Gifted & Talented Learners

By Emma Boyd


Students that are gifted or talented learners have abilities that are significantly greater than those of other students their age and have exceptional potential. Gifted most often refers to those who excel academically. Talented refers to those who have outstanding skills in other areas, such as music, art, theater, dance, or leadership.

Instructional Strategies or Accommodations

  • Providing in-class enrichment: Students remain in regular classes but their teachers tailor some learning opportunities and projects to their special interests and abilities.
  • Using self-paced learning: Students learn at their own rate. They progress at individual rates, rather than as a class, by spending the amount of time they personally need to master concepts.
  • Skipping a Grade
  • Attending Special Schools: For example, magnet schools are public schools that emphasize a particular subject or curriculum area, or promotes an area of talent.
  • Providing Pull-out Programs: Students attend regular classes for part of the day, but leave regular classes to participate in educational sessions geared toward specific needs. These programs provide advanced learning and opportunities to work and socialize with other students that are gifted.
  • Participating in Extracurricular Programs: Sports, clubs, special-interest classes, and similar options all give students possibilities for improving knowledge and skills in areas of interest.
  • Taking Advanced Classes: Some community colleges offer high school students the opportunity to take college courses wile still in high school. Some colleges and universities allow students that are gifted to enter early.
  • Grouping Together: Grouping students that are gifted or talented for some projects and activities may be appropriate.

Characteristic Indicators

Gifted students learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers.

· They usually have learned to read early and thus have larger vocabularies than their age-peers.

· They tend to have outstanding memories with a larger knowledge base than most students.

· They are very curious and ask a lot of questions.

· They tend to have many interests, hobbies and collections.

· Fluent idea generation and much better elaboration skills vs. peers.

· May be nonconformist in clothing, hairdo, thoughts, practices.

· Standardized test scores may be off the charts but classroom grades not that hot.

· They are often called "intense" with strong concentration powers, and either can't stand the slightest noise or distraction, or could read a book in the midst of a hurricane without blinking an eye.

· They tend to operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older, oftentimes many grade levels older, thinking in the abstract many years before their age-mates.

· They demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity and excellent memories.

· They can get cranky about not wanting to do things that "bore" them.

· Some tend to be sloppy, careless and lazy.

· Tend to prefer to work alone than to work in a cooperative learning group.

· Tend to be bossy in group situations.

· May "blurt out" without worrying about inappropriateness of timing.

· Tend to be "the class clown."

· Know things about current events and global issues that most kids the same age have never even heard of.

· The things they do at school or home produce a "wow!" from parents and teachers.

· They don't need much practice, but can master new concepts or skills almost immediately.

· On the down side, they tend to be physically behind their peers, emotionally oversensitive, perfectionist, and challenging or rebellious of authority, including the teacher's authority.

· They tend to be loners or to hang out with older children or adults.

· The culture is tough on gifted kids, and many of them self-isolate to avoid stigma. Many more try to avoid being stigmatized as gifted by hiding their abilities and underachieving to win social approval.

· They have a higher degree of depression and anxiety

Diagnostic Tests

Achievement Tests
  • determine what the students already have learned and if they are more advanced than their grade level peers
  • may be academic specific
  • or standardized tests (such as SATs, ITBS, SRA, and MATs)
  • These should not have a time limit so students are able to show all of what they know

Tests specifically designed for the gifted population include Test of Mathematical Abilities for Gifted Students or Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students (SAGES)

Ability Tests

Intelligence quotient (IQ) or cognitive abilities test scores are also used to identify gifted and talented students. While these tests provide information for the intellectual domain, these tests are not as helpful in identifying someone with creative, leadership, or other abilities.


  • Stanford Binet (L-M)
  • Wescher Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition
  • Woodcock Johnson
  • Nonverbal tests, such as the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test or the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, may be more effective for students from culturally and linguistically different or low-income backgrounds to eliminate barriers.


  • CogAT
  • Otis-Lennon
  • Hemmon-Nelson
  • Ravens Progressive Matrices
  • Matrix Analogies Test


Students that are talented or gifted may be able to read the book on their own instead of me reading it to them. They may get through the lesson quicker than average and so I would need to have another activity. Not necessarily something challenging, but something to make them think a little more.