Parents' Frequently Asked Questions About Giftedness (page 5)
- How can my child qualify to participate in the gifted program at his or her school?
- What is the law regarding gifted education in my state?
- How is the new SAT different from the old one? Should I be concerned about how my child will fare on the newer version?
- What is acceleration, and how do I know if it is a good option for my child?
- My 10-year old is extremely inquisitive and has a long attention span. Could these be signs of giftedness?
- I think my child may be underachieving. How do I know for sure?
- How can I assist in providing enriching learning experiences for my child?
- How do I select someone to privately test my child?
- How can I be certain my high school student is engaged in a rigorous curriculum so that he or she will be a competitive college applicant?
- How do I resolve disputes with my child's school regarding appropriate placement and programming?
- What does differentiation look like, and how can I be assured that my child is receiving appropriate instruction matched to his or her abilities?
- Is ability grouping good for my gifted child?
- What exactly is a grade-equivalent score, and what does it tell me about my child's abilities?
- How do I form a stronger relationship with my child's school?
- When should I begin college planning with my child?
- What are the early signs of leadership potential, and how can I nurture these qualities in my child?
- What are some commonly used intelligence tests, and how do I know which one is best for my child?
- Who are the gifted?
- My child is awkward around her peers? How can I help her build better relationships?
- What can I do if my child is reluctant to attend a residential summer program?
- We're relocating-how can we determine which school in our new community is best for our child?
States have different rules and regulations regarding the identification of gifted students and the types of educational programming available to them. In addition, schools vary in their approach from school to school and district to district. For example, some start identifying and offering services for gifted children in Kindergarten while others do not begin the process until the second or third grade. Parents should secure the gifted education policy or plan from their respective school system to determine the criteria and procedures that have been established for participation in the gifted program. Keep in mind that not all areas of giftedness (intellectual, academic, creative, artistic, and leadership) are addressed by all schools. For additional information read Screening and Identification in Schools on the Parenting TIPs page. State Definitions, Laws, and Resources may also be helpful in determining where your state stands on gifted education.
Contact your state director for gifted education through your respective state department of education regarding state laws governing gifted education. State Definitions, Laws, and Resources on the Parent TIPs page has direct links to other useful information for the 16-states within the Talent Search region.
The new SAT Reasoning Test lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes and measures critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and writing skills. The math test now has some algebra II content, and quantitative comparison questions have been eliminated (i.e., questions that present two quantities and the student must decide which quantity is greater, whether the two quantities are equal, or whether no comparison is possible). The critical reading test (formally the verbal section) includes short and long reading passages with passage-based questions and sentence-completion questions. The analogies (i.e., Bird: Nest as Dog: Doghouse), once considered a hallmark of the test, have been eliminated in the new version. A 60-minute writing test has been added that includes multiple choice questions and a student-written essay. The essay question asks students to develop a point of view on an issue and support it with examples from their studies and experiences. Maximum scores on the new SAT Reasoning Test are 800 on math, 800 on critical reading, and 800 on writing, for a combined score of 2400. For additional information on the new SAT visit the College Board's Web site.
Acceleration is the process of allowing high-ability students to progress through school curriculum at a rate faster than the average student. If your child is able to grasp grade-level material quickly or has already mastered the majority of grade-level curriculum offered at his or her school, acceleration might be an option worth considering. For more information on acceleration strategies and suggestions for further reading refer to Acceleration on the Parenting TIPs page. In addition, a recent report, A Nation Deceived (Available for free), contains compelling research in support of acceleration. Parents are encouraged to download and share a copy of this report with school personnel.
Many characteristics are associated with giftedness, and children may manifest their gifts in different ways. In addition, there are also varying types of giftedness (intellectual, academic, creative, artistic, and leadership). Though your observations of your child's disposition are helpful in the identification process, appropriate assessment can provide you with more information regarding the type and degree of giftedness displayed by your child. Read Characteristics of Gifted Individuals and Testing on the Parenting TIPs page for further information.
Underachievement is a discrepancy between some measure of the child's ability (i.e., IQ, test scores) and his or her demonstrated achievement (i.e., grades, school production). Sometimes, what looks like underachievement, may, in fact, be a masked learning disability. If you suspect a disconnect exists between what your child is capable of and what he or she is actually demonstrating, it is wise to seek the guidance of a professional psychologist. For more on the characteristics of underachievers and resources to address it Underachievement on the Parenting TIPs page.
Parents can do many things to instill a love of learning in their child and nurture his or her interests. Check with area museums, libraries, colleges and universities, and educational organizations to determine opportunities that might be available to your child during the summer, after school, or on weekends. Duke TIP's summer educational programs, Scholar Weekends, e-Studies classes , and independent learning programs provide excellent enrichment. Duke TIP's Educational Opportunity Guide and Enrichment on the Parenting TIPs page provide other options for you to consider.
