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Gifted education (also known as Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Talented and Gifted (TAG), or G/T) is a broad term for special practices, procedures, and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. There is no standard global definition of what a gifted student is.
In 2011, the National Association for Gifted Children published a position paper that defined what a gifted student is. The term "gifted," in that position paper, describes individuals who demonstrate outstanding aptitude or competence in one or more domains. An "aptitude" is there defined as an exceptional ability to learn or reason. "Competence" is defined as documented performance or achievement in the top 10 percent of the population.
Gifted and talented education dates back thousands of years. Plato (c. 427–c. 347 BCE) advocated providing specialized education for intellectually gifted young men and women. In China's Tang Dynasty (580-618 CE), child prodigies were summoned to the imperial court for specialized education. Throughout the Renaissance, those who exhibited creative talent in art, architecture, and literature were supported by both the government and private patronage.
One of the earliest Western studies of human abilities was conducted by Sir Francis Galton, who between 1888 and 1894 developed and compiled measurements of over 7,500 individuals to gauge their natural intellectual abilities. In his studies he determined that if a parent deviates from the norm, so will the child, but to a lesser extent, one of the earliest observed examples of regression toward the mean. Galton believed that people could be improved through interventions in heredity, a movement he named eugenics. He categorized people into gifted, capable, average, or degenerate and recommended breeding between the first two categories, and forced abstinence for the latter two. His term for the most intelligent and talented people was "eminent," and after studying England's most prominent families, concluded that one's eminence was directly related to his direct hereditary line.
At Stanford University in 1916, Lewis Terman adapted Alfred Binet's Binet-Simon intelligence test into the Stanford-Binet test, and introduced intelligence quotient (IQ) scoring for the test. According to Terman, the IQ was one's mental age compared to one's chronological age, based on the mental age norms he compiled after studying a sample of children. He defined intelligence as "the ability to carry on abstract thinking". During World War I Terman was a commissioned officer of the United States Army, and collaborated with other psychologists in developing intelligence tests for new recruits to the armed forces. For the first time, intelligence testing was given to a wide population of drafted soldiers.
After the war, Terman undertook an extensive longitudinal study of 643 children in California who scored at IQ 140 or above, the Genetic Studies of Genius, continuing to evaluate them throughout their lives. Subjects of these case studies were called "Termites" and the studies contacted the children in 1921, and again in 1930, 1947, and 1959 after his death. Terman's studies have to date been the most extensive on high-functioning children, and are still quoted in psychological literature today. Terman claimed to have disproven common misconceptions, such as that highly intelligent children were prone to ill physical and mental health, that their intelligence burned out early in their lives, or that they either achieved greatly or underachieved.
A professional colleague of Terman's, Leta Hollingworth was the first in the United States to study how best to serve students who showed evidence of high performance on tests. Although recognizing Terman's and Galton's beliefs that heredity played a vital role in intelligence, Hollingworth gave similar credit to home environment and school structure. Hollingworth worked to dispel the pervasive belief that "bright children take care of themselves" and emphasized the importance of early identification, daily contact, and grouping gifted children with others with similar abilities. Hollingworth performed an 18-year-long study of 50 children in New York City who scored 155 or above on the Stanford-Binet, and studied smaller groups of children who scored above a 180. She also ran a school in New York City for bright students that employed a curriculum of student-led exploration, as opposed to a teacher providing students with a more advanced curriculum they would encounter later in life.
One unforeseen result of the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union was the immediate emphasis on education for bright students in the United States, and this settled the question whether the federal government should get involved in public education at all. The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed by Congress in 1958 with $1 billion US to bolster science, math, and technology in public education. Educators immediately pushed to identify gifted students and serve them in schools. Students chosen for gifted services were given intelligence tests with a strict cutoff, usually at 130, which meant that students who scored below the 130 were not identified.
The impact of the NDEA was evident in schools for years after, but a study on how effective education was meeting the needs of gifted students was initiated by the United States Department of Education in 1969. The Marland Report, completed in 1972, for the first time presented a general definition of giftedness, and urged districts to adopt it. The report also allowed students to show high functioning on talents and skills not measurable by an intelligence test. The Marland Report defined gifted as
"Children capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability in any of the following areas, singly or in combination:
The report's definition continues to be the basis of the definition of giftedness in most districts and states.
