The program for gifted and talented students now available to Arlington fourth through 12th graders will be extended to all elementary pupils next school year, the County School Board decided last night.

The gifted/talented program for children in kindergarten through third grade was tried out in four elementary schools this year. The board voted unanimously to establish it in all 18 elementary schools starting in September. The Virginia Department of Education requires that a program for gifted and talented students in the early elementary grades be in place by the end of this year.

The pilot project, in Abingdon, Henry, Key and Jamestown elementary schools involved about 80 pupils. Once they were identified, on the basis of test scores and oral and written work, as potentially benefiting from the program, they were given an expanded curriculum within their regular classes, explained Diana Hasuly, the program's coordinator.

For instance, Hasuly said, an entire kindergarten class might learn about community helpers, and the students participating in the program would then study the more difficult concept of cooperation, perhaps discussing how colors blend or "cooperate" with each other.

Hasuly stressed that the identification of students for the programs in the early elementary grades is an indication of potential and not a formal determination that the child is gifted. Because young children are subject to "intellectual and physical growth changes, we're dealing with a fluctuating factor" she said.

Students in the gifted program will be reevaluated at the end of third grade, sixth grade and eighth grade, Hasuly said.