Challenge Program

Students looking at stock market

Dalton Public Schools adheres to a fundamental belief that all students can learn and should be provided opportunities and challenges for learning at the most appropriate level. Embodied in this belief is the commitment to provide continuous challenge and diversity of content and process to meet the needs of gifted learners.

Students participating in the Challenge Program at the elementary level attend between one to two classes each day in the content areas of math and science taught by gifted-endorsed teachers. Gifted teachers modify content by pre-testing concepts and then compacting the regular curriculum, enabling students to move at a faster pace, to explore concepts that are more complex and abstract, to develop advanced research skills and methods, and to gain collaborative and responsible leadership skills.

In addition to the content classes in their home schools, fifth grade students are served at a center one day a week. This non-graded learning environment allows students to explore concepts more deeply over a longer period of time—utilizing hands-on activities and providing opportunities for critical thinking and real-world problem solving.

At the middle school, gifted students, who meet the prescribed criteria and qualify, may take literacy, math, science, and or social studies classes taught in a homogeneous group setting by a gifted-certified teacher.

Dalton Public Schools offers a diverse selection of advanced level classes and opportunities to its high school students including Advanced Placement, The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, and the Internship/Mentorship Program.


If you have questions about Dalton Public Schools gifted services contact Molly Carlson.

Determining Eligibility for Gifted Services

After a referral and data have been collected in all four eligibility categories—mental ability, achievement, creativity and motivation— an Eligibility Team will carefully review all data to make an eligibility decision. A school’s Eligibility Team is comprised of teachers, administrators, and counselors.

In keeping with SBOE Rule 160-4-2-.38, a student must meet eligibility criteria in one of two ways: 1) qualify through a multiple-criteria assessment process by meeting criteria in any three of the four eligibility categories, or 2) score at the 99th percentile (for grades K-2) or the 96th percentile (for grades 3-12) on the composite or full scale score of a standardized test of mental ability* and meet one of the achievement criteria. (* An approved mental abilities test or an achievement test from an outside source may be accepted as part of a student’s eligibility data.)

Methods of Referral to the Eligibility Team

  • Referral from teacher or other school employee, parent, peers, or self (A referral form may be obtained from any Challenge teacher.)
  • Automatic referral based on student's Georgia milestones scores.
  • Students who have been determined eligible for gifted education services in any public school system in Georgia will automatically be eligible for services in Dalton Public Schools once documentation of service in the former school district has been received. Students transferring from out of state will need to be considered on an individual basis by the school’s Eligibility Team.

Watch the Videos Below to Learn More About Gifted at Each School!

Elementary Schools



Dalton Junior High School

Hammond Creek Middle School



High Schools