In 1983, the result of an 18-month-long study of secondary students was published as A Nation at Risk, and was an eye-opening declaration that students in the United States were no longer receiving superior education, and in fact, could not compete with students from other developed countries in many academic exercises. One of the recommendations the book made was to increase services to gifted education programs, citing curriculum enrichment or acceleration specifically. The US federal government was also urged to create standards for the identification and servicing of gifted students.
The Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act was passed in 1988 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Instead of funding district-level gifted education programs, the Javits Act instead has three primary components: the research of effective methods of testing, identification, and programming, which is performed at the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented; the awarding of grants to colleges, states, and districts that focus on underrepresented populations of gifted students; and grants awarded to state and districts for program implementation. Annual funding for grants must be passed by US Congress, and totaled $9.6 million US in 2007, but the money isn't promised. While he was President, George W. Bush eliminated the money every year of his term, but members of Congress overrode the president to make sure the grant money is distributed.
The most recent US federal education initiative was signed into law in 2002. The goal of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is to bring proficiency of all students to grade level, but critics note it does not address the needs of gifted students who perform above grade level. The act imposes punishments on schools, administrators, and teachers when students do not achieve to the plan's designs, but does not address any achievement standards for high functioning students, forcing schools and teachers to spend their time with low achieving students. An article in The Washington Post declared, "The unmistakable message to teachers -- and to students -- is that it makes no difference whether a child barely meets the proficiency standard or far exceeds it." Gifted services have been recently eroding as a result of the new legislation, according to a 2006 article in The New York Times.
In 2004, the John Templeton Foundation sponsored a report titled A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students, highlighting the disparity between the research on acceleration (which generally supports it, both from an academic and a psychological point of view), and the educational practices in the US that are often contrary to the conclusions of that research. The Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) was established in 2006 at The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa through the support of the John Templeton Foundation following the publication of this report.
Differences in intelligence have been known for recorded human history,[dubious ] but the development of early intelligence tests by Alfred Binet led to the Stanford-Binet IQ test developed by Lewis Terman. Terman began long-term studies of gifted children with a view to checking if the popular view "early ripe, early rot" was true. The Terman Genetic Studies of Genius longitudinal study has been described by successor researchers who conducted the study after Terman's death and also by an independent researcher who had full access to the study files.
Modern studies by James and Kulik conclude that gifted students benefit least from working in a mixed-level class, and benefit most from learning with other similarly advanced students in accelerated or enriched classes.
Educational authorities differ on the definition of giftedness: even when using the same IQ test to define giftedness, they may disagree on what gifted means - one may take up the top 2 percent of the population, another might take up the top 5 percent of a population, which may be within a state, district, or school. Within a single school district, there can be substantial differences in the distribution of measured IQ. (The IQ for the top percentile at a high-performing school may be quite different from that at a lower performing school.)
In Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) explains that gifted children all exhibit the potential for high performance in the areas included in the United States federal definition of gifted and talented students:
The term 'gifted and talented' when used in respect to students, children, or youth means [those who show] evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.
— P.L. 103–382, Title XIV, p. 388
The National Association for Gifted Children in the United States defines giftedness as:
Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).
The development of ability or talent is a lifelong process. It can be evident in young children as exceptional performance on tests and/or other measures of ability or as a rapid rate of learning, compared to other students of the same age, or in actual achievement in a domain. As individuals mature through childhood to adolescence, however, achievement and high levels of motivation in the domain become the primary characteristics of their giftedness. Various factors can either enhance or inhibit the development and expression of abilities.
This definition has been adopted in part or completely by the majority of the states in the United States. Most have some definition similar to that used in the State of Texas, whose definition states:
[The phrase] 'gifted and talented student' means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment, and who:
- exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area;
- possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
- excels in a specific academic field.
— 74th legislature of the State of Texas, Chapter 29, Subchapter D, Section 29.121
The major characteristics of these definitions are (a) the diversity of areas in which performance may be exhibited (e.g., intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, academic), (b) the comparison with other groups (e.g., those in general education classrooms or of the same age, experience, or environment), and (c) the use of terms that imply a need for development of the gift (e.g., capability and potential).
In her book, Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen (2004) writes that schools should use a variety of measures of students capability and potential when identifying gifted children. These measures may include portfolios of student work, classroom observations, achievement measures, and intelligence scores. Most educational professionals accept that no single measure can be used in isolation to accurately identify every gifted child.
