Special Education

Gifted Education - A Resource Guide for Teachers

Identifying Gifted Students

How can a teacher determine if a child is gifted? When establishing an identification procedure, teachers and administrators must be sensitive to factors which may inhibit student identification:

  • language,
  • culture,
  • gender,
  • physical ability,
  • learning or sensory disabilities, and
  • personality style.
Some students jump out as highly exceptional and capable learners. They catch our attention with exceptional responses to classroom activities. Others may provide a mixed picture, demonstrating strenghths in some areas, but average or below average functioning in others. The question is not whether to enhance the program for these students, but how to enhance the program.

Some students have exceptional potential that is masked by individual characteristics or underachievement. Exceptional potential can be missed when the learning environment does not offer the student an opportunity to demonstrate or develop a talent. Establishing a systematic process of identification will ensure that most, if not all, gifted students are identified.

Identification of strengths and talents should be ongoing and should involve using multiple criteria. Several of the following sources of information should be used as part of the identification process:

  • Formal test results including indicators of cognitive ability, achievement, aptitude and creativity.
  • Teacher observations including anecdotal records, checklists and inventories.
  • Records of student achievement including assignments, portfolios, grades and outstanding talents and accomplishments.
In addition, the following may contribute to a deeper understanding of individual student strengths:
  • Nominations by educators, parents, peers and self.
  • Interviews of parents and students.

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