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Gifted education (also known as Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Talented and Gifted (TAG), or G/T)is a broad term for special practices, procedures and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. Youths are usually identified as gifted by placing highly on certain standardized tests.

Advocates of gifted education argue that gifted and/or talented youth are so perceptually and intellectually above the mean, it is appropriate to pace their lessons more aggressively, track them into honors, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate courses, or otherwise provide educational enrichment.

They also claim that the needs of many gifted students are still neglected, as schools tend to place more emphasis on improving education for the youths on the other side of the spectrum. This may be an unintended consequence of the development of disability rights litigation, which some pundits argue has led to the disabled receiving more resources than the more-than-abled. See Special education.

Definition of giftednessEdit

Educational authorities differ on the definition of giftedness: even when using the same IQ test to define giftedness, they may disagree on what gifted means - one may take up the top 2% of the population, another might take up the top 5% of a population, which may be within a state, district, or school. Within a single school district, there can be substantial differences in the distribution of measured IQ. (The IQ for the top percentile at a high-performing school may be quite different from that at a lower performing school.)

In 2011, the US National Association of Gifted Children published a position paper that defined what a gifted student is. Gifted describes individuals who demonstrate outstanding aptitude or competence in one or more domains. Aptitude is defined as an exceptional ability to learn or reason. Competence is defined as documented performance or achievement in the top 10% of the population.[1]

In Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) explains that gifted children all exhibit the potential for high performance in the areas included in the United States federal definition of gifted and talented students:

The term 'gifted and talented' when used in respect to students, children, or youth means [those who show] evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.

— P.L. 103–382, Title XIV, p. 388

The National Association for Gifted Children in the U.S. defines giftedness as:

Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).

The development of ability or talent is a lifelong process. It can be evident in young children as exceptional performance on tests and/or other measures of ability or as a rapid rate of learning, compared to other students of the same age, or in actual achievement in a domain. As individuals mature through childhood to adolescence, however, achievement and high levels of motivation in the domain become the primary characteristics of their giftedness. Various factors can either enhance or inhibit the development and expression of abilities.


This definition has been adopted in part or completely by the majority of the states in the United States. Most have some definition similar to that used in the State of Texas, whose definition states:

[The phrase] 'gifted and talented student' 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:

  • exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area;
  • possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
  • excels in a specific academic field.

— 74th legislature of the State of Texas, Chapter 29, Subchapter D, Section 29.121

The major characteristics of these definitions are (a) the diversity of areas in which performance may be exhibited (e.g., intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, academic), (b) the comparison with other groups (e.g., those in general education classrooms or of the same age, experience, or environment), and (c) the use of terms that imply a need for development of the gift (e.g., capability and potential).

AssessmentEdit

Reliance on IQEdit

In her book, Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) argues that schools should use a variety of measures of students capability and potential when identifying gifted children. These measures may include portfolios of student work, classroom observations, achievement measures, and intelligence scores. Most educational professionals accept that no single measure can be used in isolation to accurately identify every gifted child.

Even if the notion of IQ is generally useful for identifying academically talented students who would benefit from further services, the question of the cutoff point for giftedness is still important. As noted above, different authorities often define giftedness differently.

The theory of positive disintegrationEdit

Overexcitability has been a popular theme in many gifted circles over the past twenty years. Overexcitability is a component of developmental potential, a part of Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), a theory of personality development. The application of TPD to gifted education is one of several (other applications include psychotherapy, personality theory, philosophy of Man, etc.).

