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Identification of Gifted Children

What is giftedness?  There is no universal definition.  Some professionals define "gifted" as an intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5%.  Others define "gifted" based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age.  Still others see giftedness as prodigious accomplishment: adult-level work while chronologically a child.  But these are far from the only definitions.  Former U. S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr., in his August 1971 report to Congress, stated:

Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society.

A group of respected professionals in the field of gifted suggest a definition based on the gifted child's differences from the norm:

"Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally." The Columbus Group, 1991, cited by Martha Morelock, "Giftedness: The view from within", in Understanding Our Gifted, January 1992

See also ... Testing and AssessmentProficiency Testing and An Inventory of Tests

All Children Are Gifted Recommended by Michael C. Thompson
Originally printed in Our Gifted Children...  Haven't we heard this before?
Assessing Gifted Children Recommended by Julia B. Osborn
Testing versus assessment. These two activities are frequently discussed together and criticized together, when, in fact, they are quite different
Blog Hop: The "G" Word Recommended
No discussion of identification is complete without discussion of the word "gifted" itself. Hoagies' Gifted's inaugural Blog Hop brings 20+ community blogs on the pros and cons of the label.
Distinguishing Myths From Realities: NRC/GT Research Recommended Marcia Gentry
Here's a quiz to test the extent to which you can really identify what the research says...
Giftedness 101 Recommended by Linda Silverman
Equally accessible to the education professional as to the parent, written by a recent pioneer in the field. Dispels common myths about giftedness, challenges the view that eminence is the true signifier of giftedness, provides support for the twice exceptional, offers specific guidelines to parents and teachers, describes comprehensive assessment of the gifted, and focuses on the complex inner world of the gifted... Don't miss this volume!
Giftedness: The View from Within Recommended by Martha Morelock
Martha Morelock introduces the Columbus Group's definition of giftedness as asynchronous development, along with a developmental picture of giftedness that extends beyond achievement
How to Tell if Your Child Is Gifted Recommended by  Brett Singer
Most parents think their kids are brilliant. But is your child gifted? And what does "gifted" mean anyway?
Is It A Cheetah? Recommended by Stephanie S. Tolan
The classic essay on the characteristics of a gifted child in a regular classroom
(Running cheetah graphic courtesy of Diane Scanlon)

