Identifying Gifted Students in Poverty

Instructor: Sharon Linde
How does poverty affect giftedness in education, and what can teachers do to make sure they recognize it in all students, especially those in poverty? This lesson describes measures and methods to use to accurately identify gifted students in poverty.

Defining Gifted Education

Debbie is a first-year teacher who works with students from a mixed-income population, some of whom are middle-to upper class and some of whom are poverty-stricken. While earning her teaching degree, she was taught how to identify students in her classroom who may need additional support as well as those who may be gifted.

Debbie learned that giftedness in education refers to students identified as performing above their peers in school. She finds this broad term confusing; she has several children in her classroom that she thinks may be gifted, but they don't fit the profile she remembers for gifted status.

Debbie checks with the school's guidance counselor, Lisa, who explains that, indeed, the definition for giftedness is a nuanced one. The National Association for Gifted Children considers a student gifted if they have 'outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.' In this definition, domains refers to areas such as math, language arts or dance, for example.

States also have their own definitions for giftedness based on criteria such as how a student performs compared to peers or a if student needs more than the regular classroom can offer. Gifted students are also often characterized by three broad domains:

  1. Above average general ability and specific ability, such as performance in verbal reasons and spatial relationships and problem solving or artistic talent
  2. Above average task commitment, or ability to stick with problems
  3. Above average creativity, possessing fluent, curious and original thoughts

Lisa explains that to qualify for gifted education or special educational services for those considered gifted and talented, students must first be identified. How does this work? Let's take a look.

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