Even if the notion of IQ is generally useful for identifying academically talented students who would benefit from further services, the question of the cutoff point for giftedness is still important. As noted above, different authorities often define giftedness differently.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE), in Calgary, Alberta, has various elementary, middle and high schools offering the GATE Program, standing for Gifted and Talented Education, for Grades 4-12, or Divisions 2-4. The program for students, who, through an IQ test, ranked in the Very Superior Range; falling into Gifted or Genius. For each of the three divisions, there are 2 schools offering GATE, one for the North Side of the city (CBE Areas I, II and III) and one for the South Side (CBE Areas IV and V). For Division 2, or Grades 4-6, it is available at Hillhurst Elementary School for the North and Nellie McClung Elementary School for the South. For Division 3, or Grades 7-9, it is available at Queen Elizabeth High School for the North and John Ware Junior High School for the South. For Division 3, or Grades 10-12, Queen Elizabeth High School, which is a joint Junior High-Senior High offers it for the North and Henry Wise Wood Senior High School offers it for the south. GATE classes go more in depth and learns some curriculum for the following grade level, with tougher assignments and a faster learning pace. They benefit from being around students like them. These students attend the school alongside regular students and those in other programs (e.g. IB, AP.)
Notable alumni of the CBE GATE Program include the 36th mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, from Queen Elizabeth High School.
At a lower scale, the Peel District School Board has various high schools with Regional programs (Such as The Woodlands School (Mississauga), Lorne Park Secondary School, Glenforest Secondary School, Heart Lake Secondary School and Humberview Secondary School to provide students an opportunity to develop and explore skills in a particular area of interest. Among these Regional Programs is the Regional Enhanced Program. Students identified as gifted (labelled as "enhanced" instead) may choose to attend these high schools instead of their mainstream school. In the Regional Enhanced Program, enhanced students take core courses (primarily, but not limited to English, mathematics, and the sciences) in an environment surrounded by fellow enhanced peers. The classes often contain modified assignments that encourage students to be creative.
In India, Jnana Prabodhini Prashala started in 1968, is probably the first school for gifted education. The motto is motivating intelligence for social change. The school, located in central Pune, admits 80 students each year, after thorough testing, which includes two written papers and an interview. The psychology department of Jnana Prabodhini has worked on J. P. Guilford's model of Intelligence.
National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents (NODET, also known as SAMPAD, Persian: سمپاد, which stands for سازمان ملی پرورش استعدادهای درخشان in Persian) are national Middle and High Schools in Iran developed specifically for the development of exceptionally talented students in Iran. NODET was first established in 1976 and re-established in 1987.
Admission to NODET schools is selective and based on a comprehensive nationwide entrance examination procedure.
Every year thousands of students apply to enter the schools, from which less than 5% are chosen for the 99 middle schools and 98 high-schools within the country. All applicants must have a minimum GPA of 19 (out of 20) for attending the entrance exam. In 2006, 87,081 boys and 83,596 girls from 56 cities applied, and finally 6,888 students were accepted for the 2007 middle schools. The admission process is much more selective in big cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and Karaj in which less than 150 students are accepted after two exams and interviews, out of over 50,000 applicants.
Top schools of NODET (and also Iran's top) are Allameh Helli High School and Shahid Madani High School (in Tabriz), Farzanegan High School located in Tehran, Shahid Ejei High School located in Isfahan, Shahid Hashemi Nejad High School located in Mashhad and Shahid Soltani School located in Karaj. Courses taught in NODET schools are college-level in fields such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and English Language. The best teachers of the ministry of education are chosen mainly by the school's principal and faculty to teach at NODET schools. Schools mainly have only two majors (normal schools have three majors), math-physics and experimental sciences (like math-physics but having biology as the main course). Even though social sciences are taught, there is much less emphasis on these subjects due to the lack of interest in both students and the organization.
NODET students are very successful in scientific Olympiads, occupying almost all places in the national Olympiads, and doing great in many international Olympiads.
Statistics show that NODET alumni usually pursue higher education until post-graduate level. Some NODET alumni are world class leading researchers in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
Following the Gifted Education Promotion Law (영재교육진흥법)in the year 2000, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST) founded the National Research Center for Gifted and Talented Education (NRCGTE) in 2002 to ensure effective implementation of gifted education research, development, and policy. The center is managed by the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI). Presently twenty-five universities conduct gifted and talented education research in some form; for example at the Seoul National University Science-gifted Education Center, KAIST Global Institute for Talented Education (GIFTED), the Korean Society for the Gifted and Talented (한국영재교육학회) and the Korean Society for the Gifted (사단법인 한국영재학회).
