about math telescoping?

Telescoping is available to any student who meets the criteria. Exam scores place students in the next grade level for math instruction. This will look similar in ASPIRE. GCISD’s math department has more information about math telescoping. This page includes helpful information, including the criteria to telescope, testing dates, appeal windows, and information that will help you decide if math telescoping is right for your child.


Does the curriculum meet NAGC standards?

Yes.


What programs like DI, Robotics Mindstorm, or other similar types of competitions will be available for my child at the new campus?

All campus enrichment opportunities will be available for ASPIRE Academy students. Please visit the campus websites for more information on offerings.


If my child qualifies for ASPIRE Academy, will he or she still attend GT classes one day a week?

No. ASPIRE Academy courses replace GT pull-out services.

Social & Emotional Needs

What are the social/emotional aspects of moving schools versus the benefits of ASPIRE Academy?

Research shows that highly gifted students flourish when grouped with both age and intellectual peers. This program may be valuable for those students who could benefit from this grouping.

Sibling Transfers

What if my child is accepted into the ASPIRE Academy, but I have another child at our home campus?

Please visit the GCISD webpage that includes Transfer Information.  Parents do not have to complete a transfer request for their student(s) who was accepted into the ASPIRE Academy.

Alternative GT Services

What will be done in the regular classroom for my student who is very close to qualifying for ASPIRE but does not qualify?

Classroom teachers will continue to differentiate in the classroom for identified GT students. Also, these students will receive GT LEAD classes on their elementary home campus.


My child qualified for ASPIRE Academy, but I don’t want him or her to leave our home elementary school campus. What happens then? How will my child receive equitable services?

Please see above.

ASPIRE Academy Middle School Frequently Asked Questions

Academics

What are the primary benefits of the ASPIRE program?

GCISD's ASPIRE program endeavors to provide academic learning experiences that meet the needs of highly gifted students. ASPIRE students also have the opportunity to participate in school-wide extracurricular courses, including but not limited to choir, theatre, engineering, band, athletics (7th-8th), and other fine arts and career and technology courses. 


How is ASPIRE different from the Discoveries and accelerated math and science classes that the other GT kids take?

Humanities students read and study a variety of college-level texts, and students are encouraged to question, critique, challenge, and expand upon the ideas presented in those texts. As middle-schoolers, ASPIRE students grapple with content and concepts that other learners will not encounter until they enter AP classes or college courses. Additionally, English and social studies are not taught as separate subjects, but rather in a fully integrated fashion that focuses on broad cultural themes and driving questions while also building fundamental TEKS-based skills as they pertain to world cultures, Texas history, or American history. Using the Parallel Curriculum Model as a framework, ASPIRE allows students opportunities for deeper explorations of content. Due to the compacted nature of social studies TEKS, students also cover more breadth of material, relating people and events referenced in the TEKS to people and events from different eras of history and different geographic regions. On-grade-level history textbooks are not used in ASPIRE Humanities, and there is no standard ELA text. Content is curated as needed from above-grade-level sources as deemed appropriate by the teacher.


How much homework is there in ASPIRE?

We try our best to limit homework when possible. Generally the level of homework required in ASPIRE is consistent with the rest of the campus and is comprised mainly of work that was not finished during the allotted class or Wolf Time. Teachers attempt to coordinate project timing as much as possible so that students are not swamped. When large projects are assigned, students have multiple class days to work on them before it becomes necessary to take them home. We do regularly emphasize the wise and efficient use of class time with our students as well as skills for organizing and planning for the timely completion of work. It is important to remember that some at-home assignments (such as membean) are district-mandated.


How does ASPIRE provide challenges for students beyond what they would get elsewhere?

The depth and complexity to which their content is taught allows students to go deeply into the content and concepts to which they are exposed, while covering the breadth of what is required. 


What are the special things that kids get to do in the ASPIRE program (speakers, field trips, etc.)?

A number of guest speakers from different fields visit every year for special talks. The topics are as varied as criminal law, fighter plane physics, and infectious disease, and they change from year to year. ASPIRE students also take multiple local field trips to museums and other cultural sites in the DFW area, and eighth-grade students complete an overnight field trip that includes a college visit.


What sort of preparation for high school is provided? Is there recognition that for highly gifted students that preparation needs to happen as early as 6th grade?

