by Rynette R. Kjesbo, M.S., CCC-SLP and Becky L. Spivey, M.Ed.
What Does “Gifted” Mean?
A gifted student (also known as a “gifted and talented” or “high-achieving” student)
demonstrates a strong likelihood that he/she will be able to achieve more than his/her
average classmate in one or more subject areas. For example, a gifted student may
be able to read books that are several reading levels above grade level, or the
student may be able to solve algebra problems while classmates are practicing multiplication
tables. According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) (2008),
there are approximately 3 million academically gifted students in the United States,
which is about 6% of all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
What to Look For
The characteristics gifted students demonstrate differ from one to another. Some
traits often seen in gifted students include excellent performance in one or more
subject areas, exceptional creativity and imagination, excellent vocabulary skills,
skill in using technology, great memory or attention span, insightful reasoning
and problem-solving skills, insatiable curiosity about things, lots of energy, observant
nature and good judgment, and an ability to learn skills quickly without a lot of
effort. Gifted students require more challenging schoolwork to stay interested and
focused. The lack of a challenge may cause the student to become disruptive, even
withdrawn and detached from classroom and school activities. Additionally, your
child may be an “A” student academically and still not qualify as gifted because
his/her reasoning and problem-solving skills are at the average level.
“I Think My Child Is Gifted. Now What?”
If you think that your child may be gifted, talk to his/her teacher about further
testing. In order to be placed in a gifted program, a student usually must have
an evaluation and extensive testing by the school psychologist or private center.
However, qualifications for placement in gifted programs differ from state to state
and even between local agencies; therefore, services for students identified as
“gifted” may vary greatly. Be sure to check with your child’s school about the policies
in your area. Keep in mind that testing very young students for "giftedness" during
preschool is not as reliable as for older students.
Gifted and a Disability, Too?
It is possible for gifted students to have a learning disability or other disability
as well. These students are “twice-exceptional” students. For example, some twiceexceptional
students may be gifted in math but struggle with reading. Other twiceexceptional
students may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), dysgraphia (difficulty with
writing), or other disabilities. Many gifted students have speech impairments. Gifted
students with disabilities are sometimes overlooked because their learning disabilities
often balance with their "giftedness", making them appear as intellectually average
students. To learn more about "giftedness", go to www.nagc.org
National Association for Gifted Children. (2008). Frequently asked questions.