Education for the scientifically gifted in Korea can be traced back to the 1983 government founding of Gyeonggi Science High School. Following three later additions (Korea Science Academy of KAIST; Seoul Science High School and Daegu Science High School), approximately 1,500, or 1 in 1,300 (0.08 percent) of high school students are currently enrolled among its four gifted academies. By 2008, about 50,000, or 1 in 140 (0.7 percent) of elementary and middle school students participated in education for the gifted. In 2005, a program was undertaken to identify and educate gifted children of socioeconomically underprivileged people. Since then, more than 1,800 students have enrolled in the program.
Gradually the focus has expanded over time to cover informatics, arts, physical education, creative writing, humanities, and social sciences, leading to the 2008 creation of the government funded Korean National Institute for the Gifted Arts. To pluralize the need for trained professional educators, teachers undergo basic training (60 hours), advanced training (120 hours), and overseas training (60 hours) to acquire skills necessary to teach gifted youth.
In the Netherlands these primary schools are called the Leonardoschools. They are popular and growing fast. These are special classes in normal schools, unfortunately is the quality not monitored and there are huge differences in quality between the schools. For secondary schools, there aren't special schools, the Opus is the best option for gifted children in the Netherlands.
The School for Gifted Children in Bratislava was established in 1998. It offers education known as APROGEN - Alternative Program for Gifted Education.
In England, schools are expected to identify 5-10% of students who are gifted and/or talented in relation to the rest of the cohort in that school - an approach which is pragmatic (concerned with ensuring schools put in place some provison for their most able learners) rather than principles (in terms of how to best understand giftedness). The term gifted applies to traditional academic subjects, and talented is used in relation to high levels of attainment in the creative arts and sports. The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth ran from 2002 to 2007 at the University of Warwick. Warwick University decided not to reapply for the contract to run NAGTY in 2007, instead introducing its own programme, the International Gateway for Gifted Youth in 2008. In January 2010, the government announced that NAGTY was to be scrapped the following month.
In the United States, each state department of education determines if the needs of gifted students will be addressed as a mandatory function of public education. If so, the state determines the definition of which students will be identified and receive services, but may or may not determine how they shall receive services. If a state does not consider gifted education mandatory, individual districts may, thus the definition of what gifted is varies from state or district.
In contrast with special education, gifted education is not regulated on a federal level, although recommendations by the US Department of Education are offered. As such, funding for services is not consistent from state to state, and although students may be identified, the extent to which they receive services can vary widely depending upon a state or district's budget.
The Education Commission Report No.4  issued in 1990 recommended a policy on gifted education for schools in Hong Kong and suggested that a broad definition of giftedness using multiple criteria should be adopted.
Gifted children generally have exceptional achievement or potential in one or more of the following domains:
The multi-dimensional aspect of intelligence has been promoted by Professor Howard Gardner from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In his introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of his classic work Frames of Mind. The theory of multiple intelligences, he says:
In the heyday of the psychometric and behaviorist eras, it was generally believed that intelligence was a single entity that was inherited; and that human beings - initially a blank slate - could be trained to learn anything, provided that it was presented in an appropriate way. Nowadays an increasing number of researchers believe precisely the opposite; that there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early 'naive' theories of that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains. (Gardner 1993: xxiii)
Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences, but later added an eighth, that are intrinsic to the human mind: linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical, bodily kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist intelligences. It has become widely accepted at both local and international scales to adopt a broad definition of giftedness using multiple criteria to formulate gifted education policy.
The mission of gifted education is to systematically and strategically explore and develop the potential of gifted students. Gifted learners are to be provided with opportunities to receive education at appropriate levels in a flexible teaching and learning environment. The guiding principles for gifted education in Hong Kong are:
Based on these guiding principles, a three-tier gifted education framework  was adopted in 2000. Levels 1 & 2 are recognised as being school-based whilst Level 3 is the responsibility of the HKAGE. The intention is that Level 1 serves the entire school population, irrespective of ability, that Level 2 deals with between 2-10% of the ability group, and that Level 3 caters for the top 2% of students.
To immerse the core elements advocated in gifted education i.e. High-order thinking skills, creativity and personal-social competence in the curriculum for ALL students;
To differentiate teaching through appropriate grouping of students to meet the different needs of the groups with enrichment and extension of curriculum across ALL subjects in regular classrooms.
