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Myth: G/T Students Don't Get Poor Grades

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Myth: That Student Can’t be Gifted; He’s Receiving Poor Grades

Gifted students, just as any others, may underachieve. There are a number of reasons for why a student may be underachieving including a lack of motivation, lack of resources, learning disabilities, and social, economic, or psychological pressures. Regardless of why a gifted student may be underachieving, or to what extent he/she is underachieving, the child is still gifted, meaning he or she has the potential, based on a range of assessments, to achieve at high levels. Like others, high-ability students need to be motivated and taught in an appropriate manner suited to their needs so that they can reach their maximum potential. Below is a list of resources discussing underachievement in gifted students.

• Visit the "ED Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often" for an explanation of why some young boys do not perform as well as they are capable of performing, particularly discussing reading habits.

• Visit the "ED Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students: Problems and Promises" webpage to learn about factors affecting the achievement of gifted minority students, with particular attention to Black students, and   problems associated with underachievement definitions and the influence of social, cultural, and psychological factors on student achievement are discussed. Suggestions and recommendations for reversing underachievement among gifted minority students are presented.

• Visit our "Why We Should Advocate for Gifted and Talented Students" for information on the lack of appropriate resources and support gifted students are receiving and their need for a well-qualified teacher to motivate them.

Baum, S. M., Renzulli, J. S., & Hébert, T. (1995). The prism metaphor: A new paradigm for reversing underachievement (CRS95310). Storrs, CT: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut. 

Borland, J. H. (2008). Identification. In J. A. Plucker and C. M. Callahan (Eds.), Critical issues and practices in gifted education: What the research says (pp. 261-280). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Lubinksi, D. (2004). Introduction to the special section on cognitive abilities: 100 years after Spearman’s (1904) “‘general intelligence,’ objectively determined and measured.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 96-111.

Moon, S. (ed.), (2004). Essential Readings in Gifted Education: Volume 8 Social/Emotional Issues, Underachievement, and Counseling Gifted and Talented Students

Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T. J., Jr., Boykin, A. W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. J., et al. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns. American Psychologist, 51, 77-101.

Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2000). The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go? Gifted Child Quarterly, 44, 152-170.

Treffinger, D. J. (1982). Myth: We need to have the same scores for everyone! Gifted Child Quarterly, 26, 20-21.

Walton, G. M., & Spencer, S. J. (in press). Latent ability: Grades and test scores systematically underestimate the intellectual ability of negatively stereotypes students. Psychological Science. Retrieved August 5, 2009, from 

Webb, R. M., Lubinksi, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2005). Spatial ability: A neglected dimension in talent searches for intellectually precocious youth. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 397-420.

Worrell, F. C. (2009). What does gifted mean? Personal and social identity perspectives on giftedness in adolescence. In F. D. Horowitz, R. F. Subotnik, & D. J. Matthews (Eds.), The development of giftedness and talent across the lifespan (pp. 131-152). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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