Gifted, Creative, and Talented (page 2)
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).
Intellectually gifted students are those who have scored very high on standardized tests and usually excel in school. They are frequently very highly skilled verbally and have outstanding memories and literacy abilities—especially in reading and writing—compared with their typical age peers. They also tend to have outstanding critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and insatiable curiosities (Bireley, 1995). Intellectually gifted youth acquire, retain, and manipulate large amounts of information and appear to learn in intuitive leaps (Davis & Rimm, 2004; Silverman, 1995).
Creative and Talented
The definitions of creative and talented are widely varied, but consensus usually converges on the identification of individuals with exceptional talents in particular areas (Clark, 2002). Creatively gifted and talented youth often excel in the visual or performing arts. These students typically show outstanding abilities at young ages in particular areas. Davis (1995) listed the following 12 categories as representative of creative individuals: original, independent, risk taking, aware of creativeness, energetic, curious, has a sense of humor, attracted to complexity, artistic, open-minded, needs time alone, and intuitive.
Hidden Gifted, Creative, and Talented
Many students who are gifted and talented remain unidentified or hidden. This may be due to a number of factors. First, they might be underachievers and consequently their scores fall below the cutoff scores for classifying gifted students. Second, intelligence tests and standardized tests may be biased against some students due to cultural or linguistic diversity (Davis & Rimm, 2004; Patton, 1997). Third, girls who may be gifted and talented are often underidentified (Hollinger, 1995). It is speculated this may be because of underachievement in science and math, as well as declining achievement in adolescent years, although precise reasons are unknown. Finally, some students may not be identified due to existing disabilities in other areas (learning or physical disabilities). Special attention during classification and screening efforts at identifying gifted and talented youth can help eliminate underidentification of these individuals. Gregory, Starnes, and Blaylock (1988), and Patton (1997) provide some specific suggestions for finding and nurturing potential giftedness among Hispanic and African American students (see also Castellano, 2003). Their suggestions include the following:
- Develop a “belief system” in school that culturally and linguistically diverse students can be and are gifted and talented.
- Develop an identification process that reflects appreciation of the culture, language, values, and world views of culturally and linguistically diverse students and their families.
- Employ a multidimensional assessment process that includes qualitative as well as quantitative measures.
- Develop programs to educate the public in ways giftedness may be manifested (and sometimes concealed) in different cultures. Collaborate with people knowledgeable in the particular culture for assistance and support.
- Ensure that insights gained in the identification and assessment process are incorporated into the instructional program.
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