To conduct pull-out programmes of generic nature outside the regular classroom to allow systematic training for a homogeneous group of students (e.g. Creativity training, leadership training, etc.);
To conduct pull-out programme in specific areas (e.g. Maths, Arts, etc.) outside the regular classroom to allow systematic training for students with outstanding performance in specific domains.
Tertiary institutions and other educational organizations / bodies, such as the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education and other universities in Hong Kong to provide a wide and increasing range of programmes for gifted students
Source: Frequently Used Terms in Gifted Education
Attempts to provide gifted education can be classified in several ways. Most gifted students benefit from a combination of approaches at different times.
Activities such as reading, creative writing, sport, computer games, chess, music, dance, foreign languages, and art give an extra intellectual challenge outside of school hours. For some GATE students,(if they are a top level) the district might send a letter containing a suggestion of skipping a grade.
On the primary school level, students spend all class time with their peers, but receive extra material to challenge them. Enrichment may be as simple as a modified assignment provided by the regular classroom teacher, or it might include formal programs such as Odyssey of the Mind, Destination Imagination or academic competitions such as Brain Bowl, Future Problem Solving, Science Olympiad, National History Day, science fairs, or spelling bees. Programmes of enrichment activities may also be organised outside the school day (e.g. the ASCEND project in secondary science education ). This work is done in addition to, and not instead of, any regular school work assigned. Critics of this approach argue that it requires gifted students to do more work instead of the same amount at an advanced level. On the secondary school level sometimes an option is to take more courses like English, Spanish, Latin, Philosophy, Science, etc., or to engage in extra curricular activities. Some perceive there to be a necessary choice between enrichment and acceleration, as if the two were mutually exclusive alternatives. However, other researchers see the two as complements to each other.
The regular school material is compacted by pretesting the student to establish which skills and content have already been mastered. Pretests can be presented on a daily basis (pupils doing the most difficult items on a worksheet first and skipping the rest if they are performed correctly), or before a week or longer unit of instructional time. When a student demonstrates an appropriate level of proficiency, further repetitive practice can be safely skipped, thus reducing boredom and freeing up time for the student to work on more challenging material.
Self-pacing methods, such as the Montessori Method, use flexible grouping practices to allow children to advance at their own pace. Self-pacing can be beneficial for all children and is not targeted specifically at those identified as gifted or talented, but it can allow children to learn at a highly accelerated rate. Directed Studies are usually based on self-pacing.
Pupils are advanced to a higher-level class covering material more suited to their abilities and preparedness. This may take the form of skipping grades or completing normal curriculum in a shorter-than-normal period of time ("telescoping"). Subject acceleration (also called partial acceleration) is a flexible approach which can advance a student in one field, such as mathematics or language, without changing other studies, such as history or science. This type of acceleration is usually based upon achievement testing, rather than IQ.
Some colleges offer early entrance programs that give gifted younger students the opportunity to attend college early. In the U.S., many community colleges allow advanced students to enroll with the consent of school officials and the pupils' parents.
Acceleration presents gifted children academic material from established curricula that is commensurate with their ability and preparedness, and for this reason is a low-cost option from the perspective of the school. This may result in a small number of children taking classes targeted at older children. However, for the majority of gifted students, acceleration is beneficial both academically and socially. "Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students." Some advocates have argued that the disadvantages of being retained in a standard mixed-ability classroom are substantially worse than any shortcomings of acceleration. For example, psychologist Miraca Gross reports: "the majority of these children [retained in a typical classroom] are socially rejected [by their peers with typical academic talents], isolated, and deeply unhappy. Children of IQ 180+ who are retained in the regular classroom are even more seriously at risk and experience severe emotional distress." These accelerated children should be placed together in one class if possible.
Gifted students are pulled out of a heterogeneous classroom to spend a portion of their time in a gifted class. These programs vary widely, from carefully designed half-day academic programs to a single hour each week of educational challenges. Generally, these programs are ineffective at promoting academic advancement unless the material covered contains extensions and enrichment to the core curriculum. The majority of pull-out programs include an assortment of critical thinking drills, creative exercises, and subjects typically not introduced in standard curricula. Much of the material introduced in Gifted pull-out programs deals with the study of Logic, and its application to fields ranging from Philosophy to Mathematics. Students are encouraged to apply these empirical reasoning skills to every aspect of their education both in and outside of class.
