What is Gifted and Talented?

  • How is giftedness defined? There is no universal definition.  Experts define ‘gifted’ as an individual with an intelligence test score above 130, or the top 2.5%.  Others believe ‘giftedness’ is based on academic achievement (such as a gifted child who works two or more grade levels above his or her age).  Many believe giftedness also includes those who are extremely talented; showing creative, artistic or leadership capacity. And, it is generally accepted that those who achieve prodigious accomplishment (adult-level work while chronologically a child) are gifted. But these are far from the only definitions of giftedness. 

    Most definitions, and MUSD agrees, that gifted children are a population who have different educational needs, because of their unique intellectual development. In MUSD, we generally identify and define giftedness as: students who achieve at or above the 97th percentile in any one area of the Cognitive Abilities Assessment; on verbal, quantitative, or non-verbal subtests.

    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. (Adapted from hoagiesgifted.com).