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What Makes a Student “Gifted”? Let Us Know If You Figure It Out

Brad Flickinger

William Van Ornum - published on 05/05/14

However, in areas such as performance in doctoral scientific programs or engineering programs, the intelligence tests often do a good job in identifying who will be good in these programs.

Since the federal government has given a vague definition of giftedness – unlike, for example, the definition of mental retardation – educators and psychologists may put off coming up with further assessments for fear of criticism or of leaving some gifted children out. So many gifted children remain unclassified and there is federal money that is not being spent.

Many educators view portfolios is an excellent way of identifying gifted children. In a portfolio, the student and teacher in a particular grade decide what kinds of assignments will be evaluated over the year. These can be in paper form or electronically. Portfolios can include writing assignments, mathematical assignments, tapes and videos of plays or music, art assignments and awards. One problem with portfolios is that different people evaluating them may come up with different conclusions. The state of Vermont during the 1990s tried them, found them wanting, and went back to traditional testing.

The implementation of Public Law 110-69 has implications for both public, private, and Catholic schools. Homeschoolers may also find it of interest. I think it is important to examine this area of education and public policy since the headlines predominate on other topics in education.

Part II will examine the topic further.

William Van Ornum is professor of psychology at Marist College and director of research and development/grants at American Mental Health Foundation in New York City. He studied theology and scripture at DePaul University.

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