Being identified as a gifted learner varies from state to state and from district to district. A child could be receiving gifted services in one school district and not in another. It’s all very confusing to the parent who has only one experience to work from. Just remember that each organization defines gifted for themselves (hopefully using sound research and testing practices.) Look for the use of ability testing, achievement testing, portfolio of student work, parent and teacher input as characteristics of good testing practices. My advice: before moving to a new city or state, call ahead and find out all you can about how your child will be identified and served to avoid disappointment and surprises.
Here are how some organizations and states define gifted:
Texas’ definition of gifted: Texas Definition of Gifted and Talented “…gifted and talented students” means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment and who:
* Exhibit high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area
* Possess an unusual capacity for leadership
* Excels in a specific academic field”
The following has been copied from “WorldGifted: Newsletter of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children” Vol 27, Num 2, May 2008 Written by Den-Mo Tsai, President
1. Gifted students tend to learn more quickly than other students. They can absorb information at a faster rate and process it efficiently. They should not be treated all the same in a lock-step, rigid school system that promotes them grade by grade. Flexible school systems should be provided which allow gifted children to enroll in schools early, skip grades, or us other options of acceleration. Without flexibility, gifted students will have to wait for others and waste their time and their valuable potential.
2. Gifted students are able to comprehend information in greater depth than their classmates. With advanced-level abilities, they need curricula that adjusts the level of materials and complexity of student tasks. Without challenging, differentiated curricula, gifted students will be frustrated with boredom and not able to develop positive learning habits and attitudes.
3. Gifted students come to classes with a readiness different from that of the average-ability student. If they are being provided with matter they already know, they are not learning at all. Learning is learning only if students are learning something new. Educators need to know the readiness of each gifted student, eliminate what he or she already knows, and provide challenging curricula for them so they are, indeed, learning what they do not yet know.
4. Gifted students are gifted in their particular areas of strength, but not gifted in everything. Educators need to set the expectations that are appropriate. Gifted students may suffer because of their mental capacity. They may be bored and inattentive in class because they are able to learn at a faster pace and at a higher level. They may have difficult relationships with their age-peer group. Gifted students may be vulnerable because their social and emotional needs are not met. They need our psychological support.
5. Gifted students may have different learning style preferences. They prefer learning by complex associative methods rather than by rote drill. They are most motivated when they are offered the opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and high level thinking. Educators need to know the learning style preferences of their gifted students. By matching instructional strategies with students learning style preferences, educators can maximize the learning and enhance the enjoyment of learning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a definition of “gifted”?
Yes. The current federal definition of gifted students was originally developed in the 1972 Marland Report to Congress, and has been modified several times since then. The current definition, which is located in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is
Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities
Note: States and districts are not required to use the federal definition, although many states base their definitions on the federal definition.