Many schools across the nation have been putting time, effort, and money into gifted and talented programs. Since not all children fall into an “average” category, it’s crucial for schools to have accommodations and challenges for children who not only have special needs but also for those who are gifted or above the average.
One issue is that a variety of families don’t know what gifted and talented necessarily means or why their children may qualify or don’t at all. In this article, we’ll define giftedness, explain some of the ways to identify gifted children, and how the program helps them from K-12. We’ll also discuss some controversies to the testing process and how many schools are working to change the stigma behind the program.
How is giftedness defined?
Since the early 1990s, giftedness has been a way to describe students who are ahead of their peers in mental capabilities. IQ tests were often the most popular way to discover if a child is gifted. They could understand concepts quickly, which creates stagnancy in the classroom. If they’ve already grasped the concept the first time, and their classmates are struggling to learn, these students will grow bored and inattentive.
In recent years, IQ tests are used less frequently as the only identifier for gifted and talented students, especially as they grow older. Social and emotional factors now come into play when defining what makes a child gifted. Many children who are not challenged or motivated in school are missing out on the opportunity to be placed in the right program.
How are gifted students identified?
Students are usually first nominated by a teacher and/or parent, and then they must take a test to prove their GT abilities. There’s some controversy to this process as many lower-income students may not receive the same opportunities because their families might not know about or have an interest in the program. Many administrations attempt to ensure their staff is trained to identify these students. Another vital step some schools have taken is to test all students across the board. That gives opportunities to kids who might have previously been overlooked.
Once the child takes the test, they receive scores on their ability to be creative with little to no instructions. Some say the testing process is controversial as well since racial and social privileges can add advantages to individual students, but that’s why these tests aren’t the only factor that goes into identifying students who are gifted and talented. Many experts prefer to use varied criteria to give ample opportunities to different students.
What do the gifted and talented need to succeed?
There is a lot of work to be done nationwide for gifted and talented students as many schools will simply test the students and then not do much else to help them succeed. All the testing can add pressure to their lives with little results, so many schools are making an effort to implement GT programs they are proud to promote.
Students who are ahead in the classroom should be challenged so they can continue to have motivation when it comes to learning. Many GT kids who do not receive this support many times don’t immediately go to college as they find education boring and stagnant. To keep these children interested and moving forward in their search for knowledge, enhancing the GT program would best benefit them and prepare them for the future.
At The Tenney School in Houston, we provide courses that are modified to meet the needs of these accelerated students. Our content moves at a higher speed goes more in-depth with each subject, and even offer them the ability to earn credits well above their grade level. We also encourage feedback from parents so the program can be tailored to meet the needs of each gifted student. For more information on The Tenney School, contact us.