Gifted and Talented
Special Populations

Teachers of the gifted and talented are faced with many varying issues. One issue that cannot be forgotten is that gifted and talented children are not all cut from the same mold. The gifted can exhibit many and varying characteristics.They are all different and there are special populations within a classroom of gifted students. This realization leads to various questions for teachers of the gifted, ranging from the early primary years and beyond.
  • What techniques are best for the individual gifted children that I am teaching?
  • Has this gifted child been identified appropriately?
  • Are there gifted children in the school population who have not been identified?
  • What are the greatest needs of the gifted child? How can the teacher accomodate those needs?
  • "Why is it that so many gifted children suffer so wide a breach between potential and performance? What is it that causes so many gifted children to lose this spark? What can be done to rekindle it? How can the energy be channeled after it is rekindled?"Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan, Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally. (The Columbus Group, 1991).

Gifted Minorities




Socioeconomic inequality

May have limited social and educational opportunities to explore and develop potential

Include traditional as well as non-traditional means of identifying the gifted

First generation of family to have chance at special programs

Support systems may be absent


Get families involved in their children’s education

Academic achievement not valued

May be rejected by peers

Link minority students and their parents with teachers when they are young

Low expectations

Opportunities for challenges may be missing

Provide challenging opportunities 


Assessments may be culture biased

Multiple talents exist and must be identified


Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students: Problems and Promises (ERIC digest #E544) by Donna Y. Ford and Antoinette Thomas Some minority groups of gifted learners, particularly Black, Hispanic American, and Native American, have been underrepresented in gifted programs...

Extraordinary Gifts Often Come in Plain Brown Wrappers by Fred A. Bonner, II Does the academically gifted African-American student experience college in a manner much different from the typical college student?

Gifted Underachievers




Student does not value the work or the outcome

Underachievers are not a homogeneous group

Create assignments that are more enjoyable

Severe discrepancy between expected achievement and actual achievement

Must not be a result of a true learning disability

Assist with academic self confidence

Negative attitude toward school and low academic self perception

Hostility toward authority and self perceptions influence what sort of challenges a student will take on

Assist with global belief of self worth

Negative attitude toward teachers and classes

Underachievers exhibit more negative attitudes than do high achievers or average achievers

Help the underachiever understand that the effortful use of self regulatory strategies results in achievement

Low motivation and self regulation

Low self confidence

Encourage students to value school

Academic underachievement among the gifted: Students' perceptions of factors that reverse the pattern by Linda Emerick Investigates factors which had influenced the reversal of the underachievement pattern in 10 gifted students, ages 14 to 20, who moved from chronic underachievement to academic success. Results indicate six factors were influential in reversing poor school performance. There is evidence that some gifted underachievers may respond well to interventions incorporating educational modifications which focus on individual strengths and interests...

Do Gifted Students Have Special Needs? by Linda Kreger Silverman Students who achieve A’s based on what they have already learned are gaining daily practice in underachievement......

Underachieving Gifted Students (ERIC Digest #478) by James R. Delisle and Sandra L. Berger There is perhaps no situation more frustrating for parents or teachers than living or working with children who do not perform as well academically as their potential indicates they can...

Gifted Visual/Spatial Learners




Loves to construct with Lego, etc./ Early ability when doing puzzles or mazes/ Highly creative ideas/products

They like to pull things apart, to see how they work

Use manipulative materials

May appear bright but have difficulty learning to read/makes up rich stories but unable to write them down/ Strong visual memory

School may be a miserable experience for them

Use sight approach to reading rather than phonics/ Use visualization approach to spelling/ use computers


Preoccupied with space, at the expense of time

Emphasize creativity

Excellent mathematical reasoning but may be slow at math facts/Exceptional ability in math and science

May dislike school due to rote learning – indicated by not knowing math facts

Use visual aids such as overhead

Appears lazy, often daydreaming/unusual imagination/ Highly sensitive to surroundings/may be easily distracted

Self esteem suffers

Find out what they already know, before teaching something

Often musically talented/often artistic but may have poor fine motor skills

Giftedness may not be recognized

Emphasize creativity

Sophisticated sense of humor/ Astute questioning ability

Peers may not get the humor or may resent the questions

Group gifted visual/spatial learners together

When spoken to, comprehends everything or nothing

Often do not understand the goals of instruction

Let them discover own method to problem solving/Allow them to make their own decisions

Importance of Assessing Spatial Ability in Intellectually Talented Young Adolescents: A 20-Year Longitudinal Study by Daniel L Shea, David Lubinski and Camilla P. Benbow "...Spatial ability added incremental validity to the SAT-M and SAT-V assessments in predicting educational - vocational outcomes over these successive time frames [age 13, 18, 23, and 33].  It appears that spatial ability can compliment contemporary talent search procedures..."

I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words: The Gifted Visual Spatial Learner by Lesley Sword There is to date no formal assessment instrument for identifying gifted visual spatial learners. Identification is best done by...

Spatially gifted, verbally, inconvenienced by David F. Lohman Sometimes the words are there and I can call them up effortlessly and deliver them to my listeners with reasonable fluency. But sometimes the words are not there, and I find myself struggling to express with clarity even the simplest of ideas.  I have discovered that I am not unique. Indeed, my battles with words pale in comparison to those that others have waged against them. The astonishing fact is that even some of the great masters of the language could not always trust their fluency...

