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Tuesday's Tip: How Do I Know My Child Is Gifted?


In my experience, there is not a grandparent in the world who is not convinced that their grandchildren are gifted. To listen to them, that giftedness is present in just about 98% of all scholars born. While such protestations make for great familial comradery, I fear that the testimonials will not suffice for inclusion in an AP Program. So, let's see what the legislature has to say about the gifted scholar. The current Elementary and Secondary Education Act definition of Gifted is:

Scholars 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. With that let's look at some characteristics that may give us a few clues to understanding, identifying, and supporting gifted scholars.


GIFTED SCHOLAR CHARACTERISTICS

Each gifted scholar presents differently. Gifted scholars often have characteristics that may include:

  • Advanced vocabulary

  • Appear cognitively ridged when anxiety inhibits them from trying new things.

  • Attention and organization issues in non-preferred tasks.

  • Avid readers

  • Awareness of national and world problems

  • Comprehension of advanced concepts and meanings

  • Creative production of novel ideas or products.

  • Disliking and rushing through drill and repetition work, thus making mistakes

  • Dropping out of school (20% of high school dropouts are gifted)

  • Experience greater degrees of alienation and stress than do their peers as a result of their cognitive capacities.

  • Grade level or above proficiency in basic skills and classroom work

  • Higher levels of self-actualization and need for intellectual stimulation.

  • Intellectually curious preferring complex ideas and asking higher order questions.

  • Lacking appropriate interpersonal relationship and friendship skills

  • Late assignments due to their negative perception of the quality of their final work

  • Learn rapidly.

  • More at-risk for adjustment problems than their non-gifted peers and at greater risk for emotional and social problems during adolescence and adulthood.

  • Perfectionism

  • Recognize inferred relationships and think abstractly.

  • Retain and use the information without the need for drills.

  • Sensitive to interpersonal conflicts

  • Setting unrealistic goals and expectations for themselves

  • Sustained attention spans in their areas of interest.

GIFTED IDENTIFICATION

Giftedness occurs equally in all racial, and income levels. Frequently, educators and school psychologists mistakenly identify exposure to opportunity as inborn potential or giftedness in their identification procedures. This results in an inequitable system that maintains the skewed playing field. Gifted Identification is not a one-step process. It should:

  • Occur over time.

  • Include multiple opportunities to demonstrate gifts.

  • Not rely on only one test - like an IQ test.

  • Identify a specific interest or category of talent.

  • Occur Early – improving the development of talents.

  • Include objective (quantifiably measured) and subjective (qualifiable) data.

  • Occur beyond the general education programing including Profiles, Portfolios & Performances across settings.

  • Eliminate bias with the use of Rating Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students and Underachievement Scales, and Cultural Characteristics Scales.

Some gifted scholars are Twice Exceptional. Twice-Exceptional Scholars are gifted scholars with disabilities. They need specific teaching strategies in order to find success in general education classroom settings and require specially designed instruction in an IEP under IDEA. Gifted identification is underrepresented in minority populations - African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students - by at least 50%.

Gaming the system - It is common knowledge among parents that if you go to certain psychologists, you can get the 130 IQ needed to get your scholars into a gifted program, for which they do not qualify, but offers many educational benefits in our geographical area. Shopping around for psychologists is common. This sets up many scholars with unrealistic expectations and the stress to stay in gifted programming.

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