Cluster grouping is the gathering of four to six gifted and talented and/or high achieving students in a single classroom for the entire school day. Cluster teachers are specially trained in differentiating for gifted learners. Clusters are typically used in upper elementary grades. Within a cluster group, instruction may include enrichment and extensions, higher-order thinking skills, pretesting and differentation, compacting, an accelerated pace, and more complexity in content.
These offer a variety of courses that mainly take place in the summer. Summer schools are popular in the USA. Entrance fees are required for such programs, and programs typically focus on one subject, or class, for the duration of the camp.
Several examples of this type of program are:
There are also several websites that list summer enrichment programs:
Within the United States, in addition to programs designed by the state, some counties also choose to form their own Talented and Gifted Programs. Sometimes this means that an individual county will form its own TAG program; sometimes several counties will come together if not enough gifted students are present in a single county. Generally, a TAG program focuses on a specific age group, particularly the local TAG programs. This could mean elementary age, high school age, or by years such as ages 9 through 14.
These classes are generally organized so that students have the opportunity to choose several courses they wish to participate in. Courses offered often vary between subjects, but are not typically strictly academically related to that subject. For example, a TAG course that could be offered in history could be the students learning about a certain event and then acting it out in a performance to be presented to parents on the last night of the program. These courses are designed to challenge the students to think in new ways and not merely to be lectured as they are in school.
Gifted students are educated in either a separate class or a separate school. Classes like this are sometimes called "Congregated Gifted Classes".
Separate or independent schools are schools with a primary mission to serve the needs of the academically gifted. Such schools are relatively scarce and often difficult for families to locate. Some of these schools can be located on the Wikipedia article entitled: "List of gifted and talented programmes". Another resource for locating gifted schools in the United States can be found on the National Association for Gifted Children's "Resource Directory" accessible through their home page. Such schools often need to work to guard their mission from occasional charges of elitism, support the professional growth and training of their staff, write curriculum units that are specifically designed to meet the social, emotional, and academic talents of their students, and educate their parent population at all ages.
Some gifted and talented classes offer directed studies, where the students lead a class themselves and decide on their own projects, tests, and all other assignments.
These separate classes or schools tend to be more expensive than regular classes, due to the usually smaller class size. Not-for-profit (non-profit) schools often can offer lower costs than for-profit schools. Either way, they are in high demand and parents have to pay part of the costs.
An umbrella term encompassing myriad educational options for gifted children: part-time schooling; school at home; classes, groups, mentors and tutors; and unschooling. In many US states, the population of gifted students who are being homeschooled is rising quite rapidly, as school districts responding to budgetary issues and standards-based policies are cutting what limited gifted education programs remain extant, and families seek educational opportunities that are tailored to each child's unique needs.
Controversies concerning gifted education are varied and often highly politicized. They are as basic as agreeing upon the appropriateness of the term 'gifted' or the definition of 'giftedness'. For example, does 'giftedness' refer to performance or potential (such as inherent intelligence)? Many students do not exhibit both at the same time.
Measures of general intelligence also remain controversial. Early IQ tests were notorious for producing higher IQ scores for privileged races and classes and lower scores for disadvantaged subgroups. Although IQ tests have changed substantially over the past half century, and many objections to the early tests have been addressed by 'culture neutral' tests (such as the Raven test), IQ testing remains controversial.
Some schools and districts only accept IQ tests as evidence of giftedness. This brings scrutiny to the fact that many affluent families can afford to consult with an educational psychologist to test their children, whereas families with a limited income cannot afford the test and must depend on district resources.
Another area of controversy has been the marginalization of gifted females with studies attributing it to self-efficacy, acculturation and biological differences in aptitude between boys and girls for advanced maths. On the other hand, international studies of achievement differences in mathematics implicate enculturation within family structures and the influence of cultural stereotypes as being a crucial factor 
Gifted programs are often seen as being elitist in places where the majority of students receiving gifted services are from a privileged background. Identifying and serving gifted children from poverty presents unique challenges, ranging from emotional issues arising from a family's economic insecurity, to gaps in pre-school cognitive development due to the family's lack of education and time.
In New York City experience has shown that basing admission to gifted and talented programs on tests of any sort can result in selection of substantially more middle-class and white or Asian students and development of more programs in schools that such students attend.
This is the most hotly debated aspect of gifted education. Some people believe that gifted education resources lack availability and flexibility. They feel that in the alternative methods of gifted education, the gifted students "miss out" on having a "normal" childhood, at least insofar as "normal childhood" is defined as attending school in a mixed-ability classroom. Others believe that gifted education allows gifted students to interact with peers that are on their level, be adequately challenged, and leaves them better equipped to take on the challenges of life.