Gifted From a Low Socio-Economic  Background




Are often under identified and under served

Expected to meet same criteria as middle class

Base system on equity instead of equality

Don’t quite meet the
standard/the cut off score

Disparity remains

Use tests that are more culturally fair

Critical Issues in the Identification and Nurturance of Promising Students from Low Income Backgrounds by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, NRC/GT Senior Scholars Series There is little disagreement in the field of gifted education about the need to have a broader diversity of students in programs for the gifted, especially those representative of low socio-economic backgrounds and minority students..............

Helping Gifted Children and Their Families Prepare for College: A Handbook Designed to Assist Economically Disadvantaged and First-Generation College Attendees by Avis L. Wright and Paula Olszewski-Kubilius Comprehensive guide to college and financial aid planning, from knowing yourself to selecting a college, getting information, writing the application, interviewing, being accepted and gaining financial aid...

The Highly Gifted




IQ of 175+

Deep and complex families

The higher the IQ, the greater need for accommodations

Learn rapidly, have extensive vocabulary,

Other children are often intimidated by their vocabulary

Group the highly gifted together

Mature for age at times/sensitive

May be very sensitive to physical surroundings (clothing tags and other tactile sensations)

Provide preventive counseling

Long attention span

Some thrive when accelerated, some do not

Acceleration for those who appear to need it

Curious/high energy, activity level

Lower social self confidence

Group the highly gifted together

Highly Gifted Children in Full Inclusion Classrooms Highly Gifted Children, Summer/Fall 1996, 12 (4)  by Kathi Kearney The telephone rang, and the mother was desperate. Five-year-old Michael was entering kindergarten in the fall. He had recently been tested because he seemed advanced in his development. To her surprise and the examiner's, the child was not only intellectually gifted but tested above 160 IQ. When she approached the principal of the public school her son was slated to attend in September, to her dismay the principal strongly discouraged the boy's enrollment at all, stating that his staff had no idea how to educate such a child and that she should look elsewhere for an education for him.

Helping Your Highly Gifted Child (ERIC EC Digest #E477, 1990) by Stephanie S. Tolan  Most parents greet the discovery that their child is not merely gifted but highly or profoundly gifted with a combination of pride, excitement, and fear. They may set out to find experts or books to help them cope with raising such a child, only to find there are no real experts, only a couple of books, and very little understanding of extreme intellectual potential and how to develop it. This digest deals with some areas of concern and provides a few practical suggestions based on the experience of other parents and the modest amount of research available.

Sumter School District #17

Program for the Academically Gifted and Talented Students


Elementary Program:

Students in grades three through five, who have been identified as academically gifted and talented, are served on a daily basis through the reading and/or math curriculum based on academic strength(s) by a teacher who has obtained or is in the process of obtaining the gifted teaching endorsement from the South Carolina Department of Education. 


Middle School Program:

Students in grades six through eight, who have been identified as academically gifted and talented, are served on a daily basis through the reading, math, science and/or social studies based on academic strength(s) by a teachers who have obtained or are in the process of obtaining the gifted teaching endorsement from the South Carolina Department of Education. The Challenge program is designed to address the needs of academically gifted students by providing instruction in specific content areas with an emphasis on rigor, depth, complexity and pacing.


High School Program:

Students in grades nine through twelve who have been identified as academically gifted and talented and meet the requirements of the selected program may participate in the honors program and/or advanced placement courses such as English, music theory, United States History, chemistry and calculus.  They may also participate in the International Baccalaureate Program.


Program for the Artistically Gifted and Talented

eflecting Excellence And Creative Heights)

REACH is an after school, regular school day, or summer program designed to develop the unique artistic talents of eligible students.  The program’s areas of artistic study are visual arts, drama, and chorus.  The visual art and drama programs are offered during a three week intensive session that ends with a production and exhibit.  They are open to eligible students in grades four through twelve.  The high school chamber choir meets both during the regular school day and after school.  This program is for students in grades nine through twelve.  Students are identified through a state-mandated audition process that begins with nominations by administrators, teachers, parents, peers, or the students themselves and culminates with a final screening (audition) by judges representing the specific artistic fields.  Further information is available from teachers of the arts or the guidance counselor at each school or by contacting Tami Richardson, the coordinator for gifted and talented programs at 934-9757. 

South Carolina State Identification System For Artistically Gifted and Talented Students

According to Regulation R 43:220, in order for students to be eligible for enrollment in the state-funded gifted and talented programs in the visual and performing arts, the student must meet the following criteria:

  1. Superior ability as evaluated by at least 2 persons with special expertise (district staff and outside professional artist) in the category of a fine art form for which the student is being considered and as reported on an approved rating instrument.
  2. Demonstrated ability as evidenced by specific school, individual or community-related activities.
  3. Teacher, administrator, parent, or peer nominations based on approved instruments appropriate to the visual and performing arts areas, to include creativity and expressive qualities.

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greatest strength for our nation. -- John F. Kennedy   

This adoption is available from Jen's Website.

Early Signs of Extreme Intellligence

Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students in the Upper Primary Grades

Gifted Education and Middle Schools

Career Planning for Gifted and Talented Youth

Giftedness and High School Dropouts

This webpage was created on February 20, 2005
by Cindy Parker
Alice Drive Middle School
Sumter School District #17.

It was last updated on February 20, 2005