Giftedness, a category of Special Education under IDEA, is defined in numerous ways by different states. The State of Connecticut defines giftedness as “any exceptional child who… (B) has extraordinary learning ability or outstanding talent in the creative arts, the development of which requires programs or services. The definition that will be utilized for this paper will be based on the federal definition as specified in the 1994 reauthorization of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 1988:
…students, children or youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership ability, or in specific academic fields, and who require service or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities. (PL. 103-382, Title XIV, 1988, p. 388)
Although this definition identifies the need for special services for this population of students, there is no mandated law that states that school districts are required to provide services for these students. Because of this, these students may not be able to fully develop their gifts.
Conceptual theories of giftedness have been proposed by several people. Sternberg and Zhang proposed one theory, pentagonal implicit theory that required a person to meet five criteria in order to be considered gifted. These criteria were (Turnbull, 197):
1. Excellence~ the person must be superior in some dimension to their peers,
2. Rarity~ the person must have a high level of an attribute that that rare relative to their peers,
3. Productivity~ the person, along with the dimension in which the person is being evaluated as superior must lead to or potentially lead to productivity,
4. Demonstrability~ the person must demonstrate their gift through one or more valid assessments,
5. Value~ the person must be valued by their society for their superior performance.
Sternberg and Zhang’s purpose of this theory was to determine “what we valued as gifted before embarking on a program of identification” (Sternberg and Zhang, 1995, p. 88 as cited by Turnbull, 2004).
Although there are no direct causes of giftedness, there are some observable characteristics that a parent can look out for, such as walking, talking earlier than other children their age, etc… There is a list of observable behaviors that parents can use to determine if there child may be gifted. These observations alone do not prove that your child is intellectually gifted.
Does your child:
• Have a long attention span?
• Have an unusual memory?
• Have good problem solving ability?
• Have any time consuming hobbies or collection?
• Have a wide range of interest?
• Spend a great deal of time reading?
• Show an unusual ability in mathematics and puzzles?
• Appear to be a leader rather than a follower?
• Have an extensive vocabulary?
• Question adult authority?
• Have a high degree of personal sensitivity?