What is gifted? How is it defined? Who are the gifted? What are their needs? Why should we care?
So many questions...
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.
No Child Left Behind legislation created a new, achievement-based definition of giftedness, however it does not mandate that states use its definition:
The term “gifted and talented”, when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means 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 or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities. (Title IX, Part A, Section 9101(22), p. 544)
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
The Western Yell County School District has adopted the Arkansas definition of giftedness;
Gifted and talented children and youth are those of high potential or ability whose learning characteristics and educational needs require qualitatively differentiated educational experiences and/or services. Possession of these talents and gifts, or potential for their development, will be evidenced through an interaction of above average intellectual ability, task commitment, and/or motivations, and creative ability.
Most definitions agree: gifted children are a population who have different educational needs, thanks to their unique intellectual development. What we're not so sure of, is how to identify them, and what this different education should look like.Source: http://hoagiesgifted.org/gifted_101.htm