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Gifted Education Goals and Philosophy
Posted On:
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Program Challenge Information

Gifted Philosophy-Douglas County Schools



Gifted students require a differentiated education because of their unique potential and needs.  They require educational experiences in higher level thought processes: analysis, evaluation and synthesis.

The delivery model for the elementary program is the resource room.  The resource room provides an opportunity for gifted students to develop thinking, affective skills, communication, research, and independent inquiry skills in all areas of the curriculum.  The curriculum focuses on interdisciplinary enrichment activities.  Young gifted children are exposed to a variety of content areas as many of them have gifts in many areas and their "specialties" have not yet been defined.


Characteristics of Gifted Students




Ability to communicate ideals and feelings by verbal and nonverbal students:

  • Has command of a large vocabulary
  • Uses words fluently and creatively
  • Dramatizes through use of body language and facial expressions
  • Is quick to respond
  • Demonstrates a flair for dramatic or oral presentations
  • Is eager to relate experiences
  • Expresses ideas with clarity

Ability to interpret ideas and feelings communicated through verbal and non verbal means:

  • Is sensitive to the thoughts and ideas of others
  • Can interpret body language or facial expressions
  • Displays sympathy or empathy towards others
  • Appears sensitive to the discrepancy of behavior in others
  • Appraises quickly and frankly new and unfamiliar people or situations

Adaptive behaviors characteristics of cultural group:

  • Displays a keen sense of humor
  • Demonstrates survival skills by manipulating positive forces and overcoming negative forces in the environment
  • Is resourceful and can come up quickly with an alternative
  • Possesses a sense of adventure
  • Shows a degree of flexibility when situations call for a change
  • Accepts responsibility for actions

Heightened interest in the arts:

  • Demonstrates an awareness of an appreciation for the environment
  • Is involved in a variety of hobbies or has a broad range of interests
  • Appreciates various music and art forms
  • Reads avidly in a wide area of subjects
  • Uses color and form dramatically or uniquely in art

Physical Capability and adaptablity:

  • Has fewer physical and sensory defects or has compensated adequately for whatever defects are present
  • Is physically robust, stronger and healthier in appearance
  • Has well-developed psychomotor skills
  • Has received recognition for physical accomplishments
  • Displays a great deal of energy and vitality

Emotional and Social Leadership:

  • Manifests self-confidence
  • Has a position of leadership within cultural groups
  • In uncontrolled situations, assumes authority naturally
  • Displays emotional maturity
  • Demonstrates social ingenuity
  • Is generally gregarious, outgoing and friendly
  • Has an individualistic personality that stands out from the group

Appropriate application of convergent/divergent processes:

  • Arrives at a logical conclusion based on given information
  • Sees the plausible yet unique alternatives of a given situation
  • More adept at selecting, organizing and retrieving information
  • Able to expand information beyond what is given
  • Displays a keen sense of historical time and can sequentially organize information
  • Pays close attention to detail in the analysis process
  • Can transfer learning readily from one situation to the next
  • Is able to formulate the similarities/differences, the comparison/contrasts, and the causes/effects of objects, ideas and situations

Persistence or commitment to task:

  • Establishes goals that are realistic although challenging
  • Demonstrates determination in the fulfillment of goals; tenacity
  • Is self-disciplined, independent
  • Displays persistent curiosity
  • Has a long attention span

Energetic response to challenging experiences:

  • Produces works that have a freshness, vitality, and uniqueness
  • Often initiates the search for information
  • Desires to learn rapidly
  • Creates new ideas, substances, processes, and mechanical devices (inventor)
  • Is willing to take a risk of failure in new or unfamiliar situations

Ability in process-oriented curriculum:

  • May excel in science and math or other process-related curriculum
  • Seems aware of aspects in the environment that go unnoticed by others
  • Displays some amount of skepticism with new ideas or situations
  • Asks appropriate, thought-provoking questions
  • Evaluates carefully based on accurate observation

*Adapted from Alexander-Muia Behavioral Checklist



Curriculum Goals



Gifted students will develop advanced research skills and methods.  Curriculum for gifted students should allow for the in-depth learning of self-selected topics within the area of study.

Rationale/Discussion:  Gifted learners possess an extensive knowledge base, learn at an accelerated pace, and are capable of advanced levels of comprehension.  In addition, many gifted students are highly curious and intrinsically motivated, especially to pursue topics which interest them.  As compared to their age-peers, gifted learners tend to have longer attention spans, exhibit a stronger need to know, and can follow-through with assignments.  If gifted students are to benefit fully from these abilities, the gifted program must emphasize the development of skills that enable them to become effective as independent learners.

Because of the advanced nature of their abilities and interests, gifted students need to learn how to access advanced level reference materials, including a variety of print and nonprint references and information retrieval systems.  They need learning tasks that allow them to explore personal interests through guided research, independent study, and community involvement.  In order to conduct authentic research, students need instruction and guidance in learning to ask the right kinds of questions by looking at techniques used by experts in the specific field.  They need instruction in the development of a written plan of research (with emphasis on how one gathers, categorizes, analyzes, and evaluates information in particular fields); assistance in evaluating their own work; and in considering implications for future research.

Gifted students will develop and practice creative thinking and problem-solving skills with a variety of complex topics within the area of study.