Disputes with schools about appropriate programming can involve negotiation, mediation, due process, and, as a last resort, the courts. It is best to begin negotiations from the bottom up. For example, first try to resolve the problem with your child's teacher, if you are not satisfied with the results, inform the principal and negotiate with him or her. If the issue is still not resolved, involvement of central office personnel (i.e., director for gifted services, superintendent) may be necessary. For more detailed information on resolving disputes see Legal Issues in Gifted Education on the Parenting TIPs page.
Colleges desire applicants who have engaged in the most rigorous coursework that was available to them at their high school. Advanced Placement courses provide students with the opportunity to complete college-level coursework and earn college credit through examination while still in high school. The International Baccalaureate Programme , available at some high schools, also offers advanced curricular options for students in the final two years of secondary school. Both of these programs are considered rigorous by college admissions offices. If your child has limited course options at his or her high school, dual enrollment, where students enroll in high school and college simultaneously might be a viable option. In other words, your child might take an advanced math class, unavailable to her at her high school, at a local community college, university, or online. For additional information regarding what colleges are looking for among applicants, read the Duke Gifted Letter article, "Getting in: A College Admissions Primer."
Differentiation is the modification of the course content, teaching process, student product, and learning environment to better meet the academic needs of students. Gifted students should have the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of content that is abstract, complex, and organized for learning value. The study of various people and methods used by professionals in the content field should also be incorporated into the curriculum. The teaching process should include opportunities for high level thinking, discovery, reasoning, and group interaction. Activities should be open-ended and allow students choice, variety, and the ability to move at their own pace. Student products should result from real problems, be shared with authentic audiences, demonstrate a transformation of content, include a variety of options from which students can self-select, and be appropriately evaluated. Finally, learning environments for gifted children should be learner-center, promote independence, be open and accepting of students, contain complex materials, make use of varied groupings, be flexible, and allow students to move around. Commonly used strategies are detailed in Differentiation on the Parenting TIPs page.
Ability grouping is the flexible grouping of students based on their individual learning needs. For example, your child may be working above grade level in math and would benefit from being grouped with other students ready to explore the same advanced content. Ability grouping allows teachers to match more readily what is being taught to the learning readiness of the student. Ability grouping should not be confused with tracking. Tracking implies a more inflexible grouping option where students are locked into a particular group regardless of how their abilities and needs may fluctuate over time. In contrast, ability grouping allows groups to change whenever necessary based on student needs.
Grade equivalent scores are the most misinterpreted scores provided by testing companies. For example, when a score report indicates an eighth grade reading level for your third grader it means that your third grader is reading third grade material as well as an eighth grader would read it. The score report does not mean your third grader is reading at the eighth grade level. After all, eighth grade reading material was not on the third grade test. For additional insight into interpreting test scores see Understanding Testing Lingo on the Parenting TIPs page.
Parents of elementary school children are often very involved at their child's school. Typically, as their children enter middle and high school, parental involvement tapers off. However, most schools welcome continued involvement by parents through volunteering, donation of materials, and participation in parent/teacher organizations. And, even if your middle school child acts embarrassed by your presence at school, keep in mind that they need to see you care through your continued involvement in their education-and deep down, they do appreciate your participation. At the beginning of the school year establish a consistent method for exchanging messages with your child's teachers and let them know that you are willing to assist when needed. Finally, make it a point not just to talk when a problem arises but to communicate about the good things too!
Ideally, college planning should begin in middle school. Students should begin mapping out the coursework they wish pursue from middle school through high school. Familiarize your child with all the options that are available and develop a plan that will include challenging and rigorous coursework. On family trips, begin visiting college and university campuses in the areas where you vacation. This will allow your child to determine the type of campus he or she would be most comfortable on. Though the real nuts and bolts of the college admission process typically begin in 11th and 12th grade, starting your planning early can reduce stress and ensure that your child has established a solid and competitive resume.
Leadership is often neglected as an area of giftedness. It can be displayed at any age, and the skills associated with leadership can be developed in individuals. To learn more about the characteristics of leadership and how you can help nurture leadership potential see Developing Leadership Potential on the Parenting TIPs page.
Numerous intelligence tests are available and are designed for different age groups and reflect the respective test developer's philosophy regarding intelligence. Most IQ tests ask questions that assess both fluid (ability to solve new problems) and crystallized (knowledge gained through experience) intelligence. Some can be group administered while others require individual administration. Many IQ tests have test score ceilings of around 160. If a child scores 145 or above on such tests, it is often recommended that they be given a test with a higher ceiling (200 +) to ensure that their abilities are accurately measured. In addition, nonverbal measures of intelligence have been developed. These measures are often recommended for children who show visual-spatial strengths, are from culturally diverse backgrounds, are deaf or hard of hearing, or who speak limited English. Most IQ tests are protected and can only be administered by a qualified professional. Schools often maintain listings of IQ tests they deem acceptable, and this is a good place to start when considering a test for your child. A listing of Commonly Used Instruments can also be found on the Parenting Tips page.
Reprinted with the permission of Duke University. © 2008 Duke University Talent Identification Program.
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