Another facet of this controversy is the effectiveness of the programs dependent upon resources that are pushed more toward students who are struggling. Gifted Education is not mandated in many states, making it elective for districts to earmark money for. Many lower-achieving districts and schools must make crisis decisions on programs that are not high priorities. As a result, gifted students at these schools are not served, or not served effectively.
While giftedness is seen as an academic advantage, psychologically it can pose other challenges for the gifted individual. A person who is intellectually advanced may or may not be advanced in other areas. Each individual student needs to be evaluated for physical, social, and emotional skills without the traditional prejudices which either prescribe either "compensatory" weaknesses or "matching" advancement in these areas.
A person with significant academic talents often finds it difficult to fit in with schoolmates. These pressures often wane during adulthood, but they can leave a significant negative impact on emotional development.
Social pressures can cause children to "play down" their intelligence in an effort to blend in with other students. "Playing down" is a strategy often used by students with clinical depression and is seen somewhat more frequently in socially acute adolescents. This behavior is usually discouraged by educators when they recognize it. Unfortunately, the very educators who want these children to challenge themselves and to embrace their gifts and talents are often the same people who are forced to discourage them in a mixed-ability classroom, through mechanisms like refusing to call on the talented student in class so that typical students have an opportunity to participate.
Students who are young, enthusiastic or aggressive are more likely to attract attention and to disrupt the class by working ahead, giving the correct answers all the time, asking for new assignments, or finding creative ways to entertain themselves while the rest of the class finishes an assignment. This behavior can be mistaken for ADHD.
Many parents of gifted find that it is the social-emotional aspect of their children's lives that needs support. Schools and Talent Development programs often focus on academic enrichment rather than providing time for gifted kids to have the social interaction with true peers that is required for healthy development. National organizations such as Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted SENG as well as local organizations, have emerged in an effort to meet these needs.
It can also happen that some unidentified gifted students will get bored in regular class, daydream and lose track of where the class is in a lecture, and the teacher becomes convinced that the student is slow and struggling with the material.
Finally, G&T students are statistically somewhat more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disability such as bipolar disorder and to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. These additional issues can require special attention in school.
In the United States, particularly in New York City where qualifying children as young as 4 are enrolled in enriched kindergarten classes offered by the public schools, a test preparation industry has grown up which closely monitors the nature of tests given to prospective students of gifted and talented programs. This can result in admission of significant numbers of students into programs who lack superior natural intellectual talent and exclusion of naturally talented students who did not participate in test preparation or lacked the resources to do so.
Advocates of gifted education[who?] contend that gifted and/or talented youth are either motivationally, perceptually or intellectually prepared for a challenge not offered in the standard curriculum, so that it is appropriate to pace their lessons more aggressively by encouraging them to participate in honors courses, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, and other sources of educational enrichment and acceleration.
They also claim that the needs of many gifted students are still neglected, as schools tend to place emphasis on improving education for the "average" student. Some argue that too many resources are diverted from gifted education to the other end of the special education spectrum, disabled students. This may be an unintended consequence of the development of disability rights litigation, which some pundits argue has led to the disabled receiving escalating resources at the expense of needed growth for gifted programs and even for core curricula (see special education). However, many advocates[who?] believe that both special education and gifted education deserve more resources, on the general principle that each child should receive a challenge appropriate to his preparedness and motivation.
The families of gifted and/or disabled students are often dissatisfied with the education system, which, while it may suit the majority of students, often fails to provide for those with special needs.
Researchers and practitioners in gifted education contend that, if education were to follow the medical maxim of "first, do no harm," then no further justification would be required for providing resources for gifted education as they believe gifted children to be at-risk. The notion that gifted children are "at-risk" was publicly declared in the Marland Report in 1972:
Gifted and Talented children are, in fact, deprived and can suffer psychological damage and permanent impairment of their abilities to function well which is equal to or greater than the similar deprivation suffered by any other population with special needs served by the Office of Education.(pp. xi-xii)
Three decades later, a similar statement was made by researchers in the field:
National efforts to increase the availability of a variety of appropriate instructional and out-of-school provisions must be a high priority since research indicates that many of the emotional or social difficulties gifted students experience disappear when their educational climates are adapted to their level and pace of learning." [emphasis added]