Rationale/Discussion:  Gifted learners have the ability to generate original ideas and solutions, and they characteristically see diverse and unusual relationships.  Their instruction must allow opportunities to further develop and apply these skills in meaningful situations.  Because gifted individuals often exhibit differential patterns of thought processing (e.g., divergent thinking, sensing consequences, making generalizations), a curricular need is to be able to explore alternatives and consequences of those choices, and to draw and test generalizations.  The original thoughts and ideas often expressed by gifted students may in some settings be perceived as odd or off-task by others.  This results in the inhibition of creative thinking.  The gifted program must provide an environment in which students feel free and safe to stretch beyond the "right" answer that comes so easily for them.  They should be encouraged to take risks and to experiment so that creativity can be developed.

Gifted students will develop and practice higher order and critical thinking skills in the pertinent academic area.

Rationale/Discussion:  It takes less time for the gifted student to learn new material and master new skills.  One strategy for differentiating instruction for gifted students is to structure lessons and units in such a way that capable students spend a larger proportion of their time on higher order thinking, using the content they have mastered to further develop their understanding of the concepts and practice the skills of critical thinking.

Gifted students will develop advanced communication skills.  Curriculum for gifted students should encourage the use of new techniques, materials, and formats in the development of products that will be shared with real audiences.

Rationale/Discussion:  It is important to remember that throughout history we have recognized "giftedness" in individuals because of the impact they have made on other individuals and society at large through their products, whether the area of giftedness is art, science, leadership, literature, etc.  Feedback from real audiences provides gifted learners with a chance to utilize their advanced communication skills.  Internal motivation develops when students pursue ever-increasing levels of excellence in their final products and receive confirmation from real audiences that others value their intellectual and academic talents.


The content of all gifted education curricula should be advanced for that grade level.  Even when the Resource Model is used and the emphasis is on enrichment, as opposed to the delivery of core content, the subject matter should be advanced.  In all delivery models the advanced content should be related to broad-based issues, themes, and problems.

Rationale/Discussion:  Two of the most distinguishing characteristics of gifted students are how quickly they learn and how easily they are bored if not challenged.  As compared to their age-peers, gifted children tend to learn more rapidly; they tend to remember more, and they tend to think more deeply about what they learn.  The gifted child often grasps complex and abstract concepts and relationships that normally are learned at an older age.  Therefore, one of the basic tenets of gifted education is that the pace and complexity of the curriculum must be adjusted to match the gifted child's learning ability.  Consequently, the content differentiation for gifted learners should include the modification of the rate of learning.  Opportunities to move through core curriculum material at an appropriate rate and to then be engaged with novel, advanced materials, are essential if we are to sustain the motivation and eagerness with which gifted students approach learning in the early years.

The curriculum activities and delivery models used in gifted programming should (a) be sensitive to the unique social and emotional needs of gifted students and (b) encourage the development of self-understanding, i.e., appreciating likenesses and differences between oneself and others, and recognizing and using one's abilitiess.

Rationale/Discussion:  Many gifted children experience difficulty in accepting some aspect of their giftedness.  Their heightened self-awareness, accompanied by feelings of being different, can result in low self-esteem and inhibited growth emotionally and socially.  Consequently, there is a need to provide gifted students with time for interaction with other gifted students, reflection, and discussion, for the purpose of self-understanding.  A strong aptitude for solving problems allows gifted students to deal effectively with these concerns when given the opportunity and guidance needed.  This type of involvement can also help provide students with a foundation for leadership development.

Student achievement should be evaluated by using appropriate and specific criteria based on the higher expectations we have for our most capable students.  Evaluation methods should include teacher, self, and collaborative evaluation.

Rationale/Discussion:  Research with gifted students consistently shows that traditional grading practices do not motivate them to learn and, in fact, may hinder performance.  Gifted children take into consideration the fact that standards for success or failure are set up by someone other than themselves; the result is often lowered commitment to the required task.  When the focus is on grades (the outcomes) rather than on learning (the process), many gifted students learn short cuts to receiving awards for their work.  An evaluation system that focuses primarily on student/teacher conferencing, verbal feedback from teachers and peers, and self-critiques allows gifted learners to make use of their analytical abilities and their desire to take risks, moving beyond the minimal effort required for good grades.

No single goal should be taught as a stand-alone topic.  Instead, each should be integrated into the course content.  Also, it should be noted that one cannot develop an appropriate activity for one of the goals without considering one or more of the others, i.e., the goals should not be thought of as mutually exclusive.  They are provided simply to facilitate at the local level (a) the organization of activities and student-learning objectives within the course content, and (b) the development of a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of gifted education programming.

Local school systems may adopt other goals that are appropriate for their most able learners and consistent with local education priorities and initiatives.


Referral Procedures



A student may be referred for consideration for gifted services by teachers, counselors, administrators, parents/guardians, peers, self or other individuals with knowledge of the student's abilities.

According to state guidelines, students are evaluated in four different areas: mental ability, achievement, creativity, and motivation.  Students must meet criteria in three of the four areas.

The criterion in the mental ability area is a score at or above the 96th percentile on a standardized mental ability test.  In the area of achievement, a student must score at or above the 90th percentile on a standardized achievement test.  In the area of creativity the student must score at or above the 90th percentile on a standardized test of creativity.  In the area of motivation the student must have at least a 3.5 grade point average over the previous 2 years.  A student should not be tested more frequently than every two years.


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