Gifted & Talented Programs and Advanced Academics

We provide instructional opportunities and services for students with significantly advanced general intellectual ability and/or specific subject matter aptitude in language arts, science, social studies and/or mathematics. These programs provide an appropriately differentiated curriculum in an effort to help students work to their fullest potential.

The GT/Advanced Academics department provides unique programs that nurture the abilities of high performing students while fostering parent and community involvement by building a challenging learning environment that encourages life-long learning, nurtures high self-esteem, expands access to higher education, and provides experiences that enable students to reach their fullest potential as independent thinkers.

Would you like to refer your child for our GT program?

Advanced Learning Programs for High Achievers (ALPHA)

(ALPHA) is the name of the gifted/talented program in the Northside Independent School District. It is based upon the work of Dr. Joseph Renzulli's concept of "giftedness," which addresses the student's intellectual ability, creativity, and task commitment. Northside Independent School District (Northside ISD) recognizes that all students are entitled to a program of educational experiences which provide opportunities to maximize the development of their capabilities. Parents, community members, and staff are encouraged to be involved in the Gifted/Talented & Enrichment Advisory Council (GTEAC), which meets throughout the school year. It is a wonderful way to contribute to public education and support high ability students. We invite you to attend our meetings and join efforts in helping to advocate for the needs of bright students.


GT students in grades K-2 participate in activities that promote creative and independent thinking. Services are delivered by the classroom teacher and/or the GT specialist.

Gifted students in grades 3-5 meet each week to attend classes where they study in small groups with a G/T resource teacher. Interdisciplinary, process-centered mini-studies are designed for these students. Careful interest is paid to students' interests and to their unique learning characteristics.

Other Elementary services for Gifted Education include:

  • Credit by examination
  • Scheduling modifications to meet individual needs
  • Appropriate resources, materials, and learning activities
  • Opportunities to learn at a pace and level appropriate to abilities and skills
  • MaC-GT: A program at selected campuses that clusters high achieving math students with GT students. View our flyer for more information


NISD honors student choice by allowing middle school GT students to choose their GT class.  Choices include: GT English/Language Arts, GT Social Studies, or GT Science. Currently, students are permitted to take just one GT course per year.  While all three subjects are offered at all grade levels on course cards, numbers determine whether or not a class is formed. Middle school GT classes include opportunities for students to explore content through:

  • Depth and complexity
  • Research
  • Higher-level thinking
  • Inquiry thinking
  • Scholarly behaviors
  • Ologies and ographies
  • Technology
  • Perseverance/task commitment

One component of the middle school GT model is the Middle School Innovative Project (MSIP).  This is a multi-disciplinary opportunity for students to study a topic of interest in-depth. Topics must be related to the content of the student’s GT class. The MSIP aims to be a rigorous, relevant opportunity for students to use their own independent research to develop an innovative product. Students who complete the MSIP develop leadership and presentation skills, as well as inquiry and research processes.  These students become more proficient in the analysis and synthesis of information, and above all, develop confidence in their own abilities.


GT Leadership Course for 9th or 10th grade GT Students is an elective class is designed for GT students who are interested in learning about leadership and organizational skills including decision-making skills, problem-solving techniques, communication skills, leadership roles, human relation skills and understanding the need for civic responsibility. Students enrolled in the course will apply these skills in dealing with peers, school administration and the community. Students will gain a hands-on, active learning approach to leadership.

Independent Study Mentorship (ISM) is for NISD Juniors and Seniors who are recommended or identified to enroll in an ISM class. In this class, students pursue an area of special interest under the guidance of a mentor for the full year. At the end of the year, students must do a presentation and product display to an invited audience, including a panel of experts from the selected field of study. Students, parents, mentors, and college entrance committees report that this is the most useful preparation for the real world offered by the educational system.

"To listen and study is school. To experience and achieve is ISM."

"ISM was a paradoxical class; paradoxical because it mixed school with reality, and displeasure with passion. The amount of work was at times hard to bear, but the anticipation of the final product brought the big picture into focus, and as a student I realized that was I was doing was not a school project but a glimpse towards a future, and a favorable future for me."

Seminars are held throughout the year on various topics. Presenters in various areas examine contemporary and futuristic issues to provoke students curiosity, inquiry, and involvement. Students may sign up to attend one or more of the seminars offered during the school year.

ISM Brochure


NISD offers more than 30 AP courses at all of the high schools, as well as many middle schools. NISD believes that every student should have the opportunity to take challenging, advanced-level courses in high school to prepare for college and career readiness. AP gives students the chance to tackle college-level work while they are still in high school and potentially earn college credit. You’ll see the benefits of taking an AP class right away. In AP classes, just like in college, you’ll face new challenges and learn new skills in the subjects you care about. All with the support of your classmates and teachers.