Research, writing, and text analysis skills that form the core of AP English and AP social studies classes in high school are taught and regularly practiced in ASPIRE Middle School Humanities. In addition, students begin preparing for the PSAT in 7th grade. Personalized Learning Plans and a College & Career PBL are also part of the preparation that ASPIRE students receive.


What is the best way to truly understand high school credits, 4 year plans, and GPA implications for our students? 

Your child’s counselor is the best source of information. Our counseling staff offers several group sessions as well as one-on-one meetings with 8th graders to help them prepare for high school.

ASPIRE students leave middle school with the following HS credits:

  • Biology
  • IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry)
  • Algebra I (*There are math tracks that will allow a student to leave with more advanced math credits depending on their math level once they begin middle school.)
  • Check the middle school section of GCISD Course Selection Guide for a list of high school credit opportunities afforded to middle school students in GCISD.  

Social & Emotional Needs

How are the social and emotional needs of highly gifted students met in ASPIRE?

ASPIRE uses a multi-pronged approach to meeting the social and emotional needs of its students. Students regularly engage in restorative chats to talk about both the good and the bad in their lives and to problem-solve concerns through conversation. In addition, teachers help them navigate issues ranging from Google drive organization to getting to class on time. Wolf Time provides an additional time of day during which ASPIRE students have discussions and complete activities related to their social and emotional well-being.  It is important to note that many of the social and emotional needs of highly gifted students are met simply because they are grouped together and because they have access to a challenging academic environment; feeling isolated because of their abilities and boredom are two of the biggest challenges gifted children face as middle schoolers.


Is there a social stigma for the students who are involved in ASPIRE? If so, how does the school address this?

Students are generally very proud to be a part of both the ASPIRE family and the Wolf Pack. Social adjustment is difficult for any middle schooler, and ASPIRE students are no different. However, because there are so many ASPIRE students at CTMS and because they take electives and athletics with the rest of the campus, we find that our students generally integrate very well and are accepted by the rest of the campus as just another thing that makes CTMS a unique place to learn. We encourage our students to embrace their giftedness as something that makes them who they are and not as something to hide. Our students often take on leadership positions outside of ASPIRE. We have students involved in student council, cheerleading, robotics, advanced theater, and many other non-ASPIRE activities. 

ASPIRE Teachers

Who teaches ASPIRE? Are they regular GT teachers, or do they have special training for highly gifted students?

In addition to having the required thirty hours of training necessary to teach gifted sections, most ASPIRE middle school teachers are state G/T certified and have at least a master’s degree either in education or their specific subject area. They receive additional, on-going training relevant to meeting the needs of the highly gifted through district offerings, outside conferences and online resources. All are dedicated to continuing professional development and to making their own scholarly contributions to the understanding and practice of gifted education. Additionally, it is worth noting that ASPIRE teachers choose to teach our district’s highly gifted students. These teachers are passionate about gifted education and have a heart for your kids. GCISD is extremely grateful for these specialized ASPIRE teachers. 


How accessible are the ASPIRE teachers? These kids often have unique needs that require special attention from the teachers.

ASPIRE is a family. The teachers have all made a commitment to highly gifted students and their special needs and are very used to dealing with situations on a daily basis that most other teachers will encounter only rarely. We also understand that raising a highly gifted child can be extremely challenging; we are happy to work with parents on formulating strategies for both school and home that will improve the academic and emotional well-being of their child.

Transportation

How is transportation to CTMS handled if you are not zoned for CTMS? What is the bus schedule?

In the morning, transportation is only provided from a student's home campus to the ASPIRE Academy. Parents will need to provide transportation for their child to the home campus. (Note: to determine if you are eligible for district transportation to your home campus, please refer to the district website.).


In the afternoon, a bus returns the student to his or her home campus for parent pickup. It is important to note that in the afternoons, parents will have to provide transportation for their child from the home campus to the child’s home.  Parents may also opt out of transportation if it is not needed.  We highly encourage carpooling if possible.


What transportation is provided for ASPIRE high school students?

High school ASPIRE students whose home campus is Colleyville Heritage High School are shuttled to Grapevine High School for ASPIRE classes.

Classroom Visits

Can my child and I visit the school, sit in on a class, or talk to the principal?

There are times set aside for students and parents to visit the school; however, they will not be able to sit in on classes during the day. We do provide opportunities for students and parents to learn about ASPIRE Academy at CTMS via Mini School Night in the fall, CTMS Showcase in the spring, and a host of ASPIRE informational meetings throughout the year.