Gifted Students Need Support

Gifted students need supports just like musicians and athletes. They need to be guided by teachers who are trained and supported in providing gifted education. The gifted student needs to be continually challenged and supported to fully develop their talents. In a survey of teachers,it was found that 73% of teachers believe that the brightest students are bored and under-challenged in school (Fordham Institute Study). Gifted students are not always A+ students and it is not unusual to find that a given student may have a gift in just one area.

Not All Teachers Are Able to Recognize or Support Gifted Students

Most teachers are unfamiliar with the needs of gifted students and do not know how to best accommodate them in their classrooms.

Identifying the gifted student is not intuitive. Yet 58% of teachers have had no professional instruction addressing academically advanced student identification or instruction. (Fordham Institute Study) This makes it very difficult to maintain a challenging atmosphere for the gifted student.

Gifted Students Can Lack Motivation

Education theory says that you have to pay attention to new information 7 times before you have learned it and it is in long term memory. Gifted students may not always need that much repetition and that repetition can lead to a display of disinterest and a lack of motivation. It is the daily challenges that keep the gifted students from becoming bored and fidgety. When they lose hope and motivation for participating in the classroom they may drop out.

Gifted Students Benefit from Appropriate Classroom Grouping

Interactions with peers at similar performance levels prevents boredom, frustration, and lack of motivation that occurs when placed with low or average-ability students.

A gifted student’s advanced capacity requires modifications to the regular curriculum or learning environment to ensure that they are challenged and learn novel material with the support of individualized services that meet their unique learning needs.

Gifted Education Programs Must Address Individualized Needs

Gifted education programs address unique and individualized needs and there are no differences related to identification from IEPs for students with disabilities.

Underachievement Can Be A Sign of Giftedness

Low achievement occurs in gifted students despite many gifted students being one half or more grade-levels ahead of their same-aged peers. This results in boredom and frustration from sitting in an un-challenging classroom, resulting in a loss of interest or motivation to achieve. This environment leads to the development of bad study habits, development of low self-esteem, and distrust of the school environment, or even depression resulting in low achievement. They need motivation, nurturing of talents, and development of good work habits.

It is not uncommon to have a discrepancy between a student’s performance and their actual ability due to boredom. Despite having above-average cognitive abilities, when the educational needs are not met appropriately, a gifted student may not show exceptional achievement in school. Many gifted students underachieve in school and often drop out.

Gifted Students May Not Adjust Well to Regular Education Environments

It is not uncommon for gifted students to have asynchronous development. This results in talents in one area and low functioning in another and often low emotional intelligence. Many gifted students have emotional needs, and sensitive feelings that result in isolation or being labeled weird.  They are vulnerable to bullying and do not have positive school experiences. They often find it hard to find like-minded friends.

Gifted Students Can Also Have Disabilities

Twice-exceptional students go undetected in regular classrooms because their disability masks their gifts. Often twice-exceptional students are identified as having a learning disability and are then not evaluated for gifted education.

Communication Can Be Challenging for Gifted Students

Verbal communication can be difficult because gifted students want to express the complex ideas in their heads into language that others can understand. They may hesitate to respond, stutter, or show low levels of frustration tolerance.

AP Classes Are Not A Gifted Program

AP classes offer rigorous, advanced course work, but they are not a gifted education program.

AP classes include a limited number of subjects at a college-level and are taught by high school teachers. AP programming is offered in high school only. Gifted programming and services are something different and include appropriate curriculum, use of research-based instructional supports, and teacher training in the identification of gifted students and gifted education strategies.

Gifted Identification Should Occur Early

Early high performance in a domain predicts later educational, occupational, and creative accomplishments in that domain. People strong in math or verbal domains at an early age tend to achieve extraordinary accomplishments in their domain of strength. If we are not trying to meet the needs of the gifted until high school, how many gifted students have lost their motivation and interest ? How many of them never get the opportunity to flourish because no one encourages their talents?

Gifted Students Represent A Significant Part of The School Population

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights estimates that 6%  or 3.2 million school children in public schools participate in gifted programs. Yet, American students score lower on achievement tests compared with students in most other developed countries.

It Is Common for Gifted Students to Have Low Self Esteem

They recognize that they are different from most students and may isolate themselves from their peers. It is often easier for these students to relate to adults than their peers.

Gifted Students May Find Interpersonal Relationships Challenging.

They may lack emotional intelligence and pragmatic language skills necessary for interpersonal relationships.

Gifted Students Are Often Misdiagnosed with ADD /ADHD

They have trouble paying attention in class if under-challenged and this mimics the same symptoms as attention-deficit.

Gifted Students May Have Performance Anxiety

Gifted students quickly become used to excelling in school but may over-identify with their performance. They may avoid taking risks and refuse to do any activity they perceive as too challenging. They can be perfectionists and struggle to perform to their unrealistic standards. This can result in behaviors due to anger and upset, which can lead to depression since they take academic failure personally and a perceived sense of or real failure damages their self-esteem. They may lack the skills of persistence and resilience.


This is the fourth of 6 blogs addressing the Gifted Child within the IEP.  Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to the blog so you do not miss any of them.

Next on the Agenda

5. Institutionalized Racism Exists Within Our Schools

6. Gifted IEP

1. The State of Gifted Education

2. How Do I Know my CHild is Gifted?

3. Gifted Students Learn Differently

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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children. As a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant she has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consulted with schools. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.


MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the receipt of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.




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