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Gifted, Creative, and Talented

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Definitions, Prevalence, and Characteristics of Gifted, Creative, and Talented

Individuals with special gifts and talents may be extraordinary in intellectual ability, specialized academic areas, music, or the arts (Clark, 2002). Although gifted, creative, and talented individuals are not included in IDEA, these students have unique needs that require special attention and accommodations for them to succeed in school. Various definitions of gifted, creative, and talented exist in the literature, and there is little agreement on the best definition. Earlier definitions relied heavily on the use of IQ scores for identifying gifted individuals. The Gifted and Talented Act, passed in 1978 (PL 95-561, Title IX, sec. 902), included creative capabilities or high performance in the performing arts. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Education proposed a new definition:

Children and youth with outstanding talent perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth exhibit high performance capability in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, possess an unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields. They require services or activities not ordinarily provided in the schools. Outstanding talents are present in children and youth from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor. (U.S. Department of Education, 1993, p. 3)

These federal definitions highlight the areas of giftedness, talent, and creativity, and are more representative of recent trends in gifted education. Other conceptualizations of giftedness continue to broaden the single intelligence notion (Maker, 1993). The following are examples of broadened definitions for gifted, creative, and talented youth: (1) three-trait definition, including above-average ability, task commitment, and creativity (Renzulli, 1978); (2) especially high aptitude, potential, or ability (Feldhusen & Moon, 1995); (3) synthetic, analytic, and practical intelligence (Sternberg, 1991); and (4) multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1999). All proposed models include more than a single intelligence quotient as criteria, most include talents as critical components, and many recommend advice on counseling gifted and talented youth.

While general intelligence is the most widely accepted consideration by state department definitions of giftedness and talent, specific academic ability, creative thinking, talent in the visual or performing arts, and leadership are also considered by many states (Stephens & Karnes, 2000).

Given the variety of definitions, it is not surprising that little consensus exists on the actual number of gifted and talented youth. Many reports indicate that 3% to 5% of the population is gifted and talented (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2003); others believe the figures are much higher. Great variability also exists in how individual states identify students with gifts and talents, with some states identifying fewer than 3%, while other states identify more than 10% (Heward, 2006).

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