Commonly used terms in gifted educationEdit

Source: Frequently Used Terms in Gifted Education[2]

Differentiation
Modification of a gifted student’s curriculum to accommodate their specific needs. This may include changing the content or ability level of the material.
Affective curriculum
A curriculum that is designed to teach gifted students about emotions, self-esteem, and social skills. This can be valuable for all students, especially those who have been grouped with much older students, or who have been rejected by their same-age, but academically typical, peers.
Heterogeneous grouping
A strategy that groups students of varied ability, preparedness, or accomplishment in a single classroom environment. Usually this terminology is applied to groupings of students in a particular grade, especially in elementary school. For example, students in fifth grade would be heterogeneously grouped in math if they were randomly assigned to classes instead of being grouped by demonstrated subject mastery. Heterogeneous grouping is sometimes claimed to provide a more effective instructional environment for less prepared students.
Homogeneous grouping
A strategy that groups students by specific ability, preparedness, or interest within a subject area. Usually this terminology is applied to groupings of students in a particular grade, especially in elementary school. For example, students in fifth grade would be homogeneously grouped in math if they were assigned to classes based on demonstrated subject mastery rather than being randomly assigned. Homogeneous grouping can provide more effective instruction for the most prepared students.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A written document that addresses a student's specific individual needs. It may specify accommodations, materials, or classroom instruction. IEPs are often created for students with disabilities, who are required by law to have an IEP when appropriate. Most states are not required to have IEPs for students who are only identified as gifted. Some students may be intellectually gifted in addition to having learning and/or attentional disabilities, and may have an IEP that includes, for instance, enrichment activities as a means of alleviating boredom or frustration, or as a reward for on-task behavior. In order to warrant such an IEP, a student needs to be diagnosed with a separate emotional or learning disability that is not simply the result of being unchallenged in a typical classroom. These are also known as Individual Program Plans, or IPPs.

Forms of gifted educationEdit

Attempts to provide gifted education can be classified in several ways. Most gifted students benefit from a combination of approaches at different times.

HobbyEdit

Activities such as reading, creative writing, sport, computer games, chess, music, dance, foreign languages, and art give an extra intellectual challenge outside of school hours.

EnrichmentEdit

On the primary school level, students spend all class time with their peers, but receive extra material to challenge them. Enrichment may be as simple as a modified assignment provided by the regular classroom teacher, or it might include formal programs such as Odyssey of the Mind, Destination Imagination or academic competitions such as Brain Bowl, Future Problem Solving, Science Olympiad, National History Day, science fairs, or spelling bees. This work is done in addition to, and not instead of, any regular school work assigned. Critics of this approach argue that it requires gifted students to do more work instead of the same amount at an advanced level. On the secondary school level sometimes an option is to take more courses like English, Spanish, Latin, Philosophy, Science, etc., or to engage in extra curricular activities. Some perceive there to be a necessary choice between enrichment and acceleration, as if the two were mutually exclusive alternatives. However, other researchers see the two as complements to each other.[3]

CompactingEdit

The regular school material is compacted by pretesting the student to establish which skills and content have already been mastered. Pretests can be presented on a daily basis (pupils doing the most difficult items on a worksheet first and skipping the rest if they are performed correctly), or before a week or longer unit of instructional time. When a student demonstrates an appropriate level of proficiency, further repetitive practice can be safely skipped, thus reducing boredom and freeing up time for the student to work on more challenging material.

Self-pacingEdit

Self-pacing methods, such as the Montessori Method, use flexible grouping practices to allow children to advance at their own pace. Self-pacing can be beneficial for all children and is not targeted specifically at those identified as gifted or talented, but it can allow children to learn at a highly accelerated rate. Directed Studies are usually based on self-pacing.

AccelerationEdit

Pupils are advanced to a higher-level class covering material more suited to their abilities and preparedness. This may take the form of skipping grades or completing normal curriculum in a shorter-than-normal period of time ("telescoping"). Subject acceleration (also called partial acceleration) is a flexible approach which can advance a student in one field, such as mathematics or language, without changing other studies, such as history or science. This type of acceleration is usually based upon achievement testing, rather than IQ.

Some colleges offer early entrance programs that give gifted younger students the opportunity to attend college early. In the U.S., many community colleges allow advanced students to enroll with the consent of school officials and the pupils' parents.