Life In The Asynchronous Family Recommended by Kathi Kearney
From asynchrony within the gifted child to asynchrony in the family to asynchrony in the larger society, from the "early empty nest" syndrome to schooling and other bureaucracies, a great summary of life with the gifted child!
A September Secret Recommended by Wenda Sheard
Dear teacher, I’m writing you because I want to tell you a secret about me... the letter our kids wish they could send each year before school
So you're gifted... Now what? WebQuest for kids
A WebQuest to promote self-discovery... (grades 6-8, but useful starting as young as 3rd grade gifted)
Top Kid Recommended 1985 Australian TV drama for children (YouTube, in 5 parts)
This movie has helped more than a few gifted children self-identify and begin the path to self-understanding...
Use of the WISC-IV for Gifted Identification Recommended Position Statement from the National Association for Gifted Children
It is recommended practice to derive the General Ability Index (GAI) when there are large disparities among the Composite/Index scores. Flanagan and Kaufman (2004), in Essentials of WISC-IV Assessment, deem the FSIQ “not interpretable” if Composite scores vary by 23 points (1.5 standard deviations) or more...
What is a Gifted Child? Recommended NSW Assn for Gifted & Talented Children Inc.
A good question to start with...
What We Have Learned About Gifted Children 1979-2009 Recommended by Linda Kreger Silverman
Linda Silverman's summary of 28 now 30! years of observations, including "Parents are excellent identifiers of giftedness in their children," "the ideal age for testing is between five and eight years," and "When parents fail to recognize a child’s gifts, teachers may overlook them as well," " Gifted children are asynchronous," "Gifted children have better social adjustment in classes with children like themselves; the brighter the child, the lower the child's social self-concept in regular classrooms,"...
Metaphorically Speaking
Many different analogies explaining gifted education...
Bright Child vs. Gifted Learner Challenge Magazine
Classic list from makes it easy to differentiate...
Characteristics of Giftedness by Linda Kreger Silverman
The characteristics associated with giftedness become apparent early in life. This list of descriptors has been used successfully...
Common Myths About Gifted Students (ERIC Fact Sheet)
The most common myths, and the facts to match! about gifted children...
Critical Issues in the Identification and Nurturance of Promising Students from Low Income Backgrounds by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, NRC/GT Senior Scholars Series
There is little disagreement in the field of gifted education about the need to have a broader diversity of students in programs for the gifted, especially those representative of low socio-economic backgrounds and minority students. However, our track record has been less than sterling... (scroll down)
Cultivating otherwise untapped potential by Deborah Smith, APA Monitor on-line journal
But that talent doesn't flourish on its own, [Psychologist Frank Worrell] says: "People have talents in various areas, but if those talents aren't developed, they're not going to mean anything." Without extra supports, many children with potential are left behind...
Definitions of Giftedness by Judith Hewton
To find a satisfactory definition of giftedness it is necessary to understand its origins in the history of humankind...  Terman's longitudinal studies...  the work of Hollingworth...
Discovering highly gifted students by J. Hansen
The principle reason for identifying highly gifted children is to help them get a better education than they probably would get otherwise. Tests designed for age-peers are powerless in yielding information to meet this end. One effective method of discovering highly gifted students is by above-level testing...
Evaluating Intellectual Potential by Jerry Schecter
"Scenarios... are repeated countless times every school year, and parents are often at a loss as to how to deal with them. Sometimes, if they suggest that their child may be advanced and bored in class, they are met with skepticism. They know their child and their abilities, and they don't want to make mistakes with their education. Yet, they may come to doubt their knowledge and judgment when faced with critical reactions..."
A Fable? printed in The Instructor, April. 1968
One time the animals had a school. The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying and swimming, and all the animals took all the subjects...
Gifted Children and Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development by Tracy L. Cross (requires Prufrock journal subscription)
Identification of giftedness is often linked to early evidence of ability. The potential success of any identification process to locate children of extraordinary ability is often subject to the extent to which children have developed a sense of autonomy and engage in self-initiating behaviors. Not successfully resolving the crises of the previous three states will have a negative impact on later life. In addition, the culmination of not resolving the crises will reduce the likelihood of children being identified as gifted...
Gifted Children: Are Their Gifts Being Identified, Encouraged, or Ignored? by Julia Osborn
Even if professionals do agree on certain recommendations, there is wide variability in their implementation both at school and at home...
Gifted Children: Myths and Realities by Ellen Winner
Myths and misconceptions about gifted children abound and cloud our understanding...
Gifted Children With Disabilities: Overcoming Stereotypes by Starr Cline and Kathryn Hegeman, in Gifted Child Today ($)
Gifted children exist in all segments of the population. When children are gifted and have a disability, identification of gifts presents special challenges. Testing specialists tend to focus their assessments on establishing the extent of a disability and may not pursue assessment of giftedness.  Stereotypic expectations work against gifted individuals with disabilities...
Giftedness and the Gifted: What's It All About? (ERIC digest #476)
There are many misconceptions of the term, all of which become deterrents to understanding and catering to the needs of children identified as gifted
Giftedness as Asynchronous Development by Stephanie Tolan
It is vital to remember that giftedness (in childhood and beyond) is an internal reality, mental processing that is outside of norms. Achievement, as important as it is, is merely an expression of that mental processing
Giftedness - Nature or Nurture by Stephanie S. Tolan
We’re on our own. We have to discover what our seedlings need for ourselves...
Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Issues by Linda E. Brody and Carol J. Mills
Many people have difficulty comprehending that a child can be gifted and also have learning disabilities. As a result, children with special needs that result from both their high abilities and their learning problems are rarely identified and are often poorly served. This article explores the current policies and practices with regard to defining, identifying, and educating this population...
High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker by Bertie Kingore
Identification of gifted students is clouded when concerned adults misinterpret high achievement as giftedness.  Educators with expertise in gifted education are frustrated trying to help other educators and parents understand that while high achievers are valuable participants whose high-level modeling is welcomed in classes,  they learn differently from gifted learners...
How Do I Know If My Is Child Gifted? from the TAGFAM home page
