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The Many Definitions of Giftedness


What does it mean to be gifted?
What is the definition of gifted?

There is no universal definition. Some professionals will define gifted by an intelligence test (WISC) score above 130 or 140, or two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5% of the population. Some will define "giftedness" based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age or gifted children have advanced scores on a particular academic test.

Typically, students who are identified as gifted learners have the potential to achieve beyond what is expected of their same-age peers and I emphasize the word 'potential'. Key to the characteristics of giftedness is potential which is often not synomynous with achievement. Higher chievement may or may not occur and is often dependent on a other influences such as the student's relationship with his/her teacher, the degree of interest, emotional well being, health etc. Gifted children can also have learning disabilities. It is not unusual to be gifted in one area (logic, math etc.) and learning disabled in another (language, processing etc.). Gifted definitions tend to vary from one location to the next. Here are some examples of definitions of giftedness:

The Federal Definition of Gifted and Talented in NCLB (US) 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)

Note: States and districts are not required to use the federal definition, although many states base their definitions on the federal definition.

Programs for gifted and talented students exist in every state and in many school districts, but the number and percentage of students identified as gifted and talented vary from state to state due to differences in state laws and local practices.

For a comphrensive list of Gifted education by state:

follow this link.

In Canada, each province varies in defintion. The Ministry of Education and Training for the province of Ontario has adopted a definition of "giftedness" which is as follows:

"An unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth the breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated."

British Columbia: Canada

A student is considered gifted when she/he possesses demonstrated or potential abilities that give evidence of exceptionally high capability with respect to intellect, creativity, or the skills associated with specific disciplines. Students who are gifted often demonstrate outstanding abilities in more than one area. They may demonstrate extraordinary intensity of focus in their particular areas of talent or interest. However, they may also have accompanying disabilities and should not be expected to have strengths in all areas of intellectual functioning. England:

A definition of 'gifted and talented:

'Gifted' refers to the top five per cent of the school population in academic subjects and 'talented' to the top five per cent in other subjects.

The gifted are those with high ability in one or more academic subject (a child does not have to be gifted in all subjects), and the talented are those with high ability in sport, music, visual arts and/or performing arts. Schools are encouraged to identify the top 5-10% of each year group as gifted or talented, regardless of the general level of ability within the school. Some schools prefer to use benchmarks to identify their gifted pupils.

For the most part, characteristics of the gifted are as follows. However, children are unique and no 2 children will present the same or all of the following characteristics. NEXT PAGE for Gifted Characteristics

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