Acceleration presents gifted children academic material from established curricula that is commensurate with their ability and preparedness, and for this reason is a low-cost option from the perspective of the school. This may result in a small number of children taking classes targeted at older children. However, for the majority of gifted students, acceleration is beneficial both academically and socially.[4] "Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students."[5] Some advocates have argued that the disadvantages of being retained in a standard mixed-ability classroom are substantially worse than any shortcomings of acceleration. For example, psychologist Miraca Gross reports: "the majority of these children [retained in a typical classroom] are socially rejected [by their peers with typical academic talents], isolated, and deeply unhappy. Children of IQ 180+ who are retained in the regular classroom are even more seriously at risk and experience severe emotional distress."[6] These accelerated children should be placed together in one class if possible.[7]

Pull-OutEdit

Gifted students are pulled out of a heterogeneous classroom to spend a portion of their time in a gifted class. These programs vary widely, from carefully designed half-day academic programs to a single hour each week of educational challenges. Generally, these programs are ineffective at promoting academic advancement unless the material covered contains extensions and enrichment to the core curriculum. The majority of pull-out programs include an assortment of critical thinking drills, creative exercises, and subjects typically not introduced in standard curriculums. Much of the material introduced in Gifted pull-out programs deals with the study of Logic, and its application to fields ranging from Philosophy to Mathematics. Students are encouraged to apply these empirical reasoning skills to every aspect of their education both in and outside of class.

Cluster GroupingEdit

Cluster grouping is the gathering of four to six gifted and talented and/or high achieving students in a single classroom for the entire school day. Cluster teachers are specially trained in differentiating for gifted learners. Clusters are typically used in upper elementary grades. Within a cluster group, instruction may include enrichment and extensions, higher-order thinking skills, pretesting and differentation, compacting, an accelerated pace, and more complexity in content.

Summer Enrichment Programs (United States)Edit

These offer a variety of courses that mainly take place in the summer. Summer schools are popular in the USA. Entrance fees are required for such programs, and programs typically focus on one subject, or class, for the duration of the camp.

Within the United States, in addition to programs designed by the state, some counties also choose to form their own Talented and Gifted Programs. Sometimes this means that an individual county will form its own TAG program; sometimes several counties will come together if not enough gifted students are present in a single county. Generally, a TAG program focuses on a specific age group, particularly the local TAG programs. This could mean elementary age, high school age, or by years such as ages 9 through 14.

These classes are generally organized so that students have the opportunity to choose several courses they wish to participate in. Courses offered often vary between subjects, but are not typically strictly academically related to that subject. For example, a TAG course that could be offered in history could be the students learning about a certain event and then acting it out in a performance to be presented to parents on the last night of the program. These courses are designed to challenge the students to think in new ways and not merely to be lectured as they are in school.

Full-time separate classes or schoolsEdit

Gifted students are educated in either a separate class or a separate school. Classes like this are sometimes called "Congregated Gifted Classes".

Separate or independent schools are schools with a primary mission to serve the needs of the academically gifted. Such schools are relatively scarce and often difficult for families to locate. Such schools often need to work to guard their mission from occasional charges of elitism, support the professional growth and training of their staff, write curriculum units that are specifically designed to meet the social, emotional, and academic talents of their students, and educate their parent population at all ages.

Some gifted and talented classes offer directed studies, where the students lead a class themselves and decide on their own projects, tests, and all other assignments.

These separate classes or schools tend to be more expensive than regular classes, due to the smaller number of kids in a classroom. They are in high demand and parents have to pay part of the costs.

Homeschooling in the USEdit

An umbrella term encompassing myriad educational options for gifted children: part-time schooling; school at home; classes, groups, mentors and tutors; and unschooling. In many US states, the population of gifted students who are being homeschooled is rising quite rapidly, as school districts responding to budgetary issues and standards-based policies are cutting what limited gifted education programs remain extant, and families seek educational opportunities that are tailored to each child's unique needs.


ControversiesEdit

There are several controversies concerning gifted education:

Definition of giftednessEdit

Many different educational authorities define giftedness differently - even if two authorities use the same IQ test to define giftedness, they may disagree on what gifted means - one may take top 2 % of the population, another would take top 5 % of the population. The theory of Multiple intelligence would produce a different definition to the traditional IQ definition.

In Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) explains that gifted children all exhibit the potential for high performance in the areas included in the United States federal definition of gifted and talented students:

    The term "gifted and talented" when used in respect to students, children, or youth means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities." (P.L. 103–382, Title XIV, p. 388)

This definition has been adopted in part or completely by the majority of the states in the United States. Most have some definition similar to that used in the State of Texas, whose definition states:

    [The phrase] "gifted and talented student" 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:
    • exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area;
    • possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
    • excels in a specific academic field." (74th legislature of the State of Texas, Chapter 29, Subchapter D, Section 29.121)
The major characteristics of these definitions are (a) the diversity of areas in which performance may be exhibited (e.g., intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, academic), (b) the comparison with other groups (e.g., those in general education classrooms or of the same age, experience, or environment), and (c) the use of terms that imply a need for development of the gift (e.g., capability and potential).

The theory of Positive DisintegrationEdit

The theory of Positive Disintegration has been a popular theme in many gifted circles over the past twenty years.

What form of education is appropriate Edit

This is the most hotly debated aspect of gifted education. Some people believe that gifted education resources lack availability and flexibility. They feel that in the alternative methods of gifted education, the gifted students "miss out" on having a "normal" childhood, at least insofar as "normal childhood" is defined as attending school in a mixed-ability classroom. Others believe that gifted education allows gifted students to interact with peers that are on their level, be adequately challenged, and leaves them better equipped to take on the challenges of life.

Another facet of this controversy is the effectiveness of the programs dependent upon resources that are pushed more toward students who are struggling. Gifted Education is not mandated in many states, making it elective for districts to earmark money for. Many lower-achieving districts and schools must make crisis decisions on programs that are not high priorities. As a result, gifted students at these schools are not served, or not served effectively.


Impact on schoolEdit

Mara Sapon-Shevin has argued that gifted programmes result in educational triage, with the gifted programme taking a disproportionate amount of school resources, leaving other pupils with much reduced resources.

Her critics have countered that her research was into a school that was untypical of gifted education programmes in general.

Impact on pupilsEdit

Over-Reliance on IQEdit

Some authors question the existence of the g factor and thus hold that the result of an IQ test is meaningless, thus rendering the notion of giftedness meaningless. The most famous example is The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould. In her book, Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) explains that schools should use a variety of measures of students capability and potential when identifying gifted children. These measures may include portfolios of student work, classroom observations, achievement measures, and intelligence scores. Most educational professionals accept that no single measure can be used in isolation to accurately identify a gifted child.

Arbitraryness of selection criteriaEdit

Even if the notion of IQ is flawless, the question of the cutoff point for giftedness is still important. As noted above, different authorities often define giftedness differently.

Emotional aspects of gifted educationEdit

While giftedness is seen as an academic advantage, psychologically it can pose other challenges for the gifted individual. A person who is intellectually advanced may or may not be advanced in other areas. Each individual student needs to be evaluated for physical, social, and emotional skills without the traditional prejudices which either prescribe either "compensatory" weaknesses or "matching" advancement in these areas.[8]

A person with significant academic talents often finds it difficult to fit in with schoolmates.[9] These pressures often wane during adulthood, but they can leave a significant negative impact on emotional development.

Social pressures can cause children to "play down" their intelligence in an effort to blend in with other students.[10] "Playing down" is a strategy often used by students with clinical depression and is seen somewhat more frequently in socially acute adolescents. This behavior is usually discouraged by educators when they recognize it. Unfortunately, the very educators who want these children to challenge themselves and to embrace their gifts and talents are often the same people who are forced to discourage them in a mixed-ability classroom, through mechanisms like refusing to call on the talented student in class so that typical students have an opportunity to participate.[citation needed]

Students who are young, enthusiastic or aggressive are more likely to attract attention and to disrupt the class by working ahead, giving the correct answers all the time, asking for new assignments, or finding creative ways to entertain themselves while the rest of the class finishes an assignment. This behavior can be mistaken for ADHD. [citation needed]

It can also happen that some unidentified gifted students will get bored in regular class, daydream and lose track of where the class is in a lecture, and the teacher becomes convinced that the student is slow and struggling with the material.[citation needed]

Finally, G&T students are statistically somewhat more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disability such as bipolar disorder and to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.[11][12][13][14] These additional issues can require special attention in school.

