Ten Things All Administrators Should Know About Gifted Children

  1. Gifted students are not all alike. They vary in respect to general ability, domain-specific aptitude, interests and predispositions, and motivation and personality. Thus one program or service is insufficient to respond to their diverse needs.
  2. Gifted students benefit from interaction with peers. Intellectual peerage contributes to important growth patterns in all subject areas (Kulik & Kulik, 1992).  For example, cooperative learning, carried out in heterogeneous classroom settings, produces no growth (Rogers, 2001).
  3. Gifted students need various forms of acceleration throughout their school years, ranging from content acceleration to Advanced Placement or dual enrollment to mentorships (Shiever & Maker, 2003; Renzulli & Reis, 2003; Clasen & Clasen, 2003).
  4. Gifted students are capable of producing high level products in specific areas of learning at the level of a competent adult (NAGC, 1990).  For example, fourth graders can draft a policy for pollution that would rival an adult community committee.
  5. Gifted students need to be challenged and stimulated by an advanced and enriched curriculum that is above their current level of functioning in each area of learning (VanTassel-Baska, 2003).
  6. Gifted students need to be instructed by personnel trained in the education of gifted students to ensure that they are sufficiently challenged, exposed to appropriate level work, and motivated to excel (Croft, 2003).
  7. Gifted students at elementary level require differentiated staffing and flexible scheduling to accommodate their needs; at secondary level, they require special classes (Feldhusen, 2003).
  8. Gifted students have counseling needs that require psychosocial, academic, and career preparation on an annual basis (Colangelo, 2003; Greene, 2003; Jackson & Snow, 2004; Silverman, 1993).  At secondary level, assigning one counselor to the gifted may be the best staffing model to employ.
  9. Gifted students have affective characteristics that render them vulnerable in school settings such as perfectionism, sensitivity, and intensity (Lovecky, 1992; Robinson, 2002).
  10. Gifted students in general have healthy social relationships and adjust well to new situations (Robinson, 2002). Concerns for social development more than cognitive growth are rarely warranted.

Compiled by: Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D.
Center for Gifted Education
The College of William and Mary


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Maker, C. J., & Schiever, S. W. (2005). Teaching models in education of the gifted (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. M. (2003). The schoolwide enrichment model: Developing creative and productive giftedness. In N. Colangelo, & G.A. Davis (Eds.) Handbook of gifted education (3rd ed., pp.184-203). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Robinson, N. M. (2002). Assessing and advocating for gifted students: Perspectives for school and clinical psychologists. Senior scholars series. Storrs, CT: National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.

Rogers, K. B. (2001). Re-Forming gifted education: How parents and teachers can match the program to the child. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.

Silverman, L. K. (Ed.). (1993). Counseling the gifted and talented. Denver: Love Publishing Company.

VanTassel-Baska, J. (2003). Curriculum planning and instructional design for gifted learners. Denver, CO: Love  Publishing.