  • Get more. With AP, you get to dig deeper into subjects you love. Your school can choose from more than 30 AP courses in subjects that directly reflect your interests.
  • Get hands-on. In AP's immersive courses, you get to learn how things really work. Tackle concepts that will stick with you long after the class is through.
  • Get involved. In AP classes, learning means sharing your ideas and expressing yourself. Add your unique perspective—the dialog and debate contributes to the knowledge that everyone shares.
  • Get support. With AP, you get to explore new ideas with your classmates and AP teachers. See and feel what college work is actually like, while receiving the support to help you get there.
  • Get to know yourself. In AP classes, you can set bigger goals for yourself and do things you never thought possible. AP students can really test and push themselves in a familiar setting while gaining confidence, developing good study habits, and enjoying a great learning experience.


Dual Credit

NISD offers many Dual Credit opportunities for students to earn college credit.

Northwest Vista College’s Dual Credit Program allows eligible high school students to earn college credit for certain high school courses in which they are currently enrolled while completing their high school requirements.

Benefits of Dual Credit:

  • Dual Credit increases the likelihood that a student will complete high school and enroll continue their college education.
  • Decreases the cost of tuition and fees for students in completing their academic degrees
  • New graduates enter the workforce at an accelerated rate and begin to earn wages, benefiting themselves and making positive contributions to our economy
  • Students can earn credit for up to 14 college courses before graduating from high school.  (That would be 7 high school courses or 14 college semester courses.)  
  • Increases student’s self-confidence!
  • Access to campus resources
  • Tuition is waived for ISDs

UT OnRamps dual enrollment is a way students can earn college credit while in high school.  Different campuses offer different courses so see you campus counselor for the opportunities.  

OnRamps' innovative dual-enrollment program brings rigorous courses aligned with the high standards and expectations of The University of Texas at Austin to thousands of students across Texas. Using best-in-class resources, materials, and instructional strategies OnRamps also provides intensive, year-long professional development and support that improves teaching quality in hundreds of classrooms throughout the state.

The key benefit of early exposure to postsecondary education is the authentic entry point to college expectations it provides for students and their families. In addition, earning transferable college credit while in high school accelerates degree completion by reducing the costs and impact of student loans and increasing lifetime earning potential. In OnRamps students learn first-hand all that it takes to succeed in college before they get there.


College Readiness

Advanced Academics Internet Sites

The hyperlinks listed below lead to many educational sites that can be helpful to both gifted students and their parents.





Referrals/Nominations of students to be tested for gifted program services can be done by parents, guardians, community members, staff, students, and/or self.   Referrals/nominations are accepted at each campus.  All kindergarten students are screened for the program using planned learning experiences, which include critical and creative thinking products, as well as classroom teacher observation. Official assessment of kindergarten students occurs in the early part of spring semester.

Data collected for students assessed for possible participation to the gifted program is from multiple sources:

Testing Calendar:

GT Testing is available in Spanish and in languages other than English. International GT Testing session occurs during the school year for students being assessed in languages other than English.

The campus selection committee is comprised of 3 members; the GT specialist, a counselor, and an administrator.  Campus selection committees review student scores to determine whether or not placement in the NISD ALPHA program is appropriate.  

Appeals to the campus selection committee’s decision can be made at the campus level.  Additional information must be provided to the selection committee as evidence of remarkably high-level ability.  Additional documentation may come in the form of outside testing data or a portfolio of student work (submit copies not originals).  Campus selection committee members will determine whether the additional information warrants placement in the ALPHA program. 

For more information regarding the screening and assessment of students for the gifted program, contact the Northside ISD GT Testing Center at (210) 397-7840.

Transfer students

When a student identified as Gifted/Talented by a previous school district transfers into NISD, the parent/guardian should notify the campus GT specialist of the student’s prior GT status, as well as provide previous testing data and/or contact information for the previous school.  The student’s records shall be reviewed by the campus selection committee to determine if placement in the ALPHA program is appropriate. If the committee does not recommend placement in the ALPHA program, the student may be nominated/referred to undergo the NISD identification process (see Testing tab for more information).

Contact Us

Jill Hackney
Director of Advanced Academics
(210) 397-7842

Roxanne Brown
District GT Program Coordinator
(210) 397-1209

Michelle Beach
Director's Secretary/Bookkeeper for Advanced Academics
(210) 397-7842

Yonne Avina
GT Testing Coordinator/Specialist
(210) 397-7840

Laurie Bullock
GT Testing Appraiser
(210) 397-3529

Gifted & Talented Enrichment Advisory Council

The Northside ISD Gifted/Talented Enrichment Advisory Council is a group of volunteer parents and educators that meets quarterly, alongside district Gifted/Talented and Advanced Academic staff. This diverse group works to facilitate communication between parents, staff, the school board, as well as the community, in matters pertaining to the district's services for Gifted and Talented students. We hope to improve the quality of services district-wide.

The mission of the G/T Enrichment Advisory Council is to enhance the opportunities and experiences of Northside Students by sharing resources with parents and by expanding public opinion and awareness through communications, and by providing funds for grants and specialized GT projects.

The GTEAC iGniTe Fund was established to provide NISD G/T teachers with supplemental funding above and beyond the provisions of the regular NISD budget for resources, supplies, and other items that will enhance the NISD ALPHA Program.

Support GT classrooms by donating to our iGniTe fund. This fund offers grants to classroom GT teachers to purchase items to use with their GT students.