JustificationEdit

Advocates of gifted education[attribution needed] contend that gifted and/or talented youth are either motivationally, perceptually or intellectually prepared for a challenge not offered in the standard curriculum, so that it is appropriate to pace their lessons more aggressively by encouraging them to participate in honors courses, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, and other sources of educational enrichment and acceleration.[citation needed]

They also claim that the needs of many gifted students are still neglected, as schools tend to place emphasis on improving education for the "average" student. Some argue that too many resources are diverted from gifted education to the other end of the special education spectrum, disabled students. This may be an unintended consequence of the development of disability rights litigation, which some pundits argue has led to the disabled receiving escalating resources at the expense of needed growth for gifted programs and even for core curricula (see special education). However, many advocates[attribution needed] believe that both special education and gifted education deserve more resources, on the general principle that each child should receive a challenge appropriate to his preparedness and motivation.

The families of gifted and/or disabled students are often dissatisfied with the education system, which, while it may suit the majority of students, often fails to provide for those with special needs.[citation needed]

Researchers and practitioners in gifted education contend that, if education were to follow the medical maxim of "first, do no harm," then no further justification would be required for providing resources for gifted education as they believe gifted children to be at-risk. The notion that gifted children are "at-risk" was publicly declared in the Marland Report in 1972:

Gifted and Talented children are, in fact, deprived and can suffer psychological damage and permanent impairment of their abilities to function well which is equal to or greater than the similar deprivation suffered by any other population with special needs served by the Office of Education. (pp. xi-xii)[15]
Three decades later, a similar statement was made by researchers in the field:
National efforts to increase the availability of a variety of appropriate instructional and out-of-school provisions must be a high priority since research indicates that many of the emotional or social difficulties gifted students experience disappear when their educational climates are adapted to their level and pace of learning." [emphasis added][16]

HistoryEdit

CriticismEdit

CriticsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. National Association for Gifted Children. (2011). Redefining giftedness for a new century: Shifting the paradigm [Position Paper]. http://nagc.org/index2.aspx?id=6404
  2. NAGC - Information & Resources - Glossary of Gifted Terms
  3. Assouline, S. and Lupkowski-Shoplik, A., Developing Math Talent: A Guide for Educating Gifted And Advanced Learners in Math (Prufrock Press), 2005.
  4. Nicholas Colangelo, N., Assouline, S., and Gross, M., A Nation Deceived:How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students, University of Iowa, Volume I, p. 2
  5. Nicholas Colangelo, N., Assouline, S., and Gross, M., A Nation Deceived:How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students, University of Iowa, Volume I, p. 2.
  6. Factors in the social adjustment and social acceptability of extremely gifted children
  7. Rogers, Karen B, Ph.D., The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner, (The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, 1991)
  8. (c.f., page 157)
  9. The intellectual and psychosocial nature of extreme giftedness
  10. an oige
  11. Blackwell Synergy - Addiction, Volume 72 Issue 4 Page 349-356, April 1977 (Article Abstract)
  12. Gifted, Talented, Addicted
  13. SENG: Articles & Resources - Discovering the gifted ex-child
  14. Laurie Gunst | Inspiring People | Living Louder | DanaRoc.com
  15. Marland, S. P., Jr. (1972). Education of the gifted and talented: Report to the Congress of the United States by the U.S. Commissioner of Education and background papers submitted to the U.S. Office of Education, 2 vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (Government Documents Y4.L 11/2: G36)
  16. The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?, Edited by Maureen Neihart, Sally M. Reis, Nancy M. Robinson, and Sidney M. Moon; National Association of Gifted Children (Prufrock Press, Inc.), 2002, p. 286.

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