Menu Home Menu Outlines Menu Rubrics Menu Handouts Menu Contact

Chapter 7: Giftedness and Talent Development

Thinking About Dilemmas to Solve

  • Think about whether:
    • Their educational needs can best be met without special educational programs
    • Identification practices can become more flexible, yet not include those who cannot profit from an enriched or accelerated program
    • Gifted education is unnecessary
    • A national law that provides these students with a different education is justified


  • Gifted services are not funded or protected by IDEA
  • Many of the basic principles of special education apply to this population
  • Giftedness seems to:
    • Take different directions across history, indicating that cultural help shapes how these traits are manifested
    • Concentrate with particular abilities at different periods of time
  • Historically, periods of brilliance seem to be associated with:
    • Excellent early opportunities
    • Early and continuing guidance
    • Instruction for the individual
    • Major interest by society in the particular ability
    • Opportunities to practice
    • Close association and interchange with others of similar abilities
    • Strong success experience

Giftedness and Talents Defined

  • Terman's definition
    • Only those scoring in the highest 1 percent on an IQ test (IQ score of 140)
  • The Marland definition
    • Basis for most state's definition
    • Includes high performance in any of these areas
      • Intelligence, academic aptitude, creativity, leadership, talent in visual or performing arts

Giftedness and Talents Defined

  • Gardner 's Multiple Intelligences
    • Multidimensional
    • Eight dimensions: Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Body-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist
  • Mary Fraiser, founder and director of The Torrence Center for Creative Studies
    • "I define giftedness as the potential to excel at the upper end of any talent continuum" (Grantham, 2002, p. 50)
  • Talent development is a new perspective for the field which is intended to shift the sole focus from academic and intellectual achievement to all areas of human endeavor


  • Assessments include:
    • Portfolios
    • Intelligence Tests
    • Teacher referrals
  • Many diverse children are excluded by using only IQ scores
  • Teachers should look for:
    • Curiosity, rapid rates of development, extensive vocabulary, motivation, inquisitiveness, observant, creative, thoughtful, innovative

Educational Impact

  • Gifted individuals are not handicapped by any lack of ability
  • They can be handicapped by:
    • Negative attitudes about them
    • Beliefs that they do not need special services to reach their full potential
  • Gifted students are often envied by classmates
  • Many gifted students do not reach their potential
  • It is estimated that 15-25% of gifted students leave school before finishing (Renzulli & Park, 2000)

History of the Field

  • Special education for those with exceptional abilities has occurred throughout time, though inconsistently
  • 3,000 B.C.: Egyptians send their best students (along with royalty) to work in internships to develop their special talents
  • 1800s: Charles Darwin and Sir Francis Galton prompt people to pay attention to innate and superior abilities
  • 1800s: Egalitarianism becomes popular; this belief holds that no one is better than anyone else regardless of abilities, status, or education and should get special treatment
  • 1905: Binet and Simon develop the Binet Intelligence test for the purpose of identifying students with low intellectual levels

History of the Field

  • 1916: Leta Hollingworth teaches the first course about giftedness at Columbia University
  • 1922: Terman studies gifted children
  • 1957: Sputnik, the Russian space satellite, is launched; America reconsiders the importance of developing math and science talent
  • 1958: PL 85-864, the National Defense Education Act, funds education of potential leaders
  • 1970: PL 91-230, the Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment, authorizes funds to be spent on students who are gifted and talented
  • 1971: The US Commissioner of Education, Sidney Marland, begins a study of the educational needs of students who are gifted and talented
  • 1983: Howard Gardner publishes his book about the theory of multiple intelligences
  • 1993: The Jacob Javits Act is passed providing federal funding for research relating to gifted education


  • Since gifted education is not mandated by IDEA, statistics are not required to be kept or reported
  • The number of students who should qualify depends on your concept or definition of giftedness
  • Traditional methods identify 2%-5%; More inclusive approaches identify 10%-15%
  • Only 25 states mandate that gifted education be offered (NCES, 1994)
  • Overall, less than 3% of students are served for giftedness because:
    • Programs are offered inconsistently
    • Students from diverse backgrounds are overlooked

Factors That Enhance or Inhibit Giftedness

  • Both environment and heredity play important roles in the development of intellect
  • Many factors can influence outcomes such as:
    • Attitudes
    • Expectations
    • Values
      • Influenced by culture, society, SES, and families
  • Both giftedness and creativity can be inhibited by environmental factors, including school programs
  • Teachers often overlook students' artistic or creative abilities when determining giftedness
  • Peer groups can criticize divergent, independent, and imaginative behavior

Characteristics of Giftedness

  • Reasons abstractly
  • Conceptualizes and synthesizes
  • Manages and processes information quickly and meaningfully
  • Learns quickly
  • Shows intellectual curiosity

Characteristics of Giftedness

  • Three common characteristics:
    • Sensitivity
    • Perfectionism
    • Intensity
  • The following subgroups have their own characteristics and may need special services to achieve their potential
    • Females
    • Culturally linguistically diverse students
    • Students with disabilities
    • Students with ADHD

Educational Interventions

  • Pre-school programs are critical for all children
    • Gifted preschoolers possess higher levels of curiosity, concentration, memory, and sense of humor
  • Differentiated curriculum is provided by modifying the:
    • Curriculum's content
    • Learning environment
    • Instruction provided

Elementary Through High School

  • Enrichment
    • Interdisciplinary instruction
    • Independent study
    • Mentorships
    • Internships
    • Enrichment triad/revolving door model
    • Curriculum compacting
  • Acceleration
    • Advanced placement
    • Honors sections
    • Ability grouping individualized instruction
    • Grade skipping

Collaboration for Inclusion

  • General and gifted education teachers must work closely together
  • Modifications should be made to the:
    • Curriculum
    • Instruction
  • Special attention should be paid to:
    • Students with disabilities
    • Students from diverse backgrounds

Transition and Families

  • Transition times can be stressful due to students' intensity and sensitivity
  • An unexpected, high percentage of gifted individuals drop out of high school or college (Renzulli & Park, 2002)
  • Longitudinal studies show that children tend to grow up to be successful adults
  • Families can support their gifted children by providing guidance, support, structure, realistic goals and expectations, and positive role models

Challenge Question

  • Why, throughout the history of the United States, has there been such an inconsistent commitment to gifted education?
    • When leaders sense threats to the country's national security, gifted education becomes a priority: Sputnik in 1957 and test results from other countries spurred the development and expansion of programs in the 1960s
    • Commitment wanes when issues about equity and justice come into question
    • No federal laws, like IDEA, guarantee gifted education