Definitions of High Ability (Giftedness)

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)

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 sensory-motor 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.

A person's giftedness should not be confused with the means by which giftedness is observed or assessed. Parent, teacher, or student recommendations, a high mark on an examination, or a high IQ score are not giftedness; they may be a signal that giftedness exists. Some of these indices of giftedness are more sensitive than others to differences in the person's environment.

High Ability Education: Indiana

Effective July 1, 2007, Indiana schools shall identify students with high ability in the general intellectual and specific academic domains and provide them with appropriately differentiated curriculum and instruction in core content areas, K-12 (refer to IC- 20-36-2-2).

Indiana Code defines a student with high abilities as one who:

  1. performs at, or shows the potential for performing at, an outstanding level of accomplishment in at least one domain when compared to other students of the same age, experience, or environment; and:
  2. is characterized by exceptional gifts, talents, motivation, or interests (IC 20-36-1-3)

All schools must…

  • Identify students with high ability using multifaceted assessment to ensure that students not currently identified by traditional assessments due to economic disadvantage, cultural background, underachievement, and disabilities are included.
  • Identify in the general intellectual or specific academic domains in grades K-12 and record those designations on the Student Test Number.
  • Develop and implement local services for high ability students, including appropriately differentiated curriculum and instruction in the core academic areas designated by the state board for each grade (K-12) consistent with federal, state, local, and private funding sources.

Frequently Used Terms in Gifted Education

Ability Grouping
Class or group assignment based on observed behavior or performance. Ability grouping is not the same as tracking.

Accelerated Learning
A strategy of progressing through education at rates faster or ages younger than the norm.

Holding students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel responsible for instructional outcomes.

Advanced Placement (AP)
A program developed by the College Board where high schools offer courses that meet criteria established by institutions of higher education. In many instances, college credit may be earned with the successful completion of an AP exam in specific content areas. (Note:Individuals interested in policies related to earning college credit should contact the college or university of their choice for specifics.)

An inclination to excel in the performance of a certain skill.

A term used to describe disparate rates of intellectual, emotional, and physical rates of growth or development often displayed by gifted children.

A term used to describe students whose economic, physical, emotional, or academic needs go unmet or serve as barriers to talent recognition or development, thus putting them in danger of underachieving or dropping out.

Authentic Assessment
Evaluating student learning through the use of student portfolios, performance, or observations in place or in conjunction with more traditional measures of performance such as tests and written assignments.The process allows students to be evaluated using assessments that more closely resemble real world tasks, such as a scientific experiment to demonstrate understanding of the laws of motion.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
Developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, the taxonomy is often used to develop curriculum for gifted children. There are six levels within the taxonomy that move from basic to high levels of thinking. These include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Brainstorming is an activity used to generate many creative ideas that have no right or wrong answers and are accepted without criticism. Effective brainstorming is characterized by fluency and flexibility of thought.

Differentiated Instruction
Differentiated instruction involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching materials so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability. To learn more:

Project-based Learning
A systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.