This is the $64,000 question, and Valorie King does a terrific job of answering it
The Identification of Students Who Are Gifted (ERIC digest #644) by Mary Ruth Coleman
Few areas in the education of children with exceptionalities are as controversial and critical as appropriate identification of children who are gifted. The controversies involve all the pros and cons of labeling children as well as a variety of political issues. Yet, identification remains critical to ensuring that children receive the services they need to thrive in school...
I Remember... by Wendy
Why identification of gifted children is SO important!
Identifying Gifted Students: A Practical Guide by Susan K. Johnsen (or from Amazon)
Designed for practicing professionals, with up-to-date information for building an effective, defensible identification process for gifted students...  Read excerpted chapter: Making Decisions About Placement...
An Interview with Dr. Edward R. Amend: About the Emotional Needs of Gifted Kids
Meeting the educational needs of the gifted and talented child will also help their social and emotional adjustment. The research has been fairly clear in suggesting that the degree to which a gifted child's educational needs are being met is an important factor in their overall adjustment...
Is My Child Bright? by Roxanne Cramer, Reprinted from the Mensa Gifted Children's Handbook
Is my child really bright? Or does he/she just seem that way to me? How can I tell? What clues can I look for?
Is your child gifted? Minnesota Council for the Gifted & Talented (MCGT)
A quick checklist for kids of various ages, particularly useful with younger children...
Labels Aren't What Kids Need by Patrick Welsh, in the Washington Post
"The school keeps saying, 'Don't worry. Your child's needs will be met.' Then his teacher says she can't because 'We were told not to assign above-grade-level work to anyone who isn't labeled TAG.' "  Students are relegated to the "regular" curriculum, where the emphasis is on ensuring that lower-income children who lag far behind in basic skills will pass [the tests.] The school administration was probably trying to fix that situation. But the solution isn't to mark fewer students as gifted and talented. It's to challenge all our kids, all the time...
Making Decisions About Placement by Susan K. Johnsen
When identifying gifted students, schools need to select qualitative and quantitative instruments that are technically adequate and that match gifted students’ characteristics and the school district’s program. Most states require "appropriate criteria that include both qualitative and quantitative measures [Texas]"... [excerpted from Identifying Gifted Students: A Practical Guide Recommended]
Merely Bright--or Brilliant? by Sheri Zimmerman
Is your child truly gifted, or are you just one of those pushy, "stage mother" types who thinks his or her bright child is really a genius?
Misdiagnosis of the Gifted by Lynne Azpeitia, M.A. and Mary Rocamora, M.A.
Gifted individuals face many challenges. One of them may be in getting correctly identified by psychotherapists and others as gifted
Musings on our report card by Hilary Dale
An IQ score this high is surely not a predictor of first grade success. "You see, we don't think he's really all that smart. Those silly tests are meaningless."
Myths of Giftedness by The Association of Educators of Gifted, Talented and Creative Children in British Columbia
The On-going Dilemma of Effective Identification Practices in Gifted Education by Joyce VanTassel-Baska
The identification of gifted children has long been a topic of great debate...  The concept of degree or extent of giftedness is an important aspect to consider...  A better and more defensible strategy is to use off level aptitude and achievement measures to ascertain a true dispersion of the student scores...
Parenting Gifted Preschoolers
Realising that your preschooler is gifted can catch you unawares, especially if the child is your firstborn... includes a great chart of early developmental milestones!
Parents are the best source of information about their children's abilities by John Worthington
"Parents are a highly accurate and reliable source of information about their children's intelligence and abilities with most able to predict their child's IQ to within a few points, according to a University of Queensland PhD study..."  Also see A Longitudinal Study of Early Literacy Development and the Changing Perceptions of Parents and Teachers
Recognizing Gifted Students: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers by Sandra Manning
Given that gifted students clearly do not always exhibit classroom work, behavior, and dispositions that are “teacher friendly,” how can classroom teachers make informed decisions about the children they refer for gifted education programs? A list of pertinent questions follows...
Recognizing Giftedness In Young Children by Martin T. Rogers and Linda Kreger Silverman
A comparative study of the developmental characteristics of gifted and average children
The Role of Grandparents in Talent Recognition and Development by John Feldhusen, in Gifted Child Today ($)
The identification of gifts and talents is a long-term process. Tests and rating scale scores on one occasion can give us insights about the level of children's abilities, but long range observations by parents, teachers, and grandparents can provide the information needed to clarify the nature and levels of children's talents and pave the way to effective educational programs and services...
Self-test on giftedness (for adults!) by the Rocamora School
From general characteristics to entelechy to overexcitabilities, and more...
Some of California’s most gifted students are being ignored, advocates say by Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
Highly intelligent, talented students need special programs to keep them engaged and challenged. But experts say too often they aren't even identified -- especially in low-income and minority schools -- and they become emotional dropouts...
Teacher Bias in Identifying Gifted and Talented Students by Teri Powell and Del Siegle
Teachers need better training to help them recognize the stereotypical beliefs they hold about gifted and talented students. Such training will go a long way toward improving referrals for gifted and talented programs
Those who fall by the way
The tortoise and the hare, revisited... plus lots of great advice for educating your gifted child!
Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
Though written about a Down Syndrome child, the experience is quite similar when you discover your child is gifted... you thought you would have a "normal" child, and now you have a whole new, different, set of criteria...  Welcome to Holland!
What Is Gifted?
National Association for Gifted Children's Parent Information summary...
When talent masks learning disability by D. Smith Bailey
Identification methods that look for intra-individual differences--comparing a child's oral-language and printed-language skills, for example--are more likely to catch a talented student with a learning disability than other methods that compare students' performance with benchmarks for normally achieving peers...
You Know Your Child is Gifted When...: A Beginner's Guide to Life on the Bright Side by Judy Galbraith
Lots of great stories of gifted kids, from verbal to humor, and lots of great quotes from the experts, all to get you started on your adventure with your gifted child
Young Gifted Children by Gifted Canada
From Help needed to identify young gifted children, to Different From Birth, and Over excitable, this is a great summary of our young gifted children!
Last updated December 01, 2020

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